Gout is a complex form of arthritis and is characterized by sudden and severe attacks of pain, redness, tenderness and swelling in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe (approximately 50% of cases). Other joints, such as the heels, knees, wrists and fingers, may also be affected. Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid crystallizes, and the crystals deposit in joints, causing a lot of pain and inflammation. Men are more likely to get gout, but women become increasingly vulnerable to gout after menopause.
Here are the best natural gout treatments that involve diet and lifestyle changes.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Gout
Controlling your weight is essential if you have gout. Results from study published in 2010 at Boston University School of Medicine found that obesity is a major risk factor for gout.
About half of all gout sufferers are found to be overweight, and this excess weight worsens the situation. It is therefore evident from this study that losing weight, and maintaining a proper body weight, will greatly improve the chances of reducing further gout attacks.
Exercise is not recommended if you suffer from gout
Exercise is not recommended while your joints are painful or when it might cause further injury, but once your gout is back under control, exercise increases circulation and normalizes uric acid levels in the body.
Drink more water
Increasing water intake helps to flush uric acid from the system and prevents buildup of uric acid crystallization around the joints. So drink plenty of water, about 8 glasses a day, and stay hydrated.
One study found that higher water intake could help to relieve gout by lowering uric acid levels. The researchers discovered a link between low water consumption and excess uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia).
You can add to the water the juice of half lemon into an 8-oz. glass of warm water. Drink it in the morning about 30 minutes before breakfast. The lemon water will help you manage your gout, as lemon juice helps prevent the formation of urate crystals.
Foods to avoid
Avoid foods that are rich sources of uric acid. These include organ meats and seafood such as sardines and anchovies. It is also advised to eliminate coffee and all other caffeine sources from your diet, as well as reducing sugar consumption and alcohol.
Foods to Eat to Help Relieve Gout
Ginger root is a delicious herb that has proven health benefits. You should add ginger to your anti-gout diet to reduce pain and uric acid levels. One study found that ginger reduced pain related to uric acid in gout.
Another study on rats found that consuming ginger helped to reduce uric acid levels.
You can drink this lemon ginger tea to help you reduce uric acid levels and lose weight as well.
2. Cherries, tart cherries and berries
Cherries, along with strawberries and other berries, are a rich source of antioxidants and help fight inflammation in the body.
Tart cherries and strawberries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids that help to relieve and prevent arthritis and gout in your body.
Recent studies have found that eating about 30 pieces of cherries within 48 hours of a gout attack may cut the risk of recurrence of gout pain significantly.
One study found that cherry juice is helpful for treating gout because it lowered the levels of uric acid in the body.
Another study found that drinking 100 percent tart cherry juice (like this one) significantly reduced the level of serum uric acid levels. The participants in the study drank 8 ounces of the tart cherry juice every day for four weeks.
Eat tart cherries in all forms – fresh, or as cherry juice, or in the form of tart cherry extract. The Arthritis Foundation recommends to consume a handful of cherries or drinking a glass of tart cherry juice daily. The current studies showed improvements in people who drank a glass of tart cherry juice daily.
Some people take cherry juice extract capsules (like these) to manage their gout symptoms.
Can black cherry juice reduce uric acid levels? There are no specific studies about black cherries for gout but cherries and tart cherries were found to reduce uric acid levels and help treat gout.
3. Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar is packed of nutrients, but the ingredient thought to be the most effective in treating and preventing gout is its acetic acid.
Although further research needs to be done to verify these claims, it is believed that drinking apple cider vinegar can break up uric acid crystals and prevent them from reforming in the joints, helping blood circulation and purification, and reduce inflammation and swelling in the joints, thus allowing for better flexibility of the joints.
Take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water, twice or three times a day to relieve gout symptoms.
4. Magnesium rich foods
Magnesium is a dietary mineral which is important to relieve gout and reduce uric acid levels.
One study found that people with adequate magnesium levels have lower levels of uric acid which can help to reduce gout risk.
