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High levels of uric acid in the body — a condition called hyperuricemia — can result in the development of gout. Gout is a condition that can lead to pain when it flares up and inflammatory arthritis.
Many people who have hyperuricemia or gout turn to alternative medicine and lifestyle changes to reduce uric acid in their body as a way to prevent flare-ups.
Ayurvedic treatments are often herbal in nature. It’s believed that everybody has a predominant dosha, which is the main energy in the body. Your dosha determines what illnesses you tend to ail from. In Ayurveda, understanding your dosha can help you figure out which treatments and lifestyle changes you should undertake to achieve balance. There are three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha.
One alternative medicine system is Ayurveda, which originally comes from India. While Ayurveda is thousands of years old, the past few years have seen an uptick in Western interest.
In the Ayurvedic medicine system, gout is called vata rakta. It’s believed that gout occurs when the vata dosha is unbalanced.
In general, Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to health. Ayurvedic treatments can involve herbs as well as lifestyle changes, such as exercise, meditation, and diet.
In allopathic medicine, which dominates Western health-related care, there are a number of different treatments for gout. These include:
- dietary changes, such as reducing dairy, meat, and alcohol intake or cutting those foods out altogether
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and colchicine, all of which reduce pain and inflammation
- xanthine oxidase inhibitors, which reduce the level of uric acid produced in the body
- probenecid, which helps the kidneys remove acid from the blood.
The drugs usually prescribed for gout in Western medicine can have a range of side effects. For that reason, many people look to alternative medicine systems such as Ayurveda for gout treatment.
There are a number of Ayurvedic treatments for gout and uric acid buildup. Some of these treatments are herbal, while others are lifestyle changes.
Triphala is a Sanskrit word that means “three fruits.” As the name suggests, it’s an herbal treatment that consists of three fruits, namely bibhitaki, amalaki, and haritaki. Each is believed to impact one of the body’s three doshas.
One of the reported benefits of triphala is that it’s an anti-inflammatory, so it could reduce the inflammation associated with gout.
While some research has found that triphala has anti-inflammatory properties, the research is limited to animal studies.
Giloy is a commonly used herb in Ayurveda.
A 2017 review on the medical benefits of giloy states that “the juice extract from the stem of giloy is highly effective for treatment of gout as it helps to neutralize the increased uric acid levels in the body.”
In addition to this, a 2014 evaluation has shown that giloy has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects on rodents.
Neem is often used in Ayurveda to reduce inflammation and soothe gout flare-ups. It can be made into a paste and applied to the area affected by gout.
While neem has anti-inflammatory properties according to a 2011 paper, there is no evidence that shows it directly treats symptoms of gout, and wouldn’t lower uric acid levels in the body.
4. Bitter gourd
Bitter gourd is commonly recommended in Ayurveda for the treatment of vata ailments. As such, it’s often prescribed for the treatment of gout.
However, there is no real scientific evidence that suggests that bitter gourd can reduce uric acid levels or treat gout.
5. Cherries and dark berries
Many Ayurvedic practitioners recommend adding cherries and dark berries to your diet to reduce the levels of uric acid in the body.
Indeed, cherry juice can treat gout. A 2012 pilot study looked at the effects of consuming cherry juice concentrate and found that it lowered uric acid levels.
A 2012 study with 633 participants found that eating at least 10 cherries per day reduced the occurrence of gout flare-ups by 35 percent.
Turmeric is a root that is commonly used as a spice. In Ayurveda, turmeric is believed to have a number of health benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has many uses.
A 2016 study shows that curcumin is an effective treatment for the symptoms of joint arthritis conditions, including gout.
A 2013 study looked at flexofytol, a purified curcumin extract, and found that it’s very effective in treating gout inflammation.
Turmeric is relatively safe and can be added to curries, soups, and more. It’s often consumed in haldi doodh, also known as golden milk.
A 2011 review notes that ginger is an effective treatment for gout, as well as a number of other inflammatory conditions.
8. Dietary changes
As in Western medicine, Ayurvedic treatments for gout usually include a dietary change.
Both Ayurveda and Western medicine recommend reducing or avoiding alcohol, sugar, meat, and seafood. In Western medicine, these are called high-purine foods, and they tend to increase the amount of uric acid in the body.
One big difference between Ayurveda and Western medicine when it comes to gout is dairy. In Western medicine, some research has shown that low-fat dairy reduces uric acid levels.
In Ayurveda, it’s advised to cut out dairy if you have gout. Some Ayurvedic practitioners recommend veganism to reduce uric acid levels.
Exercise is an important tenet of Ayurveda. It’s believed that exercise, especially yoga, supports overall health. Needless to say, Western medicine agrees that there are numerous health benefits of exercise.
Since exercise is a proven method of reducing stress, and stress is a common trigger of gout attacks, it’s no wonder that exercise is recommended for those with gout.
Yoga in particular has been linked to lower levels of stress, according to a 2013 review of studies.
In addition, exercise itself might reduce uric acid. A 2010 study showed that profuse sweating, due to exercise, reduces uric acid levels in the body.
A number of Ayurvedic treatments are available for gout, but there is limited scientific proof for some of these treatments.
As always, it’s important to have medical guidance when using any new herbs or supplements, or when undergoing a lifestyle change. Speak to an Ayurvedic practitioner before you attempt any Ayurvedic treatments for uric acid.
Because there needs to be further investigation of many of these treatments, we aren’t yet sure of their side effects. Before trying any of these treatments, it’s best to consult your doctor.