Ask anyone who has experienced gout if it’s painful, and they’ll probably wince. This form of inflammatory arthritis is known for painful flare-ups. Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream that lead to the development of crystals in the joints, most notably the big toe.
Along with medications and lifestyle changes that doctors typically recommend to combat gout, some experts also suggest boosting your consumption of coffee and cherry juice. Research has shown that both seem to be useful in reducing the risk of gout attacks.
With that in mind, could another type of juice — cranberry — be an effective treatment to try?
At the present, there seems to be a lack of research into any direct connection between drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements and the reduction of gout flares.
Much of the research that examines whether a particular type of juice could help you ward off a gout flare seems to be centered around cherries and cherry juice.
More research is definitely needed to determine if cranberry juice could be an effective treatment or prevention strategy for gout.
While there’s no current evidence in connection to gout, research has examined whether cranberry juice may be helpful or harmful when it comes to other diseases or conditions that involve high uric acid levels.
For example, higher uric acid levels can contribute to the development of a certain type of kidney stone, the uric acid stone.
A 2019 study found that people who took cranberry supplements, with and without vitamin C added, had higher levels of oxalate in their urine. Oxalate is a chemical that is a by-product of your body’s metabolism, and it leaves your body through your urine. When combined with calcium, that oxalate can lead to the development of kidney stones.
However, the study is limited, with a small sample size of only 15 participants.
A 2005 study also found that cranberry juice seemed to increase the risk of calcium oxalate stones and uric acid stones, although it did seem to decrease the risk of the formation of another type of stone called a brushite stone. This study was also relatively small, with 24 participants.
So, it’s possible that drinking cranberry juice could lead to higher levels of uric acid, which, in turn, might lead to the development of the crystals in the joints that cause painful gout flares. More research is needed to confirm that call.
Without any definitive evidence to suggest that cranberry juice could be an effective treatment for gout, your doctor may be reluctant to give you the nod to try it, especially if you’re at risk for kidney stones.
To avoid adding unnecessary calories and sugar to your diet, choose unsweetened cranberry juice.
Fortunately, you have options when it comes to treating gout. Consider some of them to see if they’re right for you:
One of the best ways to deal with gout is to avoid flares. Your doctor might advise that you try taking preventive medications called xanthine oxidase inhibitors. These include:
- allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim)
- febuxostat (Uloric)
Usual preventive medications either decrease production of uric acid or increase excretion.
While colchicine (Mitigare, Colcrys) is known to be used for acute attacks, it can also be used in lower doses along with these medications to prevent attacks.
If those treatments don’t work, you might try pegloticase (Krystexxa), which is given through intravenous infusion every 2 weeks.
If you do experience a painful gout attack, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or naproxen may take the edge off and reduce the swelling.
Your doctor might also suggest a corticosteroid to alleviate the pain and swelling in your affected joints.
Colchicine (Mitigare, Colcrys) may also be most effective at reducing pain and swelling when taken as soon as a flare begins.
You can make a few changes on your own, too. A few commonly recommended strategies for reducing the chances of a gout exacerbation include:
- losing weight
- staying hydrated
- reducing your stress levels
- changing up your diet, eliminating foods high in purine
Dietary changes should also include cutting back on alcohol and certain types of food, such as red meat, that tend to be high in purines.
Other prevention strategies
Maybe another kind of beverage appeals to you. How about coffee or cherry juice? Both have some evidence behind them.
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As with any health condition, if you feel like something’s getting worse, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.
If you seem to be experiencing more frequent or more severe gout attacks, ask about taking a different medication — or possibly increasing the dosage of the medications you’re already taking.
Unpleasant side effects or new symptoms are other reasons to make a call to your doctor’s office.
Gout isn’t curable, but it’s definitely manageable. Research does support the inclusion of certain foods into your overall gout prevention and treatment strategy. Unfortunately, for now, cranberry juice and cranberry supplements don’t seem to make the cut.
You might consider cherry juice if you’re interested in adding a new beverage to your routine. Before you try any new treatment strategy, talk to your healthcare provider and make sure you’re on the same page.