Gout is an intensely painful disorder caused by the buildup of uric acid. Although it affects both sexes, men are much more likely—by a factor of ten—to suffer from gout. The condition was once known as the “rich man’s disease,” and, in fact, it often strikes people who eat heavy, fatty foods and who overindulge in alcohol. Although this kind of diet was once solely the province of the wealthy, one no longer has to be rich to eat poorly. Today, the disease affects people across the entire spectrum of economic classes.
Uric acid is a metabolic by-product of protein breakdown. Purines raise uric acid levels in the body. Most purines are created by the body, but a few are taken in through food and drink. Since purines can’t be absorbed, they are normally broken down by a digestive enzyme that allows them to be dissolved and passed out of the body in urine. If there is more uric acid than the enzymes can break down, the acid accumu- lates in the tissues and the bloodstream. Eventually, it crystallizes into needle-shaped deposits. These sharp crystals of uric acid poke their way into the tissue that surrounds a joint and ultimately penetrate the joint itself. The resulting pain is extreme and is usually followed by redness and swelling of the joint, which may be highly sensitive to the touch. The pain may go on for days or even weeks, and unless the cause of gout is addressed, the attack is likely to recur. A person with gout is also more likely to suf- fer from uric acid kidney stones. Gout most often occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe, but it may also appear in other locations like the ankle, the thumb, the wrist, the elbow, and even the earlobe.
Newer research is demonstrating that people with insulin resistance are more sus- ceptible to gout. It is estimated that 76 percent of people with gout have insulin resist- ance. With this condition, the cells become resistant to the hormone insulin, and blood glucose levels remain high. This in turn leads to increased insulin levels and a result- ing uric acid increase. If you follow a syndrome X–type diet (one rich in plant foods, moderate protein consumption—especially ﬁsh—and low in saturated fat and reﬁned carbohydrates), uric acid decreases and the resultant gout ﬂare-ups can be prevented. This, along with a calorie-restricted diet and exercise, should be the primary plan for people with gout.
Conventional medicines that lower the levels of uric acid are available, but you should consider them a last resort. For hundreds of years, the best way to treat gout has been with diet and detoxiﬁcation therapies. Sometimes doctors automatically prescribe med- ication for gout because they don’t believe their patients will commit to changing their diets. If your doctor suggests medication for you, explain to him or her that you’re will- ing to try a new eating plan. You may ﬁnd that you can forgo harsh medicines entirely.
• Sharp pain, usually in a single joint and most often in the big toe
• Inﬂamed, red joints that feel hot and are tender to the touch
• A diet high in saturated fats, reﬁned carbohydrates, and alcohol
• Insulin resistance
South African researchers placed men with a history of gout on a nonconven- tional diet more suited
• Dehydration (in people susceptible to gout)
• Kidney disease
• Joint injury
• Pharmaceutical medications that increase uric acid (e.g., aspirin, diuretics, and high-dose niacin therapy)
• Lead toxicity
• High blood pressure
• Acidic system
for people with
insulin resistance. The diet was higher in pro- tein, complex carbo- hydrates (instead of reﬁned carbs), and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (instead of saturated fats). High purine foods, such as poultry and ﬁsh, were not restricted. After four months on this diet,
the average number of gout attacks fell by
two thirds. The aver- age decrease in uric acid was 18 percent. In addition, there was
an average loss of sev- enteen pounds and improvements in lipid markers such as low- ered LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and improved good HDL cholesterol.
For the ﬁrst stages of an attack, see the detoxiﬁcation suggestions further on.
After the pain has subsided, introduce whole grains, nuts, seeds, and soy products into your meals. These foods are high in ﬁber, which encourages the elimination of uric acid, and soy products are excellent vegetarian sources of protein. Continue to eat several helpings of raw fruits and vegetables daily.
Berries, especially cherries, strawberries, and blueberries, neutralize uric acid. Eat fresh berries as snacks or for dessert, and drink a glass of cherry juice every day.
Flaxseeds are a highly concentrated source of essential fatty acids, the “good” fats that reduce inﬂammation. Add ﬂaxseeds to juices, salads, or fruit plates, or use the oil as a salad dressing.
