As anyone who has experienced gout would tell you: you don’t want it! Affecting an estimated 9.2 million people in the United States, and 41 million people world-wide, this painful condition occurs when too much uric acid crystallizes and deposits in the joints, causing severe pain, redness, and swelling. The most common joint affected is the big toe, but the lesser toe joints, ankles, knees and other joints can also be afflicted. Attacks can come on suddenly, often at night.
Uric acid is produced naturally in the body, but levels are also raised through eating purine-rich foods. Typically, the body gets rid of uric acid when you urinate or have a bowel movement, however problems can occur when your kidneys don’t eliminate uric acid efficiently. A buildup of uric acid causes the formation of uric acid crystals, which then accumulate in soft tissues and joints, causing the painful symptoms of gout. Contributing factors affecting kidney function include obesity, having diabetes, taking certain diuretics, and drinking alcohol.
If you google search foods highest in purines you will find organ and glandular meats like liver and kidney, red meat, and certain types of seafood including sardines, anchovies, and tuna. Should you avoid these foods then if you are worried about gout? Not at all! These foods are nutrient-packed, rich in minerals, and should be included in moderation in all healthy diets. However, if you are prone to gout, or currently suffering from gout, these foods can be completely removed while you are working on healing the underlying mechanisms, particularly kidney function.
Another potential source of gout and joint pain are oxalates. Oxalates are created from oxalic acid, a tiny molecule produced in certain plant foods and important in plant “self-defense”, that is toxic and corrosive. Not only do oxalates bind with minerals in the body rendering them useless, but they also form tiny points, that accumulate in tissues and especially joints. Examples of high oxalate foods include spinach, beans, grains, peanuts, blackberries, and even turmeric and black pepper. Chewing your food to a liquid to deactivate the oxylates utilizing your salivary enzymes can be helpful.
Chronic gout is typically treated in conventional medicine with Allopurinol, a medication which lowers uric acid levels, but which has been associated with a significant worsening in mortality compared to those who don’t take it. Are there better, more natural solutions? As a matter of fact, there are, with acupuncture being one of them! A 2013 study in China looked at thirty-two patients with excess uric acid levels and the effects of acupuncture. After acupuncture, blood levels of uric acid concentration decreased by an average of seventeen percent, and urine output increased by up to twenty-nine percent! Researchers concluded that specific acupuncture points promote uric acid excretion and increase urine volume.
At Vital Health, we focus on changing uric acid levels through holistic methods. Through combining specific diet recommendations, targeted nutritional supplements and acupuncture, you can heal your gout the natural way!
©2022 Darcy Greenwald, M.S.O.M., L.Ac. and Vital Health