What is gout?
Gout or gouty arthritis is a condition which causes inflammation of the joints. More often than not it is the big toe that is affected. Gout can also occur in the knees, feet or ankles.
Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid in your blood, which leads to the formation of hard acid crystals in the joints. Gout can also decrease the amount of synovial fluid in your joints.
This fluid is what lubricates and cushions the joints. The crystals, scientifically called monosodium urate monohydrate crystals, are what can cause severe pain, swelling and sometimes a redness on the skin.
Some of the known causes of gout are:
• Eating too much meat or fish that is high in purines
• Sugary drinks, especially those with high fructose corn syrup
• Vegetables rich in purines like asparagus, spinach and mushrooms
• Certain medications like water pills
Avoiding food high in purines is a good 1st step in the treatment of gout.
Like ‘phlegm’ or ‘bile’, ‘gout’ is one of those words that always made me cringe even though I didn’t really know what it was … it just sounded really nasty. I also naively thought it was the sort of ailment that only affected really old people. Then a couple of years ago, I experienced my first attack of gout in my big toe region and it really was as bad as it sounds.
Co-incidentally, I developed it at exactly the same time as the friend I was visiting in the North of Thailand. He claims it was caused by eating the pomelos from his garden whereas I suspect it had more to do with an over-indulgence in the local moonshine.
For the first few days, I could barely walk and my friend decided to stay in bed…it was not the best of visits. I actually did nothing to treat my one and only bout of gout, I just waited until the symptoms eased and then disappeared. I was back to normal after around a week but this is not always the case.
If you are starting to experience symptoms, do not wait until it is too late. Numerous dietary and natural remedies can heal your symptoms in short order. As well as their many other health benefits, both essential oils and apple cider vinegar could prove very useful allies in your fight against gout.
Home Remedies for Gout
Essential oils are a great home remedy–but there are so many choices that they deserve their own section.
Essential oils for gout
The following essential oils can ease the symptoms of a gout flare up and also help protect against any further attacks in the future.
1. Wintergreen Essential Oil
Wintergreen essential oil has a pleasant yet strong minty aroma. One applied, it absorbs very quickly through your skin and gets to work fast. Wintergreen has anti-inflammatory properties, acts like a cortisone and offers very quick and effective pain relief.
It also promotes good circulation and generates a warm sensation. Good circulation is necessary to ease the symptoms of gouty arthritis. While wintergreen essential oil has many benefits, it is important to remember the following:
Do not put wintergreen essential oil directly onto your skin undiluted, make sure that you dilute it with a carrier oil first and never digest it. One of its active ingredients, methyl salicylate is extremely toxic.
An ounce of wintergreen essential oil is the equivalent of over 170 adult aspirins. So use it accordingly.
2. Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme has long been used to help with a variety of skin conditions. It has wound healing properties and is effective in treating a number of skin irritations. Thyme essential oil also works as a potent diuretic which helps to dissipate the stores of uric acid from the blood which is the cause of gout.
Thyme essential oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil before you apply it topically.
3. Roman or German Chamomile Essential Oil
Both Roman and German chamomile have a sweet fruity aroma. They have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and are effective treatments for numerous skin problems. Chamomile relieves pain by numbing the nerves and reducing skin inflammation. Chamomile is a safe and gentle oil which can be used to treat a number of conditions.
4. Basil Essential Oil
Basil oil can be used on its own or combined with frankincense essential oil to reduce inflammation. It has tonic properties which are suitable for skin complaints and is a great addition to a massage oil or a soothing bath.
5. Frankincense Essential oil
Combined with basil oil, it can reduce inflammation. It also helps to tone the skin and can help to return your skin to its normal state after your gout symptoms have eased. Frankincense is a COX-2 inhibitor like ibuprofen.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil can help relieve the painful symptoms of gouty arthritis. It is readily available, cheap and a very useful addition to your supply of essential oils.
Peppermint oil has a variety of health applications and generates a cooling then warming sensation. Menthol, which is an active component in Peppermint oil, is a complimentary pain reliever to ibuprofen (1).
7. Birch Essential Oil
Birch essential oil is an excellent option for gout and arthritis relief. It has strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties as well as cortisone-like effects.
It is chemically almost identical to wintergreen oil and is not produced so much commercially these days owing to economic feasibility.
8. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is an excellent option for gout and arthritic pains. It improves circulation and eases pain soon after being applied. It also works to tone and revitalize the skin.
