Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body, causing crystals to form in joints and joints to become inflamed. It can be hereditary or the result of another condition. Gout usually affects men over 40 with a family history of gout, but it can occur at any time and also affects women, especially after menopause. Excessive intake of food and alcohol, surgery, infection, physical or emotional stress, or the use of certain drugs can lead to the development of gout symptoms. Signs and symptoms include extreme pain in a single joint, usually the base of the big toe, but other joints can also be affected (such as the feet, fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, or ankles). The joint is shiny red-purple, swollen, hot, and stiff. You may even develop a fever as high as 39°C (102.2° F) with or without chills. Symptoms can develop very quickly, with the first episode often occurring at night, then go away after 5 – 10
days only to come back later. In later attacks, you may see lumps (called tophi) just under the skin in the outer ear, hands, feet, elbow, or knee. The body either produces too much uric acid, doesn’t excrete enough uric acid, or both, so that the acid accumulates in tissues in the form of needle-like crystals that cause pain. Gout generally occurs because of a predisposition to the condition, but is most commonly linked to an underlying blood sugar imbalance. Once the blood sugar is balanced, the gout quickly resolves. Risk factors include: Family history of gout, high levels of triglycerides (also a down- stream effect of elevated blood sugar), drinking too much alcohol (which will increase blood sugars), eating foods rich in purines, such as meat, shellfish, and sweetbreads.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with gout is to first address underlying lifestyle habits that may be contributing. By following a meal plan that improves blood sugar balance, optimizes body composition, includes plenty of water, has low purines in the diet, has no or minimal alcohol (especially beer) and is anti-inflammatory quite often the gout is then no longer an issue. However, implementing this plan may be harder than it seems, so clinical nutrition can be added to fill in some of the weak spots. Things like vitamin C, taken in high doses, can help decrease blood uric acid levels. Folic acid inhibits xanthine oxidase, which is required for uric acid production. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, is an anti-inflammatory. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, is an anti-inflammatory that may also help reduce uric acid levels. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), found in fish oil, inhibits pro-inflammatory leukotrienes.