The Fundamentals

Gout is a hereditary metabolic disease caused by excessive amounts of uric acid in the blood and deposits of urates of sodium in and around the joints. Any joint may be affected, but it usually begins in the big toe, foot, or knee. Crystals of uric acid feel like ground glass in the joints. It is usually filtered out of the body by the kidneys, but when it becomes excessive, it accumulates in the joints. Individuals who live with gout may be asymptomatic between acute attacks, but when one does develop, it generally begins during the night, with the pain worsening to almost unbearable by the daylight hours. Nine out of 10 people affected by gout are middle-aged men. Most of those have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Those suffering with obesity and high blood pressure are also at higher risk. Attacks of gout may also be accompanied by hypertension, low-grade fever, back pain, and joint inflammation. Tophus may also be present on the ears, hands, and feet.

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MedlinePlus: Gout

ince gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood, the first step to preventing its development is to correct those factors which give rise to high uric acid levels. Foods high in purines, which raise levels of uric acid, should be avoided. These include liver, tripe, shellfish and scallops, excessive amounts of red meat, and peas and beans. Obese people are more likely to develop gout, so weight loss is important as well. Alcohol intake, primarily beer, should also be reduced. In a study of 61 men with gout, about 40% of them drank more than a 12-pack of beer a day.
To help alleviate the pain of gout, there are many anti-inflammatory herbs that may be useful. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which is effective in easing stiffness and pain in the joints. Because improper digestion of protein in the body causes uric acid to build up, gout sufferers may find relief with Devil's Claw, a digestive stimulant and pain reliever, as well an an anti-inflammatory. Nettles has been shown in animal studies to increase uric acid secretion, thereby lowering the uric acid levels, and White Willow Bark which contains salicylates, the compound from which aspirin is made, has been proven to alleviate pain and inflammation. Dandelion has been shown to reduce high uric acid levels, as has Juniper, which promotes uric acid excretion.
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