Tannic acid

  • Tannic acid is found in the nutgalls formed by insects on twigs of certain oak trees (Quercus infectoria and other Quercus species). It is also found in high concentrations in the Musaceas Musa(banana tree) plant. It can be removed or extracted and used as medicine.



  • Historically, tannic acid was used along with activated charcoal and magnesium oxide in the “universal antidote,” formerly used for poisoning. These three ingredients in combination were believed to work better at absorbing poisons than any of the ingredients alone. Unfortunately, the activated charcoal soaked up the tannic acid, more or less inactivating it. This made the combination less effective.
  • These days, people apply tannic acid directly to the affected area to treat cold sores and fever blisters, diaper rash and prickly heat, poison ivy, ingrown toenails, sore throat, sore tonsils, spongy or receding gums, and skinrashes; and to stop bleeding.
  • Tannic acid is also taken by mouth and applied directly for bleeding, chronic diarrhea, dysentery, bloody urine, painful joints, persistent coughs, and cancer.
  • Vaginally, tannic acid is used as a douche for white or yellowish discharge (leukorrhea).
  • In foods and beverages, tannic acid is used as a flavoring agent.
  • In manufacturing, tannic acid is used in ointments and suppositories for the treatment of hemorrhoids; for tanning hides and manufacturing ink; and to kill dust mites on furniture.


  • Tannic acid contains ingredients that have a protective effect on the skin.
  • It also might help fight cancer development and growth.


  • Tannic acid is safe when used in the amounts found in foods.
  • However, tannic acid seems UNSAFE when applied to the skin to treat diaper rash, prickly heat, and minor burn or sunburn. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is worried that tannic acid might also be UNSAFE when used to treat cold sores and fever blisters on the lips. The concern is that the tannic acid might be easily absorbed through the lips and cause harmful side effects. But there isn’t enough research yet to know for sure. The FDA has asked for more studies.
  • In large amounts, tannic acid can cause side effects such as stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, and liver damage. Regular consumption of herbs with high tannin concentrations seems to be associated with an increased chance of developing nose or throat cancer.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding:’ It’s UNSAFE to apply tannic acid to broken skin or large areas of skin. There is concern that it might be absorbed and cause harmful side effects.The safety of taking tannic acid by mouth during pregnancy and breast-feeding is unknown. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
  • Kidney problems: Tannic acid can cause kidney damage, making existing kidney problems worse. Don’t use tannic acid if you have a kidney disorder.
  • Liver problems: Tannic acid can cause liver damage, making existing liver problems worse. Don’t use tannic acid if you have a liver disorder.
  • Skin conditions: Don’t take a bath with added tannic acid if you have weeping eczema and extensive skin damage. The broken skin could allow too much tannic acid to get into your body.
  • Fever or infectious diseases: Don’t take a bath with added tannic acid if you have a fever or infectious disease.
  • Heart failure: Don’t take a bath with added tannic acid if you have heart failure.

Other Names

Acide Tannique, Ácido Tánico.


Source: WebMD, “Tannic Acid”, www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/

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