Try taking magnesium supplements, or eat magnesium-rich foods such as avocado, banana, kale, or spinach daily to decrease gout risk or gout occurrence long term.
A word about spinach. Spinach is a high-purine vegetable and as such some doctors recommend to limit its consumption. The Mayo Clinic says that according to studies vegetables high in purines, such as asparagus and spinach, don’t increase the risk of gout or recurring gout attacks.
5. Add lemon to your anti-gout diet
Lemon is a citrus fruit with many proven health benefits. One medical study showed that lemon can reduce uric acid levels.
You can mix the juice of one squeezed half lemon with warm water. Combine with 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and drink twice daily to reduce uric acid levels.
One of the active ingredients in turmeric is called curcumin, and it is used in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis. Taking turmeric may also help gout, because it has anti-inflammatory properties.
One study found that curcumin can reduce uric acid levels.
Turmeric is safe for most people but do consult your doctor before taking turmeric supplement to make sure it doesn’t interfere with any medications you take.
Parsley is a natural diuretic that helps your body flush out excess uric acid from your bloodstream through your kidneys and urinary tract, thus improves kidney function.
A certain substance in parsley called apigenin is responsible for lowering uric acid in your body and this substance is still being researched as a potential gout cure. A study found that apigenin inhibits the enzyme responsible for converting purines into uric acid.
Although there is a need for further scientific evidence to confirm pineapple’s efficacy, it is believed that bromelain, a compound of digestive enzymes, as well as other compounds, can reduce gout and ease pain.
If you cannot get fresh pineapples, also canned pineapples or pineapple juice can help ease your pain by consuming it daily to help reduce inflammation. Pineapple has a range of other health benefits and you can use it as a natural medicine.
There are people who say that you should consume apples as part of gout-reducing diets. They claim that apples contain malic acid, which lowers uric acid. However, there aren’t any studies supporting this for gout.
One study found that apples which contain fructose, could trigger hyperuricemia, leading to gout flare-ups.
Juices and Drinks to Relieve Gout
Apple cider vinegar, lemon and turmeric
You can mix the juice of one squeezed half lemon with warm water. Combine with 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Add a pinch of turmeric and drink twice daily.
Ginger and cherry juice
Add 1 tsp. of crushed ginger to a cup of cherry juice and drink twice a day
Green Juice to reduce uric acid levels
1 cucumber + ¼ lemon slice + thumb-size ginger + spinach + avocado
Other Foods and Supplements for Gout
Baking soda can help reduce the amount of uric acid. Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 8 oz. glass of water and drink. If you suffer from acute attack, increase the amount to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and drink up to 4 times throughout the day.
Be aware that baking soda can increase blood pressure, so consult with your doctor before using it. Find here other uses for baking soda as a kitchen medicine.
Devil’s Claw Extract
Devil’s claw is anti-inflammatory herb that can help ease the pain and is used in arthritis, gout, muscle pain and back pain. It contains chemicals that might decrease inflammation and swelling and reducing pain. If you have diabetes or using a blood thinning medicine don’t take this herb.
Safflower could help relieve gout by neutralizing uric acid and removing toxins and waste from the body. It also works as an anti-inflammatory and helps relieve painful stiff joints.
How to Relieve Gout Pain
1. Try cold packs or cold compresses on the joint to lessen the inflammation and help ease the pain. Apply it to the joint for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day.
2. Take Epson salt bath to Reduce pain and muscle cramps. Just add 2 cups to your bath water and soak for at least 15 minutes, 3 times a week, to reap the benefits. You can also do hand-foot soak – Add ½ cup of Epsom salt to a large bowl and soak your feet or hands for about 20 minute. Also read here about the most extraordinary uses for Epsom Salt.
3. Rest the joint until the pain decreases (if you have an acute attack, you probably won’t be able to move the joint much anyway). If you can, raise the affected joint on a pillow.
4. Use essential oils to relieve pain – some essential oils have analgesic properties, which means that they have shown to relieve or reduce pain, as well as anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties. See more information in my article The Top 15 Essential Oils to Relieve Pain and How to Use Them.