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Gout

General characteristics

General characteristics

Gout is a painful inflammatory condition of the joints, particularly the big toe, caused by a build up of uric acid crystals around the joint. Not all gout sufferers test positive for high uric acid levels however.

Uric acid is formed naturally as a by product from body metabolism and the digestion of foods and is itself a very useful substance. It is used in the body as an anti-oxidant and offers potent protection against damaging free radicals. Uric acid is excreted mainly by the kidneys (about 70%) and some in the stools (about 30%) with small amounts being excreted through the sweat in an attempt to regulate uric acid levels. It is only slightly soluble so there is a tendency for it to form into crystals when blood saturation of uric acid is high. These crystals can then be deposited around the joints and sometimes the kidneys, leading to stone formation.

Higher concentrations of uric acid can be caused by a simple rise in blood levels due to an increased intake of foods containing purines (e.g. organ meats, meat and fish, alcohol, yeasts) or an excess intake of acid forming foods (starches, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners) or from secondary factors such as injury, age, gender, a higher body mass, being a male over 40, familial tendencies, chemotherapy, some cancers, kidney disease, certain medications or disorders of the hormonal/endocrine system. When uric acid crystals are formed and deposited the body treats them as an invader and begins the immune response, therefore inflammation follows. The pain experienced during gout is thought to be from the effects of the immune cells breaking down the crystals.

The symptoms of gout include extreme pain and tenderness, swelling around the joint/s, redness, shiny skin, heat around the joint/s, tiredness, slight fever and reduced appetite.

Healing objectives are to improve the diet to encourage lower uric acid levels and to make the blood slightly more alkaline, to cleanse the joint and provide pain relief, to encourage the kidneys (and all channels of elimination) to excrete uric acid more effectively and to prevent further episodes.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Eliminate all processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, fried foods and processed oils, fizzy drinks, legumes and beans, spinach, sorrel, alcohol and black tea.

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, wholegrains, fruits, seeds, nuts and drink plenty of water. Make at least one full meal a raw salad with a wide variety of foods in it.

Reduce meat intake considerably if you are a big meat eater, use oily fish instead such as salmon or tuna.

Many seeds, especially flaxseeds are high in fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory in nature.

For protein, eat organic dairy products such as cottage cheese and yoghurt.

Eat bananas, cherries, strawberries and other berries, pears, celery, lemons, dark green leaves, parsley and apples in abundance.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Make nettle, plantain leaf and yarrow tea a part of your daily routine. At least one strong cup a day (a heaped teaspoon) for prevention and up to 3 cups a day during an attack. Nettle and yarrow are very cleansing to the kidneys and other systems and provide excellent nutrition. Plantain leaf encourages uric acid excretion via the kidneys.
Cornsilks can also be added to any tea for their joint cleansing action, as can elderflowers.
A joint cleansing and anti-inflammatory tea can be made from dried meadowsweet, uva ursi, buchu, celery seeds, white willow bark, devils claw, dandelion root, burdock root and prickly ash.. Place a heaped teaspoon of the celery seed, white willow, burdock root, dandelion root and devils claw in a pan with a pint of water. Add half a teaspoon of prickly ash and simmer for 20 minutes. Next add a heaped teaspoon of meadowsweet, buchu and uva ursi to the cooked herbs, cover and leave to stand until cool. Drink the strained liquid over the day in 3 equal doses.
Fresh comfrey root or leaf can also prove very useful in healing gout and easing the pain.
A few drops of barberry tincture or gentian root tincture in a little water up to 3 times daily may also help to cleanse out the joints and increase elimination via the kidneys.
The common woodland and hedgerow 'weed' ground elder is an old remedy for gout, the leaves are used in tea form.
Figwort helps to clear uric acid from the body via the kidneys.
Try adding crushed juniper berries to any tea mix as they help eliminate uric acid from the body.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Take cider vinegar in a little water and add a teaspoon of good pollen rich honey (not honey from white sugar fed bees). You can also bathe the joints in warm water to which several teaspoon of cider vinegar has been added.
Keeping the affected joints still for long periods will make the condition worse. Even though it may hurt, try to keep mobile if you can.
A soothing poultice can be made from warm potato skins. Peel an organic potato, gently simmer the skin and when cool enough wrap the joint in the peel. Keep warm by placing a hot water bottle over it.

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