Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. This disease affects men more than women. Gout causes inflammation and severe pain in the affected joints. Uric acid occurs when the body breaks down purines, an organic compound found in steak, seafoods, organ meats, alcoholic beverages (especially beer) and in drinks sweetened with fructose (fruit sugar). Uric acid usually dissolves in the blood and passes out of the body via the kidneys in the form of urine. If the body produces too much uric acid or if the kidneys don't excrete enough, uric acid will begin to crystalize in the cooler regions of the body where it forms very sharp, needle-like crystals. These lodge in the joints, usually the lower distal joints, and cause extreme pain that is worse with pressure, inflammation in the joint, and swelling in the affected and surrounding tissues.
The great toe is the most likely joint to be affected, but gout can occur in knees, ankles, and feet as well. Other joints of the body could be affected, but rarely are because they are closer to main circulation and tend to be warmer, so crystals are less likely to form.
Repeat instances of gout can damage the cartilage and bone in the affected areas and lead to "gouty arthritis."
Acupuncture and herbs are excellent to relieve symptoms, but the cure lies in change of diet to reduce purines and sugars (specifically eliminate or reduce red meat, sweetened drinks, beer), exercise and movement to increase circulation and weight loss. Hot epsom salt foot baths can help a great deal. Soak for 10-15 minutes. After symptoms recede, have your patient continue the foot baths, get foot massages, reflexology, and use a foot roller.
Once again, lifestyle changes are the cure for everything!
Acupuncture Suggested Protocol
One of the big keys to relieving the pain quickly is bleed the affected area!
Wu Hu 3, 4, and 5
Opposite the affected side
Zu Wu Hu 3, 4, and 5
Huo Ying, Huo Zhu, Lv 6** **Master Tung's Lv 6 is needled next to the tibia on the Spleen channel rather than on the bone itself. Use your fingernail to palpate and slide the needle right next to the bone. Why the right side? Because Liver generally expresses on the right more than the left.
Affected area This is probably the only time I'll ever tell you to work directly on the place that is hurting!
Bloodlet the affected area Sounds mean as hell, but it immediately cools the area and relieves the pressure. I've had pretty good success doing a quick prick to bleed at the jing well or ying spring points on the affected channel/s. Generally I see gout in the MTP joint on the 1st toe, so those points would be Sp 1 or Sp 2, but could also be Lv 1 or 2. Even had a guy who refused to let me touch the affected toe at first, so I bled the spreading points on his opposite hand on the Jueyin (PC) and Taiyin (LU) channels. That gave enough relief that I was able to bleed Sp 1, which gave him about 90% relief.
Herbal Medicine Suggestions
Evergreen's Flex GT. This is my favorite go-to formula for gout. This will help reduce gout causing crystals fairly quickly. And for those patients who get gout no matter what they eat or how many lifestyle modifications they try, this can be used as a maintenance formula to decrease recurrence. Add Herbal ANG (analgesic) to it to help with pain. You can get both of these formulas in either pills or granules.
Huang Lian Jie Du Tang This is an herbal detox. Use this short term to help your patient get rid of toxins that are contributing to the problem.
Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang + Dan Shen Yin Shui Jing Huo Xue Tang reduces wind, cold, and damp in the lower limbs. Dan Shen Yin is great for blood circulation.