Gout is a form of arthritis where you feel severe attacks of pain in your joints with associated tenderness and redness. The most common site of the attack is the base of the big toe.
In a nutshell people suffer from gout when urate crystals (tiny crystals formed from uric acid) get deposited in the joints. Usually uric acid is processed by your kidneys and is passed out of the body in the form of urine, however not all of the uric acid from your body can be expelled when:
- You consume way too much food that produces too much uric acid for your kidneys to process, or
- Your kidneys are unable to process and expel adequate amounts of urine.
Foods that tend to trigger excess uric acid in your body are:
- Alcoholic beverages, especially beer
- Steak and organ meat (offal)
- Drinks that are sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar). Most sodas will fall into this category
Men are more prone to suffer from gout than women. The probability of women suffering from gout significantly increases after menopause.
Although the joint on the big toe is the likeliest site for an attack of gout, it may also occur in joints located in the following body parts:
The symptoms of a gout attack can be summarized by:
- Red and Inflamed joints: Joints like toes or heels are red, warm, and sensitive to the touch. They would be swollen as well!
- Intense pain in the joints: The pain is really severe when it starts for the first time. Usually unbearable during the first 12 hours of an attack.
- Lingering after-effects: Even after an attack of gout passes, the affected area will continue to feel tender and swollen.
- Decreased joint mobility: If left untreated, there will be limited range of motion in the afflicted joints that will get progressively worse!
Home Remedies for Gout
It is not the end of the world if you or a family member starts suffering from gout. There are several home remedies available that can help treat the symptoms.
Besides jolting people awake every morning, scientific studies have shown that people who drink several cups of coffee have a lower chance of suffering from gout compared to those who do not drink coffee at all! It has been shown that:
- People who drink 4 to 5 cups of coffee every day are 40% less likely to develop gout
- People who consume more than 6 cups of coffee every day are 59% less like to develop gout.
This is because coffee is a powerful diuretic, which means that it helps flush out the system and helps reduce the uric acid build-up. However, coffee contains copious amounts of caffeine, which has an entire laundry-list of side-effects. Hence, it is strongly recommended that you consult your doctor before you significantly increase your coffee consumption. Even if you decide to go down this route, you would need to drink plenty of water to ensure that you remain hydrated.
Water should be your primary source of fluids. If you are in the habit of drinking alcohol, sodas or different fruity beverages, replace them with water as much as possible. This will help dissolve the existing urate crystals and allow more uric acid to be flushed out of the system. To ensure that you are consuming enough water, simply apply the “8×8” rule, which states that you need to drink 8 oz. of water, 8 times during the course of the day.
During a gout attack, immersing the inflamed joint under cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes will provide the sufferer with some welcome relief.
Ice packs can help deal with the pain of a gout attack; however couple of things needs to be kept in mind while applying this treatment:
- Do not apply the ice directly on the inflamed area as it may harm the skin. Wrap the ice in a towel or a napkin and apply that instead.
- Do not apply ice packs for more than 15 minutes at a time. Although the extreme cold will provide some temporary relief from the pain, it also speeds up the formation of urate crystals.
Although consuming too much fructose increases the uric acid content in your body, there a several fruits that can help you win your battle against gout:
- Grapes: Grapes helps make your blood more alkaline. We know from high school chemistry that an alkali neutralizes an acid, hence if we inject our blood with natural alkali, like those provided by grapes; it will reduce the formation of uric acid in our bloodstream and will also help counteract the build-up of urate crystals.
- Bananas: According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, eating a couple of bananas during the course of the day will also help treat the symptoms of gout. The main reasons are:
- It contains Vitamin C, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It reduced the uric acid formation in our body as well!
- It contains potassium, which can turn urate crystals back to uric acid, which is then easier for the body to flush out in the form of urine.
- Apples: Apples are rich in Vitamin C, which reduces the uric acid content and has anti-inflammatory properties as well!
