Gout develops when uric acid forms tiny crystals on the cartilage in joints and tendons. It typically affects the feet, but can also affect other joints. In rare cases, it even attacks the spine. The pain and inflammation of gout leaves many sufferers unable to walk normally or even put on shoes during an attack. Fortunately, physicians and gout sufferers themselves have discovered a variety of effective methods for decreasing the frequency of attacks and treating them when they do occur.
1. Soak the affected joint in a soothing bath. Fill a small basin with 1/4 pound of sea salt, 1/2 cup medicinal activated charcoal or 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar per liter (2 pints) of water. Use water that’s very warm, but not hot. Soak your feet or other affected areas for approximately 20 minutes.
2. Take appropriate over-the-counter medications. Choose a medication with anti-inflammatory and pain-killing action, such as Ibuprofen. Check that the medication isn’t counterproductive in cases of gout or kidney disorders. Aspirin, for instance, increases uric acid in the bloodstream and can worsen gout. For a severe onset of gout pain, take the medication as directed. For chronic, long-term gout, ask your doctor about taking regular low doses to prevent gout attacks.
3. Try herbal supplements and teas. Celery seeds, which can be taken as a tea or extract, help dissolve uric acid crystals. Celery seeds, along with sarsaparilla and dandelion leaf, are also diuretics and help your body eliminate uric acid more quickly. Cat’s claw (Unicaria tomentosa) reduces inflammation, and rose hip tea contains high levels of joint-protecting vitamin C. Certain plant extracts, such as bromelain and quercitin, can also help you treat gout at home.
4. Avoid food and drink that increase your purine levels. Limit your protein consumption to around 15 percent of your total calories. Avoid red meat, organ meat and fish. Eat only moderate amounts of poultry and high-protein beans and legumes such as lentils and kidney beans. Steer clear of vegetables that contain purine, such as asparagus, mushrooms and cauliflower. Avoid alcohol completely because it increases uric acid retention, and some alcohols, such as beer and port wine, contain purines.
5. Eat more foods that lower uric acid levels. Potassium in foods such as bananas, apricots and cantaloupe dissolves uric acid crystals. Eat cherries or cranberries and apples daily. Cherries and cranberries strengthen the kidneys and reduce inflammation, while the malic acid in apples breaks down uric acid. Snack on blueberries, which contain anthocyanosides that prevent inflammation and protect the collagen in your joints. Protect your joints even more with foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries and cabbage.