Gout is a type of arthritis that causes pain and stiffness in your joints. About 4 percent of adults in the United States have gout. In fact, according to 2014 research, gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men.

You might develop gout if you have too much uric acid in your blood. Uric acid forms sharp crystals that collect in the big toe and other joints. Symptoms include:

  • pain
  • tenderness
  • swelling

It’s important to get medical treatment for gout. High uric acid levels can lead to joint damage and kidney problems. Medications along with dietary changes can help relieve gout flare-ups.

One of the changes you might want to make is adding lemon juice to your diet. Lemon juice has been found to have several health benefits, including lowering the risk of kidney stones. Recent research shows that this citrus fruit juice may also help reduce gout symptoms.

A 2017 study found that lemon juice and lemon extract helped lower uric acid levels in the blood. Adults with high uric acid levels drank freshly squeezed lemon juice (equivalent to a lemon a day) every day for 6 weeks.

The same research trial tested lemon fruit extract on mice with high uric acid. The mice also showed lowered levels of this acid.

Another clinical study reviewed the blood tests of 75 adults who drank freshly squeezed lemon juice every day. The study included:

  • people with gout
  • people with high uric acid levels but no gout symptoms
  • people without gout or high uric acid

After 6 weeks, all the groups showed lower levels of uric acid.

The studies concluded that lemons and lemon juice might be a useful remedy to help treat gout, along with medications and other dietary changes. Lemon juice may also help prevent gout in people with high uric acid levels. It’s possible that even those with normal levels of uric acid may benefit from using lemon juice to balance blood acid.

Lemon juice may help balance uric acid levels because it helps make the body more alkaline. This means it slightly raises the pH level of blood and other fluids. Lemon juice also makes your urine more alkaline.

According to a 2015 study, this happens because drinking lemon juice causes your body to release more calcium carbonate. The calcium mineral bonds to uric acid and breaks it down to water and other compounds. This makes your blood less acidic and lowers uric acid levels in the body.

More research is needed on how much lemon juice or lemon extract you need to help lower blood uric acid levels. The studies mentioned above used different dosages. In the first one, study participants had about 30 milliliters (mL) of freshly squeezed pure lemon juice daily. This is the juice of about one lemon per day.

In the second study, each person drank the fresh juice of two lemons diluted in two liters of water every day.

It’s not known if bottled or frozen lemon juice would have the same effect as fresh juice. The recommended dosage of lemon extract for people is also not yet determined.

Additionally, the studies didn’t record the effect of lemon juice on gout symptoms, which is a crucial factor for anyone experiencing gout-related pain.

It’s not known how quickly lemon juice works to lower uric acid, or if it can help symptoms during a flare-up. But drinking lemon juice daily, even when you don’t have symptoms, can become part of your preventative diet for gout.

Try drinking the juice of one to two lemons per day. To make sure you’re drinking the juice of at least one lemon per day, squeeze the entire amount into a measuring cup before adding it to your beverages.

Use a lemon press to get all the juice out more easily. Roll the whole lemon on a counter or tabletop for a few minutes before juicing to help release more juice.

The best way to drink lemon juice is to dilute it. The research shows that lemon juice still works to help treat gout when it’s watered down. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to your water bottle or make a lemon “tea” with hot water.

You can also flavor herbal or green tea with lemon juice. Avoid adding sugar to lemon beverages. Instead, sweeten with sugar-free alternatives like stevia, or flavor with mint.

The medical studies reported that the adults treated with lemon juice didn’t have any side effects.

However, lemon juice is still acidic until your body digests it. The natural lemon (citric) acid can wear away the enamel (outer layer) of your teeth. It may also irritate your:

  • mouth
  • throat
  • stomach

To prevent these side effects, avoid drinking pure, undiluted lemon juice. Rinse your mouth with water right after drinking lemon juice, and avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes.

Tell your doctor immediately if you have any gout symptoms. Joint pain can happen for a number of reasons. Your doctor can test your blood uric acid levels to find out if you have gout.

Lemon juice might help lower uric acid levels. However, it can’t cure gout or any other illness.

Get medical treatment for gout and any health conditions that may make you more likely to get gout. Certain factors can raise your risk of gout, including genetics and other conditions like:

Gout can trigger other serious health problems if it’s not treated. Take all medications as prescribed by your doctor. Talk with a doctor or nutritionist about the best diet for gout.