By Michael A. Smith, MDGout is the formal name for when uric acid crystalizes in your joints. Needless to say, when this happens, it hurts.
Gout is actually more common that you may think — according to the National Arthritis Data Workgroup an estimated 3 million people suffer from gout in the US.1 This makes it the most common form of arthritis in men.
Gout causes acute attacks of inflamed, painful joints that usually subside gradually, but it can also progress to a chronic condition if it’s not treated. Although it typically affects a joint in the big toe, it can actually occur in any small joint. When this happens, it hurts and makes the joint appear red and warm to the touch.
Though most gout attacks subside within 5 to 10 days with a complete resolution of symptoms, the next attack is often right around the corner. For this reason, taking steps to prevent it from coming back is definitely in your best interest.
Primary versus Secondary GoutPrimary gout is an intrinsic problem characterized by either an over-production of uric acid, an impaired excretion of uric acid, or both. However, the exact mechanism in most cases isn’t clearly understood. However, some doctors think that uric acid excretion signals an underdiagnosed genetic problem.2
In secondary gout, the cause is usually associated with medications or disease. If you’re taking any one of the following medications, you might consider routine uric acid testing:
- Diuretics (for high blood pressure & fluid retention)
- Aspirin & Other NSAIDS (for inflammation & pain)
- Niacin (for high cholesterol & triglycerides)
- Levodopa (for Parkinson’s disease)
- Cyclosporin (antibiotics)
- Leukemia & Lymphoma
- Lung Cancer
- Heart Failure
- Metabolic Syndrome
Watch What You Eat!Purine-rich foods are often associated with gout, since uric acid develops from the degradation of purine. Of course, some of this happens naturally in your body. The goal, however, is to not make our bodies undergo any excessive purine metabolism.
The following foods are purine-rich and worth avoiding if you’re prone to gout:
- Organ Meats
- Meat Broth & Gravy
Managing Gout NaturallyYour first steps in managing gout should probably involve these lifestyle changes:
- Avoid drinking alcohol – especially beer
- Avoid purine-rich foods
- Lose weight
- Increase exercise
- Cherry Extract
Cherries are rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins and catechins. Studies have shown that cherry extract can reduce uric acid concentration in women, though the exact mechanism causing this reduction is not known.3
Cherries and their extracts traditionally have been used to treat gout, and one small case series documented a decrease in duration and severity of gouty attacks.4
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C increases the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys. This was shown in a study using 500 mg of vitamin C per day in 187 healthy subjects. Half were given vitamin C and half were given a placebo. The glomerular filtration rate — a measurement of kidney excretion — was tested.
After two months, the subjects receiving vitamin C showed a reduction in blood uric acid when compared to the control group. This suggests that vitamin C may be beneficial in preventing and managing gout and other uric acid-related conditions.5
- Grape Seed Extract
Grape seeds are a rich source of procyanidins. These are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood uric acid in animal models.6
- Chinese Herbs
Uric acid is formed from xanthine, a purine metabolite, through the activity of an enzyme called xanthine oxidase. Researchers have identified herbal extracts that inhibit xanthine oxidase, thus decreasing the formation of uric acid.
The most active herb was cinnamon, followed by Chrysanthemum and lycopus. It turns out these herbs have been used in China for quite some time to treat gouty attacks and control flare-ups.7
Breaking the Cycle of GoutGout hurts, but don’t let it get you down. Truth is, just a few adjustments to your lifestyle could very well make a big difference in keeping it at bay.
If you want a lasting improvement in your quality of life, focus your strategy on breaking the cycle of gout entirely. By taking preventative steps and making long-term changes in-between flare-ups, you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of repeating the cycle over and over again. This is the key element to gaining control over it once and for all.
Do you have gout? Have you given any of our suggestions a shot? Please let us know your results in the comments!
- Arthritis & Rheum. Jan 2008; 58(1):26-35
- Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Jan;50(1):242-6.
- J Nutr. 2003 Jun;133(6):1826-9.
- Tex Rep Biol Med. 1950;8(3):309-11.
- Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Jun;52(6):1843-7
- Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2004 May;94(5):232-7.
- J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Nov;73(1-2):199-207.
Share | |