The Good News about Gout Management

The Good News about Gout Management

June 17, 2020

The Good News About Gout Management

“Good” may not be the first word that pops into your mind when you think of gout. Sore, stiff joints aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time. But there is one thing about gout that’s truly good. Unlike some other forms of joint discomfort, it can be reversed — if you catch it early enough.

Gout and Uric Acid

The key to managing gout is lowering uric acid, which causes the flare ups.

Uric acid forms when your body processes chemicals called purines, which are naturally produced by the body and found in many foods. For most people, this is no big deal, as their bodies excrete uric acid through urine. But for some unlucky folks, something goes awry, causing uric acid levels to get too high.

Why does this happen? In about ten percent of people with elevated uric acid, the body simply produces too much of the stuff. In the other 90 percent of cases, though, the kidneys don’t excrete enough uric acid, allowing it to build up in the bloodstream and form uncomfortable crystals in the joints.[1]

Gout vs Other Forms of Joint Discomfort

What makes gout different than other joint issues is the source of the discomfort. With most joint conditions, discomfort stems from damage. By the time these sorts of joint problems make themselves known, the joint cartilage has already been worn away. With gout, though, discomfort — at least in the initial stage — comes from uric acid crystals. Permanent damage to the joints has not occurred yet; dissolve the crystals, and you dissolve the discomfort.

This is great news because it means you can do something about it! (Conversely, if you ignore gout and just hope it will go away, it can eventually damage both the cartilage and bones in your joints.)

Gout Lifestyle Changes

Many people mistakenly believe that gout is caused by indulging in certain rich foods and drinks. The truth is that heredity plays a much bigger role than what you eat or drink. That said, if you are genetically predisposed toward high uric acid levels, you need to be extra-careful about your diet, since high-purine foods and beverages can trigger gout flare ups.

Therefore, the first step to controlling gout is to limit purine sources in your diet, such as organ meats, red meat, wild game, shellfish, alcohol (especially beer), and beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (think soda, sweetened ice tea, and sports drinks).

Staying hydrated is also important, as dehydration can increase uric acid levels.[2] The target is getting blood levels of uric acid below 6mg/dL.[3],[4] This will cause the crystals to dissolve and provide a much-needed reprieve.

Natural Remedies for Gout

In addition to the lifestyle changes mentioned above, certain natural ingredients may also help.

  • Turmeric is the spice responsible for the golden color and distinctive taste of curry. Its active constituent, curcumin, has been found to lower uric acid levels in humans.[5] Curcumin is also well known for its anti-inflammatory activity and its ability to help improve joint comfort.[6],[7],[8],[9]
  • Celery Seed, which comes from the same plant as the vegetable we know and love, effectively reduces uric acid levels in animals.[10] Clinical studies have shown it’s useful for combatting inflammation and improving joint comfort.[11],[12]
  • Bromelain
  • Tart and Black Cherries are popular among people with gout because these anti-inflammatory fruits make flare ups less frequent.[15],[16],[17],[18] About a quarter of people with gout use cherries, either by drinking the juice or taking them in supplement form.[19]
  • Potassium

To be sure, gout is no fun. But if you act right away — by avoiding your trigger foods, staying hydrated, and adding helpful herbs and nutrients to your diet — you can make it go away. And that is good news!

 

References

[1] Ragab G, Elshahaly M, Bardin T. Gout: An old disease in new perspective - A review. J Adv Res. 2017;8(5):495-511.

[2] Gout. The Mayo Clinic. 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897

[3] Schumacher, HR. The pathogenesis of gout. Cleveland Clin J Med. 2008 Jul;75(Suppl 5):S2-S4.

[4] Perez-Ruiz F, et al. Treat to target in gout. Rheumatol. 2018 Jan;57(Suppl 1):i20-i26.

[5] Panahi Y, et al. Curcumin lowers serum lipids and uric acid in subjects with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2016 Sep;68(3):223-9.

[6] Musculoskeletal inflammation and natural products: what the science says. NIH. NCCIH Clinical Digest. 2016 Jul. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/musculoskeletal-inflammation-and-natural-products-science

[7] Hayoran A, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Jan 9;18(1):7.

[8] Kunnumakkara AB, et al. Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: multitargeting for multiple chronic diseases. Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Jun;174(11):1325-48.

[9] He Y, et al. Curcumin, inflammation, and chronic disease: how are they linked? Molecules. 2015 May20;20(5):9183-213.

[10] Shaopeng Li, et al. Anti-gouty arthritis and anti-hyperuricemia properties of celery seed extracts in rodent models. Mol Med Rep. 2019 Nov;20(5):4623-4633.

[11] Powanda MC, Whitehouse MW, Rainsford KD. Celery seed and related extracts with antiarthritic, antiulcer, and antimicrobial activities. Prog Drug Res. 2015;70:133-53.

[12] Powanda MC, Rainsford KD. A toxicological investigation of a celery seed extract having anti-inflammatory activity. Inflammopharmacol. 2011 Aug. 19(4):227-33.

[13] Musculoskeletal inflammation and natural products: what the science says. NIH. NCCIH Clinical Digest. 2016 Jul. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/musculoskeletal-inflammation-and-natural-products-science

[14] Brien S, et al. Bromelain as a treatment for osteoarthritis: A review of clinical studies. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2004 Dec; 1(3):251-257.

[15] Zhang Y, et al. Cherry consumption and decreased risk of gout attacks. Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Dec;64(12):4004-11.

[16] Kelley DS, Adkins Y, Laguero KD. A review of the health benefits of cherries. Nutrients. 2018 Mar;10(3):368.

[17] Shuitt-Hale B, et al. Tart cherry extracts reduce inflammatory and oxidative stress signaling in microglial cells. Antioxidants. 2016 Dec;5(4):33.

[18] Schlesinger N, Rabinowitz R, Schlesinger M. Pilot studies of cherry juice concentrate for gout flare prophylaxis. J Arthritis. 2012;1:1.

[19] Singh JA, Shah S, Edwards NL. A cross-sectional internet-based patient survey of the management strategies for gout. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Mar 1;16:90.

[20] Raman R. What does potassium do for your body: a detailed review. Healthline. 2017 Sep 9. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do#section1

[21] O’Brien S. 15 foods that pack more potassium than a banana. Healthline. 2018 Jul 26. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-loaded-with-potassium