What Herbal Medicine Can Do for Gout
Gout is a type of arthritis in which joints become inflamed due to a buildup of uric acid in the body. Either the body is producing too much of this compound or it is having trouble eliminating enough of it, leading to an accumulation. The uric acid crystallizes and then may go for different joints, most frequently the joint of the big toe. This leads to intense pain at first, followed by swelling, redness and an extreme sensitivity to touch. Over time gout attacks can damage the joints.
If you have this form of arthritis, seeking medical attention is the first step to treatment. Addressing diet is second, and this is where herbs for gout can have a tremendous healing impact. Different plants have properties that will encourage the elimination of waste, including excess uric acid, that will reduce the inflammation, and even reduce pain.
While taking herbs to treat the pain and inflammation of gout is very helpful for relief of the condition, those plants that act to eliminate accumulated waste, especially diuretics, are essential for assisting the healing process.
- Burdock root is an important cleansing herb. It has alternative, diuretic and laxative properties, correcting imbalances in the blood and encouraging the removal of waste from the body. Burdock can be safely taken over the long-term and has an overall tonic effect on the body.
- Celery seed is one of the best herbs for the treatment of gout and also for rheumatoid arthritis. It has diuretic properties but also acts as a urinary antiseptic because of the volatile oil apiol. Celery seed is also suited for long-term use.
- Wild carrot possesses volatile oil, making it a urinary antiseptic. Wild carrot is a good diuretic herb, but is most effective in the treatment of gout when combined with other herbs.
- Dandelion is a safe, yet very effective herb for this joint condition. It is has excellent diuretic properties, supports the liver and has anti-rheumatic properties.
- Boneset is well-suited when combined with one of the diuretic herbs. It has a general cleansing effect on the body.
- Skullcap can be used to relieve the pain caused by joint inflammation. It has analgesic, or pain-relieving properties, but also calms the nervous system and has an overall relaxing effect on the body.
- Devil’s claw contains the glycoside harpagoside which acts to reduce inflammation. While this herb is ideal for treating the pain and inflammation of arthritis, it is not effective for everyone. It is worth trying if the pain is a serious problem.
- Meadowsweet is a great medicinal plant for gout, as well as other rheumatic conditions. It has anti-inflammatory properties, but also contains salicylic acid compounds, which have an aspirin-like effect on the body, reducing pain in muscles and joints.
Using Botanical Medicine
To use these herbal remedies for the treatment of gout, there are several considerations. Always talk to your doctor first. Herbal medicine can encourage healing and correct imbalances, but it is always best to talk to a health care professional about your specific health needs, especially if pregnant, on prescription medications or if you have other health issues.
Herbs are more effective when used over a period of time, and they can sometimes help to prevent the same problem from recurring. Try drinking a dandelion tea, for example, two or three times a week even after the inflammation has subsided.
These plants are useless if you continue with a poor diet which will only exacerbate the condition. Rich, heavy foods and alcohol should be avoided. Also, foods that contain purines, which are metabolized into uric acid, such
as sweetbreads, shellfish, sardines, liver, kidney and anchovies should be minimized.
To use herbs for gout you can prepare and drink herbal infusions. To make a cup of tea steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drink up to three cups daily. Excellent combinations for gout relief include celery seed and burdock root or meadowsweet and dandelion. These infusions are beneficial when taken over a period of time. For quicker pain relief try adding skullcap or devil’s claw. Herbal tinctures are also beneficial. Take 1 dropperful in a cup of juice or water two times a day.
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).
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photo by Marco Arment