Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If gout treatments aren't working as well as you'd hoped, you may be interested in trying an alternative approach. Before trying such a treatment on your own, talk with your doctor — to weigh the benefits and risks and learn whether the treatment might interfere with your gout medication. Because there isn't a lot of research on alternative therapies for gout, however, in some cases the risks aren't known.

Certain foods have been studied for their potential to lower uric acid levels, including:

  • Coffee. Studies have found an association between coffee drinking — both regular and decaffeinated coffee — and lower uric acid levels, though no study has demonstrated how or why coffee may have such an effect. The available evidence isn't enough to encourage noncoffee drinkers to start, but it may give researchers clues to new ways of treating gout in the future.
  • Vitamin C. Supplements containing vitamin C may reduce the levels of uric acid in your blood. However, vitamin C hasn't been studied as a treatment for gout. Don't assume that if a little vitamin C is good for you, then lots is better. Megadoses of vitamin C may increase your body's uric acid levels. Talk to your doctor about what a reasonable dose of vitamin C may be. And don't forget that you can increase your vitamin C intake by eating more fruits and vegetables, especially oranges.
  • Cherries. Cherries have been associated with lower levels of uric acid in studies, but it isn't clear if they have any effect on gout signs and symptoms. Eating more cherries and other dark-colored fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes and raspberries, may be a safe way to supplement your gout treatment, but discuss it with your doctor first.

Other complementary and alternative medicine treatments may help you cope until your gout pain subsides or your medications take effect. For instance, relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises and meditation, may help take your mind off your pain.

Dec. 06, 2011

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