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Acupuncture for Gout

By Jennifer Martinez

Acupuncture for Gout

My husband had gout for many years – every so often it would flare up and off he would go to the doctor to get nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and colchicine to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation. He was told it was a form of arthritis that occurs when there is a build up of uric acid crystals in the joints. For him it was always the big toe that was affected but it can affect other joints such as the ankles, knees, fingers, wrists and elbows.

Recently there has been an advancement in western medical knowledge. Scientists compared the gut microbiome profiles of people who have gout with the microbiome profiles of people who do not have gout and found that it was not an overproduction of uric acid but simply that the uric acid was not being efficiently removed resulting in a build-up of the tiny crystals that accumulate in joints and cause excruciating pain. It appears that purine metabolism comes down to the actions of an enzyme called urate oxidase (uricase EC 1.7.3.3 that “converts uric acid to 5-hydroxyisourate and H2O2, leading to the formation of water-soluble allantoin, which is then readily excreted by the kidneys,” according to this article on the Science Direct website. If this gut bacteria isn’t working properly gout is the result.

My husband was advised by his doctor to avoid purine rich food like red meats, certain seafoods, and even turkey. Mushrooms and asparagus were to be avoided, but we now know that plant based foods containing purine are unlikely to affect a person with gout. Oh, and alcohol was to be avoided. Sad!

He wanted to avoid taking the medications which were only addressing the result not the underlying cause and went to a Chinese acupuncture specialist who helped alleviate the symptoms of gout by promoting blood circulation, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain. The treatment she provided also helped address underlying imbalances in his body that were contributing to the development of gout. This gets quite technical and I’ll leave it to your acupuncture doctor to explain, but regular medical massage, acupuncture for gout, and traditional Chinese medicine herbs can help curtail gout attacks. This Systematic Review and Meta Analysis concluded that for the 2337 patients involved, acupuncture was more effective in providing relief within 24 hours than western medicine.

My husband completed the acupuncture for gout treatments and had regular massages, plus he always drinks a lot of water now, which the TCM doctor recommended. He hasn’t had a gout attack for the last ten years and he eats and drinks whatever he likes – in moderation.

While gout itself is not typically life-threatening, if left untreated, it can lead to complications such as joint damage, kidney stones, and kidney damage. If you or someone you are close to is suffering from gout then make an appointment with a TCM doctor to get treatment. In East Asian countries acupuncture and TCM has been used for centuries to relieve gouty arthritis.

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