After my third patient this month asked which natural supplements are best for gout, I did some research on the numbers and discovered that gout attacks in the US are on the rise. Unfortunately, mainstream medical treatments don’t offer much when it comes to preventing gout flare-ups, so this article will outline the most effective natural methods for eliminating the agony of this painful joint condition.
First, the bad news…
It is unlikely that simply taking a vitamin or supplement every day is going to solve your gout problem. However, with a few minor diet changes, the right natural supplements can indeed control gout attacks and possibly eliminate them forever.
Why Does Gout Hurt So Much?
In short, gout attacks hurt because tiny, jagged crystals of uric acid get deposited in joints, tendons, and other tissues of the body (most often the big toe). The result is inflammation, swelling, and excruciating pain that can be so severe as to make walking or even wearing shoes torturous.
Over time, gout can damage the kidneys and cause permanent joint dysfunction, so simply managing the pain and inflammation of gout is not enough to prevent future problems.
The real goal should be to reduce high uric acid levels in the blood.
What Causes High Uric Acid Levels?
In a word, purines.
When cells in the body are broken down and recycled, purines (which have a great many functions) are metabolized and uric acid is formed. Uric acid is not “bad” in this process as it protects blood vessels from harm, but if too much uric acid is present in the bloodstream, gout can be the result.
Aside from purines already in the body, we also ingest them in the plants and animals we eat, although some foods contain higher amounts than others.
Foods high in purines include seafood, organ meats, game meat, beef, and pork, although these foods aren’t exactly the problem.
♦ Studies actually show that reducing fructose in the diet is more effective for gout than reducing purine intake (1).
♦ Studies have also shown that the body increases uric acid excretion in response to eating purines to maintain balance (2).
The real problem is the build-up of uric acid caused by the body’s inability to get rid of it fast enough.
Factors that Increase Gout Risks
Too much fructose can overload the liver and interfere with purine metabolism (causing the level to rise). It also decreases the amount of uric acid we can excrete.
It is estimated that one-quarter of the US population consumes about 134 grams of fructose a day (mostly from processed foods), which is astounding considering we should be restricting fructose to below 25 grams a day in order to maintain wellness.
♦ One study showed that drinking just one soda or 6-ounce glass of orange juice every day resulted in a 74 percent and 41 percent increase in gout attacks, respectively.
♦ Another study revealed that the risk of developing gout significantly increased among men who drank 5 to 6 six servings of sugary soft drinks a week (3).
2. Blood Sugar Problems
This includes type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
These conditions reduce the amount of uric acid the body can excrete (4).
Natural Supplements that Help Reduce Gout Attacks
The most common medical treatment for gout is anti-inflammatory drugs which all carry their own risks for side-effects and other negative health outcomes.
There are vitamins and supplements that can lessen gout pain, but the proper lifestyle/diet changes simply must be implemented to completely eliminate the condition.
Staying hydrated and avoiding any food that says “fructose” (especially high fructose corn syrup and variations) on the label is a great start.
Tart cherries, tart cherry juice, and tart cherry powder are the most highly acclaimed natural remedies for gout because they contain compounds (anthocyanins and bioflavonoids) which are known to have similar effects to aspirin and ibuprofen (5).
♦ In a study of over 600 people with gout, subjects who ate 10 or 12 cherries per day, or consumed cherry extract, had a 35% reduced risk of gout attacks. Subjects who ate more cherries, up to three servings in two days, had a 50% reduced risk (6).
But wait! Don’t cherries (and all fruit) contain fructose? The exact thing I said you should stay away from a few paragraphs back? Yes, they do, but some fruits like cherries and strawberries not only carry a benefit for gout sufferers but are low enough in NATURAL fructose to be okay.
2. Vitamin A
One vitamin that is especially important for gout sufferers is Vitamin A because it protect the kidneys. Healthy kidneys help the body excrete uric acid, so organ meats (although high in purines) actually help prevent gout rather than cause it because of their Vitamin A content.
If organ meats aren’t your thing or you don’t have easy access to them, a Vitamin A supplement is essential.
The fats in omega-3s produce compounds called resolvins and protectins that are known for controlling inflammation. The best sources include wild-caught Alaskan salmon, small oily fish like sardines, anchovies, and herring, or a fish oil supplement made from these sources.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs
There are several natural herbs which science has shown are helpful in controlling inflammation specific to gout sufferers.
Boswellia has anti-inflammatory components and can assist in sustaining stable blood flow to the joints, allowing the joint tissues to improve their flexibility and strength.
Potassium neutralizes uric acid found in your urine and helps the body excrete it. Potassium-rich foods include avocados, spinach, sweet potatoes, coconut water, bananas, acorn squash, and mushrooms.
Potassium supplements are also acceptable.
As you can see, controlling the inflammation and pain of gout is indeed possible using natural methods like vitamins and supplements, but the cause of gout is ultimately one of lifestyle, so eliminating gout attacks is more likely when using all the methods listed here.