Gout was often referred to as the “disease of the kings” because overindulgence in purine-rich foods and alcohol often triggered a gout attack. Gout is caused due to acute inflammation of the joints. Excess uric acid (hyperuricemia) in the blood accumulates in the joints and deposits in a crystalline form. Purines are broken down into uric acid leading to joint inflammation. Gout attacks more men than women causing excruciating pain and misery. Joints most susceptible to gout are ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, elbows, and the foot. The foot seems to be the most commonly affected joint, especially the big toe. Symptoms of gout include intense pain and swelling of affected joints.
Lifestyle factors are known to trigger hyperuricemia and cause gout. Dietary and lifestyle modifications manage gout better than prescription medicines. Gout is often associated with metabolic syndrome and an increased cardiovascular risk. Gout also leads to osteoarthritis in some individuals. Managing a healthy weight, exercises, limiting intake of red meat and sugary beverages would go a long way in reducing levels of uric acid in the blood. Physicians prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat painful gout symptoms. Allopurinol and Colchicine are prescribed to manage gout. Side effects of these drugs include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes more serious conditions such as internal bleeding.
Gout symptoms normally go away within three to ten days after symptoms appear and may not recur for years. However, frequent attacks can damage joints and surrounding tissues.
Natural Remedies to Manage Gout
- Limit intake of dietary purines to reduce recurrent gout attacks.
- Drink tart cherry juice, which is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, and potassium. Ideally, 4 to 6 ounces of cherry juice is mixed with water and consumed twice a day to prevent recurrent gout attacks.
- Apple cider vinegar helps manage gout pain by alkalizing the body to reduce hyperuricemia. Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with water and consumed a few times a day is recommended.
- Manage body weight to decrease pressure on joints.
- Know your nutritional type to eat a healthy balanced diet based on the following types:
- High protein, high fat, low carbs (protein type)
- Low protein, low fat, high carbs (carb type)
- Mixed type of the above two diets
- Limit alcohol intake to reduce the risk of rising uric acid levels.
- Avoid sugary beverages.
- Avoid organ meats that are a rich source of uric acid. Other foods to avoid or consume in limited quantities are sardines, anchovies, lentils, peas, beans, and cauliflower.
- Take Bromelain, a nutritional supplement to reduce inflammation.
- Herbs such as turmeric, Boswellia, and devil’s claw may help reduce inflammatory symptoms.
- Quercetin reduces the production of uric acid, and a typical dose of 300 milligrams 2 or 3 times a day is recommended.
Like many other diseases, gout is the manifestation of lifestyle and inflammation and managing lifestyle changes is the best way to prevent and manage gout.
Sources for this article include:
- Choi HK. A prescription for lifestyle change in patients with hyperuricemia and gout. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2010 Mar;22(2):165-72.
- Crittenden DB, Pillinger MH. The year in gout: 2011-2012. Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 2012;70(3):145-51.