People are discovering that they have healthier alternatives available to prescription drugs to get rid of the painful effects of gout. I know that I have experienced the painful effects of arthritis and gout on my joints (especially my feet and knees) for years, and I was about to give up, visit the scooter shop, and stop walking altogether. If you’ve ever been woken up in the middle of the night with searing cramps in your toes and feet due to gout or have been unable to walk due to pain that you experienced like me, you will know what I’m talking about. Doctors contributing to WebMD describe gout as a form of arthritis, an inflammation of the joints, causing sudden and severe attacks of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth, and swelling in some joints. It usually affects one joint at a time, although it can be in multiple joints at the same time. The big toe is most often affected, but gout can also affect other joints in the leg, such as the knee, ankle, and foot, and, less commonly, joints in the arm, including the hand, the wrist, fingers and elbow.

Gout can be simply defined as an unusually high level of accumulated uric acid in the blood. Most of the time, consuming too much uric acid is not harmful. Many people with high blood levels never get gout. But when uric acid levels in the blood are too high in some people, uric acid can form hard crystals in the joints. These crystals act like pieces of glass that accumulate around and rub against our joints causing inflammation and pain. Gout is often seen in people who have a digestive disorder. In a normally functioning digestive system, fats and proteins are ingested into the body and the remaining impurities pass through the kidneys and out of the body. In a dysfunctional digestive system, undigested food particles remain in the blood and become a source of uric acid, leading to gout or arthritis.

There are actually two approaches to treating gout. Traditional doctors often recommend prescription drugs such as corticosteroids (prednisone) that attack and reduce inflammation in the joints. But while this approach is effective in relieving pain, and almost immediately, there are side effects that result from prednisone. For example, prednisone causes steroid-induced osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, causing them to lose their density and become more brittle and acceptable for fracture. This condition is usually found in postmenopausal women, but it could happen to women of any age or even to men who are taking this drug. Prednisone also slows new bone formation and decreases the body’s absorption of calcium from food. Severe joint pain is a major and nearly universal complaint experienced by many people taking prednisone, likely due to the fact that it robs the body of natural calcium necessary to keep joints healthy and free from inflammation. Other doctors may prescribe indomethancin (Indocine), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen sodium (Aleve), which can help relieve pain and inflammation within 24 hours of a gout attack. But these drugs can also have side effects, sometimes causing an upset stomach, developing ulcers, or increasing the risk of heart attack. It is also recommended that people with gastrointestinal, kidney, or heart problems not take these medications. Medications are generally successful in stopping pain symptoms, in the long term they can be harmful to the body with prolonged use, and they never really affect the root cause of gout. Doctors often recommend subsequent visits

The alternative to prescription drugs for treating gout is based on a more homeopathic or natural approach to the disease. Holistic practitioners examine the state of the blood, the vehicle that carries nutrients or impurities to all parts of the body. A simple blood test will show if you have unusually high levels of uric acid in your blood. The goal of alternative medicine is to improve the health of the blood through nutritional supplements and therefore to reach the cause of gout, not just to treat the symptoms. One such remedy is the use of powerful antioxidants that help purify the blood from free radical damage. Free radicals alter the body’s ability to filter impurities from undigested food particles, leading to high concentrations of protein and fat remaining in the blood, ultimately leading to higher concentrations of crystals of uric acid. Free radicals come from both inside and outside of our body in the form of diseases, infections or external toxins such as pesticides, air pollution from car exhaust gases, food preservatives, cigarette smoke, medications, growth hormones and ultraviolet light from the sun. Holistic practitioners have found that one of the most natural and effective ways to regulate free radical damage is through the use of antioxidants derived from plant nutrients called phytonutrients. Within this group is an even more specialized class called Bioflavonoids. One especially powerful bioflavonoid in particular, called OPC or (oligomeric proanthocyanidins) is an extremely effective phytonutrient that is 50 times more powerful than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful than vitamin C. In fact, OPC increases the effectiveness of vitamin C when used together. OPC is made up of fruits, such as grape seed extract, citrus extract, cranberry and wine extract, and pine bark. Together in harmony, these natural ingredients have been shown to be very effective in controlling gout in many patients. A former gout patient said that he had been suffering from extreme gout in his feet for over a year.

So bad in fact that every few months I had to make him some special boots, which allowed him to walk without feeling much pain. He said that his gout condition had extremely compromised his life and what he could do. After being incidentally exposed to and testing OPC, he experienced relief within four days. With continued use for the next 6 months, this gentleman was completely relieved of joint pain. She even commented that since using OPC, she hadn’t felt this good (overall health) for ten years. In my own individual case, I have been using OPC, a specific brand called OPC-3 for the last three years. I found that when I chose not to take it routinely and stopped taking it entirely, my joint pain and gout came back in force. When I go back to taking OPC-3, the pain goes away and I feel good again and can do the sports that I love, like riding my bike, rollerblading, lifting weights, and walking. Needless to say, I don’t plan on experimenting any more. I urge you to investigate this powerful phytonutrient and you too will be able to get back to doing what you love to do!

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