There was a time when only the rich could afford to eat a lot of red meat, alcohol and other heavy and fatty foods. That is why gout, a painful form of inflammatory arthritis that can be triggered by a rich diet, is sometimes called the “disease of kings”. Today, however, the masses can afford to overdo it, and as a result, gout is more widespread in the United States than ever.
Gout, which usually affects the large joint of the big toe, but can also occur in the ankles, fingers, wrists, knees or elbows, is due to the inability of the body to control their levels of uric acid, says Bernadette Siaton, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The urate crystals accumulate in the joints, producing telltale inflammation and pain.
While treatment for gout often requires medication, there are ways to control your unexplained gout symptoms. Exercising and avoiding foods that increase your uric acid levels are by far the most effective ways to control the condition, says Dr. Siaton. Consider those that are your reference methods for the relief of gout.
But those two lifestyle modifications aside, there are some home remedies backed by evidence for gout that you can test if your gout symptoms are exacerbated. Here are five of them.
Eat some cherries
Patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period were 35% less likely to experience symptoms than patients who did not eat cherries, according to a 2013 study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.
Cherries contain anthocyanins, a category of anti-inflammatory pigment molecule that gives cherries their red color, and that could explain their benefits against gout, say the study’s authors.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking extra fluids can help your kidneys flush out excess uric acid through your urine more quickly, says Elizabeth Volkmann, MD, rheumatologist and translational researcher at UCLA Health.
Women should aim to drink at least 90 ounces of water a day, and men need 125 ounces, according to the Food and Nutrition Board. Try at least that, or a little more, to make sure your kidneys can do their thing. “Coffee can also increase the excretion of uric acid,” says Dr. Volkmann.
Eat low-fat dairy
While most gout sufferers focus on avoiding foods that can worsen their symptoms, some foods are associated with a significant drop in gout symptoms, research shows in the New England Journal of Medicine. Topping that list: low-fat dairy products. People who consume low-fat milk or yogurt twice a week or more reduced their risk of gout by up to 48%, the NEJM study found.
Try some vitamin C
Vitamin C has been considered as a potential remedy for gout. And there is evidence that vitamin C can reduce the levels of uric acid in the body. On the other hand, some research failed to find the benefits of vitamin C for patients with gout.
While the jury discusses whether C is a hero who kills gout, a Johns Hopkins University study found that taking a supplement of 500 mg of vitamin C a day for two months significantly reduced a patient’s uric acid levels. Check with your doctor first. But the authors of that study say that vitamin C is considered safe for most people.
Add these probiotics to your diet
Let’s be clear: the evidence that probiotics can help with gout is preliminary and far from solid. But some early research – including a 2014 study in PLOS One – found that the probiotic strains Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help your digestive system break down and eliminate purines more effectively. That could reduce your body’s uric acid levels and, therefore, decrease the risk of gout outbreaks. Do not start with the gallon with the main coating kefir. But consuming kombucha or other natural probiotic products containing those strains could provide some relief.