A natural remedy for gout, if it could be proved to work consistently, would be a great breakthrough for sufferers, but so far, nothing seems to really work on a sustainable and consistent basis.
My post on natural remedies, went back to grass roots for this blog and dealt with some of the issues surrounding their use and some of the potential consequences to watch out for.
I've also been asked what is the difference between arthritis and gout?
Here in this post, I want to revisit where I left off in my article about treating gout, by talking about a personal discovery that might be useful in examining the length of gout attacks and gout lasting months in stead of just a few days.
After many years (15 to be exact) of suffering attacks of gout at irregular intervals I've read up on and educated myself about just about every aspect of this painful, frustrating and infuriating disease.
I started, like most people on my then doctor's recommendation of allopurinol tablets which I would have to have taken for the rest of my life. That didn't go down well with me, a person who views the drugs industry with a very suspicious eye.
Down the toilet they went and I started looking for alternatives!
I found many that had some affect, such as a drastic change in my diet and lifestyle, losing weight and taking a daily dose of cider vinegar and molasses (gleaned from a book written by Margaret Hills called "Curing Arthritis the Drug Free Way"). This was truly effective at clearing out the arthritis I was suffering from in the early days, but it did not prevent further sporadic attacks of gout.
Change of Lifestyle
When I moved from the UK to Spain several years ago, my first two years here were completely gout free, which I put down to a better diet, slower pace of life, less stress etc. But it came back and recently the attacks had started getting worse and lasting much longer, the last bad one lasted nearly 3 months.
Yes, three bloody months!
It was in both feet, toes and ankles making walking almost impossible on many days. Nothing I had or could do seemed to get rid of it. I tried most every natural gout treatment I knew to bring it down. Ice packs to take down the swelling. Increasing my water intake (which is already quite high at 2 litres plus a day).
Not daring to touch alcohol. Cutting my diet down to almost nothing with any food remotely high in purines off the menu. Eating cherries, cranberries, pineapple, bananas and everything else I could think of that might help.
Then I had no option than to resort to anti-inflammatory pills. You can get some damn strong ones here in Spain over the counter so Voltaren and Indonillo got taken. Forget ibuprofen, it doesn't touch gout!
In the early days, I consumed a whole packet of the damn things one day with absolutely no affect!
Well, these strong pills helped, but of course they only treat the symptom and not the cause, so it was only delaying and not curing the problem.
I have a very good Spanish doctor here, who is dead against prescribing any drugs unless there really are no other options. He recommended I try what he called soda water to help reduce the body's over-acidity.
At first I didn't understand what he meant by this, but soon realised that he meant water with some bicarbonate of soda dissolved into it.
Now this is an old fix for heartburn that I used to get many years ago when my lifestyle was, shall we say, more in keeping with the affluent City of London commercial culture, which is where I worked and enjoyed far too many "liquid lunches" with my colleagues.
Well, with nothing to lose, I tried this mixture that I admit I hadn't thought of as it was only good for countering excess stomach acid, right? Well, only partially right, it seems.
I took it and saw the rapid appearance of the end of that gout attack. I was not immediately convinced, as so much time had elapsed and its end could simply have been a coincidence. But my curiosity was sufficiently aroused to keep a tub of bicarbonate of soda handy, just in case.
Well, only a couple of months later, gout returned. I immediately started taking bicarbonate of soda three times a day and it seemed to prevent the obtuse swelling that I normally suffer with and only got a mild swelling instead.
A marked improvement straight away. I kept taking it and I'm convinced it has cut down the length of time I get the swelling typical of a gout attack. In fact, it cut down the overall length of the attack from what could potentially have been weeks to just a few days.
So what happened?
I think it must have something to do with lowering the body's overall acidity.
We know that when uric acid levels in the blood go over 7 ppm, that's when crystallization occurs in the joints and BAM! Gout attack. Get that level back below 7 ppm and the uric acid in the blood starts to clean out the crystals from the joints. Kind of role reversal!
So I guess that getting that level down as fast as possible is the main aim and taking sodium bicarbonate 3 times a day seems to be working for me. That doesn't mean it will work for someone else, though. I know people who swear by cherries to take the swelling down, but they don't work for me. As the saying goes: "One man's meat is another man's poison."
What was the next step?
I tested this on myself 2 weeks ago while gout free. I did this by deliberately eating some known bad stuff for me: prawns, salmon and mushrooms with asparagus! Man, that together is a guaranteed gout attack in the making! That night I took a glass of bicarbonate of soda before going to bed and again in the morning, no attack!
OK, its not a very scientific test, but 2 weeks later still not sign of gout. I'll still shy away from all the bad foods, as I don't like to tempt fate. It's also important to stick with known prevention methods by keeping up the good, vegetarian Mediterranean diet and laying off alcohol.
But maybe, just maybe I now have a weapon in my arsenal that might just work in those times when everything I do to prevent gout is still not enough.
Only time will tell.