One of the most important foods you can eat to prevent gout is ﬁsh. Eat ﬁsh such as salmon, cod, halibut, and sardines, as they reduce inﬂammation.
Drink as much clean water as you can. One glass every two waking hours should be your minimum consumption.
Food to Avoid
The traditional approach for treating gout has been to eliminate from your diet foods that are high in purines: red meat, meat broths and gravies, bouillon, consommé, sweetbreads, shellﬁsh, anchovies, sardines, herring, mushrooms, asparagus, brewer’s yeast, ﬁsh, poultry, eggs, dried beans, peas, lentils, cooked spinach and rhubarb. How- ever, this is not only not necessary but for people with insulin resistance (the major- ity of gout sufferers), this can make your gout problem worse. Instead, focus on eating the foods in the recommended food list.
Rich foods aggravate gout pain. Stay away from saturated, hydrogenated and par- tially hydrogenated fats and oils, and do not eat products made with reﬁned ﬂour or sugar.
Alcohol increases uric acid levels. If you suffer from gout, you must not drink alco- hol in any form.
During an acute episode of gout, you may not feel much like eating. This response is useful, as it helps your body focus on eliminating the uric acid and discourages you from eating foods that may make the condition worse. When the pain begins, start a three-day juice fast; drink large quantities of cherry juice and green drinks (wheat- grass, chlorella, spirulina, etc.) and include plenty of clean water and herbal teas. This
fast will help speed the elimination of uric acid and reduce inﬂammation. Do not fast for more than three days, however, as prolonged periods without food can have a reverse effect and actually raise the levels of uric acid in your body.
After the fast, limit yourself to raw fruits and vegetables (along with juices, herbal teas, and water) for several days or until the pain subsides. These foods will encour- age further elimination of uric acid and will realkalinize your body’s internal environment.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for gout: Urinary pH—urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, folic acid, B6, B12)—blood
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
A study of twelve people with gout found that eating one- half pound of fresh or canned cherries or drinking a full quart of cherry juice prevented gout attacks. In all twelve people, uric acid levels returned to normal, and the gout attacks ceased. Black, sweet yellow, and red sour cherries were all effective.
Super Seven Prescription—Gout
Super Prescription #1 Homeopathic Colchicum
Take a 30C potency every waking two hours for two days. This homeopathic rem- edy is speciﬁc for gout pains that are worse with any motion.
Super Prescription #2 Celery seed extract
Take 450 mg two to three times daily to treat and prevent gout. Celery seed extract has anti-inﬂammatory effects and may reduce uric acid levels.
Super Prescription #3 Nettle root (Urtica dioica)
Nettle root encourages the elimination of uric acid from the kidneys. Select a prod- uct made with the concentrated root extract, and take 250 mg three times a day.
Super Prescription #4 Fish oil
Take a daily dosage of a ﬁsh oil product containing at least 480 mg of EPA and 360 mg of DHA. Fish oil reduces inﬂammation in the joints.
Super Prescription #5 Chlorella
Take 500 mg four times daily. Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll and works to alka- linize the body.
Super Prescription #6 Bromelain
Take 500 mg three times daily between meals. Look for products standardized to 2,000 M.C.U. (milk-clotting units) per 1,000 mg or 1,200 G.D.U. (gelatin- dissolving units) per 1,000 mg. Bromelain has a natural anti-inﬂammatory effect. Protease enzyme products also have this beneﬁt.
Super Prescription #7 Folic acid
Take 10 to 40 mg daily, under the supervision of a doctor. High doses of folic acid may help reduce uric acid levels.
P eople with gout should avoid high doses of niacin (more than 1,000 mg), as it can increase uric acid in some individuals.
Quercitin has natural anti-inﬂammatory effects. Take 500 to 1,000 mg three times daily.
Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) should not be taken if you have a his- tory of gallstones, heartburn, or ulcers. Take 1,500 to 2,500 mg of the standardized powdered herb in capsule or tablet form daily, or use 1 to 2 ml of a tincture three times a day.
