Complementary Gout Remedies

There are many natural and home gout remedies in use today – none of which have any real connection with medical science. That is perhaps why they are so popular! Here we are going to take a look at some complementary gout remedies, and how they can help provide some immediate and long term gout pain relief.

Complementary medicine has been described as all the therapies not taught in medical school. It includes such techniques as acupuncture, homeopathy and reflexology. You may know these as ‘alternative therapies’ – but this term can be misleading. The word alternative suggests that the therapy can be used to replace or supplement conventional medicine.

Complementary remedies for gout are suitable for treating the condition for the following reasons:

  • they have non-invasive qualities;
  • they are largely free from side effects;
  • they can be used in addition to long-term medication;
  • most of them are enjoyable.

People who use complementary therapies and natural gout remedies do report substantial benefits, although some of these may derive from simply knowing that they are doing something positive to help themselves. Different therapies appear to suit different people.

Here are a couple of Q and A sessions about different types of complementary gout remedies, and how they may help you with gout pain relief.

My cousin swears by meditation. Can I try meditation to help me with the pain?

There is no scientific evidence that meditation has altered the course of hyperuricaemia or gout for the better. However, you may find that you can override the pain of a gouty attack to some extent if you are experienced in meditation. With all complementary and natural gout remedies, you could try them in addition to the treatment prescribed by your doctor, and see if the benefit is enhanced.

Meditation, homoeopathy and aromatherapy are examples of popular complementary techniques, which can be soothing and relaxing. They are, however, no substitute for the drug treatment discussed above. So, whatever you do, keep taking the tablets!

Would cannabis be effective for a painful gouty attack? I’ve heard that it is useful in multiple sclerosis.

You want to smoke a ‘joint’ to help your joints?! At present it is illegal to use cannabis as a gout remedy (or any other kind of remedy for that matter), but this position may be relaxed in the future. Rigorous research for relieving the pain in multiple sclerosis suggests that some components extracted from cannabis plants can be useful and may be helpful for gout pain relief. In the future, cannabis gout remedies may be available on prescription for medical conditions.

My health centre has acupuncture to help with migraine. Would acupuncture help the pain in my joints?

Acupuncture works here by blocking the ‘gate’ of the pain pathway. According to this theory, the signals travelling up the nerve to the brain generated by the acupuncture needle ‘block the gate’ so that the pain signals cannot get through. There has been no study of its effectiveness in gout pain, but this is not very different from the nettle cure mentioned in the next question – it may work for some people. Note that the acupuncture needles are not necessarily inserted into the site of the inflammation!

I heard something on the radio about the use of stinging nettles in the treatment of arthritis pain – will it be an effective natural gout remedy?

A research project is in progress to investigate numerous claims that contact from stinging nettles on the skin near an arthritic joint, although causing some pain and inflammation itself, noticeably relieves the pain in the joints over a few days. Many people have reported that this treatment helps their osteoarthritis, but there has been no study of people specifically with gout because they are a small proportion of those with arthritis symptoms. If you are willing and brave enough, try it, and tell your doctor if it works!

Can Acupressure Provide Gout Pain Relief?

Acupressure is an ancient form of oriental healing, combining acupuncture and massage. Practitioners of this technique use the thumb, fingertip or the palm of the hand to firmly massage certain pressure points located at specific sites throughout the body. These points are the same as those used in acupuncture. Neither oils nor equipment are used in this type of therapy.

Acupressure is believed to enhance the body’s own healing mechanisms. Pain relief is sometimes rapid. However, improvements can take longer in chronic conditions. At some hospitals acupressure is available as part of the physiotherapy treatment options.

Acupuncture Based Gout Remedies

Also an ancient form of oriental healing, acupuncture involves puncturing the skin with fine needles at specific points in the body. These points are located along energy channels (meridians) that are believed to correspond to certain internal organs. The energy itself is known as chi. Needles are inserted to increase, decrease or unblock the flow of chi energy so that the balance of yin and yang is restored. Yin, the female force, is calm and passive; it also represents dark, cold, swelling and moisture.

On the other hand, yang, the male force, is stimulating and aggressive, representing heat, light, contraction and dryness. It is thought that an imbalance in these forces is the cause of illness and disease. For example, a person who feels the cold, and suffers fluid retention and fatigue, would be considered to have an excess of yin. A person suffering from headaches, however, will be deemed to have an excess of yang.

Emotional, physical or environmental factors are believed to disturb the chi energy balance, and can also be treated. For example, acupuncture has been used to alleviate stress, digestive disorders, insomnia, asthma and allergies. Studies have shown that treatment promotes the brain to release endorphins and encephalins (natural painkillers), boost the immune system and calm the nervous system. It can be seen, then, that acupuncture has many applications and so belongs in the list of potentially effective gout remedies.

A qualified acupuncturist will use a set method to determine acupuncture points – it is thought that there are as many as 2,000 such points on the body. At a consultation, questions may be asked about lifestyle, sleeping patterns, fears, phobias and reactions to stress. The pulses will be felt, then the acupuncture itself carried out, fine needles being placed in the relevant sites. The first consultation will normally last an hour, and patients should feel improvements after four to six sessions.

In treating gout, this traditional Chinese medicine advocates that an overrich diet causes a build-up of damp and heat internally, causing phlegm to stagnate and bringing about disturbance of the spleen and kidneys. Acupuncture based gout remedies, therefore, involve placing fine needles in the spleen and stomach acupuncture points. Other local points are used according to the joint affected by gout.

In one important study in China, 54 sufferers of arthritic disease were given a form of acupuncture (warm needling in this case) in which the needles are dipped in Zhuifengsu, a Chinese herb. As a consequence, every sufferer reported a decrease in their pain. In another study, in Russia, into auriculo-electropuncture (AEP) – treatment of acupuncture points on the ear – all 16 arthritis sufferers felt better after treatment, showing ‘statistically significant’ improvement in their blood samples. The results of these studies are believed to apply to all types of arthritis, including gout.

Acupuncture is now losing its unorthodox reputation, and has made much headway in the West. In recent years it has gained so much respect in the medical field that many doctors now perform the therapy and see it as one of the more ethical forms of natural gout remedies.