What is GOUT?
The understanding of gout gets into some of
the most interesting questions about the history of
medicine and the understanding of physiology and its
relationship to human disease. It is also interesting
because there are many misconceptions that abound
about gout, among both laymen and medical
professionals. Gout is one of the oldest and probably
most painful diseases known to mankind. We know of
cases of gout dating back at least 500 years as some
of the most notorious of the England’s monarchs were
apparently afflicted with the disease. There are
treatises explaining the causes and treatments of gout
that also date from the Middle Ages.
description of a patient with gout was a wealthy,
corpulent aristocrat, particularly one with an
enormous appetite for food, drink and women. It was
almost always associated with men, and in fact still
has a male predominance, and was considered a
consequence of overindulgence.
The symptoms of gout are intermittent, excruciating
attacks of pain in the joints, although typically each
gouty episode only affects one joint at a time. The
most common joint affected is the joint at the base of
the big toe, which often becomes red, swollen, hot and
so painful that the patient cannot even bear the
weight of the bedsheets on his affected toe. Other
joints, particularly the knees and elbows, can also be
affected, but, again usually one at a time. The
individual episodes usually last about two weeks then
subside, only to recur at some seemingly random time
in the future. The episodes can vary from every few
months to every few years or longer. In some cases,
the symptoms do not go entirely away between episodes
and the patient has some degree of joint pain all the
In the twentieth century, through the use of
microscopic examination of the fluid removed from
affected joints of those with gout, the "real" cause
of gout was identified. That is, in the inflamed,
painful joints pointy crystals of uric acid create the
excruciating pain so vividly described by those with
gout. In some patients, there is so much uric acid in
their system that they develop yellowish chalk-like
deposits around the joints or in other places such as
the ear lobes. The blood of patients with gout often,
but not always, contains elevated levels of uric acid,
a fact that usually confirms the diagnosis of gout.
The next step in unraveling the mystery of gout was to
find out how this excessive uric acid is produced and
why it is associated with a "gluttonous" lifestyle. It
turns out that uric acid is a by-product or a
breakdown product of purine, a type of protein found
in many common foods. It therefore seems logical to
conclude that gout is caused by excessive protein
intake, particularly of proteins that are rich in
purines, such as organ meats, fatty fish, shell fish
As a result of this information patients are put on
low-protein, or at least low-purine, diets and given
drugs that prevent the formation of uric acid, or
stimulate its excretion through the kidneys.
Typically, patients also receive advice to choose lean
meats, low-fat dairy products and limit fat intake.
This simple explanation, however, does not account for
all the facts about gout. For example, high-protein
intake is not necessarily connected with obesity so
why are many gout patients overweight?. Also, we now
know that gout attacks can occur with almost any
change in diet, even to a better diet, or even to a
lower-protein diet. In fact, it seems that the
precipitating factor is often change, even the
particulars of the change. And finally, there is a
connection with fat, as your doctor suggested,
although the solution is not to eat less fat.
The newer theories about gout recognize the fact that
the disease is not simply a result of high-protein
intake. For example, we have discovered that uric acid
levels are high in those patients with syndrome X,
otherwise known as insulin resistance. This means that
excessive carbohydrate consumption, particularly of
refined flour and sugar, foods that in previous times
were solely the domain of the wealthy, can also raise
the uric acid levels and precipitate gout. This fact
also explains the frequent finding of obesity in those
suffering from gout.
Another overlooked factor is the fact that traditional
peoples always balanced protein intake with plentiful
fat intake as well as gelatinous soup broths. Thus,
gout is better understood as a situation of excessive
protein intake compared to the fats and gelatin
intake, two factors which balance the protein intake.
This is why people with historically high protein
intake who also ate lots of fats and soup broths, with
no refined carbohydrates, rarely if ever suffer from
Finally, it will probably come as no surprise to the
readers of Wise Traditions that the specific nutrient
that seems to prevent the buildup of uric acid is
vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that is particularly
associated with the kidney. In fact, gout can be seen
as a problem of the kidneys not being able to excrete
enough of the uric acid to prevent the buildup, rather
than simply a matter of excessive protein intake.
In my years of treating patients with gout, a program
of decreasing protein intake along with liberal use of
all the usual animal fats and the regular use of
gelatinous stocks has been the key to preventing uric
acid buildup and further attacks of gout.
As for other medicines, cherry juice is a virtual
specific for preventing uric acid buildup and further
attacks of gout. I have patients with gout take 1
teaspoon 2 times per day of cherry juice concentrate
(without the sugar), literally for the rest of their
lives. I also make sure they take 1 teaspoon per day
of high-vitamin cod liver oil to supply the vitamin A,
which antagonizes the uric acid buildup and also
nourishes the kidneys. Of course, the patient should
avoid refined carbohydrates and alcohol (which
contributes to syndrome X).
