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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gout, my experience and a magic cure?

I'm posting this as it may help some people take a different view. It's early days but I now feel better then ever.


About 3 years ago I had my first attack of gout. Usual place, big toe on right foot. It was sore, swollen and painful but wearing a softer shoe and taking a couple of painkillers sorted it in a matter of days.

Some months later the same again but this time it was seriously painful causing immobility for several days taking Diclofenac which I'd had prescribed for a back problem. A few months passed and again a seriously painful attack that lasted over a week.

My diet was poor, my alcohol intake excessive and whilst I made vague attempts to improve things I clearly didn't do enough as my big toe and ankle never felt that far from another attack.

One morning I awoke to find a nasty rash around the gland on the side of my face and a trip to the doctors led to blood tests and a diagnosis of low HDL (Good!) Cholesterol suggesting my poor lifestyle and alcohol intake was taking it's toll. It was a wake up call and I cut out drinking at home, reduced my sugar intake and tried to take more exercise. In tandem with the obvious changes I was advised to take fish oil, omega 3 AND *drink more water. Clearly fish oil isn't good for gout so I stopped this after a couple of weeks. *I'll come back to this later.

Having had another fairly mild but longer term attack of gout in my ankle the Doc ordered another blood test (I'd not had official confirmation before) the results proved positive and Allopurinol was prescribed with Diclofenac for as and when an attack started . I wasn't happy with the thought of a lifetime on medication but the doctor firmly stated that it was the only way to have any sort of practical lifestyle, the alternative to become a food 'Monk'! You cannot sort this out by diet alone, he said.

After 3 weeks of itching, scratching and general soreness in both feet, toes, ankles and ligaments on top of foot I came out in spots all over my torso.....I was having a bad reaction to the Allopurinol. The Doc then put me onto Febuoxstat which was a lot better but I still had niggling pains in my ankle, twinges in my toes and again my skin didn't feel right. In fact the only good side of the medication is I lost a stone in weight!

The interim....
I stopped drinking at home. My usual fare, a couple of bottles of wine, a dozen cans over the course of the week. Not much in some peoples eyes ( far too much in my wife and mother in laws ;> but it helped my general well being more than I could ever have imagined, although it took around 6 months to feel the benefits.

I then started to try and narrow down the source of my attacks. I stayed off the red wine completely, knocked Liver Pate on the head and only drank a couple of pints of lager a month. But I still had twinges and a soreness in one ankle so stopped the Febuoxstat for a couple of days to see if their was any improvement and there was. I returned to the doctor who said tot stop the medication, see how it goes and to come back for a blood test in a couple of months or sooner if needs be. That was 3 months ago and whilst I can't be 100% certain i've had no suggestion of any attacks, a mild soreness in the same ankle on odd occasions but generally my tootsies feel 1000% better.

The cure?

I did make some other changes to my diet and they may work for others too?. I'd been taking Bicarbonate of Soda and drinking gallons of bottled water without taking much notice of the sodium content.

I'd continued to eat ready meals, which again are notorious for a high salt content. The Bicarbonate seemed to help or at least if I felt a twinge i'd take a spoonful in water and hold it at bay. I then came across an article about Ph balance and started to monitor the colour of my urine, rather than simply drinking water because of potential de-hydration and 'because I should'.

I stopped taking Bicarbonate of Soda and replaced it with a teaspoon of Barleygrass Powder in a glass of milk every other day. Reccomended by the manageress in Holland & Barrett for helping to stabilise one's Ph level. Mine was showing very acidic on some test strips I bought online. I reduced my bottled water intake to a more sensible level. If my urine looked dark i'd immediately down a glass of tap water.


I think that once you've had a gout attack you become more aware of any suggestion that an attack is likely. I drank red wine at christmas and crossed my fingers, drank lager at home and crossed my fingers. I've had the occasional twinge but adhering to the following seems to be working for me..

In order of preference for me...

1. Monitor urine colour. Dark = dehydration onset - drink a glass of water.
2. Avoid bottled water with high sodium content or drinking beyond what could be considered as normal.
3. Reduce alcohol intake.
4. Although I haven't mentioned it above I was also a serial icecream eater and can reflect on late evenings in front of the tele with a bottle of red and a couple of Magnums as a pre-cursor to an attack. Having successfully downed a few bottles of red over christmas with no ill effects I am leaning towards ice cream as a contributor to high acid levels.

I guess the message i'm trying to get across is that some of the treatments both prescribed drugs and home remedy aren't necessarily the answer for everybody. I'll report back in a few months time, hopefully that Barley Grass powder is a miracle cure....