For years, gout has been treated with powerful drugs. The downside to the drugs is frequent and sometimes dangerous side effects. Some experts believe that the drugs can even make the condition worse in the long run. Because of this, many people choose alternative remedies and therapies to relieve the symptoms of gout.
The Cherry Theory There are a host of alternative supplements, remedies, and therapies for gout. One theory that has been widely discussed is the use of cherries to help eliminate the symptoms. Experts who believe in this theory recommend eating half a pound of cherries a day, whether canned, frozen, or fresh. It is believed that dark berries, like blueberries, blackberries, and cherries, may contain chemicals that lower uric acid and reduce inflammation.
Muraleedharan Nair, the lead researcher of the ‘cherry project’ at Michigan State University, explains, “Twenty cherries provide 25 milligrams of anthocyanins, which help to shut down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation in the first place so cherries can prevent and treat many kinds of pain.”
More research is being done to determine the real health benefits of cherries. At least it’s an easy, appetizing consumption. Many gout sufferers opt for the recommended daily dose of cherries with cherry juice or concentrate. I can easily polish off half a pound of frozen cherries in a smoothie with soy milk, or with some cashew nuts in the food processor as a frozen dessert.
You may be wondering about natural supplements and creams that claim to relieve the pain instantly. Of course, ‘quick cures’ sound great to anyone with an acute gout attack but most of these products are worthless and expensive. However, there are few worth considering:
DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide) and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)
These are natural remedies considered effective for gout. DMSO is an industrial solvent and it was discovered in the 1960s that it could penetrate human skin and was shown to relieve pain and swelling, relax muscles, relieve arthritis, improve blood supply, and slow bacteria growth. It is extensively used in sports medicine for obvious reasons.
MSM is a naturally occurring substance found in plants, dairy products, meats, fruits, and vegetables. It is an odorless, tasteless, soluble crystalline solid in its pure form.
Once DMSO or MSM is used (in capsule, powder, or cream forms), the pain is supposed to disappear within minutes, though not enough scientific study has been conducted to verify the benefits. DMSO should not be used during an acute gout attack, as it can make the gout “quite angry.”
Another supplement still under study is the use of bee venom to reduce swelling and inflammation. This form of treatment has been around for thousands of years but at this time there is not substantial medical proof that it helps conditions of arthritis.
Many natural remedies, often born in folk tradition, have been attributed to easing the symptoms of gout for various reasons. Following is a list of alternative home remedies though in many cases there is no scientific proof about their effectiveness. Still, they are cost-effective and generally harmless. But before using these remedies, consult your physician or a practitioner trained in the use of health supplements so that you understand appropriate doses and any associated risks such as interactions with medications and so forth.
Apple cider vinegar
While it certainly provides many health benefits, there are mixed opinions about the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar on gout. The theory is that the vinegar changes the blood pH so that the crystals will go into the solution and be excreted. Two tablespoons a day is recommended. If you can’t stomach it plain, try adding the cider to a glass of water with a teaspoon of honey.
Bilberry contains compounds called anthocyanidins and flavinoids which are helpful for gout as these substances reduce uric-acid levels and slow down tissue destruction. Both the leaves and berries can be taken as a pill or tea, or the berries can be chewed, stewed, or made into jam.
These seeds are primarily used as a diuretic to promote the excretion of urine. Lab studies have also found that compounds in celery seed and its essential oil may help reduce muscle spasms, calm the nerves, and reduce inflammation. Some experts claim the seeds alleviate the pain associated with gout.
Chinese Tiger Balm
This herbal, topical preparation is used to lessen the pain of rheumatism. The preparation contains aromatic oils of camphor, menthol, peppermint, clove, and cajeput (an East Indian oil) that increases blood flow to the surface skin. For relief, massage the painful area with Tiger Balm for up to fifteen minutes, three or four times a day.
In Part 2 of this article, you will learn about turmeric, stinging nettle, juniper berry, gravel root, Devil’s Claw, and dandelion root as natural gout remedies.