What is Gout?
Gout is a type of Arthritis. It attacks one joint at a time and causes inflammation, swelling and pain. Because of similar symptoms, Pseudogout is often confused with Gout. The difference between the two is that Pseudogout is caused by calcium phosphate whereas Gout is caused by uric acid in the blood. Gout is caused by a buildup of needle-like uric acid crystals in the joint that lead to inflammation.
More often than not, Gout occurs in attacks that usually last for three to ten days. Afterwards, the joint feels normal again. The task of predicting Gout attacks is next to impossible. If left untreated, Gout can cause more frequent attacks that may last for longer periods of time. Moreover, untreated Gout can cause permanent joint and kidney damage. The big toe is generally the key target of Gout, though it can develop in any joint of the body like ankle, elbow, heel, wrist, knee or even finger. Men aged 40-50 and post-menopausal women are more at risk. Applying ice packs on the affected joint is a common but temporary home remedy for Gout pains.
Causes of Gout
As discussed above, Gout is caused by the abnormal metabolism of uric acid. The buildup of uric acid could either be a result of excess production of uric acid or a problem in its removal or elimination. Gout attacks may be triggered by alcohol, illness like dehydration, fever, recent surgery, or too much exercise. A diet consisting of high levels of purines (commonly found in red meat, seafood, mushroom, asparagus etc) is likely to cause Gout. Kidney diseases result in the kidneys’ not passing enough uric acid out through the urine and cause Gout.
Medical conditions like Psoriasis, Leukemia, Hemoglobin disorders, and High Blood Pressure also contribute in causing the disease. Besides, medicines like diuretics, low-dose aspirin, niacin or the ones that raise the levels of uric acid crystals in the blood, like vitamin B12 can also be held responsible for the same. It can also be attributed to the inherited abnormality in the body’s ability to process uric acid. Obesity, sudden changes in diet, sudden weight gain or weight loss, and beverages like tea, coffee especially alcohol can lead to Gout attacks.
Symptoms of Gout
In a Gout attack, there is a sudden burning pain, swelling, and stiffness, in the affected joint. The pain can be so intense that even a bed sheet on the affected area may cause severe pain. The skin around the joint becomes red and shiny due to inflammation. The affected area tends to become extremely sensitive to touch. The swelling may spread to the whole foot. The patient may develop slight fever too.
In chronic Gout, firm, white lumps, known as ‘tophi’ develop beneath the skin, typically in the fingers, back of the elbow, toes, behind the heel and around the outer edge of the ear. If the needle-shaped uric acid crystals collect in the urinary tract, kidney stones may be formed. If the urate crystals collect in the kidney tissue, the kidneys may be damaged.
Natural Home Remedies for Gout
• Malic acid present in apples neutralizes uric acid and hence cures Gout. A small apple can be taken after each meal.
• Mix 100 ml of beet juice, 300 ml of carrot juice, and approximately 100 ml of cucumber juice. Combination of these raw vegetable juices is beneficial in the treatment of Gout.
• Take one cup of vinegar, one cup water and one teaspoon of pepper. Mix these ingredients and boil the mixture. Apply it on the affected area for two to three hours to reduce pain.
• Juice extracted from French beans or String beans has therapeutic properties. Take about 150 ml of such a juice regularly.
• A banana diet is yet another simple natural home remedy for Gout treatment. The diet consists of eight or nine bananas only. It is advisable to take to this diet for about 3-4 days.
• Cherries, whether sweet or sour, effectively cure Gout. The patient should have about 15-20 fresh or canned cherries a day and gradually reduce to 10 cherries a day to control the disease. Fresh cherries should be preferred over canned cherries.
• Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and an equal amount of honey. Take this mixture two times a day on a daily basis to heal and subdue pain.
• Taking garlic cherry paste in the morning is one of the simplest natural home remedies for Gout treatment. To make this paste, just mix chopped garlic and black cherry juice.
• Soak the affected area in a bucket of warm water mixed with two cups of Epsom salt until the water loses its heat.
• Meadowsweet leaves, Flowertops, Devil’s claw root, Gingerroot, and white willow bark are some of the herbs that heal inflammations in the joints and provide relief from pain caused by Gout.
Diet for Gout
Citrus fruits such as berries, fresh strawberries, cherries should be included in the diet to prevent and cure Gout. Fruit acids and minerals, like potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and calcium are also helpful in this regard. Tomatoes, green peppers, and greens leafy vegetables are high in natural vitamin C and bioflavonoids that reduce inflammation due to Gout. Vitamin C cures sore joints by strengthening the connective tissues of the body. Lime is a good source of vitamin C. It should be consumed by diluting it with water. Nuts, seeds, and grains are also beneficial but to a lesser extent.
Gout attacks are found to be triggered by moderate or heavy alcohol consumption and animal proteins like seafood, herring, meat extracts, or gizzards. Sweetbreads and vegetables such as peas, beans, spinach, and lentils are also likely to trigger Gout attacks. Instead of these items, one should include cottage cheese, yogurt, vegetable soups, vegetable salads, fruits like apples, plums, apricots, grapes, oranges, nuts like walnut and hazelnuts in the diet.