Archive for December, 2008

Nautural Gout Treatment

Following my last post “A Healthy Outlook”, I want to change tack and talk about a problem that has been affecting me personally off and on for about 15 years. Gout.

Now most people look upon gout as being a rich man’s disease and his just desserts for drinking too much port and eating too much rich food. Foods that often get labeled as gout foods

Well, while some of that may be true, its not the whole story by a long shot and many people suffer with gout who have never tasted port or indeed eaten much rich food ever! What I’m saying is that normal, everyday people can suffer with gout and will wonder why!

I’ll tell you why in a nutshell, as there are plenty of good resources online that’ll tell you a whole lot more about the disease than I can squeeze into one post, like this one that gives you a lot of gout treatments news.

What is Gout?

Suffice it to say, gout is similar to arthritis in that it’s caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid, being acidic is naturally attracted to the alkaline substances in the body, such as the calcium rich bones, joints and the cartilage that surrounds the joints.

With arthritis, the uric acid builds up gradually in the joints by eating away at the smooth membrane (called the synovial membrane) that surrounds the cartilage in the joints, who’s job it is to ensure the smooth movement of the joints. The acid deposits form a hard, eggshell-like coating which makes movement in the joints painful. The body’s natural defenses see the acid deposits as foreign bodies and attack them as they would any invading substance in the body. This causes the associated swelling making the joints even more painful.

With gout, a similar thing happens, with the difference being that instead of a gradual build-up of acid deposits, the joints are attacked quickly with excess uric acid which crystallizes in the affected joints. Imagine trying to move any joint in the body that was full of tiny shards of broken glass. That’ll give you some idea of how painful gout can be!

Gout, unlike arthritis, tends to generally attack joints in the extremities, such as toes, ankles, fingers, and wrists, although it can also affect knees and elbows. Strangely, unlike arthritis, gout does not affect the spine.

With both gout and arthritis, the general method of treatment is with anti-inflammatory pills in an attempt to bring the severe swelling down. This is only partially helpful as it does not treat the cause of the problem, which is the excess uric acid. Nor does it treat the acid build-up in the joints.

Doctors will rightly tell you that there is no cure for arthritis and at present there is no medical cure for the disease. Likewise there is no medical cure for gout.

There are some drugs that are effective at reducing the uric acid levels in the blood such as allopurinol, although there are side effects and the drug must be taken daily for the rest of your life. Even then, it does not guarantee that you will not suffer another attack of gout!

For this reason, many people turn to alternative or natural treatments for both arthritis and gout. The general consensus amongst sufferers and the more enlightened members of the medical profession is that the excess uric acid is caused by faulty diet and this is the single most important change you can make to your lifestyle that will help you to beat both arthritis and gout.

You have to identify which foods cause your body to produce the excess of uric acid. These are generally foods high in purine, such as anchovies, asparagus, mushrooms, shellfish etc.

But there are other things you can do to help. Cutting out alcohol is one, although the alcohol itself does not cause an increase in uric acid, so is not a direct cause of gout or arthritis. However, it does compete in the kidneys with uric acid as they filter the blood and remove toxins. In otehr words, alcohol in the blood will reduce the kidneys effectiveness of removing the excess uric acid from your bloodstream.

That’s a pretty important thing to know!

Also, there are many natural ways at fighting this. Eating foods that are rich in potassium have been found to counteract too much sodium in the blood (which also hampers the kidneys from filtering excess uric acid) and so helps the kidneys to do their job better. Such foods include ripe bananas, courgettes and crude black molasses.

Cherries, blueberries and cranberries are also good for helping to reduce the swelling associated with gout (and arthritis).

One last thing I have recently discovered and has seemed to be quite effective at preventing a full blown gout attack from getting started. Personally, when I suffer a gout attack, it will often start in a toe and then progress to an ankle and other joints as well, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to walk. These really bad attacks can stay in the joints for several weeks at a stretch and I suffered one such attack that lasted most of the summer this year.

I have a new doctor as I now live in Spain (he is very pro-natural remedies when they can be seen to work). he does not like to prescribe drugs when there are other solutions and also likes to talk (an unusual trait in doctors, especially British ones) so consultations with him can last half an hour! Well, I tend to avoid doctors and hospitals if I can, but I ended up having to go see him for this particular attack as it was not responding to anything I did.

I might also mention that I had a 3 month abstention from alcohol during this time as well as cut my diet down to the bare bones of foods that I know are safe and religiously drank 2 litres or more of plain water every day – all without effect.

Well the doctor suggested I try drinking soda water.

Something got skewed in the translation (he is Spanish although his English is perfect) and I thought he meant carbonated water, which is acidic and surely not the right thing. A couple of weeks went by with no change, so I saw him again and he explained what he had meant. In Spain, soda water is not fizzy water, but plain water with sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as bicarbonate of soda, the cake raising agent) added.

Mmm. In my youth when suffering from post-party hangovers (didn’t we all?) that was one very good cure for acid indigestion that I used to take – it worked better than antacid tablets!

Well, I tried it, taking a teaspoon in a glass of water three times a day before meals.

The gout left me within three days.

Since then, I have had the beginnings of two more gout attacks, but straight away taken “soda water” and it has stopped it from getting its foot in the door, taking the early stages of the swelling down quickly and inside of two days (each time) the gout was gone.

I don’t know whether this is one of those natural cures that works for me and won’t work for someone else. Other people swear by cherries but they don’t work for me.

Its another weapon in the arsenal against this debilitating and painful disease. Its not harmful to take as long as you don’t overdo it. If taken after a meal it will reduce your stomach’s ability to digest the food as it neutralizes the stomach acid to a point, so I always take it about an hour before a meal.

That’s it!