Acute joint pain swelling, tenderness, and redness frequently appear suddenly as flare-ups or attacks. Often, the skin is shiny, red, or purple. Attacks usually occur at night with throbbing and excruciating pain. Initially, the attacks are short lived, but eventually they become prolonged, sometimes lasting for weeks and even months. When allowed to persist, gout can cause the destruction of joints. In addition, soft nodules may form in the earlobes, tendons, and cartilage.
What is Gout?
From Modern Western Medicine
Gout is a form of arthritis that usually attacks a single joint, most commonly the big toe. Other joints that are often affected are the knee, ankle, wrist, foot, and those of the hands. It is associated with kidney stones and can lead to kidney failure.
Pain and inflammation can controlled with large doses of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug; in some cases, a corticosteroid drug is injected into the affected joint. Medication is reduced and eventually stopped as the inflammation subsides, usually within two to three days.
The illness is brought on by high blood levels of uric acid, which itself is caused by foods rich in purines and protein, such as liver, organ meats, and poultry. Excess alcohol consumption should also be avoided because it may precipitate an acute attack.
From Traditional Medicine
Gout arises from the over consumption of protein foods. Protein produces high levels of uric acid, which harms the kidneys and spills into the blood. Once in the blood, these uric acid levels accumulate in the joints and cause an immune reaction and pain. Gout is clearly a disease of affluence, affecting people in Western nations, especially those who eat a diet rich in animal protein and fat. In addition to high protein levels, fat and obesity tend to promote the illness. The elimination of a high-protein, high-fat diet is usually enough to eliminate all symptoms of gout.
According to Chinese medicine, gout is a liver disorder brought on by damp heat, explained in Part III under Chinese medicine. To treat gout, include the vegetables listed below, along with adzuki bean congee (describes below).
Foods to Eat
- Adzuki congee (a traditional breakfast food): Cook brown rice and water in a covered pot four to six hours on a very low flame or warm burner. A crock pot is an excellent way of preparing this dish. Use lots of water to make the grain soupy and easy to digest. This dish strengthens the blood and qi, harmonizes digestion, cools, and is highly nourishing. Over vegetables, such as carrots, onions, shiitake mushrooms, or broccoli; or other grain, such as barley, can be added to the broth. This congee is very healing to the liver, joints, spleen, and digestion.
- Vegetable and fruit juices, especially noncitrus juice, vegetable juice, celery and parsley juice, red cherry juice, and carrot juice
- Purified water (dissolves toxins)
- Celery (renews joints, bones, arteries, all connective tissue; clears digestion of fermentation, which causes dampness and acid blood, according to Chinese medicine)
- Tomato: after digestion, it alkalizes the blood and is good for treating the acid blood condition of gout
- Lots of vegetables, especially kale, cabbage, parsley, and other green, leafy vegetables
Foods to Avoid
- Excess protein causes the body to become saturated with uric acid
People with gout are susceptible to bladder infections. Therefore, avoid the following acid-forming foods:
- Refined sugar and other concentrated sweeteners
- Greasy, oily foods
- Refined carbohydrates
Herbs to Treat Gout
- Colchicum: tincture, 5 – 15 drops, three times per day during acute attack
- Celery: tincture of seeds, 10 – 30 drops, two to three times per day (eat stalks in very large amounts daily)
- White bryony: for pain made worse by motion, use the tincture
- Exercise is essential to improve circulation and help elimination of uric acid
- Aerobic exercise daily; especially helpful is walking bicycling, and jogging
- Yoga and stretching exercise
- Tai chi chuan
- Vitamin B complex
Thiamine: 1.5 mg per day
Riboflavin: 1.8 mg per day
Vitamin B6: 2 – 10 mg per day
Vitamin B12: 2 – 10 mg per day
Niacin: 20 mg per day
- Vitamin C: 100 – 500 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 100 – 400 IU per day