The Dickensian illustration of a wealthy, corpulent man sitting in an overstuffed chair with his big toe swathed in bandages and an expression of great pain on his face is one way of humorously looking at gout.
Two hundred years ago, gout was considered a rich man's disease, but today, with our daily access to rich meats and fatty foods, gout is also for the 99 percent. Gout is nothing to laugh at, since it's one of the most painful disorders you can imagine.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused when there is an excess of uric acid in your bloodstream. Uric acid in itself is actually a beneficial antioxidant, much like vitamin C. But when you eat too much rich food and your digestive system can't produce enough of the enzyme uricase, the highly insoluble uric acid doesn't dissolve. The crystallized uric acid forms hard needle-sharp structures which then attack your joints and tissues.
The pain of these needles is excruciating and although gout will attack all of your joints, its vacation spot seems to be the big toe! Purines are the culprits in the formation of gout. They are present in beef, pork, certain fish and shellfish, asparagus and mushrooms, just to name a few.
Rancid fats, produced when oils are heated to high temperatures or left un refrigerated, also are a major problem in gout, so fried foods are best eliminated. Whilst medical doctors may prescribe allopurinol for gout, there are many side effects to this drug, as well as the drug colchicine. Both may be toxic to the kidneys and liver.
You can eliminate gout holistically. Of course, you must follow a mostly vegetarian diet and stay away from rich fatty foods, caffeine and alcohol.
Exercise, even just a few mild calisthenics a day until you're up to more, is very beneficial. Losing weight is also key to getting over the gout. Stay away from too many dark green vegetables such as spinach.
Spinach and other dark greens, contain oxalic acid, which aggravates gout and suppresses iron uptake. Enjoy them in moderation, once a week or so and never when you're having a flair of inflammation. Supplement with B vitamins and vitamin A , (don't go over 15,000 IU's ), and take alfalfa tablets. Alfalfa is an amazing blood cleanser and also cleans the colon, so go easy until your system acclimates. I must nag again about water.
Water will help to dissolve excess uric acid and flush it out of your system, along with fatty wastes. Keep hydrated! For pain, try topical capsicum creams or roll- ons and remember to apply with a gloved hand and avoid your eyes. A 20 minute soak in Dead Sea Salts and warm water works wonders on all painful joints.
Of course, always seek the care of a professional and use your common sense. Remember, your body wants to heal itself, it just needs a little help from you!
Dr. Kleine regrets she cannot give advice by phone or e-mail. For an appointment call us at 631.472.8193 or e-mail Drfootsi@myway.com.