Golfing with Gout?
I'm an avid golfer, but a day of walking on the green can leave me suffering with gout for days. What herbs or supplements do you recommend for gout?
As you no doubt know, gout is a very painful condition. While it most commonly affects the joints in the big toe, it can also occur in ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, elbows, and insteps. Being on your feet and walking all day can aggravate symptoms, but regular, daily exercise can actually help in the long run. You'll probably want to do more biking and swimming, though.
In most cases, gout is an inherited metabolic disorder in which high concentrations of uric acid circulate in the blood. (Uric acid is a byproduct of protein metabolism, and people with gout should avoid a particular class of proteins called purines that occur in organ meats, sardines, anchovies, and lentils.)
Certain drugs can also increase your risk of gout because they affect the amount of uric acid in the system. These include salicylates (the active ingredient in aspirin), vitamin B3 (niacin), and diuretics that may be prescribed for high blood pressure, edema, or cardiovascular disease. Cyclosporine, a drug used to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, can also increase the risk of gout, as can Levodopa, which is prescribed for Parkinson's disease. Being overweight, drinking excess alcohol, and exposure to lead in the environment can also raise the risk.
Gout is usually treated with nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs or with injections of cortisone to reduce the swelling. While there are no herbs or supplements that can quell an attack of gout, acupuncture can help some people. I've also heard anecdotal evidence that drinking cherry juice and eating raw cherries can help with acute attacks. In addition, the following recommendations may enable you to minimize -- or avoid -- taking drugs:
Eliminate coffee and all other sources of caffeine (caffeine and related drugs can raise uric acid levels).
Drink lots of water to help flush uric acid out of your system and prevent the deposit of urate crystals in the urinary tract.
Minimize alcohol consumption. It promotes development of uric acid crystals -- and can cause dehydration and irritate the urinary tract.
If you're overweight, try to lose the excess pounds (reducing your weight may lessen your gout symptoms).
Never take protein supplements.
As far as your diet is concerned, the best advice I can give you is to avoid foods high in purines, and make sure you're following a balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.