9. Fennel Essential Oil
You may know fennel as a popular herb used in many culinary dishes, however, it has more to offer than its delightful taste. Fennels cleansing abilities are revered in face tonics and also help diminish the appearance of wrinkles. Those suffering from gout will also find an ally in fennel. Its toning properties help improve circulation and flush out toxins in organs known to cause gout flare-ups. Fennel is great for detoxifying both your skin and organs.
10. Pine Essential Oil
If you’re suffering from achy joints due to a gout flare-up, pine essential oil may be just what the doctor ordered. The warming effects of pine essential oil soothe achy joints while its diuretic abilities cleanse your organs of any lingering toxins. Use pine essential oil to restore your health and find some much needed pain relief.
11. Lemongrass Essential Oil
If you’re looking for relief from sore muscles and achy joints associated with a gout flare-up, try using lemongrass essential oil. This cleansing essential oil encourages circulation while flushing out lactic and uric acid. Lemongrass essential oil is a refreshing and pain relieving essential oil that should be in all gout sufferer’s medicine cabinet.
12. Lemon Essential Oil
When added to a glass of drinking water, this sunny essential oil can bring much needed pain relief for your gout flare-up. By ingesting a glass of lemon water everyday, you can eliminate the crystals responsible for your gout pain while balancing out your pH levels.
Before ingesting lemon essential oil or any essential oil for that matter, make sure you’ve purchased a quality essential oil from a reputable seller. Its also highly recommended to speak with a doctor before using this specific remedy to ensure it does not affect any pre-existing illnesses or counteract with any medications you may be taking.
13. Geranium Essential Oil
When one experiences a gout flare-up, the pain tends to lend them to a sedentary lifestyle—it’s just too painful to move. When you find yourself in this uncomfortable position, try using rosemary essential oil. Rosemary essential oil improves circulation, which helps reduce pain and inflammation.
14. Cypress Essential Oil
This spicy essential oil can provide a world a relief for the gout sufferer. Cypress essential oil is a proven anti-inflammatory that also works as anti-arthritic. These two properties can help with the achy joints and muscles associated with gout. Cypress essential oil also works hard to eliminate toxins from the body, flushing out uric acid, which is responsible for causing gout.
Essential Oil Combinations for Gout
The following essential oils work in conjunction to provide maximum relief for a gout flare-up.
• Mix a couple drops of frankincense essential oil, basil essential oil and peppermint essential oil together and massage directly onto the achy joint. The basil and frankincense essential oils work together to reduce the painful inflammation, which the peppermint essential oil works as a pain reliever. To get even more relief, place a hot compress over the affected area for two minutes.
• For a soothing foot soak treatment, mix 2 teaspoons of milk, with 4 drops of chamomile essential oil, 4 drops of frankincense essential oil, and 4 drops of peppermint essential oil. Fill one basin with warm water and another basin wit cool water. Split the mixture into each basin. Soak your gout-weary feet in the warm basin for about ten minutes and then switch over to the cool basin for about ten minutes. Massage the oils into your feet as they soak in the basin. Use this remedy every time you want relief from a gout flare-up.
How to Use Essential Oils for Gout
1. Hot Towel Compress
You can repeat this process 2 or 3 times a day for as long as it is necessary.
- Soak the affected area in cold water to get your circulation going.
- Dry the skin gently with a towel.
- Massage 4-8 drops of your chosen oil (or a blend of oils) into the affected area. It is recommended that you dilute the oil with a carrier oil first.
- Cover the affected area with a hot, soaked and leave it on for between 3 and 5 minutes.
2. Create a Massage Blend
You can easily create a soothing massage blend by mixing your choice of essential oils with a carrier oil.
Here is one suggested recipe….
Combine the following oils by putting them in a bottle and shake thoroughly.
- 15 drops of frankincense essential oil
- 15 drops of chamomile essential oil
- 5 drops of peppermint
- Add between 12 and 15 drops of your mixture to 4 tsp full of coconut or jojoba oil
- Massage the oil into the affected area 3 times a day for as long as necessary
Apple Cider Vinegar for Gout
Apple cider vinegar is said to have a huge number of health benefits from diabetes and weight loss to skin care and dandruff. There is nothing new about these claims; apple cider vinegar has been used since time immemorial to remedy a host of medical issues.
