Gout is inflammatory arthritis that occurs when the blood uric acid levels are abnormally high. As a result, uric acid crystals form and accumulate around the joints, often in the big toes. Symptoms of gout include sudden and severe bouts of pain, redness, burning, and swelling in the joints.
Fortunately, many natural home remedies may help relieve and prevent gout flare-ups. These remedies work by reducing your uric acid levels so that it won’t accumulate at your joints.
A gout-friendly diet may help decrease uric acid levels in the blood. While it isn’t a cure, it may reduce the risk of recurring gout flare-ups and limit their severity.
Eat more low-purine foods
Purines are metabolized into uric acid in the body. By switching to foods with a lower purine content, you may be able to lower your gradually uric acid levels or at least avoid further increases.
Look for low-purine foods with less than 100 mg of purines per 3.5 (100 grams) (1). Examples include:
- Low-fat and fat-free dairy products
- Peanut butter and most nuts
- Most fruits and vegetables
- Coffee and tea
- Herbs and spices
- Plant-based oils, including canola, olive, coconut, and flax oils
Drink more water
Staying hydrated can help the kidneys to flush out uric acid and reduce the risk of gout attacks. Aim for at least 2l of water a day.
If you exercise regularly, then it’s even more important to stay hydrated because you may lose water through sweat.
Drinking caffeinated coffee in moderation may reduce the risk of gout. Consult your doctor about how much coffee is appropriate for you, depending on your underlying health profile.
Take more vitamin C
Preliminary research suggests that cherries might lower the risk of gout attacks, primarily in people with a gout history (3). The recommended dosage is three servings of cherries or cherry extract per day over two days.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also a natural gout remedy. It contains malic acid and acetic acid that alkalizes the uric acid. Furthermore, apple cider vinegar may help reduce or manage risk factors for gout, including inflammation, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Drink this mixture twice a day, before your lunch and dinner.
Try low fat or nonfat dairy products
Research shows that compounds in milk – casein, orotic acid, and lactalbumin – may help reduce gout flare-ups by increasing the excretion of uric acid (4). Look for low fat or nonfat dairy products, such as skim milk.
Add more fiber to your diet
Eating more fiber will help your body eliminate uric acid. Fiber can also help balance your insulin and blood sugar levels. Add at least 5 grams of soluble fiber a day.
High-fiber whole foods include:
- Fresh or frozen vegetables
- Fresh, frozen, or dried fruit
- Oats, nuts, or barley
Foods to avoid
If you have gout, avoid foods that may potentially raise your uric acid levels.
AVOID some purine-rich foods
Trigger foods are usually high in purines, which, when broken down in the body, produces uric acid as a waste product. Do not consume more than 200 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
High-purine foods to avoid:
- Red meat
- Organ meat
AVOID sugar intake
Studies show that sugar may also increase the risk of gout and gout attacks, even though they’re not purine-rich (5). Hence, you should avoid sugary additives, especially fructose and sugar-sweetened foods.
Check food labels for sugar additives. Eat more whole foods instead of refined foods. Replace sugary drinks with fiber-rich smoothies and filtered water.
AVOID alcohol intake
Drinking alcohol can make you more dehydrated and also increase uric acid levels. This is because the body prioritizes removing alcohol over removing uric acid, allowing the latter to accumulate and form crystals because your kidneys must first filter out alcoholic waste instead of uric acid.
So, consume alcohol in moderation and make sure you drink plenty of water afterward. Avoid high-purine alcoholic beverages, especially beer. Drink wine instead.
Essential oils for gout
Essential oil is an effective remedy for gout sufferers because they break down the uric acid that lodges in and around the joint. Furthermore, essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce pain and swelling.
Ginger contains flavonoid, gingerol, and shogaol compounds that may lower uric acid levels and reduce pain and inflammation (6). It may also prevent future gout flares.
Dilute the ginger essential oil in a carrier oil. Apply the mixture to the painful area at least once per day.
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and is ideal for relieving gout pain (8). This pleasantly-scented oil is also invigorating, refreshing, and soothing.
Add peppermint essential oil to your bath or massage it topically onto the skin to relieve gout pain.
Wintergreen essential oil
Wintergreen essential oil is ideal for treating gout because of its immediate cortisone-like effect (9). Furthermore, it renders warmth and proper blood circulation, both of which are important for relieving inflammation.
Mix the wintergreen essential oil with a carrier oil before applying it topically.
Celery seed oil
Olive leaf extract
Olive leaf extract has been used in Mediterranean folk medicine to reduce gout symptoms and prevent future gout attacks (11).
You can brew fresh or dried olive leaves in a tea. Mix in a generous serving of honey to mask the bitter undertaste of the olive leaves.
Biota Orientalis (BO) extract
Biota Orientalis (BO) extracts have been used in traditional Chinese folk medicine to treat inflammatory conditions, including gout (12). It is also shown to help reduce uric acid levels.
Dilute Biota Orientalis (BO) oil in a carrier oil and apply it to the inflamed area.
Cinnamomum cassia, which is also known as cassia oil or Chinese cinnamon, is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammatory conditions, such as gout. It is also shown to decrease uric acid levels.
Dilute the Chinese cinnamon oil before applying it topically.
Thyme essential oil
Thyme essential oil contains ursolic and oleanolic acids, which confer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also considered a diuretic, helping to eliminate uric acid from the body, thereby decreasing uric acid levels.
Rosemary essential oil
Due to its potent astringent properties, rosemary essential oil is one of the best essential oils for gout treatment. Not only does it have a warming effect, but it also improves blood circulation and analgesic properties that numbs the pain. It also has potent diuretic properties that can help remove uric acid from the body.
Other natural or lifestyle remedies
Several other lifestyle changes can help you lower your risk of gout attacks.
Maintain a healthy weight
If you have gout, carrying extra pounds can increase your risk of gout attacks because excess weight can make you more resistant to insulin. The body can’t use insulin efficiently to remove sugar from the body, causing uric acid to accumulate.
Reduce the number of calories and lose weight to reduce insulin resistance and lower uric acid levels. Losing weight also lessens the overall stress on joints.
That said, avoid fad diets and crash dieting. Losing weight too rapidly, particularly during fasting, may raise uric acid levels. Therefore, you should focus on making long-term sustainable changes to maintain your weight, such as becoming more active, eating a nutrient-dense diet.
Regular exercise can also prevent gout attacks. Not only can exercise help maintain a healthy weight, but it can also keep uric acid levels low.
Get plenty of rest
Gout attacks can interfere with movement and mobility. To avoid worsening symptoms, relax while joints are inflamed. Avoid high-intensity exercise and using the joints excessively, which can exacerbate the pain and duration of a flare-up.
There are many natural ways to relieve gout symptoms and prevent future flares. Nevertheless, you may still need medication to manage severe pain. Do not replace your prescribed gout treatments in place of a home remedy without consulting your doctor.