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Friday, 11 September 2015

Gout. Comparing conventional and homeopathic treatment

Gout is a type of arthritis to the joints, most often to the ankles, feet, and especially the big toe. Gout can be extremely painful, the joint become extremely tender, making walking extremely difficult. The most common symptom is sudden, severe pain with swelling and redness. An attack of gout can last for several days.

Conventional Medical Treatment for Gout
NHS Choices says that the first treatment of gout is to relieve the pain of an attack, and provides some ‘self-care’ techniques for doing so, such rest, raising the limb, keeping it cool.

NSAID Painkillers
Painkilling drugs are then recommended “as an initial treatment” for gout, with Naproxen, Diclofenac, and Etoricoxib specifically mentioned.

“If you have been prescribed NSAIDs for gout, it is best to keep them near you at all times so you can use them at the first sign of a gout attack. Continue to take your medication throughout the attack and for 48 hours after the attack has finished”.

The serious side effects of NSAID drugs, particularly when they have to be taken with this regularity, are such that NHS Choices continue by recommending another drug to counteract these! So for a fuller explanations of these dangers, and the harm they can cause, click on this link.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI drugs)
NHS Choices says that painkillers should be prescribed together with PPI drugs - “which reduce the risk of the NSAID causing indigestion, stomach ulcers and bleeding from the stomach”

NHS Choices also warn that patients “with reduced kidney function, conditions such as stomach ulcers or bleeding, or who are using certain medications such as warfarin or treatments for blood pressure should avoid using NSAIDs”.

NHS Choices says that patients unable to take NSAID painkillers can be prescribed this drug as an alternative. Colchicine is derived from the crocus autumnale plant which is know to be extremely poisonous. In homeopathy a remedy made from this plant is also used to treat gout (see below), but of course homeopathic dilution and potentization makes it use in homeopathy entirely safe.

However, as a conventional pharmaceutical drug it can be dangerous. Even NHS Choices admits this, saying that whilst it can be an effective treatment for gout “it should be used at low doses as it can cause side effects, including nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea, and goes on to admit that it “can cause major gut problems”.

Colchicine can do far worse than this, and effects more than just the gut. The website problem caused to the blood; the nervous system, including myopathy, seizures, mental status changes, and neuropathy; acute kidney failure; skin problems, including urticaria and alopecia; respiratory and muscleskeletal problems.

Corticosteroid Drugs
NHS Choices says that these drugs are used when patients “do not respond to other treatment” or “are unable to take” or “cannot tolerate an NSAID or Colchicine”. Yet these drugs are equally dangerous, and NHS Choices says that whilst they can ‘often’ provide relief, corticosteroid drugs can cause
  • weight gain
  • thinning of the bones (Osteroposis)
  • bruising
  • muscle weakness
  • thinning of the skin
  • increased vulnerability to infection
  • diabetes
  • glucoma
NHS also say the corticosteroid drugs are unsuitable for patients with impaired liver and kidney function, or heart failure.

NHS Choices also says that to prevent regular attacks of gout that this drug is recommended, although they warn that to maintain this ‘cure’ they would have to be taken, daily, for the rest of your life! In return, the patient is warned of side effects, ranging from a skin rash, allergic reactions, indigestion, headache and diarrhoea. For people with kidney disease Allopurinol is not suitable.

This drug is similar to Allopurinol, but can be taken by people with kidney disease, but it also has serious side effects, which NHS Choices outline as
  • an increased number of acute gout attacks (!!!)
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • feeling sick
  • skin rash
  • breathing difficulties
  • facial swelling
Moreover, NHS Choices says that Febuxostat is not considered to be suitable for people with heart problems, especially heart failure.

For those who can take the drug, and “to try to reduce the frequency and severity of this side effect, your doctor may prescribe you regular daily oral NSAIDs or colchicine …for up to six months following the start of Febuxostat as preventative treatment”.

Small wonder, then, that many people find homeopathy to be both safer and more effective!

Homeopathic Treatment of Gout

Important Note 
Homeopathy does not treat illness or diseases. It treats the individual who has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease. The distinction is important, and if you wish to read more about this, click on the chapter “Illness Diagnosis” above.

The following remedies provide a guide to the kind of symptoms they will treat. They have been taken from the Arthritis Holistic Hotline website. All the remedies mentioned are safe, and any remedy that matches the patient’s symptoms will be effective.

The person is anxious, with a good imagination that can picture many terrible things. The joints are swollen and painful. The pain is worse at night and with warmth, but better with fresh air and rest.

Arnica can also be very helpful for discomfort that comes with gout. Pain is sore and bruise-like, and it hurts to walk. The person may be afraid to be approached or touched, because of pain.

Useful for symptoms such as sudden onset, swelling, throbbing, heat, and. The joints look red, inflamed, and shiny - with sharp or violent pains that are worse from touch and jarring. The person may feel restless, flushed, and hot. 

Twinges of pain in gouty joints, or stitching pains that are aggravated by changing position or walking, may indicate a need for Berberis. Berberis is often indicated for people who ache all over; some have nagging back pain or a tendency toward kidney stones.

Bryonia is helpful when tearing pain is worse from the slightest movement.

Calcarea fluorica
When the finger joints become enlarged because of gout, and the knees and toes may be involved, it may be time for this remedy. Stabbing pain is experienced, and the joints may make a cracking sound on movement. Discomfort is worse during weather changes, and warmth may bring relief. 

For great weariness, nausea, shoutings and tearings in muscles and joints worse with movement, better at night. Tearings in legs, feet, and toes with swelling.

Colchicum is perhaps the most useful, and most often used for gout. The gout often appears in the big toe or heel-so painful the person finds both motion and touch unbearable. The joints are swollen, red and hot. Pain is often worse in the evening and at night. Flare-ups may occur in the springtime or with weather changes. Individuals who need this remedy often have a feeling of internal coldness and are very tired.

Ledum is indicated when the foot and big toe are swollen. Shooting pains are felt all through the foot and ankle, moving upward to the knee. Cold applications relieve both the swelling and the pain.

When gout flies about from joint to joint.

When you experience gouty swelling of the big toe joint that flares up before a storm, this remedy may be indicated. Other joints may ache and swell, especially on the right side of the body. Pain usually is worse toward early morning and after staying still too long. The person may feel better from warmth and after eating.

Rhus tox
This remedy can be helpful for joints that are hot, stiff, painful, and swollen. Symptoms are worse in cold, damp weather and improved by warmth and gentle motion.

The person is depressed. There is gouty pain and nodules may develop at the afflicted joint. Movement and heat make the pain worse; cool fresh air makes it better. Also when connected with uterine disorder 

When you have painful gouty joints that itch, along with a burning feeling in the feet, sulphur may be useful. The knees and other joints may be involved. Problems are aggravated by heat in any form, and are often worse in damp weather and in springtime.

Although these remedies can be taken safely without the professional assistance of a qualified homeopath, the identification of the best remedy for each patient is best done within a professional consultation.