Medicinal herbs for gout treatment should mostly be regarded as a treatment for the underlying causes of it and as herbal remedies they should focus on reducing uric acid by assisting the breakdown of crystalline deposits in the body.

Medicinal herbs used to treat gout should also address and strive to improve liver and kidney function and act as an anti-inflammatory and help reduce the recurrence of gout.

Combining diet with an herbal and nutritional approach and by reducing foods known to aggravate gout is for most people the sensible approach to treat this condition.

Alcohol, organ meats, coffee, fried foods, certain vegetables and legumes including rhubarb, silver beet, lentils, beans, asparagus, sugary and yeasty foods all may contribute to gout.

Most natural gout treatments usually focus on a low purine diet which includes vitamins B, E and A and potassium.

herbs for gout

Medicinal Herbs for Gout – ©The Herbal Resource

Natural Herbs for Gout

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

This herb is well-known as an herbal remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. However, it has also reputation as one of the better herbs for gout treatment as it works as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and a mild diuretic.

Numerous studies have indicated that devil’s claw can help to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body. The herb stimulates the digestive system and since incomplete protein digestion plays a role in the formation of the uric acid causing gout the herb could be very beneficial.

As the herb looses much of its potency when it comes in contact with the stomach acid it is recommended to take it in a capsule or tablet form in order to make the herb dissolve further down in the intestines.

Usual dose of the herb is 2.1 grams of the dried and pulverized root, 3 times daily or 600-800 mg daily of a standardized product containing 1.5% harpagoside. As a tincture, a typical dose is 4-5 ml, three times a day.

Celery Seed (Apium graveolins)

Celery seed has been used traditionally for the clearance of acidic metabolites via the kidneys, and traditional sources recommend its use for rheumatism, arthritis and gout. This herb has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity against chronic inflammation during an Australian open, pre-clinical trial of 12-weeks duration. People prone to gout may reduce the frequency and severity of their episodes by using celery seed as a preventative measure. Celery seed should be used under the guidance of a physician if there is underlying kidney disease.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Tumeric is a member of the ginger family and has a distinctive yellow colour; and is often used as a spice and coloring agent. Curcumin, found in tumeric, which gives tumeric its bright colour, is regarded as a potent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving agent.

Curcumin has been found to prevent the formation of the pain-causing prostaglandins in the body. How it works is not unlike how both aspirin and ibuprofen work, only curcumin is weaker in its effect.

When curcumon is used at high doses it triggers the release of cortisol in the body, which directly inhibits inflammatory processes like those present in the joints. In two studies tumeric has shown to have similar efficacy to cortisone when taken at the tested dose of 6-12 grams.

Turmeric is thought to be especially effective when combined with boswellia.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)

Boswellia resin, also known as Indian frankincense, has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The active constituents, boswellic acids, reduce the formation of inflammatory leukotrienes, which is a principle characteristic of gout. Improvement in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was observed in open trials for both boswellic acid and Boswellia. Boswellia works well in combination with other herbs for gout such as celery seed, turmeric and ginger. The usual dose is 300-400 mg daily of an extract containing 65% boswellic acid.

Cherry (Prunus sp.) – Many different species.

There is no clear scientific evidence that cherry can be counted as one of the useful medicinal herbs for gout treatment but many people swear by it and claim that their gout symptoms disappeared when they consumed cherries.

Researchers at Michigan State University have isolated an ingredient in sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) called anthocyanin, believed to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been suggested that some substances found in the cherries neutralize uric acid which might make them useful as a remedy for gout. Cherries also contains magnesium which is a natural analgesic.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

A tea made from the flowers of this herb has been used for a long time as a remedy for insomnia and urinary tract infections. The flowers are also believed to contain a substance which is capable of removing uric acid from the body. In addition, heather has both antiseptic and detoxifying properties. In recent years, especially in Germany, people have started to use heather to ease pain associated with rheumatic conditions and successfully so it seems.

Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autmnale)

This well documented and very efficient plant for the treatment of gout is not suitable for self-medication because of its toxicity.

The substance colchicine, which was originally isolated from the plant is currently used in conventional medicine as an effective treatment for gout. Colchicine does not affect the levels of uric acid, but stops inflammation. 75% of patients experience improvement within 12 hours after ingestion of colchicine, but unfortunately 80% of patients do not tolerate the optimal dosing.

In large does the plant is quite toxic and many, sometimes serious, side effects have been associated with the use of colchicine even at therapeutic doses.

Any use of the the drug colchicine must be done under the guidance of a professional health care worker.

Perilla (Perilla frutescens)

This plant is popular as food and herbal medicine in many Asian countries, particularly Japan and China. Several Japanese scientific studies have found that there are four different substances present in the plant that inhibit the enzyme xanthine oxidase. This enzyme promotes the formation of uric acid and by blocking it the level of uric acid can be kept low.

White Willow (Salix alba)

White willow bark is well known in herbal medicine for its content of salicylates, substances that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties much in the same way as aspirin has. Some studies have indicated that salicylates increase the excretion of uric acid.

Other medicinal herbs for gout treatment and prevention

Supporting References


Ody, Penelope: The Complete Medicinal Herbal. London, Key Porter Books 1993.
Ottariano, Steven G.: Medicinal Herbal Therapy. Portsmouth, Nicolin Fields Publishing 1999
Robbers, James E. & Varro E. Tyler: Tyler’s Herbs of Choice. The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York & London, The Haworth Herbal Press 1999.
Murray, Michael and Joseph Pizzorno: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Revised 2nd edition. London, Little, Brown and Company 1998.
Graedon, Joe & Teresa Graedon: The People’s Pharmacy. Home and Herbal Remedies. New York, St. Martin’s Press 1999.
Geelhoed, Glenn & Jean Barilla: Natural Health Secrets From Around the World. New Canaan, Keats Publishing, Inc., 1997.
Women to Women – A Natural Treatment For Fibromyalgia – The SHINE Approach.
White, Linda B. & Steven Foster: The Herbal Drugstore. The Best Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescroption Medicines. New York, Signet 2002.
Mindell, Earl: Dr. Earl Mindell’s Natural Remedies for 150 Ailments. North Bergen, Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2005.
Santillo, Humbart: Natural Healing with Herbs. Prescott, Arizona, Hohm Press 1993.
Integrative Medicine Communications: Quick Access. Consumer Guide to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Integrative Medicine Communications 2000.
Pizzorno, Joseph E. jr, Michael T. Murray & Herb Joiner-Bey: The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine. Churchill Livingstone 2002.