As for medicines, I use arginex from Standard Process
at a dose of 1-2 tablets three times per day. Arginex
is made from fermented beets and helps stimulate
excretion via the kidneys. For acute attacks, I use
the antiinflammatory Boswellia comp from Mediherb 1-2
tablets three times per day. Hopefully, with these
measures your client will be able to overcome the
tendency for these painful attacks.
About the Author
Tom Cowan, MD is a physician in private practice in
San Francisco, California. Visit his website at
Pineapple, Turmeric, Ginger & Cherry Drink to Help with Gout
Gout is a complex form of arthritis, and although it’s shrouded in mystery and often overlooked by those who don’t suffer it, it can be excruciating and debilitating to those who do. It is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood, which is the product of the breakdown of waste substances that usually dissolve in the blood and get processed by the kidneys. For people that suffer gout attacks, their kidneys don’t get rid of the uric acid fast enough and it crystallizes and collects in the joint. Symptoms include sudden pain, tenderness, heat, and redness in joints. In many cases it is at the base of the big toe, and the pain can be so unbearable that even a feather light touch will be too much to bear. Gout is chronic, and there are a good number of people out there who don’t want to be on aspirin for the rest of their lives. By making a blend of these ingredients and tapping into their natural healing properties, you can help relieve/prevent your symptoms, similar to how a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory would.
Gout Drink Remedy- with pineapple, tart cherry juice, turmeric & ground ginger.
Ingredients: Pineapple, turmeric, ginger root, tart cherry juice.
Why pineapple: Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has been shown to be useful in reducing inflammation. The theory behind why it works lies in that it affects prostaglandin synthesis (basically, it interferes with the hormones that send the signal that something should swell up.) Bromelain is also an enzyme that digests proteins (hence why pineapple is so popular for tenderizing meat) and gout has been linked to diets high in protein, which can cause an excess of uric acid to build up in the blood.
Why Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, which has seen great success with pain relief lately. Curcumin blocks the production of the protein that tells blood vessels to enlarge.
Why ginger root: Ginger root contains gingerols, an active component that is related to capsaicin. Gingerols are structured much like capsaicin on a molecular level, which means it may help inhibit the signals sent to your brain that trigger pain. They also lessen the enzymes causing inflammation.
Why tart cherry juice (optional): Cherries have been linked to lowering levels of uric acid in studies, and although the studies were not specifically done on gout, it is very possible that it would help prevent an attack if consumed regularly.
You will need…
-1-2 teaspoons of powdered turmeric
-2-3 teaspoons of powdered ginger, or 1 inch off of a fresh ginger root
-1 cup of tart cherry juice
-Blender, food processor, or lots of elbow grease
-A glass container with a tightly fitting lid
gout drink ingredients
Cut the skin and stem off of the pineapple. You can either chop up and use the stem and strain the drink, or you can opt not to use it. The reason why you might include it is because the stem has a high concentration of bromein, but using just the fruit is ok too. Slice the pineapple into chunks that are roughly the same size and toss them in your food processor or blender. Whirl them around until they are pretty evenly mashed up, pour in 1 cup of tart cherry juice, and then sprinkle in 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric and 2-3 teaspoons of ginger. Store in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to a week and a half. You can add honey to taste if you’d like, and also choose to use the greater or lesser amount of turmeric and ginger depending on how you like it.
pineapple turmeric drink
Notes: Like nettle tea, if you can have some of this daily, go for it. It might help prevent a gout attack in the first place. Otherwise, you can grab a glass as needed for the pain when it flares up. The drink will keep up to a month in the refrigerator. If you make it on a regular basis, just make one big batch and then do a new one at the end of the month. If it is not practical or possible for you to get a pineapple, there are bromein supplements out there. Do not get any sort of canned or preserved pineapple as the enzymes will have been killed off by heat used in the process of making the product.
As our diets change (not exactly for the better) and more people experience high blood pressure, instances of gout are becoming more and more frequent. Finding out what foods might trigger you will be hugely beneficial, as well as following a “gout” diet. Remember that just because something is natural doesn’t guarantee its safe-if you are on medication or if you don’t know how these ingredients might affect you, always check with a medical professional before using.
Tip: If you’re not in the mood to have a drink, turmeric, ginger, and bromein all come in supplemental form for preventative measures. Again, make sure they are safe for you to take!