- Cherries: Having cherry juice or including about 20 cherries into one’s breakfast can be an effective cure for gout. This is because:
- It contains anthocyanin, which is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Its anti-oxidant properties oxidize uric acid, thus diluting its concentration in the body.
- It contains Vitamin C as well and we have already established its efficacy in eliminating the symptoms of gout.
- Pineapples: Pineapples are a natural source of bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme. It also helps increase the blood circulation in the affected area, thus helping your body erode the urate crystals.
- Avocados: Avocados contains anti-oxidants and mono-saturated oils (Omega 3 fatty acids) that act as anti-inflammatory agents. Incorporating avocados in your diet would allow you to heal your gout naturally. In case you are wondering, there are other ways of consuming avocado besides consuming copious amounts of guacamole.
- Lemons: Lemon juice helps you alkalize your body and is a great way to get some Vitamin C into your system. There are a couple of ways you can consume it:
- Take an 8 oz. glass of water and squeeze half a lemon into it. Stir it thoroughly and feel free to drink this at least three times a day.
- You can increase the potency of lemon juice by adding an alkali to it, such as sodium bicarbonate, more popularly known as baking soda. Squeeze the juice from one lemon into a glass and sprinkle half a teaspoon of baking soda into it. Once the fizzing stops fill the glass with water and drink it immediately.
- Strawberries: Strawberries are another excellent source of Vitamin C.
Please note that you should not put all your faith in just one of these fruits, but they should be used in conjunction with other treatments. In 2005, the FDA issued warning letters to 29 different companies that explicitly stated on the product label that consuming these fruits will cure gout.
- Baking Soda
Besides increasing the strength of the lemon juice treatment, baking soda is an effective treatment for gout in its own right! Adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water is an inexpensive way of creating alkaline water, which is all the rage in certain circles. The theory is that this natural alkali will increase the pH level of blood by making it more alkaline, which will in turn help neutralize the uric acid and urate crystals.
However, please consult a physician before applying this treatment because:
- The medical community is divided in terms of determining how effective baking soda is, when it comes to treating gout. Some like Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards, who is a Professor of Medicine at University of Florida (Gainesville), believe that most of the baking soda reacts with the stomach acids and has no tangible effect on gout. He believes baking soda to be an effective cure for hyperacidity instead.
- Even if baking soda is able to effectively change the pH level of blood, making the blood alkaline does have its immediate side effects such as:
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
Despite all of the purported side-effects or alleged ineffectiveness, 85% of the respondents of a recent online poll claimed to have noticed an improvement in their condition!
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is another liquid that claims to increase the pH level of your blood, thus reducing the concentration of uric acid and helping in the dissolution of urate crystals. It contains significant amounts of Vitamin C as well! Simply add one teaspoon of organic ACV to an 8 oz. glass of water and drink all of it at one sitting. You can add a bit of honey make the liquid more palatable. For best results, try to procure 100% organic ACV that has the ‘mother of vinegar’ in it.
Before you place too much faith in this treatment, please be aware of the following:
- The evidence of ACV as an effective cure for gout is purely anecdotal. We are not aware of any scientific studies that either verify or nullify these claims.
- N. Lawrence Edwards from the University of Florida (Gainesville) is highly skeptical of this treatment. His reasoning is exactly the same that he uses to disregard the purported benefits of baking soda for gout.
That being said, there is historical evidence of ACV being used by sailors to prevent the onset of diseases caused by Vitamin C deficiency, including gout. Some say that Christopher Columbus carried several barrels of ACV with him during his historic voyage.
- Celery Seeds
Celery seeds are an effective cure for gout because:
- It has close to 20 anti-inflammatory agents.
- It contains 3-n-Butylphalide, a diuretic that helps flush out the system, the same way that coffee does, as explained earlier.
However, chewing on celery seeds can be a pretty cumbersome exercise, as it is extremely bitter and is difficult to swallow. You need not fret as Indian, German and several other cuisines makes widespread use of celery seeds in soups, curries and salad dressings.
