Gout, a form of arthritis, occurs when uric acid forms crystals that build up in a joint, which results in the sudden onset of inflammation and severe pain. Uric acid is a normal by-product of the body’s protein metabolism. Individuals who experience gout either produce too much uric acid or do not eliminate the substance efficiently. Gout may develop in any joint, although the big toe joint is most commonly affected. The pain caused by gout may arise without warning and is often very intense. The joint typically appears red and swollen, and becomes tender to the touch. In some cases, a low-grade fever may accompany the inflammation.
According to Cedars Sinai Medical Center, more than 2 million Americans have gout and men are more likely to develop the condition than women. Individuals who consume more than two alcoholic drinks daily, weigh more than 30 pounds over their ideal weight, have untreated high blood pressure or diabetes, or have a family history of the disorder have an increased risk of experiencing gout. Certain medications including low-dose aspirin and cyclosporine, a drug used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, can also cause excess uric acid that leads to the formation of gout. Eating too many foods high in purines such as organ meats, herring, mackerel and anchovies can also cause gout.
In most cases, treating gout consists of taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to until the symptoms subside. Avoiding excess animal protein, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake and drinking plenty of water can also help. In addition, numerous gout home remedies exist to help you deal with the pain. However, make sure to consult your physician before relying completely on natural remedies. You may require more intensive treatment, depending on the specific cause of your gout, to get rid of the problem and prevent it from returning in the future. Use home remedies as a last resort until you can see your doctor for the best results.
Pure water is one of the best home remedies for gout. It helps flush the uric acid crystals away from the joint and out of the body. Drinking up to 1 gallon (128 ounces) of water each day during a gout attack is recommended for optimal benefit. However, don’t let up on your water consumption just because the pain subsides. Continue drinking several quarts of water each day to prevent uric acid from accumulating again. For the best results, drink distilled water or filtered water that’s been through a reverse osmosis filtration system.
Cherries contain substances known as anthocyanocides, which are effective in lowering uric acid levels in the body. Simply eating ½ cup to 1 lb. of cherries daily may help relieve the symptoms of gout, prevent a gout attack from occurring or stop an attack in progress. Wild or black cherries work best, as they contain the highest levels of anthocyanocides, although any type can help. Black cherries are very difficult to find in your average market. For the best results, use black cherry juice for gout purchased in liquid or pill form from your local drug store or health food store. You can also remove the pits from regular cherries and place them in a blender with some distilled water to make juice. Drink as needed, using up to 1 lb. of cherries daily.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Although unproven by science, many natural healers recommend taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each morning to help prevent gout attacks. For severe or frequent attacks, try taking a tablespoon of the vinegar in the morning and another in the evening until symptoms subside. If you can’t stand the taste, mix the vinegar with a cup of warm water to make it easier to drink. You can use apple cider vinegar in conjunction with other gout remedies, as it is safe to consume and causes no side effects. It’s certainly worth a try when you’re in pain, but it may not work for everyone.
Long advocated by herbalists to reduce inflammation of the joints, stinging nettle also helps lower uric acid levels. Healers typically recommend taking 300 to 600 mg of a freeze-dried nettle extract each day. However, do not use stinging nettle for longer than three months at a time without taking a break. Do not take nettle in tincture form, as tinctures contain alcohol that aggravates gout. You can also make nettle tea by steeping 1 tbsp. of the dried leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes and straining. Drink the tea or soak a clean cloth in it, wring it out and apply directly to the affected joint as a poultice. In addition, stinging nettle tea bags are often available at health food stores or through online retailers. Nettle tea has a pleasant taste and can be made more palatable by adding honey.
Celery has long been believed to eliminate uric acid in the body, particularly celery seed extract, which you can purchase from online retailers or in your local health food store. Famed herbalist James A. Duke endorses the use of celery seed for gout in his book “The Green Pharmacy.” Duke consumed two to four tablets of celery seed extract daily for six months instead of the drug allopurinol, during which time he experienced not a single episode of gout. For a week, however, he ate four celery stalks daily instead of taking the tablets. If you suffer from gout, if probably won’t hurt to add a bit more celery to your diet, too.
Several other herb and vitamin supplements have been indicated as natural remedies for gout. Here are some of the most common and a short description of their properties:
- Vitamin B6 and Magnesium – Vitamin B6 helps distribute water in the body and keeps all of the tissues hydrated. This, in turn, helps prevent uric acid from turning into crystals. Magnesium aids in the body’s absorption of vitamin B6. If you frequently suffer from gout, try taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 once a day as a preventative or three times daily to treat an attack, along with 400 mg magnesium.
- Fish Oil or Flaxseed Oil – These oils contain large amounts of a potent anti-inflammatory agent known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This substance makes the oils effective gout natural remedies, as they can ease the pain and inflammation caused by the condition. Take about 1500 mg daily of either of the oils, which equals about a tablespoon, daily as needed.
- Bromelain – An enzyme found in pineapple, bromelain reduces inflammation in the body. A typical dosage for an acute gout attack consists of taking 500 mg of bromelain tablets three times daily between meals. Adding fresh pineapple to your diet may also be a good idea, especially during a painful gout episode.
Dr. Duke’s Gout Chaser
In his book “The Green Pharmacy Anti-Aging Prescriptions,” herbalist James A. Duke recommends making the following recipe to help prevent a painful gout attack. This appears especially helpful if you feel an episode coming on, but you can also drink it daily as a preventative measure.
- 8 oz. cherry juice (black cherry juice is preferred, but not necessary)
- 4 oz. strawberry juice
- 2 oz. cranberry juice
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
- 1 dash cinnamon, to taste
- Combine the cherry juice, strawberry juice and cranberry juice.
- Add the spices and stir well to combine.
- Drink several cups daily as a therapeutic measure, or one cup daily as a preventative.
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