Gout: The Big Toe Ache

Often, our introduction to gout comes when we wake up with a big toe that hurts more than we thought a toe could hurt. Shoes aren’t going to happen and neither is walking. That toe has taken control of our every thought and action.

What is this mess about?

Our bodies create uric acid as a waste product of digestion. It usually slips quietly into our kidneys, then out of our bodies in our urine.

When levels get high, though, uric acid forms crystals that get in our joints. We can feel pretty achy. But when it lands in its favorite spot–our big toe–”pretty achy” doesn’t even begin to tell the story. We’re talking misery of the highest order. It’s gout.

So what causes this terrible visitation?

Well, doctors will tell you it’s too much alcohol, too much caffeine or too much meat, especially organ meat. Truth to tell, I don’t think so. Maybe the alcohol, since our bodies see it as a poison. But the talk about caffeine and meat is probably more of a medical knee-jerk reaction just to have something to say.

They may tell you gout comes from hypothyroidism, and since low thyroid can cause just about any problem known to mankind, they could be right.

And they may reluctantly tell you the low-dose aspirin or diuretic they ordered can cause gout. Then they’ll tell you to stay the course on the aspirin and diuretic, but add another medicine for gout. Well, that’s another story for another time, but it’s not much of a plan.

Here’s what they won’t tell you, perhaps because they don’t know. High fructose corn syrup raises uric acid levels like nobody’s business.

If you have a family history full of gout, or if you’ve had gout before, eating or drinking anything with high fructose corn syrup in it is asking–even begging–for trouble.

Take care of business and get rid of high fructose corn syrup. It’s everywhere, so avoiding it takes effort. If you don’t care to make that effort, don’t even tell me about your toe.

As my mother used to say, “It serves you right!”

Okay. Enough with the tough love. What do you do to get rid of gout?

Eat red cherries or drink red cherry juice. Without sugar, and certainly without high fructose corn syrup.

Doctors have medicine for gout, but the cherries work just as well.

Once your toe crisis is over, don’t volunteer to go back there. One time around the toe-on-fire track really ought to be enough, don’t you think?

Especially since constantly high uric acid levels can lead to kidney disease.

It’s no fun at all for the liver, either.

What to do? Besides avoiding high fructose corn syrup, drink plenty of water from a reverse osmosis system. RO systems get rid of the toxins, hormones, medications, fluoride and chlorine in our water–all of which put your health in a state of susceptibility.

Also, get on a good vitamin/mineral program. You’ll give your body the support it needs, and gout doesn’t visit anybody nutritionally armed and dangerous.

A lot of people yoo-hoo nutritional supplements, but if your body needs energy, spunk and the strength to fight disease, that’s where you’ll find it. Those babies gave me my life back.

Or maybe you enjoy pain and misery?

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Bette Dowdell

A drunk driver damaged Bette Dowdell's pituitary gland shortly before her first birthday. Although doctors insisted for years that she was fine, her health drifted to a crash-and-burn event, and she realized her health was up to her.

Now she's happy to report she has energy all day, every day. She sleeps well. Colds, flu and headaches are all in the past. Optimism moved back in. Life is good.

Now Bette's sharing what she knows with others to help them take control of their health, too. People who become their own health advocate enjoy far better health than those that don't.

Bette grew up in The Salvation Army, where her parents were officers. Like the military, this Army life involved a lot of moving, and she attended ten schools, in nine cities, in three states before graduating from high school.

After college, Bette worked as an IBM Systems engineer, a small-company consultant and software company owner. She wrote the books How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, On We March: A memoir of growing up in The Salvation Army and the e-book Pep For The Pooped: Discovering the Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Is Starving For.

She lives in the Phoenix area.


Bette Dowdell

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  1. RLV says

    I had one (my first) big toe gout attack at 18; my amily had started using Karo for pancake syrup some time before. Karo is corn syrup. Family Dr. dais lots of water and cherries. Gone in days.