The celery plant itself is extremely rich in Vitamin C, hence snacking on celery sticks or consuming celery juice can help relieve the symptoms of gout as well; however consuming celery seeds will be a lot more effective!
- Juniper Oil
Juniper oil is extracted from the berries, needles and the wood of the juniper tree (Juniperus communis). You need to create a compress to use juniper oil:
- Take a clean piece of cloth and pour a few drops of juniper oil in it.
- Tie it on the affected area. If need be, use medical tapes to hold it in place.
This compress should be left overnight. Once the oil gets absorbed by the skin, it will help break up the urate crystals that are causing the painful symptoms.
- Beet Juice
Consuming beet juice can relieve the symptoms of gout because:
- It has generous quantities of Vitamin C
- It contains Betacyanin which is a known anti-oxidant
Drinking a glass of beet juice in the morning will provide significant relief from the symptoms of gout.
A study published in the “Annals of Biological Research” in 2011 clearly showed that consumption of ginger reduced the incidence of gout. There are several ways by which you can consume ginger:
- Ginger is widely used in Asian cuisine; it is ginger that gives Asian dishes that deliciously pungent odor and a tangy kick. South Asian cuisine makes a wide use of ginger as well, especially when it comes to preparing meat and fish. Some great ideas by which you can incorporate ginger in western cuisine as well can be found on the internet!
- You can simply cut a thin slice of ginger and chew it first thing in the morning. If you like the taste of raw ginger, you are more than welcome to chew more of it!
- You can also make some ginger tea! Soak half a teaspoon of ginger in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes. You can add a teaspoon of honey or squeeze a slice of lemon into it for added taste.
- You can mix equal parts of ginger root powder, fenugreek powder and turmeric powder, take one teaspoon of this mixture and mix it in a glass of lukewarm water. It is not going to taste very good, but drinking this twice daily will provide you with some welcome relief in a few days!
- Throw some ginger root in the blender, add a bit of water and turn the blender on for a few seconds to make a smooth paste! Apply this paste on the affected area and then make a dressing using cotton pads, medical gauze and tapes and leave it overnight. Anecdotal evidence suggests that doing this every night will relieve the symptoms in a few days.
Turmeric has been revered in Indian culture as a herbal cure for a wide variety of diseases for almost 4000 years! The main reason for that is the presence of curcumin, a potent yet natural anti-inflammatory component, which also gives turmeric its yellow color. Research shows that not only can turmeric ease the pain, but with repeated use, it can help get rid of the symptoms altogether. There are several ways by which you can consume more turmeric:
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of lukewarm water and drink it first thing in the morning.
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of pineapple juice. The curcumin from turmeric and the bromelain from pineapple juice can form a two-pronged attack on your gout, which can get rid of the symptoms really fast!
- While eating out, opt for a restaurant that offers South Asian cuisine. A generous amount of turmeric is used as a base in most curries.
- Turmeric can also be seamlessly integrated into western cuisine. You can find some great ideas on the internet.
- Homeopathic Treatment
There is a lot of interest in homeopathic treatment as the “medicine” is present in minute quantities, giving the body the necessary encouragement to heal naturally. Also homeopathic medicine is famed for not having any side-effects. Following homeopathic medicines are suggested by leading practitioners:
- Colchicum: Useful for treating chronic and acute symptoms of gout. Purported to be especially useful when the affected area is highly swollen and tender.
- Ledum Pal: This is said to treat symptoms where the pain originates in the big toe and travels all the way up to the knees. The patient would probably feel a bit feverish as well!
- Benzoic acid: This is useful for treating symptoms where the gout pain is accompanied with urine that has a highly offensive odor.
- Antim Crudum: If gout is accompanied by gastric disorders, usually brought on by over-eating, then antim crudum is usually prescribed.
- Sabina: This is usually prescribed for female sufferers, especially if the gout is accompanied with any feminine disorders.
For best results, please do not self-medicate and contact a qualified homeopathic practitioner.
Did you or a family member suffer from gout on common places like the big toe? Which treatment provided you with the most relief? Feel free to share your experiences with us!