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Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when crystals of uric acid accumulate in a joint, leading to the sudden development of pain and inflammation.

People with gout either overproduce uric acid or are less efficient than other people at eliminating it. The joint of the big toe is the most common site to accumulate uric acid crystals, although other joints may be affected.

 

Rating Nutritional Supplements Herbs
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Folic acid
Quercetin

Vitamin C

Colchicine from autumn crocus
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

 

What are the symptoms of gout?

The pain of gout can arise suddenly and is often very intense. The affected joint is usually red, swollen, and very tender to the touch. A low-grade fever may also be present.

Dietary changes that may be helpful for gout

Foods that are high in compounds called purines raise uric acid levels in the body and increase the risk of gout. Restricting purine intake can reduce the risk of an attack in people susceptible to gout. Foods high in purines include anchovies, bouillon, brains, broth, consommé, dried legumes, goose, gravy, heart, herring, kidneys, liver, mackerel, meat extracts, mincemeat, mussels, partridge, fish roe, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sweetbreads, baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and yeast extracts (e.g., Marmite, Vegemite).

Avoiding alcohol, particularly beer, or limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day or less may reduce the number of attacks of gout.1 2 Refined sugars, including sucrose (white table sugar) and fructose (the sugar found in fruit juice), should also be restricted, because they have been reported to raise uric acid levels.3

According to a 1950 study of 12 people with gout, eating one-half pound of cherries or drinking an equivalent amount of cherry juice prevented attacks of gout.4 Black, sweet yellow, and red sour cherries were all effective. Since that study, there have been many anecdotal reports of cherry juice as an effective treatment for the pain and inflammation of gout. The active ingredient in cherry juice remains unknown.

Lifestyle changes that may be helpful for gout

People who are overweight or have high blood pressure are at greater risk of developing gout.5 However, weight loss should not be rapid because restriction of calories can increase uric acid levels temporarily, which may aggravate the condition.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful for gout

Large amounts of supplemental folic acid (up to 80 mg per day) have reduced uric acid levels in preliminary research.6 However, other studies have failed to confirm the effectiveness of folic acid in treating people with gout.7

In one small study, people who took 4 grams of vitamin C (but not lower amounts) had an increase in urinary excretion of uric acid within a few hours, and those who took 8 grams of vitamin C per day for several days had a reduction in serum uric acid levels.8 Thus, supplemental vitamin C could, in theory, reduce the risk of gout attacks. However, the authors of this study warned that taking large amounts of vitamin C could also trigger an acute attack of gout by abruptly changing uric acid levels in the body. Despite this concern, some doctors recommend vitamin C supplementation (sometimes starting with one gram per day) as a method for reducing elevated uric acid levels.

In test tube studies, quercetin, a flavonoid, has inhibited an enzyme involved in the development of gout.9 10 However, it is not known whether taking quercetin by mouth can produce high enough quercetin concentrations in the body to achieve these effects. Although human research is lacking, some doctors recommend 150–250 mg of quercetin three times per day (taken between meals).

Are there any side effects or interactions with gout?

Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful for gout

Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) is the herb from which the drug colchicine was originally isolated. Colchicine, a strong anti-inflammatory compound, is used as a conventional treatment for gout. Both the herb and the drug have significant toxicity and should only be used under the guidance of a physician.

Are there any side effects or interactions with gout?

Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions

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