If you've ever woken up feeling as though someone just set fire to your big toe (and even the weight of a feather would be too much to handle), then you understand the agony of gout.
This intensely painful type of arthritis causes joint stiffness, redness and swelling and although other joints can be affected, it often presents in the big toe.
Gout occurs when there is excessive uric acid in the blood, resulting in the formation of urate crystals around the joints. This consequently causes pain and inflammation.
Uric acid is produced from the breakdown of purines, which are found naturally in the body as well as in certain foods, including organ meats, asparagus, mushrooms, herring and anchovies.
Usually, uric acid dissolves in the blood, is eliminated in the urine and causes no problems, but in gout either too much is produced, or not enough excreted.
Other factors which may increase uric acid levels include:
- Excess alcohol, especially beer
- Certain pharmaceutical medications
- Hormonal changes
Being male and having a family history of gout may also make you more susceptible.
4 ways to relieve gout
1. Pass on purines
When purine foods are broken down, uric acid forms. Foods with substantial amounts include sardines, red meats, seafood and legumes.
2. Limit your
High alcohol intake – generally considered more than two drinks daily in men and more than one in women – increases the risk of gout. In an attack of gout, it's best to avoid alcohol completely.
3. Up your H2O
Fluids help dilute uric acid so drink up (water, not beer of course!) to assist in relieving gout symptoms as well as preventing future attacks.
4. Focus on the three Cs
Traditionally, cherries have been recommended for gout relief and one study at the University of California added weight to this tradition, finding that consumption of 280g of cherries reduced plasma levels of urate as well as indicators of inflammation.
A 20 year prospective study published this March concluded that supplemental vitamin C may assist in preventing gout.
Another traditional natural remedy for gout, celery seeds may help by acting as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory