Gout is due to a defect in the metabolism of uric acid, causing high levels to be present in the bloodstream which are deposited in joints. It is more common in men than women by a factor of 10 to 1and most commonly affects the big toe of middle-aged men – it swells, turns red and becomes sore. The soreness is such that just walking through a room can cause severe pain.
Normally the uric acid is removed when urinating, but among patients with a predisposition for gout, the uric acid accumulates in the blood. Among some of these patients, the concentration in the blood is so high that the uric acid ‘overflows’ and settles in the joints and possibly in the skin. There may be a single attack which resolves, or repeated attacks representing prolonged high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.
Certain medicines such as diuretic preparations, which increase the output of urine, and acetylsalicylic acid derivatives including aspirin can be a causative factor. In these cases, the problem is that the body produces such large quantities of uric acid that the kidneys cannot keep up.
The first gout attack is often at night. Typically, the afflicted person wakes up in the middle of the night with extreme pain near the joint of the big toe (if the pain is in the knee it is called gonagra). The joint is swollen and may turn a shining purple. Even the smallest stimuli produce severe pain, for instance a blanket on the toe. The first attack usually subsides after about a week.
About 10 per cent of sufferers will never again experience gout whereas others will experience more frequent and longer lasting attacks if they are not treated. If it is not treated, repeated cases of gout over several years can produce permanent damage in the joint. If no preventive treatment is undertaken, over time, sodium urate will collect under the skin. In this case the crystals are seen as small bumps near the joints or on the outer side of the ear called tophi.
Occasionally they rupture or ooze out yellowish chalky materials.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Folic Acid.||Large amounts of supplemental folic acid have reduced uric acid levels in preliminary research.||400mcg to 1000mcg daily.|
|Vitamin C||Studies have shown that vitamin C can increase the urinary excretion of uric acid. For people with a history of gout attacks, it seems reasonable to begin vitamin C supplementation at 1000 mg per day, and to increase the amount gradually if uric acid levels do not decrease.||1gm up to 3 times daily|
|Quercetin||Quercetin is useful as an anti-inflammatory and a powerful anti-oxidant.||500mg to 1500mg daily|
|Devils Claw||Devils Claw is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Take it for at least 3 months to get the benefit.||500mg 3 times daily|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
If you are prone to gout you should avoid the following:
- overconsumption of alcohol, especially beer
- foods with a high content of protein and purines, such as liver, kidneys, sardines, mussels, scallops, fish roes, game, offal and anchovies.
Avoid food that you know can cause attacks and maintain your optimum weight.
The uric acid crystals can be secreted in the urinary system as calculi (stones). Therefore you have to drink plenty of water, preferably 10 to 12 glasses a day, in order to wash out the urinary system and prevent any stones from developing.
Eats lots of cherries and berries for antioxidants which protect the joints. They also help to get rid of uric acid.
Use ginger in cooking for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Exercise regularly to keep muscles and joints health and supple. Swimming and yoga can both be helpful.
If you have a painful episode of gout you may find the following traditional remedy helpful:
Take the leaf of a dark green cabbage and steam it lightly to soften it. Apply it to the affected area, holding it in place with a towel or bandage. Leave for 15 minutes and re-apply as needed.
Gentle massage with Devils Claw gel or Green Lipped Mussel Gel may help to relieve pain and inflammation.
Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)
Suggested further reading:
- Natural cures for gout
- Gout explained