Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective for gout?
The following essential oils traditionally have been used for gout:
- Cypress – Dilute up to 2-4% in any carrier oil (10-20 drops per tablespoon) and massage into affected areas. Safety Precautions: Avoid during the first five months of pregnancy.
- German Chamomile – Dilute up to 2-4% in any carrier oil (10-20 drops per tablespoon) and massage into affected areas. Safety Precautions: German Chamomile CO2 is one of the mildest oils available in aromatherapy. It is safe to use during pregnancy and even with babies (but don’t overdose). However, it has caused contact dermatitis in a small number of individuals. If using with very sensitive skin, try it properly diluted on a small spot first.
You may also like to see the Liver and gout detox page.
About the Condition
What Is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of crystals of uric acid in the joints. The body produces uric acid after it breaks down “purines” that are a component of a lot of types of food, especially meats.
Symptoms of gout include pain in the affected joints that comes on suddenly followed by swelling, warmth, tenderness and a red coloring of the joint. Many people experience it the joint at the base of the big toe. But some other people have it in their ankles, wrists, knees, elbows or fingers. For some, even the slightest touch of a sheet can cause pain.
Generally, these painful attacks subside anywhere from a few hours to a few days even with medication. In rare cases, they can last for weeks. These sorts of bouts can occur over a number of years. Some people also get a low-grade fever, but a higher fever may be a symptom of an infection and in this case, you should seek medical attention.
Over 8.3 million Americans (4%) suffer from gout. It is more common in men than in women and more common in African-American men than white men. The older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from it (up to around age 75).
What Causes Gout?
Gout occurs when the body doesn’t manage to handle the uric acid properly and instead crystalizes it in the joints. This can cause not only gout, but also painful arthritis and kidney stones. The uric acid crystals can also block the kidney filtering tubules and lead to kidney failure.
You are more likely to suffer from gout if you are obese, or if you gained a lot of weight – especially in your youth – if you drink alcohol, have high blood pressure or have abnormal kidney function. Some medications and diseases can also cause elevated levels of uric acid. More people with gout seem to suffer from abnormally low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism).
The most reliable way to diagnose gout is to test for uric acid crystals in the joint fluid and blood.
What Are Conventional Medical Treatments For Gout?
Generally, doctors recommend that you drink plenty of fluids, such as water, as this helps prevent gout attacks and decreases the risk of kidney stone formation. Fluids like alcohol and other diuretics (i.e. substances that cause you to produce more urine and which have a net effect of taking water out of the body) can contribute to dehydration and increase the likelihood of gout attacks. Drinking alcohol can also affect uric acid metabolism and cause higher levels of uric acid in the blood.
They also recommend that you avoid eating foods high in purines, such as shellfish and organ meats. Research has shown that meat or seafood consumption increases the risk of gout attacks, while dairy consumption reduces it. Losing weight can also help reduce the reoccurrence of gout attacks.
If the pain from the gout attack isn't too bad, doctors recommend that you apply cold packs or cold compresses on the joint to lessen the inflammation and help the pain. These should be used for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day. Resting the joint is also recommended.
Doctors generally prescribe medications to reduce the pain and inflammation, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g. ibuprofen), colchicine, and corticosteroids. They also prescribe medications such as allopurinol, febuxostat, lesinurad and probenicid to decrease the level of uric acid in the blood and prevent the deposit of uric acid in joints and as kidney stones. As with all medications, there can be serious side effects.
What Are Alternative Treatments For Gout?
Some people recommend apple cider vinegar to help make the body more alkaline. Others say drinking a mixture of baking soda and water can help reduce the pain. One study showed that eating cherries or taking cherry extract can reduce the recurrence of gout attacks. Some say that reducing your sugar intake can help. Other says bromelain (found in pineapples or in a supplement form), vitamin C and beet juice can help. Regular exercise is also thought to help. And of course, essential oils can help (see the Useful Essential Oils tab for details).