October 9, 2011

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs can Ease Gout Pain

Gout is one of the forms of arthritis or joint inflammation. The commonest site is the ball of the big toe.  Some herbs also have anti-inflammatory effects and this is interesting alternative treatments that may help ease pain from gout.  Below are popular herbs for gout pain relief.

Devil's Claw
Devil's claw, or Harpagophytum procumbens, has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antirheumatic actions. It is a creeping perennial native to Southern Africa. Traditional healers use the roots to treat pain, fever, poor appetite, rheumatism, arthritis, ulcers, and boils. It is also used as a general tonic. The active ingredients include iridoid glycosides such as harpagoside, harpagide and procumbide. Dr. Linda B. White and Steven Foster claim that poor digestion of proteins can cause the buildup of uric acid and painful crystals and recommend devil's claw for gout for both its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties. An article published in the February 2007 issue "Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice" notes that cat's claw may reduce the body's production of pro-inflammatory chemicals.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that cat's claw has few side effects when taken at recommended dosages. However, rare side effects may include dizziness, vomiting and headaches. However, Devil's claw should not be used during pregnancy as it may have abortive effects, or by people with gastrointestinal or coronary disorders. Also avoid this herb if you have an immune disorder, because it may stimulate the immune system.  According to NCCAM, you should stop taking cat's claw if you are scheduled to undergo surgery as it may interfere with blood pressure control.

A study published in the April 2006 issue of "Inflammation Research" shows that curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, can reduce crystal-induced forms of arthritis. Clinical studies examining the role of turmeric in the treatment of gout are lacking. You may prefer to take 300 mg of a standardized extract of turmeric three times daily. These doses should be used only as a guideline; consult your doctor about the best dose and treatment plan for you.
Anyway, turmeric was not approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat any medical condition and may have side effects and cause allergic dermatitis according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  There is a caution that turmeric may lower the blood sugar levels, so if you have osteoarthritis associated with diabetes, it will be safer to consult a doctor before using it. Also it is not fully guarantee for safety for pregnant and breastfeeding.  

Though herbal treatments such as Devil’s Claw and Curcumin (tunmeric)have been sold in many OTC forms or even used in Ayurvedic herbalism and traditional Chinese herbalism medicine for hundreds of years, they still need more scientific support to get more space in modern markets not only as alternative medicines but also integrative medicines and integrative herbalism.

·         "The Herbal Drugstore"; Linda B. White, M.D., Steven Foster; 2000
·         "Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine"; David Hoffmann; 2003

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