Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Suffer from Gout?

Do you have gout? No need to take allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim). That would be one pill a day for the rest of your life to keep this condition under control.

Fortunately, there are several natural alternatives like nettle extract.

Supplements talked about on this page
Cat's claw
Devil's claw
Olive leaf

Other supplements you might look into are :
Burdock Root:
Celery Juice Powder
Grape Seed Extract

Caused by Crystals

Gout is a form of arthritis because it causes pain in the joints, usually the big toe, although other joints can be affected. It's caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. When levels rise beyond a certain point, uric acid crystals form and collect in the affected joint or joints, causing excruciating pain. These crystals can also form in the body's major organs and do considerable damage, so avoiding pain is not the only reason to keep this serious condition under control.

Gout tends to run in families. Three hundred years ago, it was associated with wealth, because gout attacks were thought to be provoked by eating a rich diet. Now we know that the disease afflicts rich and poor alike. More than 95 percent of people who have gout are men over 30. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the population has elevated uric acid levels, but only 3 people in 1,000 experience gout.

Caused by Certain Foods

Uric acid is a waste product derived from the breakdown of an amino acid called purine. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and eliminated from the body by the kidneys. But for some reason for some, uric acid builds up in the joints. Researchers have found that avoiding purine-rich foods can help alleviate gout. Foods with the most purine are meats, especially organ meats, and yeast-laden baked goods. Also avoid gravies and broths, sardines, mussels, herring, mushrooms, dried beans, fish, lentils, peas, alcohol, oatmeal and spinach.

Cherry Berry Flavonoids

Over 40 years ago, Texan Ludwig W. Blau, Ph.D., made a discovery that to this day ripples through many nutritional journals and books about gout. Crippled, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from gout, Blau one day wheeled himself to the cupboard. Seeing nothing appetizing, he turned to refrigerator, spied a bowlful of plump, red cherries, sampled them, and, hooked, ate the bowlful. The next morning, wonder of wonders, the pain and inflammation in his foot were almost gone. Blau's family physician tried the therapy on 12 patients. Every one of them saw improvement. Dr. Blau reported in Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine that, following a non-restricted diet of one half pound of fresh or canned cherries per day, all 12 gout sufferers saw their blood uric acid levels return to normal, with no further attacks gout.

Natural Help for Gout

Celery (Apium graveolens). Learning that celery extracts might help eliminate uric acid, I began taking two to four tablets of celery seed extracts daily instead of allopurinol. As I write, six months have gone by without a single gout crisis. For one week, I ate four celery stalks a day in lieu of the extracts. These self-dosing anecdotal results lead me to believe the advertisement that led me to the celery seed. A skeptic then, I'm a believer now: Celery seed (or serendipity) has kept my uric acid below critical levels.

Avocado (Persea americana). My botanical friends in the Amazon believe that avocado is useful for treating gout. It reportedly lowers uric acid levels in the blood. There's no scientific evidence that I'm aware of to support this assertion, but I have a lot of respect for the herbal wisdom of the Amazonian people, and avocados are certainly tasty. So here's a good reason to add an occasional avocado to your diet. Just don't go overboard, though, as avocados are high in calories.

Cherry (Prunus, various species). Many people claim to stave off gout attacks by eating eight ounces a day of canned or fresh cherries. I have one friend, for instance, who claims to have great luck in staving off gout when he eats black cherries. This therapy has never been scientifically demonstrated to work, but since so many people swear by it, I think it's probably worth trying. (One caveat, though: Buying this many cherries might be even more expensive than my allopurinol.) Other people favor strawberries. I'm going to give my Cherry Cocktail a try. It's a mixture of cherry, pineapple, strawberry and blueberry juices spiced up with a little bit of licorice and a lot of ginger and turmeric.

Pineapple (Ananas comosus). Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps break down protein. Naturopathic physicians often recommend pure bromelain, which can be purchased at health food stores, to reduce inflammation and swelling. Bromelain clearly works if you inject it into swollen tissue, but the effectiveness of the ingested enzyme has been controversial. It's probably worth trying, however. My preferred way to get bromelain is in an occasional glass of pineapple juice.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Like chiso, licorice contains several XO inhibitors, but at fairly low levels. Still, a cat's claw-licorice combo could be interesting, and the two herbs might even work better together.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa). One compound in turmeric (curcumin) inhibits the synthesis of substances called prostaglandins in the body that are involved in pain. The mechanism is similar to the one involved in the pain-relieving action of aspirin and ibuprofen, only weaker. Still, at high doses, curcumin stimulates the adrenal glands to release the body's own cortisone, a potent reliever of inflammation and the pain it often causes. East Indians revere turmeric and use it liberally in curries. That's a particularly nice way to take your medicine, if you ask me. You can also make a tea using turmeric or simply take it in capsules.

Cat's claw (Uncaria, various species). Once while I was on the Amazon, an attack of gout caught me without the prescription medication I usually take to alleviate the inflammation during a crisis. But I had some pills containing cat's claw (uña de gato), an herb with anti-inflammatory effects. I took two pills. No relief. I tried four. Nothing. Then, at six, I began to notice some effect, but it took nearly a dozen to do as much as the drug. While I'm certainly not discarding my prescription medications in favor of cat's claw, in an emergency I'd use the herb again. There are more than 30 brands of cat's claw on sale in health food stores and herb shops in the United States, and there's only one report in the scientific literature of an adverse reaction ever developing in anyone using the herb.

Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens). Several reports indicate that this herb lowers uric acid levels and has anti-inflammatory action, both of which would be useful for treating gout. Other studies suggest that it may be useful for relieving arthritic conditions, and gout is a form of arthritis. Unfortunately, studies rely on injections of an herbal extract of devil's claw, and an injection goes right into the bloodstream without passing through the stomach. This herb loses potency in the stomach, so I can't guess how effective (or ineffective) it might be in a tea or capsule. I think it's worth trying, however.

Olive (Olea europea). Olive has a reputation as a diuretic dating back to biblical times. In 1993, a Japanese researcher showed that about four cups of olive leaf tea a day for three weeks increased daily urine output by 10 to 15 percent, lowering uric acid levels in the blood and increasing uric acid in the urine. I would not hesitate to try this one myself.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). One scientific study showed that stinging nettle increases uric acid secretion, at least in ducks. These experimental animals exhibited lower blood levels of uric acid after they were given stinging nettle extract. The next time I have pain in my big toe, I intend to include stinging nettle tea in my own treatment program.

Nettle is a diuretic, expectorant, pain reliever, and tonic. Contains vital minerals that are essential in many disorders. Improves goiter, inflammatory conditions, and mucous condition of the lungs.

Help with Gout and Skin Problems with this product from Abunda Life -- Vibrant Skin