Gout Home Remedies – Gout Pain
Gout is an extremely painful form of arthritis—so painful that most patients can’t even bear the weight of a bedsheet on the tender joint. Gout’s throbbing pain often hits at night, turning the skin red-hot and leaving the affected joint swollen and tender for 5 to 10 days.
Gout is actually a fairly common disorder, affecting more than 2 million Americans who happen to have excessive levels of uric acid, a waste product from body tissues. We all have uric acid in our blood, which carries it to the kidneys to be excreted in urine. But if you experience gout, either you produce too much uric acid or you produce a normal amount but don’t excrete enough, says Branton Lachman, Pharm.D. Either way, the excess turns into tiny crystals that collect in joints, causing intense inflammation and pain.
Often the big toe is the prime target, but almost any joint can become a sore point. While any adult can fall prey to gout, the typical victim is a middle-aged male, who may be overweight and have a family history of the disease. If you’re a current—or potential—sufferer, heed these dos and don’ts.
When to Call a Doctor:
If you experience sudden and intense pain in a joint, call your doctor. Even if the pain goes away in a day or two, it is important to see your doctor, because gout left untreated can only lead to more pain and joint damage.
Your doctor can prescribe a number of prescription medications to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain during a gout attack, including corticosteroids such as prednisone
Once an attack has passed, your doctor may prescribe a medication to lower your uric acid in an attempt to prevent future attacks. You also may receive colchicine, an anti-gout medicine used for thousands of years, now sold under the names allopurinol and probenecid.
Gout Home Remedies – Chew on cherries
Cherries have long been a folk remedy for gout. Although there is no hard scientific evidence that cherries help relieve gout, many people find them beneficial. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they use sweet or sour varieties or whether the cherries are canned or fresh. Reported amounts vary from a handful (about 10 cherries) a day up to 1/2 pound. People have also reported success with 1 tablespoon of cherry concentrate a day, says Agatha Thrash, M.D.
Gout Home Remedies – Consult your doctor about supplements
Be careful when taking vitamins, says Dr. Blaurock-Busch, because too much of certain nutrients can make gout worse. Excess niacin and vitamin A, in particular, may bring on an attack, she says. So always consult a physician before increasing your vitamin intake.
Gout Home Remedies – Beware of fad diets
If you’re overweight, slimming down is imperative. Heavier people tend to have high uric acid levels. But stay away from fad diets, which are notorious for triggering gout attacks, says Dr. Lisse. Such diets—including fasting—cause cells to break down and release uric acid. So work with your doctor to devise a gradual weight-loss program.
Gout Home Remedies – Don’t hurt yourself
For some unknown reason, gout often strikes a joint that’s been previously traumatized. “So try not to stub your toe or otherwise injure yourself,” says Dr. Abruzzo. “Also don’t wear tight shoes, which can also predispose your joints to minor injury.”
Gout Home Remedies – Get some R and R
During an acute attack, rest and elevate the affected joint, says Agatha Thrash, M.D. You’ll probably have little trouble following this advice because the pain will be so intense.
Gout Home Remedies – Reach for ibuprofen
It is the tremendous inflammation around the affected joint that causes the pain. So when you need a painkiller, make sure it’s one that can reduce inflammation—namely ibuprofen, says Jeffrey R. Lisse, M.D. Follow label instructions. If those dosages don’t give relief, he says, consult your doctor before increasing them.
Gout Home Remedies – Avoid aspirin or acetaminophen
All pain relievers are not created equal. Aspirin can actually make gout worse by inhibiting excretion of uric acid, says Dr. Lisse, and acetaminophen doesn’t have enough inflammation-fighting capability to do much good.
Gout Home Remedies – Apply ice
If the affected joint is not too tender to touch, try applying a crushed-ice pack, says John Abruzzo, M.D. The ice has a soothing, numbing effect. Place the pack on the painful joint for about 10 minutes. Cushion it with a towel or sponge. Reapply as needed.
Gout Home Remedies – Drink lots of water
Large amounts of fluid can help flush excess uric acid from your system before it can do any harm. Robert H. Davis, Ph.D., recommends plain old H2O. “Most people just don’t drink enough water,” he says. “For best results, have five or six glasses a day.”
As a bonus, lots of water may also help discourage the kidney stones that also affect people with gout.
Gout Home Remedies – Consider herbal teas
Another good way to take in sufficient liquid is with herb teas. They’re free of both caffeine and calories, so large amounts won’t make you jittery or pile on unwanted pounds. Eleonore Blaurock-Busch, Ph.D., especially recommends sarsaparilla, yarrow, rose hip, and peppermint. Place two tablespoons of the dried herb in a pint of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 20 minutes, then strain before drinking.
Gout Home Remedies – Avoid high-purine foods
“Foods that are high in a substance called purine contribute to higher levels of uric acid,” says Robert Wortmann, M.D. Avoiding such foods is prudent.
Those foods most likely to induce gout contain anywhere from 150 to 1,000 milligrams of purine in each 3 ;1/2-ounce serving. They include high-protein animal products such as anchovies, brains, consommé, gravy, heart, herring, kidney, liver, meat extracts, meat-containing mincemeat, mussels, sardines, and sweetbreads.
Gout Home Remedies – Limit other purine-containing foods
Foods that may contribute to gout have a moderate amount of purines (from 50 to 150 milligrams in 3 1/2 ounces). Limiting them to one serving daily is necessary for those with severe cases. These foods include asparagus, dry beans, cauliflower, lentils, mushrooms, oatmeal, dry peas, shellfish, spinach, whole grain cereals, whole grain breads, and yeast.
In the same category are fish, meat, and poultry. Limit them to one 5- to 6-ounce serving 5 a day.
Gout Home Remedies – Skip the booze
Avoid alcohol if you have a history of gout, says Gary Stoehr, Pharm.D. Alcohol seems to increase uric acid production and inhibit its secretion, which can lead to gout attacks in some people. Beer may be particularly undesirable because it has a higher purine content than wine and other spirits, says Dr. Blaurock-Busch.
If you do tipple on special occasions, minimize your risk of a reaction by drinking slowly and buffering wine with readily absorbed carbohydrates such as crackers and fruit, suggests Felix O. Kolb, M.D.
Gout Home Remedies – Control your blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure in addition to gout, you have double trouble. That’s because certain drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure, such as diuretics, actually raise uric acid levels, says Dr. Lachman. So taking steps to lower your blood pressure naturally is wise. Try decreasing your sodium intake, losing excess weight, and exercising. But never discontinue any prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.
Gout Home Remedies – Apply charcoal
Charcoal draws toxins from the body, notes Dr. Thrash. She recommends mixing 1/2 cup of powdered activated charcoal with a few tablespoons flaxseed (ground to a meal in a blender) and enough very warm water to make a paste. Apply to the affected joint. Cover with a cloth or plastic to hold in place. Change every 4 hours or leave on overnight.
If you prefer a warm soak instead of a compress, use the same recipe (without the flaxseeds) and then gradually add enough hot water until you can comfortably submerge your foot in the mixture. Soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Just be careful to use an old basin and not to get any charcoal on clothes or bed linens because it stains.
Taken by mouth, activated charcoal can help reduce uric acid levels in the blood, says Dr. Thrash. Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon four times a day at the following times: upon rising, at midmorning, at midafternoon, and at bedtime.
Sources: The Doctors Book of Home Remedies, pp.350-355