    Shortly after I went away to college. After that, marriage. No gout. I got divorced and began to read the nutrition literature, and got mislead into vegetarianism with lots of whole grains and fructose; to replace any sucrose sweeteners. Wow, gout again. Took sour red cherries by the canful; no gout. Began eating meat, cheese, all dairy and little wheat. drank tap water, all the time, coffee, tea, you name it; even drank beer. No gout. Today at 73, no gout. I eat cherries with my full fat yogurt. Lots of cholesterol. And I take supps of many kinds. Most who see me for the first time can’t believe I’m 73. Go figure. LOL

  2. Allison says

    Spot on! Fructose is it. For years, the standard Western allopathic docs said to keep away from high-purine foods — red meat, liver, sardines, etc. All my favorites. And eating them NEVER correlated with a gout attack. But since I read about fructose being the culprit, it all fits. I had already eliminated HFCS as much as possible, but once I realized fruit juice and other high fructose sources had to disappear as well, I’ve had only a couple of gout attacks. And I can fend those off, or at least get through them much faster, with extra sour cherry juice (not just red — I don’t think sweet red cherries will work) and just one anti-inflammation med. Used to have to take 2 kinds of meds, one ultra strong and diarrhea producing for a couple of days until I could walk again. The sour cherry juice has also worked wonders on everyday arthritis pain — not always gone but definitely diminished. Blessed relief.

  3. Helen says

    Your diet is to acidic best help is raw organic vinegar in a glass of wate with a teaspoon of ginger befor meals works with gout works with arthritis good changes acidic system to alcholine makes you feel better all cooked foods are acidic eat more raw fruits and vegetables celery lettic carrots all that good food you chew papya pineapple apples peaches better than candy better than cake eat your fruits and vegetables raw cook your meat but remember the vinegar firs and formost

  4. Anonymous says

    My first attack happened and all I could think of was that somehow there was a connection with drinking the juice of a whole watermelon as it was truly hot outside and just got a juicer. Doctors denied any connection. Did use cherries to get relief, The second time it happened months later in both big toes at the same time. Note after juicing and drinking :gulping down a large glass of 4-5 juiced fresh orange juice. Used steroids to get the inflammation down. Uric level were normal. Have gone off the HFCS as well as limiting the juicing and amount of fruit because of the fructose.

  5. Anonymous says

    I don’t have gout, but a friend of my does. I read where you can make a tea from watermelon seeds (available at most on-line vit. retailers). Drink it 3 days every month and it will keep your uric acid levels normal. I can’t get him to try it, but I can’t convince him to stop drinking beer either. So he still suffers! What else can I say!

  6. Bette Dowdellbetted says

    Wow, Anonymous, two toes at once, and you lived to tell the story! As for your suffering friend, he’s in the majority. I don’t understand the why of it. In setting up my new Moving to Health program, my expectations were that maybe I would reach 5% of people with health problems; 95% just don’t want to accept responsibility for their own health. I don’t understand it, but they probably feel the same way about my approach. God bless us all.

  7. Blessedgreatly says

    Many experts totally disagree about the RO water. Reverse Osmosis water is very pure (the good part of it) but it is so mineral free it is very close to distilled. This mineral lack leads to serious problems in the body over time. I know a pathologist who has seen many thousands of cases and he says the RO water leads to serious pathology because the body must have minerals. You definitely DO want purified, cleaned up water, preferably alkaline/ionized water, but the RO recommendation is problematic. The alkaline water would help to overcome the over-acidity from the uric acid. The ionized part of the alkaline/ionized water provides antioxidants and helps fight free radicals.

  8. Harley says

    Anyone who would reccomend RO water is a person that is SUPER mis-informed to say the LEAST! RO water is acidic and without any essential minerals what-so-ever. You shoud avoid it whenever possible. RO water is BANNED in Japan for good reasons. I would highly reccomend Kangen water. There is nothing better.

  9. says

    One night I woke up suddenly…the pressure of the weight of the BLANKET was causing excruciating pain in my big toe!

    The doctor STUCK A NEEDLE in it to take a sample, and made me stay completely still while an image was created to “confirm the analysis.”

    “Gout,” he said. “I’m putting you on Zyloprim (sp?) and you’ll have no more problems.”

    I refused and asked if I should adjust my diet, but he had no clue. I was eating 4-5 cans daily of sardines, kipper snacks, herring, and the like. THAT was my problem, as these are HIGH purine foods.

    Even better than tart cherries, CELERY and PARSLEY neutralize uric acid…FAST! My roommate had a gout attack on the same day I bought celery…lucky him! He says he hates celery, but he hates pain even worse so he wolfed down a few stalks. LESS THAN A HOUR LATER, he started to get relief!

    I told him to take kelp and pantothenic acid daily to help keep the uric acid down, but he never did it. SO, he had another attack. This time, I ran up to a local Arabic restaurant and got a large tabbouli salad which is mostly parsley. PERFECT!

    Don’t let your doctor hoodwink you! Zyloprim is expensive, has lots of side effects, and makes you dependent on it. If you go off it, you’ll spike your uric acid levels and wake up crying like a baby because a blanket is on your toe!

