Gout is a common form of arthritis that is diagnosed in over 3 million Americans every year. It is characterized by swelling, redness and pain in the joints, most often beginning in the big toe. Patients often report that the pain worsens at night and will awaken even a deep sleeper. Although it is associated with the elderly, gout can appear in children and youth. It is the result of a build up of uric acid which forms sharp urate crystals in the joints. Uric acid is formed after eating food with purines such as red meat and seafood. It is also present in drinks with high fructose sweeteners. Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood, passing through your kidneys into your urine. The problem arises either when the body produces too much uric acid or the kidneys excrete too little uric acid.
There are a number issues that can trigger a gout attack: medical conditions, surgery, diet, trauma, genetics and medication like thiazide diuretics or chronic use of low dose aspirin. The most common cause starts in the kidneys. Supporting the kidneys is key to treating and preventing gout. Most doctors will suggest an OTC (over-the-counter medication) such as ibuprofen or write a prescription for an anti-inflammatory or uric acid reducing medication. They may suggest dietary or behavioral changes.
Most Common Lifestyle Change Suggestions
- Exercise at least 20 minutes daily
- Eat a balanced diet to control your weight
- Properly hydrate with water
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Avoid alcohol use, especially beer.
- Substitute meat and seafood for low-fat proteins such as yogurt, nuts and grains
There are 2 types of gout: Chronic Gout and Reoccurring (Acute) Gout. Both are treatable but acute gout responses fastest to dietary changes. This type of arthritis is often accompanied by high blood pressure or a heart or kidney condition. Keep track of blood pressure using a digital blood pressure cuff at home and keeping a log of the results. By exercising and improving the diet, those that suffer from gout will find their blood pressure also reducing. Remember that kidney function is influenced by circulation, thus blood pressure regulation is an important part of supporting the kidneys and reducing gout. It is very helpful to keep a copy of the patient’s blood test results at home to review any changes in trouble spots such as low magnesium or potassium levels. Below is a list of supplements that can be added to a dietary change. Slightly low mineral levels can be improved by substituting dried nuts and berries such as cherries or blueberries in place of other snack foods. Even one Brazil nut contains twice the RDA of selenium.
Herbs are concentrated forms of nutrition and phytochemicals. Black (Tart) Cherry is a well known as a gout reducer which is backed up in scientific study. It can be consumed in either pill, powder or juice form. Do not take black cherry cocktail when experiencing an attack of inflammation as the high sugar content will cause a reaction in the kidneys. Celery seed is specific for triggering the kidney to expel acid wastes. This can be consumed as tea or capsule. It is important to quality check the celery seed if used in a tea for the distinctive celery-like odor as this signals the presence of apoil, the active ingredient in celery seed. Nettle and dandelion leaf are mineral rich herbs that support the kidneys and circulation. Omega 3s, turmeric, ginger and bromelain act as anti-inflammatory agents and are easier on the stomach that OTC NSAIDS.
As always, consult with a qualified healthcare professional before adopting any change in your dietary or supplement regime to be sure that there are no counter-indications with your existing medication.
Herbs and Supplements for Gout Recovery
- Magnesium supplements
- Potassium supplements
- Black Cherry
- Celery seed
- Nettle leaf
- Dandelion leaf
- Omega 3s (fish oil or hemp seed)
- Bromelain supplements