The gout by James Gillray

Gout is a type of arthritis, which is caused by crystallization of excess uric acid in joints. The symptoms are inflammation, swelling and pain in the affected area. Normally, affects the big toe and referenced as podagra. The inability to excrete the pilled uric acid makes gout an irritable and painful ailment.

Gout does not necessarily attack the big toe. It may also affect several joints such as heel, ankle, elbows, wrists and ears.

It may be hereditary. Some of its causes are related to bad circulation, high cholesterol, alcohol consumption, infection or various medications. It is a devious ailment as it strikes very suddenly. No wonder, why James Gilray depicts gout as an evil demon attacking the toe.

How is it treated?

Uric acid is a waste product in the blood resulting from the break down of substances called purines. The treatment is two folded. One is seeking ways to reduce the production of uric acid and secondly ways to excrete adequate quantities of it.

Considering how the uric acid is produced and crystallized into certain areas, the first plan would be to reduce the intake of foods/liquids containing purines. Use herbs/supplements that can relieve from inflammation and/ production of uric acid.

Conventionally, non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs are used to sooth the pain and reduce swelling. Sometimes they are coupled with Colchicine to treat acute conditions. The latter is associated with severe side effects and some times death due to its toxicity. Other drugs used for symptomatic therapy are probenecid, sulfinpyrazone and allopurinol.  This work exploits alternate and traditional ways of treating gout. The aim is to provide some relief from pain, reduce attacks/exacerbations.

Dietary advice

• Refrain from diets that lead to abrupt weight loss.

• Drink plenty of water. Uric acid is excreted by means of water.  Being a detoxifier it increases urination which in turn ceases the crystallization. Dehydration may cause exacerbations.

• Exercise more to improve circulation.

• Avoid the intake of food high in purines such as beef, goose, vital animal organs, sweetbreads, shellfish, mussels, anchovies, mackerel, herring, fish roes and sardines in oil. Also restrain from spinach, asparagus, beans, lentils, mushrooms, peas, yeast and high fat dairy products.

• Avoid alcohol consumption, beer in particular.

• Increase consumption of cherries in your daily diet. Wild cherries and berries are very rich in antioxidant substances named anthocyanosides, which promote collagen integrity and reduce inflammation.

• Avoid surplus of vitamin A and niacin ( vitamin B3) as the both participate in urinc acid attacks.

Herbal supplements

Celery seed extract (latin:Apium graveolens). It is met more often in Ayurvedic medicine rather than Western medicine, for the treatment of various types of arthritis as well as liver and spleen conditions. Nowadays it is used as a diuretic. Recommended for gout, anti-inflammatory and mild sedative. However, there is not clinical research to justify its use. The recommended dose is , 1-2 capsules of celery seed oil daily. Alternatively the celery seed extract, ¼- ½ tsp three times daily. Do not use along with diuretics, anticoagulants and when a liver condition exists.

Automn Crocus(latin :Colchicum autumnale) is plant where the substance colchicines is isolated from. It possesses strong antioxidant properties. It was used traditionally as an alternative remedy for gout. Nonetheless, the plant itself ;as well as the substance, are associated with side effects (some times fatal). Hence, it should be used very carefully only by professional healthcare provider.

Safran originates from the previous family and has a better safety profile. It is used primarily as a spice but also adopted for the treatment of gout in very small portions. It is one of the most expensive spices. Be careful if allergic to it.

Stinging Nettle (latin: Urtica urens ) aids the normal function of kidneys, which excretes uric acid. Receive 250mg/day. Alternatively, prepare a decoction, from 3-4 spoons of dry leaves/root in 2/3 of a coup of water. Drink 2-3 coups every day. Do not take if there is a history of diabetes, hypertension, receiving anticoagulants and during pregnancy.

Dietary supplements

Pineapple Bromelain is an enzyme that lies in pineapple. Except for its use as an after-meal supplement to aid digestion it is a powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It is relatively expensive. Receive 200-300mg three times daily. As the gout subsides change to twice daily so as reduce the event of future attack.

Quercitine is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory action. It can too reduce the levels of uric acid. It is recommended together with pineapple bromelain at identical doses.

EPA, found mostly in fish oils, inhibits the pro-inflammatory leucotrienes. Use up to 1500mg daily.

High doses of vitamin C under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Caution, as overdose may lead to kidney damage by releasing high amounts of uric acid.

Folic acid 400-800mcg daily may reduce the production of uric acid since it inhibits xanthine oxidase, an essential factor for uric acid production. 

Gout sufferers may be susceptible to other ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, high triglycerides, atherosclerosis or kidney conditions.

As with all herbs and nutritional supplements, you should not try any of the above if you are on medical treatment unless you are told so by a professional healthcare provider.