Whilst research has focused primarily on finding safe and effective treatments for the management of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, the incidence of gout has quietly risen in the past two decades. Gout is a type of arthritis that causes stiff, swollen and painful joints and typically two thirds of people will experience it as excruciating pain in the big toe. The symptoms of gout mentioned above are due to excess uric acid crystals that form around the joints, and the pain is caused by your body’s inflammatory response to these crystals. These symptoms can develop rapidly to their worst point in six to twenty four hours and usually last for between three and ten days, often referred to as a gout attack. After this time, the joint/s will start to feel normal and any pain or discomfort should eventually disappear.
Besides gout, elevated uric acid is related to a variety of health concerns including:
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- kidney disease
- cardiovascular disease
Many people suffering from gout will resort to taking some type of pain reducing drugs or drugs that work to lower uric acid levels in the bloodstream, or simply drugs that block the inflammatory response. Since gout is a lifelong condition, I do not believe that one needs to be reliant on these drugs when there are some very safe and natural approaches to address gout.
What causes gout?
The main factor that causes gout is an increase in uric acid. Uric acid is perfectly normal and is produced when your body metabolises purines, found in the greatest concentration in sardines, liver and alcoholic drinks. It is only when uric acid is produced in very high concentrations or when the kidneys cannot eliminate this completely than it crystallises around the joint tissues causing pain and stiffness. There are several foods that can be avoided or reduced and they include:
Vegetables – asparagus, spinach, peas and cauliflower. Avoid lentils and beans.
Poultry and meat – duck, chicken and turkey are very high in purines and organs of animals such as liver and kidneys.
Alcoholic beverages – beer is extraordinarily high in purines.
Another factor that contributes to gout is excess weight. Whilst there are many healthy foods that contain purines such as beans and lentils, many of the foods that cause gout are simply unhealthy for the body and can contribute to weight gain. These foods either increase uric acid manufacture or simply prevent its elimination. Additionally, excess weight puts a burden on the joint tissues which can damage them making them more susceptible to future attacks.
Because gout is associated with inflammation and subsequent damage to the joint tissues, it is best to avoid sugar. Sugar produces compounds that damage the soft tissues and the hard structures within our bodies. Some studies indicate that reducing sugar intake can cut gout attacks by an astonishing 85%. This means eliminate soft drinks and fruit juices and drink plenty of water instead, which will actually help in the elimination of uric acid. Certain drugs such as diuretics can dehydrate the body causing uric acid build-up and potential gout attack.
Men are three times more likely to suffer from gout than women. This is due to uric acid levels rising through puberty and staying elevated throughout their life . Additionally, the female hormone oestrogen increases the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, however beyond menopause women have an equal chance of suffering from gout.
Since gout is associated with inflammation of the joints, it follows that one should consider a low acid diet avoiding excessive use of potatoes, tomatoes, dairy products and sugar. Reducing inflammation should be the top priority. Sugar is metabolised into compounds that encourage the destruction of the body’s protein structures and joint tissues. Research indicates that you can lower the risk of gout by over 80% by simply reducing your sugar intake. This means avoiding soft drinks, fruit juices and alcohol and instead drinking plenty of pure water. Cherries contain compounds that work to inhibit inflammatory enzymes however one would need to eat a lot of cherries on a daily basis and that would be detrimental due to their sugar content. Instead, I recommend drinking CherryActive Concentrate with each one ounce serving providing the equivalent of approximately 100 cherries without the sugar.
Treatment of gout
Conventional treatments for gout include the use of analgesics for pain, medications that reduce uric acid levels and suggesting appropriate lifestyle changes. I absolutely agree with lifestyle changes such as shedding weight and eating a healthy and balanced diet that is low in purine-rich foods. However, there is a particular supplement which I believe can benefit everyone who suffers from gout, and one that can be used safely on an ongoing basis to prevent gout attacks which contains tart cherries, turmeric, nettle and celery, Tart Cherry, Nettle and Turmeric. The ingredients include:
Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids. Both of these compounds help to slow down the enzymes that contribute to pain normally associated with arthritis and gout.
Turmeric has been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and yet we are only just realising its potential applications. It contains active compounds that have been found in numerous studies to possess considerable anti-inflammatory activity. In fact when compared to certain drugs, turmeric displays equal anti-inflammatory activity in acute inflammation and is approximately 50% as potent in chronic inflammation.
Nettle is commonly employed to provide relief from allergies by inhibiting the release of histamine. Recent studies indicate that nettle also inhibits a much wider variety of inflammatory compounds thus decreasing inflammation in the body, a contributory factor in gout.
Celery has been studied extensively and found to modulate levels of uric acid in the body. Additionally, celery can provide dramatic pain relief by suppressing COX-2, an enzyme involved in inflammation. Celery is also a great diuretic helping to remove excess uric acid from the body.
Addressing some of the contributory factors that are responsible for gout together with the right supplement can go a long way to prevent gout attacks.