Q: My husband has suffered with gout for years, and it seems to be getting worse. Can you recommend any natural treatments-herbs, vitamins, homeopathy, etc.-that might help?
A: Gout is a common type of arthritis caused by an increased concentration of uric acid in biological fluids. Uric acid is produced when purines-a compound produced by the body and also contained in many foods-are metabolized. In people with gout, uric acid crystals are deposited in joints, tendons, kidneys and other tissues, where they cause considerable inflammation and damage.
The good news is that in many cases, gout can be treated very successfully with diet and lifestyle changes. The first step is to eliminate alcohol completely and avoid foods high in purines, such as anchovies, asparagus, mushrooms and organ meats such as liver and kidney. I’d also recommend cutting back or eliminating sweets, including honey and foods sweetened with fructose. Fruits and fruit juices should be consumed in moderation. Instead, stick to a diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, including whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and drink at least 48 ounces of water daily. This kind of diet will also help your husband achieve or maintain his ideal body weight. If he is currently overweight, this will be very helpful in managing his gout.
A program of high-potency vitamin and mineral supplementation can also be helpful in treating gout. A typical formula is 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, taken three times daily, and 200 to 400 international units of vitamin E, taken once a day. Supplementing the diet with flaxseed oil is also a good idea. A typical dosage is one tablespoon daily.
Finally, eating the equivalent of eight ounces of fresh cherries daily is an old natural remedy for gout that many people swear by. Since fresh cherries are hard to come by out of season, many people with gout use cherry extracts or concentrates in pill or concentrated form, sold at many health-food stores.