Articles from January 27, 2015

Gout

How I encountered gout recently:
            A few weeks ago, one of my friends called and asked me if acupuncture could help to treat gout. She told me that her younger brother was diagnosed with the early stages of gout and was suffering from the pain. The short answer that I gave her was that acupuncture could help to ease the pain. But, more than anything, he needed to change his life style. Life style and diet are the two most important tools to achieve healthier living, not to mention, reduce the pain due to inflammation in the body. Her brother, who lives overseas, exhibits the common life style and diet of people who are suffering from gout: Even though he’s young, in his late 30’s, he is over weight and consumes a lot of meat, sugar, processed foods and alcoholic beverages.

What it is:
            Gout is a form of arthritis, a type of inflammation, caused by accumulation of urate crystals in or around the joint. The high level of uric acid in the blood leads to the formation of urate crystals. Uric acid is produced in your body when it breaks down purine, a substance that naturally occurs in the human body and in certain food such as meat, organ meat, seafood, alcoholic beverages, especially beer and beverages sweetened with fructose.
            When sharp, needle like urate crystals accumulate in the joints and surrounding area, they cause inflammation leading to redness, swelling and pain on the joints. Depending the severity of inflammation, the pain can be very debilitating.  However, the pain is not constant. It is only painful when it flares up, due to too much build up of urate crystals or when your immune system declines and becomes susceptible to inflammation.

Can acupuncture help with gout:
            Acupuncture can help to reduce the inflammation, not only in the case of gout, but any type of inflammation.  Reducing the inflammation will help reduce the pain and swelling around the joints.  Acupuncture promotes blood and qi circulation to and from the joints, while strengthening the joint, which will lead to cleaning the build up of the urate crystals in the joints and their surroundings.  It can also strengthen the kidney function, facilitating the elimination of uric acid by balancing and strengthening our innate immune system.  Acupuncture points that are helpful: ST 36, SP 3, ST 40, and SP 6 and some other local points can be used. Please ask your practitioner what other methods can promote addressing the symptoms.