Dandelion root (Taraxacum ofﬁcinalis) cleanses the kidneys. Take 500 mg or 1 to
2 ml three times daily. Be sure the preparation you use is made from the dried root.
A cream made with capsicum (cayenne pepper) has a remarkable and docu- mented ability to relieve pain. You can ﬁnd capsicum cream at most health food stores. Apply the cream to the affected area two to four times daily for symptomatic relief. Choose a cream standardized to 0.025 to 0.075 percent capsaicin. Capsaicin depletes the nerves of substance P, a neurotransmitter that transmits pain messages.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For acute gout pain, take a 30C potency four times daily. For low-grade gout pain, take a lower potency, such as 6x, 12x, or 12C, twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Arnica (Arnica montana) is for deep, bruising pain.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is for intense, throbbing, and burning pain that comes on quickly. The joint looks red and is worse from jarring.
Bryonia (Bryonia alba) is for pain that intensiﬁes with the slightest touch or move- ment. The person becomes very irritable.
Ledum (Ledum palustre) is the remedy for throbbing pain that is better from ice and cold-water applications. The knees and the feet are affected.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) will ease pain that moves around within the joint and that improves with gentle motion and the application of a cold compress.
Rhododendron is for gout of the big toe that ﬂares up before a storm. Warm appli- cations feel better.
Sulphur is for gout where there is a burning sensation and itching of the skin. Symp- toms are better with cold applications and worse from any heat.
No matter where gout surfaces in your body, you can use Large Intestine 4 to signif- icantly reduce the pain.
Do not rub the painful joint, as a local massage will only aggravate the pain. (Dur- ing an acute attack, you probably won’t even want to touch the area.) However, a lym- phatic massage for the rest of the body will help break down toxins, and it will help distract you, albeit temporarily, from the gout. Add juniper oil to the massage for added detoxiﬁcation beneﬁts.
Work the areas corresponding to the kidneys and to the body part affected by gout.
Some people ﬁnd that cold water is welcome relief for a “hot” joint; others ﬁnd that warm or hot hydrotherapy is more soothing. You will probably know instinctively which is best for you, so choose between the following suggestions accordingly.
During an acute attack, hold the joint under cold running water. Follow up with a cool bath.
Constitutional hydrotherapy can be used to help with acute gout and prevent fur- ther problems, due to its detoxifying qualities.
Other Bodywork Recommendations
Apply a hot or cold compress to the affected joint. To speed up the expulsion of uric acid, you can add juniper oil to the compress.
Acupuncture can be very helpful for acute gout.
Juniper oil helps break down toxic deposits and carries them away from the body. Add it to a hot sitz bath or a compress, or dilute it in a carrier oil and use in a massage (but don’t rub the affected joint directly).
Meditation is an excellent therapy for people suffering from gout. With practice, you can learn how to focus so intensely that you can switch your attention away from pain. And since stress and tension often trigger attacks of gout, regular stress- reduction techniques such as positive imagery may help reduce your chances of a recurring episode.
Bach Flower Remedies
See the chart on pages 648–650 to ﬁnd the remedy that best suits your personality and tendencies. Once you’ve chosen a remedy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
Rescue Remedy is for any emotional or physical crisis. Take it when gout pain starts up, or when you experience some emotionally stressful event that might trigger the pain.
If you tend to be frustrated by people who don’t share your way of doing things, take Beech. It will help develop your tolerance.
Gorse is for people who are overwhelmed by their illness and who feel that noth- ing can be done to improve their condition.
Holly will help people who project a conﬁdent, even aggressive, image, but who are eaten up inside by feelings of insecurity or jealousy.
If you are a busy, quick-thinking sort who cannot tolerate slow-moving people, Impatiens will help.
If you feel apathetic and resigned to having gout, Wild Rose would be a good selection.
• Exercise will stimulate blood ﬂow and decrease pain. Try a nonimpact sport like swimming.
• Magnet therapy can be effective in alleviating the pain of gout. Use as directed by a knowledgeable practitioner.
• People who are overweight are more vulnerable to gout than others are. If you need to lose weight, the dietary suggestions here can help. For further sugges- tions, see Obesity.