An intensely painful disorder, gout is the result of a buildup of uric acid in a joint. When our body encounters purines, a compound it can’t absorb, it creates uric acid to break them down. Normally uric acid is passed out of the body through urine, but in some cases the body produces too much uric acid and the excess builds up as sharp, needle-like crystals in the tissues around the joint, eventually penetrating the joint and causing severe pain, redness and swelling. Gout most often strikes at the base of the big toe, but any joint is at risk, including ankles, thumbs, wrist and elbows.
Excess uric acid production can be a result of many factors, including overconsumption of alcohol and taking certain medications such as low-dose aspirin and thiazide diuretics. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) are also at risk for high levels of uric acid. Age and sex also increase the likeliness of developing gout; men tend to be more affected than women, especially men between the ages of 40 and 50.
Although conventional medicine for treating gout exists, diet and lifestyle changes are the best way to treat gout. Start by checking out these home remedies for gout.
Although any joint is at risk, gout most often strikes in the big toe. Photo By Forgiss/Courtesy Fotolia.
Natural Home Remedies for Gout
Changing the way you eat is one of the biggest factors in treating gout. An anti-inflammatory diet rich in fiber and essential fatty acids is best. Opt for whole grains, nuts and seeds, berries, soy products and fish. Berries can neutralize uric acid, and fish provide essential fatty acids necessary for keeping inflammation in check. Avoid rich, heavy and fatty foods that are high in saturated, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils or refined flour or sugar. Alcohol raises uric acid levels and should also be avoided.
It has been traditionally recommended that patients suffering from gout should avoid foods high in purines such as red meat, shellfish, mushrooms, poultry, eggs, beans and lentils, peas and spinach, but as many patients with gout also have insulin resistance, this can make gout worse. Additionally, a South African study found that men with history of gout who ate a diet high in protein, complex carbs and poly- and monounsaturated fats—but were not restricted from high-purine foods such as poultry and certain kinds of fish—saw gout attacks fall by two-thirds and experienced an 18 percent decrease in levels of uric acid.
When a gout attack first flares up, consider detoxing for three days: drink large quantities of cherry juice (which, like berries, can neutralize uric acid), green drinks, water and herbal teas. Detoxing will promote the removal of uric acid from your body and will prevent you from eating any foods that may make your gout worse. Don’t detox for any longer than three days as this can raise uric acid levels.
Eating cherries can lower uric acid levels and prevent gout attacks. Photo By martiapunts/Courtesy Fotolia.
Herbs and Supplements
Bromelain. Extracted from pineapple stems, this compound has natural anti-inflammatory effects. Take 500 mg of bromelain three times daily between meals.
Celery seed extract also has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also help reduce uric acid levels. Take 450 mg two or three times daily.
Chlorella. A type of algae, chlorella is rich in chlorophyll (as well as other important vitamins and minerals) and is often used to help detox the body. Additionally, chlorella alkalizes the blood, correcting imbalances in acidity—like having too much uric acid. Take 500 mg four times daily.
Fish oil contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation in the joints. Take a daily supplement.
Nettle root. Useful as a detox herb, nettle root can help remove uric acid from the kidneys and encourage its elimination from the body. Take 250 mg three times daily.
For immediate relief of pain, try a cream containing capsaicin, an active compound in cayenne peppers that has been shown to naturally relieve pain.