What is the best home remedy for gout?
Gout is a type of arthritic pain that occurs around the small joints of the hands and feet when uric acid builds up in the form of crystals.
Uric acid usually dissolves in the blood and travels to the kidneys where it passes out through urine. However, if the amount of uric acid building in the blood is too great for the kidneys to process, it crystallises in the joints instead.
Some people produce more uric acid than their bodies can cope with. Others may have kidney weaknesses that reduce their ability to handle uric acid. Some medication can also promote the formation of uric acid, whilst lack of food and anaemia are other possible causative factors.
If this is your first experience of gout, make sure you get a full diagnosis from your doctor before treating it yourself. Thereafter, a number of home and herbal remedies can prove helpful in managing the condition. My top tips include the following:
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Get some vitamin C
- Reduce your intake of histamine-producing foods
- Eat fresh
- Take a nettle supplement
- Get more water
- Drink Goldenrod and Knotgrass tea
Read on to find out how these things can help sufferers of gout.
1. Cut your sugar intake
It is known that food and drink laden with sugar can trigger an attack of gout when consumed in excess. Uric acid, which can build up to form gout, is a chemical that's created when the body breaks down substances called purines. Purines are found in some food and drinks, particularly sugary varieties like fizzy juice, energy drinks and processed ready meals.
What's more, these things also contribute to weight gain and, with obesity increasing the chances of developing gout, this shows how sugary foods have an even larger part to play in the problem.1
On top of this, foods that are high in sugar can promote inflammation which can also worsen gout symptoms.
Limiting or avoiding sugary products can, therefore, help to prevent gout, or control it once it has developed.
Remember - If you are after a sweet treat, fresh fruit offers a friendlier alternative. Research shows that cherries in particular are associated with a lower risk of gout.2 This may be because they contain flavonoids which help to prevent crystals from forming on the joints.
2. Get some vitamin C
A diet high in vitamin C will help to counter the rising uric acid levels in those prone to gout. Studies show that vitamin C intake is therefore associated with a lower risk of gout.3 This means it is important to include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet such as oranges, peppers, broccoli and strawberries which are all high in vitamin C.
In addition, taking a vitamin C supplement such as our Nature-C tablets is a good idea if you are having difficulty getting enough of this nutrient. Research shows that uric acid levels can be reduced by taking just a small amount of vitamin C through supplements.4 This suggests that vitamin C could be beneficial in the prevention and management of gout and other urate-related diseases.
3. Reduce your intake of histamine-producing foods
Histamine is inflammatory so foods that raise levels of inflammation within the body may also contribute to the severity of gout.5 Foods high in histamine include cheese, tinned fish, avocadoes, soy and more.
Now, I am not suggesting you must cut these things out your life completely, but be aware that they can cause problems if you are a gout sufferer so try not focus your diet around them.
Remember - As well as being high in histamine, beer, wine and other varieties of alcohol are high in purines so this is definitely something to avoid if you are prone to gout. Try having a few days a week free of alcohol to help reduce your intake.
4. Eat fresh
The DASH diet is associated with a lower incidence of gout in men.6 This is notable as men are more susceptible to gout than women.
The DASH diet consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low fat dairy products and whole grains. In addition, intake of sodium, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats should remain low. This is thought to lower levels of uric acid thus reducing the overall risk of gout developing.
Remember - Make sure to look at our recipe hub if you need some ideas on how to cook using fresh ingredients.
5. Take a nettle supplement
Nettle is one remedy that the gout-prone should definitely be aware of. Stinging Nettle Urtica Drops could help flush out uric acid – the compound that builds up around the joints causing pain and swelling. The tincture is much stronger than other forms of nettle and so the effects should be more noticeable.
There are no contraindications with Urtica and it can be taken long-term if necessary. It makes a good companion to vitamin C supplements as they both quell uric acid and counter high histamine levels.
Take 20 drops of Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica tincture in a splash of water twice daily. This can be taken with or without water.
Remember - Nettles can also be taken in the form of tea which is refreshing and will likely make a change from your usual brew! Nettle tea not only subdues the effects of uric acid, but it also works to lower histamine levels which, as I've explained, can be a contributing factor in the development of gout.
Histamine also makes you more liable to develop itchy rashes and prickly heat so this is yet another benefit of drinking nettle tea!
6. Get more water!
This is advice we are always telling our A.Vogel customers, regardless of their health complaint. When it comes to gout, drinking lots of water can help to flush out uric acid which is at the root of the problem.
Try to drink at least 1.5 litres of still, plain water daily. This can be taken warm or cold (although the body prefers it warm) but should not be drunk within 20 minutes of food.
Remember - Our Nutritionist Emma has written a blog '12 tips to help you drink more water' which you may find helpful if you are struggling to increase your daily intake.
7. Drink Golden Rod and Knotgrass tea
Golden Rod and Knotgrass tea has traditionally been used to ease and prevent gout. Now research suggests it could have anti-inflammatory properties, due to the presence of an antioxidant called Quercetin7, plus it acts as a diuretic, meaning it gets rid of excess water from the body.
Remember - Our Golden Rod and Knotgrass Tea is made from Golden Rod, birch leaves, knotgrass, horsetail and wild pansy. It has a refreshing taste and cleanses the system from the inside, helping to remove impurities from the body.
During a gout flare-up, it can be helpful to rest as stress may aggravate the problem. Putting pressure on the area may also make it worse. I'd recommend elevating the joint and applying a cold compress to ease the pain and inflammation.
Remember - You may find that clothing and bed sheets aggravate the pain further so be sure to keep your duvet off the affected area and, if possible, you could try wearing sandals rather than shoes and socks if the joints in your feet are affected.
When to see your doctor about gout
Gout can cause severe pain, swellingand redness on the affected joint. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to seek medical advice – as long as gout is dealt with quickly, it will not cause any lasting damage. A doctor will offer advice and treatment for managing the condition. The top tips listed here are simply a means of preventing and managing the problem in the future, once you have had a diagnosis.
At your appointment the doctor will ask about your diet and lifestyle, plus they may order some blood tests or an x-ray. The aim here is to find out how much uric acid is in your body. Conventional medications for gout include anti-inflammatory tablets like Ibuprofen.
If you experience additional symptoms, including a high temperature, then it could indicate that there is an infection at play. In this instance, it is important you make a doctor's appointment immediately.