The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Avoid a Painful Gout Attack

Following a diet that has little seafood, red meat, soft drinks or beer and lots of cherries and celery seed may minimize the risk of a gout attack.

Pain gets everyone’s attention. Whether it’s a stubbed toe or a headache, heartburn or arthritis, pain signals that something has gone wrong. With appropriate treatment, most of these conditions are manageable. Then there is pain that is impossible to ignore and hard to control, such as a gout attack.

What Causes Gout?

In this extremely painful condition, uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. Ultimately it precipitates in the form of needle-like urate crystals that lodge in joints.

The resulting inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth and extreme tenderness. The joint that is most commonly affected is the big toe. That said, nearly any joint can be afflicted. Sudden severe pain in a joint deserves prompt medical attention for diagnosis.

Triggers for a Gout Attack:


Health professionals often blame diet as a precipitating factor. Historically, “rich” foods were considered responsible for gout. That’s because purine-containing meats and seafood are broken down in the body to urate. A diet that limits purine is frequently recommended. That means reducing consumption of red meat and seafood like shrimp.


High-fructose corn syrup is a particular culprit and should be avoided (American Journal of Medicine, Nov., 2016). To do that, stay away from soft drinks and read labels on other prepared foods. Limiting alcohol consumption, especially beer, is also important. Coffee, on the other hand, might be protective.


Another significant contributor to gout can be medications. Tens of millions of Americans take drugs that raise uric acid levels. Diuretics are among the worst culprits. One reader shared this story: “I was put on hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) for high blood pressure. I started having pain and tingling in my hands and then it became hard to walk or stand for any length of time. The pain would wake me up at night. “My ankles,

“I was put on hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) for high blood pressure. I started having pain and tingling in my hands and then it became hard to walk or stand for any length of time. The pain would wake me up at night.

“My ankles, knees and hands hurt on a daily basis. I was told by my doctors to lose weight, which wasn’t helpful. I stopped taking the HCTZ and the gout pain went away.”

Other medications that can trigger gout flare-ups include the immune suppressant cyclosporine, the Parkinson’s drug levodopa, other diuretics like furosemide, the pain reliever celecoxib and beta blockers such as carvedilol.

Alternatives to Avoid a Gout Attack:

If a medicine is contributing to high uric acid levels, it may be possible to substitute a different drug that will not produce such a side effect. Doctors can prescribe pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen or medication such as colchicine to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with a gout attack. Corticosteroids like prednisone may also be used. To prevent another attack, drugs like allopurinol or febuxostat are prescribed.

Home Remedies for Gout:

Many readers report success with home remedies such as tart cherries or cherry juice. There is even scientific support for this approach (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, March 1, 2016).  Celery seeds may also reduce uric acid formation (Food Chemistry, Dec. 15, 2013).  One reader reports:

“I’ve suffered from gout on and off for many years. Celery seed extract and nettle root extract are my remedies of choice–all natural with no side effects, and they work.”

To prevent another attack, susceptible people should drink lots of water and cut back on beer, soft drinks and starchy carbohydrates. Cherry juice and celery seed could make a good addition to a prudent gout prevention diet. You’ll find more about these remedies in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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The most popular prescription drug recommended by most Doctors for Gout is
Indomethacin…And I must say it did work for me….
The secret is to get on it as quickly as possible once you feel the pain coming on….and then double up on the initial dosages.
Indomethacin, Celery Seed Extract, and Tart Cherries can cure it, in a matter of a couple of days
or less…
My contention is it is the alcohol that causes it for me…

A urologist told me to eliminate foods such as spinach or some dark green vegetables to avoid occurrences of gout. He also said to start drinking water at the first sign of gout. After suffering with gout so seriously that I had to use a wheelchair, after following his directions I have never experienced gout again.

My husbands first bout of gout came at age 63…The doctor asked if he had been eating pizza or asparagus. We never eat pizza as my husband has type 2 diabetes, but we did happen to have a few slices that week as well as asparagus. That may have been his trigger! but who ever heard of those 2 foods being a problem!

I have found R-lipoic acid and Benfotiamine effective to relieve tinglimg burning , electric shocks , spasms in the toes with no negative effects. Tart cherry extract also is effective and is a great sleep aid. W/R to prescription meds one must remember that we pay for all the fearful “side effects” as well as the benefit. If it is advertised on TV the consumer is probably the final quality inspector (guinea pig).

Especially interested in info on gout. I am diabetic and struggle with bouts of gout.

I have never had gout, but I know people who have had it, and I had read that cherry juice could have a positive effect on gout. So when one gentleman had a bad case of gout I bought him a bottle of cherry juice & a package of fresh cherries. Needless to say he had relief very quickly, and continued to drink the cherry juice on a regular basis, and was always telling people I cured him of his gout. I told this to another woman who had gout, and she told me when she was leaving the doctor’s office with a prescription his nurse whispered to her “Just get some cherry juice”.

Drink lots of water as dehydration has caused several of my gout attacks the other is chicken with skin on apparently the skin is where the toxins accumulate when it comes to our feathered friends. Uric acid is actually a chemical produced by our immune system to neutralize pathogens and in order for it to function correctly you have to stay hydrated. Last time I checked coffee was still a diuretic!

I suffered from some sever gout attacks for more than 15 years…
Finally figured out it was the HCTZ blood pressure pill that was causing some of it, in addition to much alcohol at times. Taking some Celery Seed Extract plus a small handful of dried tart cherries [Costco or Sam’s Club] everyday really did the trick for me…Gradually slowed down on the Celery Seed, but kept up on the Cherries, and mostly everything has been fine since.

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