Offset the effects of gout with cherries

An HSI member named Joan – who’s also an M.D. – writes with this question: “Please discuss a cutting-edge treatment plan for gout. Also are you aware of anything that will shrink tophi associated with chronic gout?

I hope for Joan’s sake that she’s inquiring on behalf of a patient and not for herself, because the development of tophi makes an already painful condition considerably worse.

In gout patients, excess uric acid leads to a buildup of sharp uric acid crystals in joints and the tissue surrounding joints. The result: pain, inflammation and swelling. When chronic overproduction of uric acid is not adequately addressed, crystal clusters called tophi may develop over a period of years. Tophi can erode bone and cartilage. In some patients, strict control of uric acid may reduce tophi formations.

As for a cutting-edge treatment plan for gout, I have one word: cherries.

At the first signs of a gout attack, eating cherries and drinking cherry juice will usually offset the effects of excess uric acid.

For information about other non-drug gout treatments, see the e-Alert “Vice Squad” (1/31/06), which you can find at this link: