Home Remedies for Gout
I cannot imagine a more painful condition than gout, and I’ve had some experience with pain. You literally go to bed at night feeling fine and wake up in the middle of the night in so much pain the touch of a sheet is agony. After the first flare up, all of your attention will probably be focused on never feeling that sort of pain again.
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that once you’ve had a flare up, there will probably be more. The good news is that you may be able to keep them to a minimum.
Best Home Remedies for Gout
I have to use the word “might” for more than one reason. The FDA is a bit picky about herbalists making definite statements, and I’d rather not annoy them. That aside, there are a few problems that might make flare ups more frequent.
Some medications, particularly when several are combined can cause gout flare ups. We discovered this when several medications taken for a cardiovascular problem were combined. Each medication had a “slight” chance of gout. When combined, especially without some dietary forewarnings, it became a sure thing.
People with some dietary concerns may also be at risk for gout. With the exception of organ meat, there are some vegetables that are higher in *purines than some cuts of meat (including fish). Dairy products and eggs also contain purines. This means that a vegetarian (no matter how the word is defined) is at least as much at risk as those who eat meat. I know at least one vegetarian who has gout.
Ok, So What Causes Gout
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in joints. There are a lot of reasons uric acid can build up. Dehydration, medication, genetics and poor diet choices can all create the problem, and it is usually a combo event.
Dehydration is probably one of the least understood problems in the equation. The simple definition is simply a lack of fluids in the body. In fact, dehydration is a common problem that creates more complex problems in many areas. By the time you feel thirst, you are already dehydrated. In dealing with gout, it means a concentration of body fluids, including the blood. The blood is what carries the uric acid around the body, thus meaning a higher concentration of uric acid is available to be dumped into joints.
There are many medications that have a “slight” risk of gout. The more you combine, the higher the risk. Aspirin is a major factor in gout. Medications for blood pressure, anticoagulants and several others contain that slight risk. The combo can be very potent.
There are many who claim that genetics alone predicts who will have gout, but that seems preposterous to me. Since the disease is caused by uric acid crystals, it is logical to believe that anyone who has high uric acid content is going to have a problem. Genetics may indicate how sensitive a person is to gout, but it will not protect everyone from it.
Diet choices play a fairly large role in gout. Lest someone read that and then create their own gout diet avoiding all animal products, I must remind you that there are vegetables higher in purines than some meats. Everyone has to pay attention to their diet.
*Purines are one precursor to uric acid.
I’ve Got Gout…
For many, the first flare up of gout strikes the big toe. It would not surprise me greatly if it was the right big toe, as that is just about the furthest (arterially) from the heart. At this point, blood flow is probably at its weakest, and impurities will be dropped off.
Here is where the stories about gout causes change what one can do about them. Gout used to be called a “rich man’s disease.” Yes, men are more likely to have gout, but wealth (if it ever did) does not apply. Granting that animal products can cause the problem, when people were referring to gout as a rich man’s disease, rich men drank wine. Poor men drank ale or beer…and that is more likely to cause gout.
Leaving the cause aside, there are things you can do to prevent gout flare ups. Most importantly, keep track of the amounts of both purine and acidic foods you ingest. These two will help you the most at avoiding flare ups. Also, note your particular trigger foods/drinks. The human body has many similarities to other humans, but it is also highly individual. One person may have a flare up caused by eating sea food and be fine with other foods.
Herbal remedies also vary. Some herbs may help with a flare up, and others may help prevent them. Like foods, it is highly individual. Unlike food, there are other things to consider. Medications and herbs can work together, but they can also clash. An in depth study of these remedies is in order, and it is also important to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor and your pharmacist.
Believe it or not, the best home remedy for gout is cherry juice. Other deep red juices may also be helpful, as is the actual fruit itself. Finding cherry juice may be something of a problem, as most major grocery store chains don’t sell it. However, stores like Trader Joe’s and health food stores usually do have it, either in ready to drink format or in a concentrate.
There is one “non-food” cause for gout flare ups, and that is stress. Not only does stress lead to a flare up all by itself, it often causes us to eat or drink things for comfort…and some of them also cause flare ups. When you are under stress, it is important to find a way to deal with it that will not cause you pain.
Many people self-medicate with alcohol when under stress. Unfortunately, if you have gout, that is more or less asking for a flare up. This is particularly true if you reach for a beer, as it has two strikes against it. Alcohol dehydrates, thus leaving a higher concentration of uric acid in the blood. Beer has yeast in it, and yeast is a source of purines. If you do reach for a glass of something, avoid beer. In fact, red wine might be a better choice, but speak with your doctor first.
More information about stress management is on this web site, but here are a couple of herbs that might help you relax. Chamomile, jasmine, lavender and passionflower are all fairly mild, safe herbs. They can be used together or separately, depending on your needs. As there are some medications that interact with these herbs, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they are ok for you.