Relieving gout naturally - Sarawak Tribune - Friday, 1 March, 2002

It usually starts with a severe pain in the big toe but for some the pain may be in the heel or ankle, followed by chills, shivers, and a little fever. The pain becomes intense, as though reaching the bones and ligaments. The night is passed in torture with tossing and turning. You start to worry and the next thing you know is that you are strike with gout.

Gout is a form of arthritis that is more prevalent in men (usually over the age of 40) than in women. In gout, uric acid, a natural by-product in the metabolism of many foods, is either overproduced, under excreted, or both. When a person has elevated uric acid level in the blood stream, small uric acid crystals can be deposited into the joint space, rather than being cleared by the kidneys. If left untreated, gout can become chronic and lead to joint damage and deformation. It may also cause the formation of kidney stones that subsequently bring about kidney damage.

Dietary Adjustment
Throughout history, gout has been associated with affluence and has been referred to as a "rich man's disease". Although gout is a metabolic disorder, overindulging in foods can certainly exacerbate the condition. This is evident in a diet that is high in purine-rich foods. Purine is a type of amino acid that is readily broken down to uric acid in the body. Due to the reduced elimination of uric acid in gout, high purine foods (as outlined below) should be entirely omitted from the diet.

- Fish (especially sardines, anchovies, mackerel, shellfish)
- Meat and poultry (especially offals)
- Some vegetables and grains (lentils, mushrooms, oatmeal, asparagus, cauliflower)

Refined carbohydrates are known to increase uric acid production while saturated fats are associated with the increase in uric acid retention. These foods should be kept to a minimum as part of the treatment in gout. A highfibre and low-fat diet should be adhered to in order to simultaneously control the production of uric acid and facilitate its excretion from the body.

Nutritional Supplementation
Where nutritional supplements are concerned, both evening primrose oil and marine fish oil are of great value in the reduction of pain, swelling and tissue damage associated with inflammatory processes. Studies revealed that a combination of 80% evening primrose oil and 20% marine fish oil is recommended for better results. The eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in marine fish oil limits the production of leukotrienes, which are the mediators responsible for the inflammation and tissue damage observed in gout.

There are certain nutrients that are excellent for the maintenance of healthy joints and connective tissues. Beta carotene, vitamins C, E and the mineral zinc are the nutrients that help to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals and stimulate the repair of cartilage, bone, tendon and muscle. When used in combination, these vitamins and mineral work synergistically to provide protection against joint structures breakdown.

Herbal Remedies
The use of herbs in the treatment of gout is rather new to some individuals.

Those who have followed through a herbal regimen under the supervision of a practitioner, actually found relief in their condition. Celery seed and Guaiacum are some of the herbs commonly prescribed by herbalists for the treatment of gout. Being a diuretic, Celery Seed assists in the elimination of uric acid through the kidneys.

The wonderful action of Guaiacum lies in its ability to prevent and treat uric acid accumulation in the joints. Supplementation with Celery Seed and Guaiacum in combination with other herbs like Ginger, Capsicum and

Sarsaparilla has demonstrated to reduce many symptoms of gout including pain and inflammation.

Helpful Tips
A holistic approach in the treatment of gout will not be complete without some lifestyle adjustment.

- Kick the drinking habit. Alcohol is known to increase uric acid production by accelerating purine breakdown and reducing uric acid excretion.

- Drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday. Adequate fluids intake will help keep the urine dilute and promote the excretion of uric acid. This in turn reduces the risk of kidney stones.

- Watch your weight. An ideal body weight has shown to reduce uric acid levels in the bloodstream. Weight management is best dealt through a high-fibre and lowfat diet as well as regular exercise.