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The Best Chinese Herbs for Gout

Gout, a painful form of arthritis, is becoming increasingly common worldwide. In fact, over 8.3 million Americans suffer from this burning toe pain every year. Thankfully, Chinese herbs for gout offer a safe and natural way to ease the pain.

The usual treatments for gout often involve medications, which can have side effects and don’t really address the root cause of gout. That’s why many people are turning to holistic approaches, like Chinese herbal medicine, which offers a more sustainable way to eliminate gout pain and other symptoms.

Read on to learn how Chinese medicine takes a different approach to relieving this arthritic pain, and which Chinese herbs for gout could help you best.

What is Gout?

When most people think of gout, they think of toe pain. But what is gout, really? And what causes it?

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by intense and often excruciating joint pain. It primarily occurs when there is an excess of uric acid in the body, which leads to the formation of sharp, needle-like crystals in the joints. These crystals can cause severe inflammation, swelling, and pain often affecting the big toe, but other joints can be involved as well.

What Causes Gout?

The main cause of gout is the accumulation of uric acid in the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperuricemia. Uric acid is a natural waste product produced during the breakdown of purines, substances found in certain foods and the body’s cells. Normally, the body processes and eliminates uric acid efficiently. However, in some cases, it can’t do so effectively, leading to these elevated uric acid levels.

So, what causes the body to mismanage uric acid levels?

  • Diet
    Consuming foods high in purines, such as red meat, seafood, and alcohol, can increase the risk of gout.
  • Genetics
    A family history of gout can make you more susceptible to developing it yourself.
  • Age and Gender
    While anyone can develop gout, it is more common in men and often develops after the age of 40.
  • Obesity
    Excess body weight is associated with higher uric acid levels and an increased risk of gout.
  • Medical Conditions
    Having conditions like high blood pressure, kidney disease, and diabetes can raise your risk of gout.

Symptoms of Gout

Gout attacks are often sudden, severe, and intensely painful. Common symptoms include:

  • Joint Pain (often in the big toe)
  • Swelling, redness, and tenderness of the affected joint 
  • Limited range of motion in the joint
  • Warmth (due to increased blood flow and inflammation)

The Western Approach: Conventional Treatments for Gout

Modern medicine gout treatments primarily focus on symptom relief – the main aim is to reduce inflammation and lower the levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. While this approach does offer quick relief, it doesn’t keep the gout from coming back. Let’s take a closer look at the conventional approaches and their pros and cons.

Conventional Treatments for Gout

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    Drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen are commonly recommended to manage pain and inflammation during an active gout arthritis attack.
  • Colchicine
    Colchicine is a medication that can help reduce gout symptoms like inflammation and pain but can have gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Corticosteroids
    In cases of severe gout attacks, corticosteroids like prednisone may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain before tissue damage occurs. These are usually taken orally or injected into the affected joint.
  • Urate-Lowering Medications
    Allopurinol and febuxostat are examples of drugs that lower uric acid levels in the body. These are typically taken daily to prevent gout attacks by reducing the formation of uric acid.

While these treatments can be useful to reduce symptoms, they aren’t a long-term solution to managing gout. With these options alone, gout will typically recur, especially if lifestyle and diet are not addressed.

Now, let’s explore a complementary approach to holistically healing gout: Chinese herbal medicine.

The Eastern Approach: TCM Treatments for Gout

While the Western approach to gout management focuses on treating symptoms and lowering uric acid levels, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a different perspective. Here, we focus on restoring balance, harmony, and the body’s natural healing abilities so that gout symptoms not only reduce but stay away for good.

TCM Perspective on Gout

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, gout is often associated with the accumulation of “dampness” and “heat” in the body, which can disrupt the flow of Qi and lead to inflammation and pain in the joints. According to TCM principles, these imbalances can be triggered by factors like diet choices, stress, and environmental factors (like climate).

The TCM treatment of gout is largely based on a group of disorders, known in TCM as “bi syndromes.” Bi syndrome (or bi pattern) usually happens when qi gets stuck in the channels (also called qi stagnation). This leads to pain, fluid accumulation, and other symptoms.

There are different types of bi syndrome, and each requires different types of Chinese herbs to restore balance and ease the pain. Here are a few of the most common types of bi syndrome related to gout:

  • Heat Bi (or Heat-Damp Bi)
    Heat bi causes pain in the joint that is predominantly hot signs such as redness, swelling, radiating heat, and joint pain. Heat and dampness often combine into Heat-Damp bi, the most common pattern of gout.
  • Cold Bi (or Cold-Damp Bi)
    Cold bi causes localized and severe pain that is exacerbated by cold and comes with other cold signs like heaviness, lethargy, and no heat or redness.
  • Damp Bi
    Damp bi also has signs of dampness, like swelling, numbness, thick tongue coating, bloating, digestive upset, and increased pain in damp environments or weather.

The TCM Treatment of Gout

The treatment of gout in TCM is highly individualized. TCM practitioners conduct a thorough assessment of a patient’s symptoms, lifestyle, and emotional state to identify the underlying imbalances. However, TCM treatment for gout has a few common goals for most people:

  • Clear Dampness and Heat
    The herbs chosen work to eliminate excess heat and dampness, which are considered the root causes of gout symptoms.
  • Reduce Inflammation
    Herbal remedies may include ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties to alleviate joint pain and swelling.
  • Strengthen Qi and Balance Yin and Yang
    TCM treatments aim to restore the overall balance of Qi, Yin, and Yang, promoting overall well-being.

The Best Chinese Herbs for Gout

One of the most treasured aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine is Chinese herbal medicine. Herbal medicine uses various herbs, roots, and plant-based ingredients to correct imbalances and restore the body’s harmony from within.

