What is Gout?
Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, and is probably the most painful. It affects the joints of the body, and is caused by a high level of uric acid in the blood, which results in deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints. High levels of uric acid in the blood, can cause recurring attacks of joint inflammation (arthritis), deposits of hard lumps of uric acid in and around the joints, and decreased kidney function and sometimes kidney stones.
Gout affects approximately 1 in 200 adults, most commonly men between 30-60 years of age. Gout less commonly affects women.
Uric acid will normally dissolve in the blood through the kidneys and into the urine, but sometimes the kidneys are unable to cope resulting in a high level of uric acid, or urates, in the blood stream. Urate is a by-product of the breakdown of substances called purines which occur naturally in the cells of our bodies and to varying degrees in the food and drinks we consume.
Attacks of gout usually come on very quickly, often during the night. Doctors describe this sudden flare-up of symptoms as acute. The frequency of attacks will vary. Many people have an attacks every few years, others can have attacks every few months. Often the frequency of attacks can increase and possibly new joints will be affected.
Where do you get Gout?
Gout attacks the joints, normally it affects just one joint at a time, the small joint at the base of the big toe is the most common site of an acute gout attack of arthritis, but it does occur in the other toe joints, fingers, wrists, ankles, elbows and knee joints. Attacks sometimes occur slowly and you can feel them coming on, but often they occur rapidly overnight, you wake up in the morning to find the affected joint swollen, with reddish discolouration, and extreme tenderness. Anything touching it can cause excruciating pain and if it you are unlucky enough to have an attack in your foot walking becomes agony. The attacks can last for days or sometimes weeks and do not always seem to any relate to your current lifestyle and diet. Most patients with gout will experience repeated attacks of arthritis over the years.
Using Natural Remedies to avoid and relieve gout attacks has seen an increase in popularity in recent years Possibly the primary reason is that most gout medications can have severe side effects, are not safe to take long term or must not be used in conjunction with some other medications. Natural remedies for gout tend to be safer to take, and invariably have no side effects. There are many people that believe that these gout natural remedies will work better than traditional gout medicines.
Diet and Lifestyle for Gout Relief
It is possible to achieve relief from gout, or dramatically reduce the chances of a gout attack, by natural means. Creating a suitable diet and lifestyle are probably the most important factors. For example, you:
• Should drink plenty of water every day, water helps to prevent uric acid crystals forming by keeping your body very well hydrated which helps your kidneys flush excess uric acid out of your body.
• Should eat a well-balanced diet, try to lose any excessive weight to achieve an ideal body weight, do regular physical activity, exercise can help the kidney function better.
• Should eat foods that have low purine content, such as: - Eggs, milk, butter, cheese, potatoes. Low-fat and fat-free cheeses, yogurt and ice cream. Cream-style soups made with low-fat milk, soups made without meat extract or broth. Grain products such as bread, crackers, pasta, noodles, spaghetti, rice; nuts and seeds Fruit, including fresh cherries (highly recommended), strawberries, blueberries, and other red-blue berries, bananas, mandarins, oranges. Vegetables including kale, cabbage, parsley, green-leafy varieties. Drink coffee, tea, cocoa, and carbonated drinks.
• Should avoid drinking too much alcohol – especially beer, stout, port and fortified wines.
• Should cut down on foods that have a very high purine content, such as: – Red meat, game, offal, processed meats (luncheon meat, sausages, hot dogs etc.). Seafood, especially oily fish such as mackerel, tuna, sprats, pilchards, sardines, herring and anchovies. Shellfish, including shrimp, crab, mussels, scallops and lobster. Various vegetables (asparagus, cauliflower, lentils, mushrooms, peas, oatmeal and spinach). Rich foods, cakes, biscuits, sugar products and white flour products. Fried foods and any food cooked in oil.
• Should eat plenty of fruits. For several reasons fruits are outstanding resources in treating gout, including being great resources for vitamin C, potassium, fibre, anthocyanins, bromelain, quercetin, folic acid, and water. Fruits help decrease painful swelling and help reverse joint damage, and many of these properties also help prevent or reduce the incidence and severity bringing pain relief for gout.
Herbal Remedies for Gout
Two dietary supplements that are recognised as successful in helping avoid gout attacks are: –
• Regularly taking supplemental amounts of Vitamin C does help many people avoid gout
• A daily intake of 2-3 teaspoons of black cherry juice helps many people.
• Herbs can also form part of a healthy diet and some herbs that are particularly useful for gout relief are: –
• Dandelion roots have been used as a medicinal herb for years often for treating joint inflammations. It has diuretic properties and is considered to be a cleansing as well as a nourishing tonic that can assist in minimising the pain and inflammation caused by gout.
• Garlic helps the body as well as the heart and can relieve you of your painful gout symptoms.
• Bilberry or European blueberry is often used as an herbal remedy for Gout, it has been used for centuries to help with various ailments, they contain useful anthocyanins which are very important during a gout attack, anthocyanins help with blood flow to your joints which helps reduce painful swelling.
