Gout: Don’t Ignore That Burning Pain in Your Big Toe

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goutAre you suffering from pain in your big toe? If so, you may have gout. Once thought of as an old, outdated disease, gout is a complex disorder that is becoming more prevalent in the United States and many other developed countries. Almost five million Americans, 90% of them men in their 40s or older, currently suffer from this ailment and many don’t realize it.

Gout, a kind of inflammatory arthritis, can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually in a big toe. Many people who suffer from gout initially dismiss the symptoms, thinking they must have somehow hurt their toe. The problem is that if left untreated, it could cause other health issues.

What Causes Gout?

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood, which forms into crystals in the joints, causing pain and swelling. Uric acid usually dissolves in your blood and moves through the kidneys without causing harm. However, when your body makes too much uric acid or does not release a sufficient amount of it through your urine, uric acid builds up and leads to the creation of crystals in your joints. The body attacks the crystals with white blood cells, causing inflammation and redness in the area.

There are many causes of gout, including obesity, high blood pressure, medications like aspirin, antibiotics, and kidney problems. In the past, gout was called the “disease of kings,” as it was related to dietary choices such as overindulgence in alcohol or a diet high in rich foods containing shellfish, red meat, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplants.

The most common sign of gout is a nighttime attack of swelling, redness, tenderness, and sharp pain in your big toe. The attack can last a few days or many weeks before the pain goes away. Another attack may not happen for months or years, or you may never experience one again if you are treated correctly.

Natural Treatments for Gout

Most conventional doctors will tell you that the only way to treat gout is to take drugs such as corticosteroids, NSAIDs, “Zyloprim,” or a mixture of others, which all come with harmful side effects. I highly recommend treating gout by eating specific foods and taking herbs to combat the pain and discomfort. Not only are holistic techniques less expensive compared to prescription drugs, but they also pose fewer health risks.

I tell my clients that the easiest way to start a gout-friendly diet is by including ginger in your food daily. This root not only boosts your immune function, but it also has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties! Just eat it fresh or steep it in tea.

Research has also shown that drinking a glass of tart Montmorency cherry juice daily can help clear excess uric acid from the body in just a few hours. This powerful juice possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Many natural remedies have been shown to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with gout. One of the most successful herbs shown to help ease gout is dandelion root. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, dandelion root acts like a diuretic so it increases urination, removing excess uric acid from the bloodstream. In addition, it helps the kidneys clear out waste, salts, and excess water.

Krill oil, a fat that comes from shrimp-like creatures, contains EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It diminishes joint inflammation and enhances joint lubrication, easing the pain caused by gout.

Gout Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain

Gout attacks can be recurring. Over time, the condition can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues if not treated correctly. The best course of action with the fewest side effects is to follow a gout-friendly diet and limit your intake of red meats, seafood, and alcohol. If you suffer from gout and want to try a holistic approach to treating the disease, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure this is the right course of action for you.

Ellis, R., “Fighting the agony of gout – with a daily glass of cherry juice,” Daily Mail, September 28, 2014; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2771906/Fighting-agony-gout-daily-glass-cherry-juice.html.
“Treatments and Remedies for Gout,” Mercola; http://articles.mercola.com/gout/treatment-remedies.aspx, last accessed May 5, 2017.
“Gout: Facts and Information,” Mercola; http://articles.mercola.com/gout.aspx, last accessed May 5, 2017.