Gout refers to a certain form of inflammation of the joints and swellings of a recurrent type. Although chronic in character, it breaks in acute attacks. It is a disease of the wealthy and chiefly affects middle-aged men. Women, after menopause, are also sometimes affected by this disease.
Gout was known to the physicians of ancient Greece and Rome. The classical description was written in 1663 by Sydenham, himself a life-long sufferer, who clearly differentiated it from other joint disorders. It was recognised in the 18th century that large enjoyable meals and the consumption of alcoholic drinks were often the prelude to an attack of gout. This disease affected many famous men in history, including Alexander the Great, Luther, Newton, Milton, Dr. Johnson, Franklin and Louis XIV.
An attack of gout is usually accompanied by acute pain in the big toe, which becomes tender, hot and swollen in a few hours. Usually, it is almost impossible to put any weight on the affected foot during the acute stage of the disease. It may also similarly affect other joints such as the knees, and the wrists, and sometimes more than one joint may be affected at a time. The attack usually occurs at midnight or in the early hours of the morning, when the patient is suddenly awakened. The acute attack generally lasts for a week or so. During this period the patient may run a slight fever, and feel disinclined to eat. His general health generally remains unaffected.
The attack may occur again after several weeks or months. The interval becomes shorter if the disease is not treated properly. The joint generally becomes damaged by arthritis. This is chronic gout, in which chalky lumps of uric acid crystals remain in the joint and also form under the skin.
Another serious complication of gout is kidney stones containing uric acid, causing severe colic pains in the stomach.
In some cases the kidneys become damaged and do not function properly. This is a serious condition as the poisonous waste products which are normally removed by the kidneys accumulate in the blood.
The chief cause of gout is the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints, skin and kidneys. Uric acid is an end product of the body’s chemical processes. Those affected by gout have a higher level of uric acid than the normal, due either to the formation of increased or reduced amounts of acid being passed out by the kidneys in the urine. This uric acid usually remains dissolved in the blood. But when the blood becomes too full of it, the uric acid forms needle-shaped crystals in the joints which bring about attacks of gout.
Heredity is an important factor in causing this disease and certain races are prone to gout. Other causes include excessive intake of alcoholic drinks, regular eating of foods rich in protein and carbohydrates and lack of proper exercise. Stress is also regarded as an important cause of gout. During the alarm reaction, millions of body cells are destroyed and large quantities of uric acid freed from these cells enter the tissues after being neutralised by sodium.
For an acute attack, there is no better remedy than a fast. The patient should undertake a fast for five to seven days on orange juice and water. Sometimes the condition may worsen in the early stages of fasting when uric acid, dissolved by juices, is thrown into the bloodstream for elimination. This usually clears up if fasting is continued. In severe cases, it is advisable to undertake a series of short fasts for three days or so rather than one long fast. A warm water enema should be used daily during the period of fasting to cleanse the bowels.
After the acute symptoms of gout have subsided, the patient may adopt an all-fruit diet for further three or four days. In this regimen, he should have three meals a day of juicy fruits such as grapes, apples, pears, peaches, oranges and pineapple. After the all-fruit diet, the patient may gradually embark upon the following diet:
Breakfast : Fruits such as oranges, apples, figs, apricot, mangoes, whole wheat bread or dalia and milk or butter-milk.
Lunch : Steamed vegetables such as lettuce, beets, celery, water-cress, turnips, squash, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and potatoes, chappatis of whole wheat flour, cottage cheese and buttermilk.
Dinner : Sprouts such as alfalfa and mung beans, a good-sized salad of raw vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, whole wheat bread and butter.
The patient should avoid all purine and uric acid producing foods such as all meats, eggs, and fish. Glandular meats are especially harmful. He should also avoid all intoxicating liquors, tea, coffee, sugar, white flour and its products and all canned and processed foods. Spices and salts should be used as little as possible.
The cherry, sweet or sour, is considered an effective remedy for gout. This was discovered by Ludwig W. Blan Ph.D. some 35 years ago. Himself a gout sufferer, Blan Ph.D. some cherries to be miraculously effective in his own case and published his own experience in a medical journal.
Subsequently, many people with gout used this simple therapy with great success. To start with, the patient should consume about 15 to 25 cherries a day. Thereafter, about 10 cherries a day will keep the ailment under control. While fresh cherries are best, canned cherries can also be used with success.
Foods high in potassium such as potatoes, bananas, leafy green vegetables, beans and raw vegetable juices are protective against gout. Carrot juice in combination with juices of beet and cucumber, is especially valuable. 100 ml. each of beet and cucumber juices should be mixed in 300 ml. of carrot juice to make 500 ml. of combined juice.
The juice of French or string beans has also proved effective in the treatment of gout. About 150 ml. of this juice should be taken by the patient suffering from this disease. Raw potato juice and fresh pineapple juices are also beneficial.
The feet should be bathed in Epsom salt foot bath twice daily. Half a pound to one pound of salt may be added to a foot bath of hot water. Full Epsom salt baths should also be taken three times a week. The baths may be reduced to two per week later. Cold packs at night, applied to the affected joints, will be beneficial. Fresh air and outdoor exercise are also essential. The patient should eliminate as much stress from his life as possible.