Acute Inflammatory Arthritis: Don’t Scream and Shout About Gout
Gout is an extremely painful condition characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis. Usually one joint becomes swollen, red, tender and warm. About 50% of the time, it is the big toe, but other joints may be involved. Gout occurs when uric acid (a natural waste product of protein metabolism that eventually gets excreted in the urine) builds up in the blood to an excessive level and starts to crystallize. It is these crystals that land in the joints, tendons, or surrounding areas and cause intolerable pain.
Historically, gout was known as the “disease of kings” because it tended to afflict royalty and those who had the means to indulge in “rich” diets heavy on meat, alcohol, and fats. Small wonder that the same risk factors are correlated with the increase in gout cases today. These include dietary choices, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, being overweight, metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low “good” cholesterol), osteoarthritis, and chronic kidney disease. The good news is that with willingness to incorporate lifestyle changes, many cases of gout can be easily controlled.
Avoid purines. Some foods are very high in purines. Foods on the “avoid list” include red meat, pork, anchovies, herring, asparagus, and mushrooms. Instead substitute protein rich foods such as nuts, legumes, and high-protein grains like quinoa. A gout patient’s main dietary focus should be on whole grains, small portions of chicken or fish, seeds, soy in moderation, and fruits and vegetables. Saturated fats lower our ability to get rid of uric acid, so do not use them. Avoid all the whites: white flour, white rice, white sugar, and processed foods.
Cherry juice. Many folk know that eating cherries is helpful. This is no myth! Eating cherries decreases the level of inflammatory markers inside the body, in particular uric acid, c- reactive protein and nitric oxide. Elevation of these markers is indicative of high levels of inflammation, which will aggravate gout. Two tablespoons of unsweetened cherry juice concentrate can be watered down to make an 8 ounce glass of juice. Drink three of these glasses a day.
Drink the correct fluids. Since dehydration can contribute to high uric acid levels, drinking enough water is paramount for gout patients. Drink eight ounces of water every 1-2 hours while awake. Coffee and caffeine should be avoided as they tend to be dehydrating, even in small amounts. Alcohol should be avoided as well, since it interferes with ridding uric acid from the body.
Alkalinize your tissues. It seems almost absurd that simple baking soda could cure gout, but this very inexpensive item found in most kitchens has the ability to alkalize an acidic body, which brings relief to gout. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of water. Add a few slices of lemons and drink 3-4 cups a day. Ideally the pH of your urine, which can be tested with simple pH paper, should be about 7.0. Green Barley powder is an alternative alkalinzer that will further help decrease acidity and inflammation.
Herbs and vitamins. Alfalfa, Celery Seed, Cat’s Claw are some herbs that have been used successfully for gout. These herbs are usually taken in capsules. Garlic, a strong ant-inflammatory herb, is best taken raw. Adding it liberally to food such as salad dressing is the easiest way to take it. Vitamin C is also an important vitamin for those with gout.
Castor Oil Packs. Soak a cloth in castor oil and carefully wrap the gouty area. Cover with plastic wrap and an ace bandage. If you can tolerate the pressure, use a heating pad or hot water bottle on the castor oil pack. This works well overnight. Do be careful to use old pajamas and keep a towel or two under the castor oil application because castor oil is greasy and can stain clothing.