A Cure for Gout

Well, first things first, the title is admittedly a bit sensationalized, but I believe it’s largely justified. ‘Cure’ might be too strong of  a word from a scientific perspective, but it’s largely an accurate assessment of the results I’ve seen from a purely qualitative perspective.

First, let me explain why ‘curing’ gout is a big deal for those of you who are unfamiliar with either the disease itself or my personal struggles with it. Gouty Arthritis, also known simply as Gout, is a disease where uric acid levels in the blood build to such a high concentration that they begin to form crystals. These crystals then lodge themselves in joints leading to highly painful acute gout attacks.

In my case, I developed gout approximately six years ago in my early 30’s. Each attack lasted for 2-4 days, during which time I generally couldn’t move the affected joint without extreme pain. In almost all cases it affected my ankle and/or big toe of one or (rarely) both feet. All told, full recovery (where I could walk without crutches or canes again) typically took a full week.

When I was diagnosed, my doctor told me that there were three ‘pillars’ he had seen in gout attacks, and all patients in his experience had at least two of these:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol abuse

At the time, I certainly fit the mold. I was 260-280 lbs at around 50% bodyfat. I drank at least 375 ml (half of a fifth) of liquor nightly. And my blood pressure was high enough to put me in the highest risk categories for life insurance at 32.

In the beginning, I had an attack every 3-6 months. This quickly escalated, and by 2008, I was getting an attack every 2-3 weeks. At this point, I switched from a combination of Indomethacin, a heavy anti-inflammatory which helped some, but caused considerable stomach pain, to Allopurinol, which directly reduces uric acid.

Once I switched to Allopurinol, my gout attacks stopped, at least as long as I took the drug daily. If I missed a few days, however, I would get an acute attack within a week. So I made sure to take the drug daily, and continued to abuse myself at roughly the same rate.

In 2010, I decided to improve my health for good, and began lifting weights and (eventually) quit drinking almost completely. Shortly thereafter, I began dieting, and finally managed to get my overall health and weight in check in 2010. However, I still took the Allopurinol because my doctors always presented gout as a chronic, incurable condition. I expected to need it for the rest of my life.

Last June, however, I decided to embark on an experiment. Since I had removed all three of the ‘pillars of gout’, I decided to see if I would actually get an attack by stopping my Allopurinol intake. The price of failure was just more pain, but the benefits of success were that I could eliminate a drug from my daily intake. This may not seem like a big payoff, but my contention is that all drugs have side-effects, even if they aren’t obvious, so I want to remove as many of them from my life as possible.

Anyhow, the results were that I didn’t get an attack. I initially was going to give it a week, but once the week was up, I decided to let it go a month. Once the month finished out with no attack, I decided to just let it ride. If I got an attack, I would immediately go back on, but if not, I would continue indefinitely.

Over Christmas, I added some fuel to the fire by drinking to celebrate the holidays. I don’t drink often any longer, but when I do, I tend to go big. I drank a fifth of flavored rum, and still no problems.

At this point, I have now been over a year with no signs of the return of my gout, even after multiple bouts with binge drinking for celebrations, and many, many days of eating over 400 grams of meat-sourced protein (supposedly one of the triggers for gout attacks). I have had an occasional pain that felt like the beginnings of an attack, but they left quickly and never developed further. At this point, I’m fully prepared to say that if getting healthy is not the cure for gout, it’s such a reasonable facsimile as to make no difference.

For those of you suffering, take heed: Drop the weight, quit drinking, and get your blood pressure under control, and your gout problems will just become a bad memory.


  1. #1 by Joga Bonito on January 22, 2015 - 11:10 am

    Hi Brian congrats on your transformation & continued success in living a healthy lifestyle. I’m embarking on what I hope can become a similar transformation. As it stands I’m 32, 240lbs at approximately 40% bodyfat & in recent years i’ve drank alcohol almost nightly to excess. This past month I have started medication for high blood pressure & allopurinol and have drastically reduced my alcohol consumption. The next phase for me is to eat correctly & start lifting weights. This blog post has given me much hope that at some point in the future once I’m in shape & have removed the ‘three pillars’ I too will be free of all medication.

    • #2 by llt on March 22, 2015 - 8:57 am

      Great Joga, glad to hear this is helping. The alcohol consumption was the single most important factor for me, but it didn’t completely go away until I got all three under control. I can say with some confidence, however, that the disease IS conquerable (or at least very, very manageable) if you get your bodyfat, drinking, and blood pressure all under control. Best of luck to you!

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