Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular natural home remedy for many ailments. Studies show that it can help treat everything from strep throat and high blood pressure to wounds and fungal infections. But did you know that ACV is also an effective treatment for gout?
Research shows that ACV not only has the potential to reduce the symptoms of gout, but it may even prevent this painful form of arthritis from ever coming back.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a complex form of arthritis that occurs when urate crystals (a combination of calcium and urate, substances typically found in the urine) gather together in the joint, resulting in pain and inflammation. These crystals are created when there are elevated levels of uric acid—the chemical created when the body breaks down purines—in the blood.
Uric acid will typically dissolve in your blood, passed through the kidneys and in the urine. But when your body produces too much uric acid, or your kidneys emit too little, uric acid will build up and create very sharp urate crystals in a joint or surrounding tissue. This is what causes the pain and inflammation associated with gout.
Gout Risk Factors
You have a higher chance of developing gout if you have high levels of uric acid in your body. Everything from one’s diet, to medical conditions, to family history can factor into this increase. Let’s look at a few factors more closely:
- Overweight/obese: People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing gout—mainly because their bodies produce more uric acid and their kidneys have a harder time excreting it.
- High blood pressure/diseases: Untreated high blood pressure and other chronic conditions, such as kidney or heart disease, could make one more likely to develop gout. Medications to treat these conditions, such as thiazide diuretics (used to treat hypertension) or even low-dose aspirin, can increase uric acid levels and contribute to the development of gout.
- Gender and age: Since women generally have lower uric acid levels, gout occurs more often in males.But age plays a factor, too. Women’s uric acid levels approach those of men after menopause. So men are more likely to develop gout in midlife (between 30 and 50 years of age) and women are more likely to develop it after menopause.
Symptoms of Gout
Gout symptoms can occur suddenly, mainly at night and with no warning. They include:
- Constant discomfort: Joint discomfort can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
- Limited range of motion: You may struggle to move your joints or you may only be able to move your joints sparingly.
- Intense joint pain: Gout usually affects the large joint in the big toe, but it can also affect your knees, feet, hands, and wrists. The most severe pain will likely occur within the first 12 hours after it starts.
- Inflammation and redness: When the joint becomes inflamed, it can swell and become red.
If left untreated, gout can lead to:
- Kidney stones: Urate crystals may collect in the urinary tracts of those suffering from gout, resulting in kidney stones.
- Advanced gout: Deposits of urate crystals can form under the skin in nodules (a growth under your skin filled with inflamed tissue and fluid) called tophi. Tophi can develop in areas like your fingers, hands, feet, elbows, or Achilles tendons on the backs of your ankles. They are not painful, but they can become swollen and tender during a gout attack.
- Recurrent gout/joint destruction: Untreated gout can lead to recurring attacks—up to several times each year. It can also result in joint erosion or destruction.
Foods to Avoid If You Have Gout
- Scallops: Scallops are rich in purines, which the body breaks down into uric acid. When your gout is at bay, you will have a little more freedom with your food choices, but it is still a good idea to keep the scallop consumption to a minimum.
- Beer: Drinking beer is what I call a double-whammy for those prone to gout. Not only does it increase your uric acid levels, but it also makes it difficult for your body to get rid of this substance from your body.
- High-fructose corn syrup: Avoid beverages that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, such as sodas or fruit drinks. These beverages will stimulate the body to produce more uric acid.
- Goose and turkey: Goose and turkey meat are higher in purines, so you will want to avoid them. Substitute them with chicken or duck.
How ACV Works for Gout
ACV contains antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is full of nutrients, like potassium, amino acids, calcium, and iron, which can help reduce toxin buildup and help rid the body of excess levels of uric acid. ACV also contains acetic acid, an ingredient that is effective at preventing and treating gout. According to some researchers, acetic acid turns alkaline inside the body and forms a pH-balanced environment that prevents gout.
ACV breaks up the uric acid crystals and thwarts them from reforming in the joints by supporting proper blood circulation. It also promotes joint flexibility by reducing swelling and inflammation in the joints. Some people even claim to experience gout relief a few hours after drinking apple cider vinegar.
When to Take ACV for Gout
Take ACV for gout after you eat a full meal including foods that promote an alkaline body environment. These foods can help neutralize toxic dietary acids. Try the following food sources:
What Type of ACV Should You Buy?
Make sure that you buy ACV that is organic, non-pasteurized, and non-fermented. This will ensure the ACV still contains essential nutrients, enzymes, and minerals. The ACV should also have a low acetic acid level.
How to Use ACV
1. Your first option is to drink the ACV. To prepare ACV for consumption, you will need: an eight-ounce glass of water, two teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar, and two tablespoons of unprocessed honey (optional). Mix all of the ingredients together in a glass. Consume three times daily.
2. If you don’t like the taste of ACV, try soaking a cloth in undiluted ACV. Once the cloth is completely soaked, wrap it around the affected area.
3. Another option is mixing the ACV with other juices, such as cherry, strawberry, or blueberry.
4. Soak your foot in a bucket that contains four cups of hot water and one cup of ACV for 30 minutes.
When Should You See a Doctor for Your Gout?
You should call or see your doctor if you:
- Notice swollen, tender joints with warm, red skin over them
- Experience sudden, severe pain in a joint
Sources for Today’s Article:
Koulouris, S., “Gout and Apple Cider Vinegar,” Gout and You web site; http://goutandyou.com/gout-and-apple-cider-vinegar/, last accessed September 25, 2015.
“Apple Cider Vinegar for Gout,” NewHealthGuide.org; http://www.newhealthguide.org/Apple-Cider-Vinegar-for-Gout.html, last accessed September 25, 2015.
“Gout-Cause,” WebMD web site, last updated September 30, 2014; http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/tc/gout-cause, last accessed September 25, 2015.
“Gout,” Mayo Clinic web site, November 25, 2014; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/basics/causes/con-20019400.
Krucik, G. “What causes skin nodule? 5 possible conditions,” Healthline web site; http://www.healthline.com/symptom/skin-nodule, last accessed September 25, 2015.
“Tophus,” Wikipedia web site; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tophus, last accessed September 25, 2015.
“25 Alkaline-Promoting Foods,” The Doctor Oz Show web site, January 10, 2014;
Harding, A., “8 Gout-Causing Foods,” Health web site; http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20448674,00.html, last accessed September 25, 2015.