• Devil’s claw (harpagophytum procumbens) has been used over the centuries as an herbal treatment, called devil’s claw because of the shape of the seed after it is opened. This herb is useful for getting rid of gout because of its ability to lower uric acid concentration and because it helps flush out toxic waste. It also can bring relief to people with chronic lower back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and arthritis, especially helpful to gout patients as gout is a form of arthritis.
• Mustard Seed – an herb that helps to stimulate the flushing of the digestive system removing excess fluids.
• Celery seed (Apium graveolens) helps kidneys dispose of the waste products and reduces the general acidity in the body. The seeds also produce carminative and mild tranquilising effects.
• Juniper berries (Juniperus communis) is an antiseptic and a diuretic that promotes healthy urinary tracts and a good urine flow. Excess water and toxins are expelled from the body when juniper berry is taken. Juniper berries help to prevent uric acid crystallisation and will aid in the expulsion of sediment.
Reflexology can decrease the pain associated with inflammation, support the taxed adrenal glands, help to flush the body of excess uric acid crystals and relax a hyper-stimulated body fighting an attack.
During a bout of gout, the individual will not want you near the inflamed joint. So, if the foot is affected, work the hands. Work the adrenal, kidney and all the lymphatic reflexes thoroughly. Following the Law of Similars, work the metacarpal phalangeal joint on the corresponding hand, including range-of-motion movements. If gout is present in joints other than in the feet or hands, work the reflex for that area of the body. Between attacks, work the affected extremity.
Please note that reflexology will assist in the recovery of gout. It is not a substitute for the lifestyle changes necessary to overcome this painful condition.
How effective is Reflexology?
Reflexology has been very effective to sufferers of gout. Reflexology treats the whole body through the feet. In cases of gout there is often a compromised circulation and poor kidney function. Reflexology assists the body to metabolise the uric acid in the body’s system as well as improve circulation and kidney function.
So what is reflexology? Reflexology, is an alternative therapy that involves the stimulation of specific points on the feet, hands and ears, for the purpose of promoting positive healing effects on other parts of the body.
Medical science agrees that this treatment can work due to the fact that there are several thousand nerve endings on the soles of the feet. During a treatment, the nerves are stimulated and send signals to the brain which send the relevant message to the corresponding organ – so there is no mystery or magic involved. At Healthy Harmony, it’s the feet that are most commonly treated; as we find the feet display the body’s internal health much more clearly than the hands, ears or face. You don’t have to have a health issue or be unwell to have a Reflexology treatment as it can be used for maintenance as well.
As Reflexologists we understand that the foot is made up of various reflex zones that correspond to all the organs in the body. The theory is that the use of pressure through massage will stimulate a reaction within the body via the nerves in order to trigger self-healing. When your body has a problem, there are signs of the problem that show up on your feet in the form of tiny crystals. Points of tension, hard or dry skin and possibly aches or pains felt by the client and are indications of illness or imbalance within the body.
Reflexology treatment has been known to –
• Reduce or eliminate migraines or headaches
• Improve posture and alleviate back & shoulder pain
• Improve circulation
• Help with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne
• Improve chemical function in the body
• Remove toxins
• Calm nerve endings
• Aid in conception
• Encourage overall relaxation
• Reduce stress
• Encourage normal body functioning
• Help with IBS, colitis, diverticulitis
What benefits does reflexology offer gout sufferers?
In the battle against gout, reflexology is used to assist the kidneys to function more efficiently. There are many things in daily life that can cause our kidneys to product uric acid or stop normal function. During a reflexology treatment the therapist will work on the kidney point and the adrenal glands as well as circulation. Also, particular attention will be paid to the urethra, bladder and any other organs that indirectly support the kidney function.
The kidneys are the organs that are in charge of uric acid production. Therefore, if the nerve endings related to the kidneys are is stimulated through the corresponding points in both feet (both feet need to be involved as there are two kidneys) and can help the kidneys lower uric acid production.
Reflexology can also be used to break up uric acid crystal deposits that are found in the area of the foot that relate to the kidneys. Also, at Healthy Harmony, we will talk to you about your diet and lifestyle in order to find some small workable changes that may need to happen in order for you maintain your health.
Of course, you will experience effects during, directly after, or 24-48 hours following a treatment. These may not always seem positive but they ARE a very good indication that your body is responding to treatment. Some people may experience nausea, headaches or sinus congestion. These are affects that we commonly refer to as a healing crises, due often to a massive toxin release and extra energy spent by the body’s attempt to balance internal organs. On the flip side a client may experience relief from pain, have more energy and vitality. The less desirable side affects are often very short lived, lasting from one hour to one day after treatment.
Following a treatment, we recommend clients drink plenty of water, eat a light meal and rest. We want you to avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugary drinks, fatty processed foods, over exertion and taking any medication – other than those prescribed by your GP.
Gout Attack Acupressure Points for Big Toe Pain Relief
The most potent acupressure point for gout pain is Lv 3*, on the top of the foot, in between the bones that attach to the large and second toes. This point balances the energy level in the liver meridian, and is good for preventing gout and relieving pain in the big toe. See illustrations below.
LV Pressure Point for Gout attacks, Detoxification and congestion from a rich diet