Gout is a caused by an excess of uric acid and crystal deposition in a joint space. It most commonly affects the great toe, but can occur in the ankle, knee, wrist, and finger joints as well. Although gout is often considered as an acute inflammatory arthritis it is really a systemic disease that is associated with serious health comorbidities.
Gout (hyperuricemia) is associated with:
Coronary Artery Disease
The Framingham Heart Study demonstrated an independent 60% risk of increased coronary artery disease in men with gout. Other studies show that men with gout are at a 55% increase risk of fatal myocardial infarction, and a 38% increase of death due to cardiovascular disease. Gout is an independent risk factor for death of all causes!
The typical treatment for gout consists of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids. While effective in treating symptoms these drugs carry potentially harmful side effects and do not address the root cause of the disease.
Aggressive lifestyle counseling centering on weight loss, exercise, and dietary modification dramatically lowers all cause morbidity associated with gout. Patients should avoid red meat in the forms of beef, port, lamb, and seafood as these foods raise uric acid levels associated with gout. Sugary beverages should also be avoided. Patients should increase the intake of vegetables, legumes, nuts, and vegetable proteins. Beer and liquor consumption is associated with increasing gout attacks, while wine and coffee consumption are not.
Supplements and Botanicals
Vitamin C has been demonstrated to have uric acid lowering effects. Cherry consumption or cherry extract remain a traditional treatment for gout due to antioxidant polyphenols. Dietary fiber from plant consumption lowers uric acid production and alkalinizes the urine thus promoting uric acid secretion. Other useful supplements include green coffee extract, L-methylfolate, quercetin, grape seed extract, olive leaf, milk thistle, fish oil, curcumin, and hisbiscus tea.
Acupuncture was compared to allopurinol and indomethacin as treatment for acute gout attacks and demonstrated to be superior (93% effective vs. 80% effective) in clinical trials, and acupuncture does not carry the side effects of these drugs.
If you or someone you know suffer from gout, please take it as a sign of severe metabolic imbalance and a marker for serious life threatening heart disease. Lifestyle changes that facilitate whole body heath is the best long term treatment plan.