The herbs used are often selected based on the specific pattern of imbalance and your individual constitution. Here are some of the best Chinese herbal formulas for different patterns of gout and arthritis

The Best Chinese Herb for Gout Management

Si Miao Wan

The most famous Chinese herbal formula to treat gout is Si Miao Wan, or Four Marvels Pills. This formula is used to help treat hot-type arthritis pain that is common in patients with gout, with the help of four key herbs:

  • Huang Bai – Clears heat, inflammation, and dampness
  • Yi Yi Ren – Reduces dampness and supports the SpleenCang Zhu – Dries dampness and supports the Spleen
  • Huai Niu Xi – Strengthens the bones and joints, supports the Liver and Kidneys, and improves blood circulation

Si Miao Wan also addresses other issues that might accompany gout, like lower back pain, numbness, joint swelling, or muscle weakness or tension.

From a Western medicine point of view, Si Miao Wan helps alleviate gout by moderating the cytokines that cause inflammation.

The Best Chinese Herb for Hot-Type Gout Arthritis Symptoms

Wu Wei Xiao Du Wan

If your gout pain is severe, hot, and very swollen, consider Wu Wei Xiao Du Wan. Use this only during acute attacks, then prevent future gout flares with Si Miao Wan.

The Best Chinese Herb for Gout + Other Arthritis Symptoms

Joint Obstruction Teapills

If you struggle with additional symptoms like aching back, general arthritis, and sore muscles, try a more comprehensive formula like Joint Obstruction Teapills.

The Best Topical Chinese Herbs for Gout Pain Relief

Relief & Recovery Pain Relieving Rub

For external topical support, try Relief & Recovery Pain Relieving Rub (Shu Huan Zhi Tong You) by Bamboo Pharmacy. This formula cools and soothes painful joints on contact for quick natural relief during a gout attack.

White Flower Oil

White Flower Oil is a cooling analgesic that you can apply directly to hot, inflamed joints. As an added benefit, it also eases stress and tension, which are typically high during a gout attack. 

The Best Chinese Tea for Gout Relief

Triple Joint Relief Tea

Triple Joint Relief Tea is the best choice for anyone who wants to keep gout flares at bay while also improving their overall joint health. This tea reduces inflammation and supports healthy circulation.

Blood Circulation Tea

Blood Circulation Tea helps improve overall qi and blood flow through the body to clear uric acid, improve joint mobility, and ease tension.

Kidney Strong Tea

Kidney Health Tea is a great way to improve Kidney function to help clear uric acid from the blood more efficiently.

The Science Behind Chinese Herbs for Gout

While the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to gout has been widely practiced for centuries, scientific research and clinical studies are shedding light on its effectiveness. From empirical evidence to systematic reviews of clinical studies, the research shows that Traditional Chinese Medicine is a helpful natural remedy to relieve gout.

In one systematic review, researchers studied “the pharmacological mechanism and the chemical compounds of TCM formulas in treating gout” and found that Chinese medicine for gout provided new and effective treatments.

Other studies found that the TCM formulas combined with chemical drugs showed better effects than chemical drugs applied alone. They also found that the rate of adverse side effects was much lower in groups that only took Chinese herbal medicine, versus groups that used Western drugs.

According to research, here’s why Chinese herbs are effective for gout:

  • Chinese herbs have been shown to reduce inflammation
    Many Chinese medicinals are known for reducing inflammation – including the herbs used in the gout formulas above. Anti-inflammatory herbs tend to be bitter and pungent and have a host of other benefits (like antimicrobial and immune-boosting effects).
  • Chinese herbs have been shown to reduce uric acid levels
    Several studies have shown that Chinese herbal medicine can effectively reduce uric acid levels in individuals with gout. This study found that Si Miao Wan led to a significant reduction in serum uric acid levels when compared to a control group.
  • Chinese herbs have been shown to improve digestive function
    Gout is closely linked to diet and gut imbalances. Studies show that Chinese herbal medicine can help improve digestive function, repair gut tissues, and lower inflammatory responses in the gut. 

Additional Lifestyle Tips to Relieve Gout Symptoms

Chinese herbs for gout help you address the root causes of gout. But for a lifetime of relief, lifestyle changes are often necessary. Consider taking these simple steps to get faster, lasting gout relief: 

  • Limit High-Purine Foods
    Reducing the intake of high-purine foods is a fundamental dietary modification for gout management. Such foods include organ meats, shellfish, and certain vegetables like spinach and asparagus.
  • Support Your Digestive System
    Gut health is key to managing and overcoming gout. If you experience digestive issues (like constipation, diarrhea, or bloating) along with gouty arthritis, consider taking a digestive care formula or a liquid tincture like Slippery Elm to repair your GI tract.
  • Consume Cherries
    Cherries and cherry extracts have shown promise in reducing gout symptoms. Incorporating fresh or frozen cherries into your diet may be beneficial.
  • Stay Hydrated
    Drinking plenty of water is crucial as it helps the body flush out excess uric acid. Aim for at least 8-10 cups of water or tea for gout daily. Even better, mix unsweetened tart cherry juice into your water to stay hydrated and keep uric acid levels down!
  • Moderate Alcohol and Limit Sugary Drinks
    Excessive alcohol, especially beer, is linked to an increased risk of gout. Sugary drinks should also be consumed in moderation.

Treat Your Gout Naturally with Chinese Herbs

At this time, there are no effective drugs for patients with gout in the Western medicine approach. Thankfully, Chinese medicine does.

Chinese herbs for gout, as well as acupuncture for gout, can help patients stop suffering from pain and start finding their balance.

Find relief with these formulas, or see our other Chinese herbal medicines for joint health and support!

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