Gout: Alternative Medicine
Gout or “gouty arthritis” comes on very quickly with excruciating pain, swelling, redness, heat and joint tenderness. The first signs usually appear in the great toe and spread to other areas. The initial attack can last up to 10 days.
Gout is the buildup of uric acid, which turn into crystals. The crystals are then deposited in the joints. This is caused by too much purine in the diet and other factors such as; genetics, obesity, middle age, high-fructose corn syrup use, alcohol and sedentary lifestyle. Foods that are high in purines are organ meats, mushrooms, anchovies, herring, asparagus and cured meats. People need some purine in the diet, but excessive intake can lead to gout.
Gout: Alternative Remedies
Gout should always be evaluated and diagnosed by a licensed physician. Once that is done, sufferers can explore some of the popular alternative treatments available. It is important to discuss these treatments with your physician and keep in mind they should never replace regular medical care. Alternative therapies have not been proven to cure gout, but some can help with symptom relief. See below for some common alternative therapies:
- Vitamin C – There have been studies that Vitamin C can help keep uric acid levels low. In one study, ½ of the gout sufferers took Vitamin C 500mg and ½ took a placebo. After two months the Vitamin C group had reduced levels of uric acid. The group taking the placebo had no changes in uric acid levels.
It is important to know that Vitamin C can raise the levels of some drugs such as, aspirin and acetaminophen. Vitamin C increases iron levels in the blood, so people with hemochromatosis (Disease of too much iron in the blood) should not use Vitamin C. People with kidney disease should ask their doctor before using Vitamin C. Also, Vitamin C can alter the effects of Coumadin (blood thinner), Lasix/furosemide (diuretic), tetracycline and propanolol.
High doses of Vitamin C over 2,000mg daily can have side effects. This may cause diarrhea, interference with Vitamin B12, gas and digestive upset.
- Cherries – Cherries have long been an alternative treatment for arthritis. Cherries can be expensive and it takes up to a pound of cherries a day to have any effect on inflammation. Cherries can be blended into a juice and an extract can be obtained from health food stores.
Only a small study has been done on the effects of cherries and gout. A small group ate two servings of cherries. After three hours uric acid levels and inflammation were lower, but not enough to be significant.
- Diet Modification – Increased uric acid levels in the body has two sources; (1) the body produces its own from natural purine in the body, (2) Eating a diet high in purines.
High intakes of red meat, processed and cured meats and organ meats contribute to higher uric acid levels. These meat products are very high in purines. Contrary, increased uric acid levels are not associated with all protein intake.
Studies have shown that people with a higher than average dairy intake are known to have lower uric acid levels. Daily dairy intake is optimal, but at least some kind of dairy products should be taken in at least every other day.
There are many other alternative therapies for gout; acupuncture, herbal remedies, and others. Bottom line is that it is very important to consult with a physician before starting any alternatives and they are only complimentary to the treatment plan that you and your physician are doing. Alternative treatments for gout, in addition to your regular medical care, can help alleviate symptoms and contribute to a better quality of life for the gout sufferer.
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