It is chock full of healthful nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron and amino acids. When it comes to the treatment of gout, the most important ingredient is believed to be acetic acid. Acetic acid converts into alkaline in the body creating a pH balance that will heal and prevent reoccurrence of gout.
Apple cider vinegar works on gout by breaking up the crystals formed by excessive uric acid in the blood and by encouraging blood circulation. It relieves the inflammation and painful symptoms and actually prevents the crystals from reforming.
While there is no hard scientific research to solidify these claims, many people say that their gouty symptoms ease within a day or two of using apple cider vinegar. Others claim that it works in just hours.
How to use Apple Cider Vinegar for Gout
First of all, you need to make sure that you buy organic and non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar if you want to experience its full benefits. The cheap, clear looking pasteurized vinegar hat you see on the supermarket shelves retain very few of the nutrients contained in authentic organic apple cider vinegar.
Take 2 or 3 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar 2 or 3 times daily. Many people find the taste unpalatable so if necessary you can mix it with a glass of water or even add a teaspoon of raw honey. It also makes for a great salad dressing.
You can also try to use apple cider vinegar as a topical treatment. Mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with 4 cups of hot water into a bowl or a bucket and soak your foot for at least 20 minutes.
Natural Remedies for Gout
Tart cherries, fresh, as an extract or juice will inhibit the enzymes cyclooxygenase-1 and 2, which anti-inflammatory drugs seek out to alleviate gout symptoms by preventing arthritis and gout in your joints and body.
Cherries have also shown to reduce the build up of uric acid. Rich in antioxidants, cherries help to reverse the damage done to your cells by free radicals. The easiest way to get your daily dose of cherries is to drink cherry juice from concentrate, which can contain as much as 60 tart cherries.
Drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day to flush the uric acid out of your system and to prevent the build up of uric crystals.
If you’re looking for pain relief from your gout, baking soda may be your answer. Mix a half-teaspoon of baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of water and drink in one sitting. Its possible that you will have to take this remedy a couple times a day.
Be patient, although this remedy is an effective pain reliever it may take one to two days to feel any results. Also, be warned that the maximum recommended dosage of baking soda is 4 teaspoons per day.
Ginger root is a natural anti-inflammatory, which will help alleviate pain and inflammation during a gout flare-up. There are several ways you can take ginger to treat your gout symptoms. The easiest way may be to simply add ginger root to your meal recipes or to ingest a small piece of ginger everyday.
- To have ginger as a tea, you can add a half teaspoon of ginger root to a boiling cup of water.
- Mix well and drink once a day.
If you can’t stand the taste of ginger, you can make a topical paste.
- Add some water to a piece of ginger root and mix until it forms a paste.
- Apply directly to the affected area and leave on for a half hour.
- You can do this treatment once a day.
The high potassium content of bananas will melt uric acid crystals into water, making it easier to flush out of your system via urination. High in vitamin C, bananas also help to reduce pain associated with gout. Eat a banana or two everyday to experience maximum benefits.
If its not too painful, placing a cold compress directly on the affected joints will greatly reduce inflammation. Try using a cold compress for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day during a flare-up.
Vitamin C is believed to help reduce levels of uric acid. One study found that those who took a vitamin C supplement significantly reduced their uric acid levels in 2 months compared to those taking a placebo.
Try taking 500 milligrams of vitamin C a day to treat your gout symptoms.
Epsom Hot Water Soak
Epsom salt baths are regarded highly for its ability to treat gout and arthritis symptoms. This healing bath contains a high amount of magnesium, , which improves your heart health and lowers the blood pressure. Soaking aching joints during a gout attack will relax sore muscles and greatly reduce pain.
- To have an Epsom salt bath, add 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bath.
- Soak until the bath water starts to cool.
- Try this natural remedy once a week.
Those suffering from a severe gout attack may take an Epsom salt bath 2-3 times a week.
A natural way to reduce levels of uric acid to exercise. By exercising, you will not only boost your overall health, but you will also stabilize insulin and uric acid levels. Exercising won’t cure your gout, but it will help reduce the occurrence and intensity of your flare-ups.
While these natural gout remedies will prove very effective for some people, others might not see any benefits. Everyone’s response and reaction to treatment(s) can vary.
If you are suffering from gout on a regular basis, we recommend that you seek medical advice. If left untreated, gout can cause complications such as advanced gout and kidney stones.