Most people would say that pain can be ignored or overruled, especially if it’s necessary to persevere and complete whatever it is you need to do. Like the professional athlete who has one cortisone injection after another in his sprained ankle just so he can get out there and not let the team down. If you’ve ever had a high ankle sprain you’ll know that cortisone shots only numb the pain, and moderately at that. It still hurts like heck, but you’re able to wince and grimace through it and get on with what’s expected of you.
But what if we’re talking about simply walking, and doing it every day in excruciating pain that’s caused explicitly by the fact that you’re simply walking in itself. Not running, not jumping, just walking. Putting one foot in front of the other with your body weight on top of it, just like everybody else does.
What is gout? It is an inflammatory arthritis that causes excruciating pain and swelling of joints when uric acid in those joints become crystallized. And the joints that most commonly are affected are those connecting the bones of your toes – which are of course very active when you walk.
Many people have wondered about the relationship between Vitamin C and gout, and whether there are natural supplementation alternatives to pharmaceuticals like allopurinol and probenecid that can provide effective relief. Some of those same people have asked when is the best time to take vitamin C or other vitamins / supplements to get maximum alleviation of pain and discomfort.
Bio-explaining the Pain
Uric acid is the culprit in making gout as problematic as it is. It’s a byproduct of breaking down substances in food called purines, and when it becomes too present in the blood it causes MSU crystals in the joints to harden and crystallize. This doesn’t impede the mobility of the joint, but it does make for an awful lot of pain when the joint moves. And when you’re walking, those joints in your toes are moving pretty darn often, also with quite a bit of added pressure on them from your body weight.
A person can have a genetic predisposition to developing gout, but more often it’s prompted by diet and lifestyle choices and carrying excess body weight. The first thing that’s important to understand is the most direct path to being free from gout symptoms is to make the diet changes and commitment to fitness you need to have a healthy body weight.
That will of course does NOT necessarily mean you have to eat less, but what you do have to do is eat smarter. Eat a diet that’s lower in saturated fats and higher in fresh, unprocessed foods is a good start but here’s a list of foods that you should try to avoid as they’re high in the purines we mentioned just above:
- Organ meats
- Some species of fish
- Game meats
- Broths and gravies
- Scallops and mussels
Also refrain from heavy alcohol consumption.
Vitamin C: Instant Relief?
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, and there’s a prominent belief out there that supplementing with Vitamin C tablets will relieve gout symptoms. There is some truth to that, but research has revealed that it’s not nearly as effective as many people believe it to be, and that vitamin C is – on its own - generally insufficient to make any real different for gout sufferers.
For starters, Vitamin C is a uric acid excretory, rather than an inhibitor. That means that it does promote the elimination of uric acid, but doesn’t serve to inhibit the volume of it generated by the body. This means that if you’re making diet and lifestyle choices that lead to uric acid crystallization you’re not going to get relief from gout without addressing those root causes first.
Click here for a more detailed overview of a gout prevention diet.
Understand further that the crystallizations that occur will typically dissolve when uric acid levels go below 6.0mg per deciliter, and having this occur really is the key to finding the relief you want. Without having the dissolution occur, you’ll be eliminating uric acid with Vitamin C but you’ll only be mediating the problem as you’ll still be having the gout-causing crystallizations caused by raised uric acid levels that are above that 6.0mg mark.
Doses of Vitamin C that were seen to be ‘effective’ were often of such a large size that they were both unrealistic for the average person to ingest AND might come with over-ingestion side effects.
However, vitamin C supplementation in combination with the pharmaceutical allopurinol (zyloprim) does have an effect on lowering uric acid levels in gout patients. Also, the pharmaceutical probenecid (probalan) is co-effective in increasing uric acid excretion through the kidneys.
In fact, most studies have found that significant decreases in urate levels seemed to come exclusively when combining Vitamin C with allopurinol. Vitamin C is ineffective on its own for the most part, but it is an effective co-factor when working with allopurinol. As is nearly always the case though, it's best to explore natural cure approaches first and we recommend pairing your Vitamin C with an effective herbal product like Bell Gout Relief.
Effective Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs
Pairing Vitamin C supplements with a number of different fruits, vegetables, and herbs can enhance its effectiveness for treating gout. Tart cherry is at the top of the list, and highly recommended. Cherries have any enzyme that neutralizes uric acid, and a 2012 study published in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism found that individuals that consume tart cherries had a 35% lower risk of recurrent gout attacks. Further, doing so while taking allopurinol lead to a 75% lower risk.
Other good fruits are blueberries, grapes, pineapple, and guava, and leafy vegetables like spinach and amaranth, bell peppers, and broccoli are helpful too. Alfalfa is also a good choice, and the diuretic properties of parsley make it a good choice to as it increases urination and therefore expels uric acid more efficiently.
Apple Cider Vinegar can help to dissolve uric acid crystals to change the blood OH to a more alkaline state.
- Tiny grains like couscous, amaranth, and millet. Can be prepared in the same way as rice
- Black cohosh – moderates acidity in the blood and helps dissolve uric acid making it easier to eliminate
- Bilberry– high in flavonoids, which are water soluble pigments that serve as antioxidants
- Buchu tea – helps dissolve and flush uric acid crystals from joints and kidneys as well as in the blood stream
- Devil’s claw – natural cleansing agent for toxic impurities in the blood
- Celery seeds - relieve gout by removing uric acid from the body
We’ll wrap up today’s post with one last tip for gout sufferers; add 1/3 cup of ground ginger to a hot bath to promote more sweating in the hot water and eliminate more uric acid from your system via your dermal skin. If you’re going to try this one, remember to rinse your skin thoroughly after getting out to remove any residue.
Here’s hoping this helps to get you back to stepping without wincing. There are many vitamin C benefits, but vitamin C tablets aren’t going to a 1-step ‘magic bullet’ for relieving you of your gout symptoms.