    JUST SAY NO to ignorant doctors who care more about drug company profits than your long-term well being.

    Also, careful with asparagus and mushrooms too! They’re the highest purine vegetables you can eat. Oh yeah, anchovies…I LOVE ‘EM but they’re a SUPER HIGH PURINE food. I’m addicted to these tasty salt bombs. so I still get them on my pizza. But then I’ll have a tart cherry juice chaser, or put some peanut butter on celery and chow down.

  10. Bette Dowdellbetted says

    Yes, RO water lacks minerals. So what’s keeping you from taking minerals to compensate? Most of us are so mineral-deficient, we should be doing that in any case. Personally, I add a heaping teaspoon of Celtic sea salt to a large bottle of RO water. Since I write about vitamins and minerals, I’m already on a solid program to give my body what it needs.

    As for gout, don’t forget vitamins and minerals there, either.

  11. Anonymous says

    I agree totally – after juicing for health, mainly of fruit, a whole watermelon in particular, I experienced my first attack. After reading this article and others on HFCS and fructose I kindly explained to my primary physician that this this was the cause of my gout attack. I read all labels and eat fruit conservatively, and juice more vegetables.

  12. Bette Dowdellbetted says

    Donis, fructose is everybody’s enemy, especially high fructose corn syrup, which is a form of fructose never seen in nature.

    Gout damages the liver, so anybody who’s had gout needs to be extra supportive of that overworked organ.

  13. says

    My whole family drank R O water for 15 years and we are healthy as can be.Did you know that most food has all the minerals you need ? Plain tap water will help gout as well as any thing. Cherrys work good The best thing I have used is tart cherry juice concentrate I cup willl usually work and that is all you can stand .Dont sip it take 1 big gulp and have some water to wash it down.May be something too the H F C S. About a year ago I went on a diabetes diet .no sweets of any kind and no wheat or grain products of any kind And I havent had a Gout attack since. Don Self

  14. Donis Fylaktou says

    Here is my story.
    It was the middle of the night. I opened my eyes and was awakened by earth shattering pain.
    My big toe was throbbing. In fact it felt like a towering inferno.
    I turned on the light and was startled to see that my great toe was 3 times its normal size.
    It was bright red and red hot, just like a firecracker and the pain was the most severe that
    I’ve ever experienced by far.The suffering that I had to endure was almost unbelievable.
    That was over ten years ago.
    At the beginning I was having attacks every 6 months. Then gradually I was getting them
    every 3 months, then every month and eventually every week.
    It started at my big toe and then it was moving sometimes in my knees,and generally all
    around my joints, in my feet.And the pain was agonising.
    I have tried all the cures you can imagine.I tried ACV, lemons, drinking a lot of water, but
    to no avail.I tried water fasting, juice fasting,baking soda, again without success.
    I almost gave up meat, limiting it to only once a week ,gave up alcohol completely,again
    no success.
    I was living on vegetables, lots and lots of fresh fruit, milk ,cheese beans and so on .My
    eating habits could not be healthier ,or so I thought.But my gout was worsening.
    Then I decided to increase the amount of fruit I was consuming, thinking that if some fruit
    is healthy, more fruit will be more healthy.Some days I was eating fruit only ,others over 10
    portions a day.
    And alas my gout instead of improving it became chronic ,it was there all the time.
    I was desperate I did not know what to do.
    And then one day accidentally I read an article about fructose,which is contained in fruit in
    large quantities.It said that it increases uric acid, in a matter of minutes.
    Fructose is also present in table sugar, and in HFCS, which is used in soft drinks.
    I put two and two together and realised what I was doing wrong.
    I stopped eating fruit and all other sugars, for a period of 3 weeks,and by magic I saw a
    dramatic improvement.Pain was gone, swelling was gone, I was fine.
    I re introduced fruit again in my diet but reducing them to 1 or 2 a day, and my gout completely
    I do eat more meat now, and occasionally have an alcoholic drink, and thank God everything
    seems to be fine.
    Fructose was my enemy.

  15. Donis Fylaktou says

    Forget,purine rich foods,forget meat, forget fish, forget alcohol,being the cause of your gout.The real culprit as I
    found out after years of testing is FRUCTOSE.Try and reduce or eliminate that and your gout problems will be over.
    You will be grateful to me for giving you this information.your doctors might disagree but what do you have to lose,
    trying it for a couple of weeks.For me it worked wonders,after suffering from gout for more than 10 years.

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