Help! My big toe is on fire!
Natural solutions for GOUT
Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates described gout as a “disease of kings,” primarily because it was the wealthy who could afford the rich foods which seemed to precipitate gouty attacks. But now, we can all eat like kings and acquire some diseases of royalty ourselves.
Over the last 40 years, the burden of gout, a painful inflammatory arthritis, has risen considerably, now affecting millions of Americans. Gout is now the most common inflammatory arthritis in men and older women.
Gout is caused by needle sharp crystals of uric acid in our joints, and uric acid comes from the breakdown of purines. Purines are the breakdown product of genetic material, DNA, the foundation of all life. So, there is no such thing as a purine-free diet, but foods do vary in their purine content, and it was long thought that people with gout just needed to stay away from all high-purine foods, whether from animals, like organ meats, or plants like beans, but this strategy proved ineffective. Yes, all uric acid comes from the breakdown of purines, and so limiting meat makes sense, but that means all kinds of meat, and plant sources have now largely been exonerated.
The association of gout with both alcohol intake and increased dietary purine consumption has been known since ancient times, but there were no prospective trials to back it up… until just a decade ago.
The Harvard Health Professional’s Follow-Up Study, about 50,000 men followed for a dozen years, and alcohol intake was strongly associated with an increased risk of gout, and in terms of food, they found an increased risk of gout with higher meat and fish consumption, but not with higher consumption purine-rich plant foods! So, though it’s been suggested that gout sufferers should moderate both purine rich animal and plant foods, their results suggest that this type of dietary restriction may be only applicable to purines of animal origin! Bottom line: eat a plant based diet and remove all animal foods and by-products (dairy & eggs)!!!
Not only has the intake of purine-rich plants NOT been associated with high uric acid levels, but the vegetables gout sufferers are specifically told to stay away from – mushrooms, peas, beans, lentils, and cauliflower – were actually found to be protective. This may be because foods rich in fiber, folate, and vitamin C appear to protect against uric acid buildup and gout. For example, fiber has been recognized as having a potential role in binding uric acid in the gut for excretion.
By changing the pH of our urine, we can change uric acid clearance. Eating an alkaline diet, a plant based diet in this case, was found effective for removing uric acid from the body. Those eating the alkaline diet excreted significantly more uric acid than those eating the acidic diet. As such, uric acid levels in the blood of those eating the acid-forming diet rose within days.
So, one would assume uric acid levels are lower in vegetarians. And indeed, those eating vegetarian long term were found to have significantly lower levels in their blood. To prove cause and effect, though, you need to do an interventional trial, where you take people, change their diets, and see what happens. So, they took ten guys for a study of the build-up of uric acid in the kidneys, kept them on a standard Western diet for five days, and measured their relative super saturation for uric acid. Then, they tried a vegetarian diet for five days and got this. The intake of the vegetarian diet led to a 93% decline in the risk of uric acid crystallization, within days.
Or, you can do it the other way: take a bunch of people with gout, feed them a big meal of meat and see if you can trigger an attack. Seven patients were put in a hospital, stabilized on a low-purine diet, and then challenged with a meat-laden dinner. In response, uric acid levels shot up, and they started getting gout attacks. Then, they added alcohol and uric acid levels shot up even further. In all, just with single meals, they were able to trigger gout attacks in six out of seven patients.
The gout-eliminating combination that tastes as good as it feels
As I stated above… gout occurs when the body can’t process and eliminate excess uric acid. The result is a painful burning or stabbing sensation usually in the ball joint of the foot.
In addition to fighting inflammation, cherries may also lower uric acid levels. Within five hours of eating a big bowl of cherries, uric acid levels in the blood significantly drop. At the same time, antioxidant levels in the blood go up. So, is it just an antioxidant effect? Would other fruit work just as well? No. Researchers tried grapes, strawberries, and kiwi fruit, and none significantly lowered uric acid levels, supporting a specific anti-gout effect of cherries.
Over the years… I’ve found the combination of low-dose lithium (10-15 milligrams twice daily; we use lithium orotate in our office and it’s available on our online shop called: LITHORO) or CURCUMIN (as found in our RELIEF product at 2000mg daily) and vitamin C (2 grams twice daily) can be very effective in preventing recurrent attacks of gout. Vitamin C significantly reduces serum uric acid levels. Lithium makes uric acid more soluble so it doesn’t crystallize into painful “needles.” These three actions combine to significantly reduce gout attacks.
If you have gout, I also recommend that you drink 32 oz. of cherry juice at the first sign of an attack. Just please make sure it’s real cherry juice–no sugar added. Studies have shown that cherry juice usually eliminates the pain of acute gout. Even as little as a half a cup of cherries a day may significantly lower the risk of gout attacks. Fresh cherries aren’t always in season, frozen appears to be second-best, with cherry juice concentrate the runner-up.
The bottom line is that we now have good research on how to reduce risk of gout without the use of drug treatments, through modification of diet. That’s important, because allopurinol is the drug of choice. It’s considered generally safe. What does it mean when doctors talk about a relatively safe drug? Well, about 2% of patients develop hypersensitivity reactions, which can sometimes be severe and fatal with a mortality rate of up to 20%–and that’s the safe drug. The other leading drug, colchicine, has no clear-cut distinction between the nontoxic, toxic, and lethal dose.
But what do I do if my doctor wants me on “Allpurinol”?
My answer would be to take your health into your own darn hands and get educated on the cause of gout and the side effects of drugs that supposedly stop gout attacks.
SIDE EFFECTS OF ALLPURINOL:
Zyloprim (allopurinol) is a xanthine oxidase inhibitor that reduces the production of uric acid. Zyloprim is used to prevent gout attacks by reducing uric acid production; high levels of uric acid may cause gout or KIDNEY stones. Side effects of Zyloprim include:
- stomach discomfort,
- changes in your sense of taste, or
- muscle pain
- numbness or tingling of arms or legs,
- easy bleeding or bruising,
- signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat),
- unusual tiredness,
- painful or bloody urination,
- change in the amount of urine,
- yellowing eyes or skin,
- severe stomach or abdominal pain,
- persistent nausea or vomiting,
- dark urine,
- unusual weight loss,
- eye pain, or
- vision changes.
I’ll let you make your own decision on whether or not to take a drug that has that many side-effects… and can actually cause GOUT!!!!
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