Gout is caused by an accumulation of uric acid in your joints. It most often affects the feet and the joint in your big toe, but it can affect any joint. Your body makes uric acid when it breaks down something called purines, which are found naturally in your body, but are also ingested when you eat certain foods.
When you have too much uric acid in your body, it begins to accumulate. It crystalizes in your joints, like shards of glass in your toe. The most common feature of gout is that it causes sudden attacks of pain, along with swelling, redness, and burning. Gout attacks (flares) can be so severe that even the weight of a sheet on your big toe can feel like torture.
Treatment for gout focuses on reducing your uric acid levels, so that it won’t accumulate and cause an attack. Diet is an important component of treatment. There are many medications available that can treat a gout attack and prevent future attacks from occurring. If you’re experiencing pain, talk to your doctor about what medications might be right for you.
There are also other ways to reduce uric acid levels in your body, such as adopting a gout-friendly diet. Some people find that essential oils help complement treatment.
Lemongrass is commonly used in moisturizers and shampoos because of its light and pleasant scent. Studies on this essential oil suggest that a strong dose could reduce uric acid levels. In folk medicine lemongrass tea has been used to reduce pain and inflammation. Studies suggest that it also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Try brewing a cup of lemongrass tea made from the herb and see how it works. The heat from the steam will release lemongrass oils. Studies suggest that the best anti-gout effects are achieved when consuming oil from the stalks (stems) of lemon grass.
Celery seed oil
Studies suggest that Indian celery seed oil works to enhance the effects of gout medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids. Celery seed oil can boost the anti-inflammatory effects, reducing painful swelling. It can also help alleviate the gastric side effects of corticosteroids.
Dilute celery seed oil by mixing it with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, almond, or coconut oil. Apply the mixture topically, directly to the painful areas.
Yarrow oil extract
Yarrow oil is extracted from a flowering plant known as achillea millefolium, or simply the common yarrow. Yarrow has been used for thousands of years to treat wounds, arthritis, and indigestion. Recent research shows that the topical application of diluted yarrow oil extract can significantly reduce inflammation.
You can brew and drink yarrow tea to help reduce inflammation in your joints. You can also mix yarrow oil extract with a carrier oil, like olive oil, and apply it directly to the affected joint.
Olive leaf extract
Olea europaea L. leaf (Ph.Eur.), derived from the leaves of an olive tree, has been used in Mediterranean folk medicine for hundreds of years. It’s still commonly used as a remedy for gout. Clinical studies prove that olive leaf is effective in reducing gout symptoms. Other studies have shown that it has powerful antioxidant effects that may also prevent gout attacks.
You can brew fresh or dried olive leaves in a tea. It may be bitter, so keep some honey on hand. Dried leaves are turned into a powder, which can be swallowed in capsules.
Biota orientalis (BO) extract
Biota orientalis (BO) extract comes from the leaves of a Chinese cypress tree. It’s used in traditional Chinese folk medicine to treat gout and other inflammatory conditions. Research supports the use of Biota orientalis (BO) extract, and suggests that it may help reduce uric acid levels.
Biota orientalis (BO) extract is available in pills, oils, and tinctures. Dilute the essential oil and apply to the inflamed area.
Ginger (zingiber officinale Roscoe) is used around the world as both a spice and a medicinal treatment. According to researchers, ginger has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-gout properties. Ginger extract may be able to reduce uric acid levels and prevent future gout flares.
Ginger root can be used fresh in cooking or as a tea. Liquid ginger extract can be added to tea or other beverages, and the powdered form can be swallowed in a capsule. Ginger essential oils can be diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the area.
Cinnamomum cassia, which is also known as Chinese cinnamon or cassia oil, is commonly used in Chinese medicine to treat stomach pain and inflammatory diseases. In Chinese medicine, it’s known as one of the most important medicinal herbs. Recent research supports the use of Chinese cinnamon in the treatment of inflammation.
During one study, researchers fed cassia oil to mice and saw a significant decrease in uric acid levels. This suggests that cassia oil can prevent future gout attacks.
Chinese cinnamon essential oils can be diluted and used topically.
Side effects and risks
Essential oils may be natural, but that doesn’t mean they are harmless.
- Never put essential oils directly on your skin. Dilute oil extracts into a carrier oil such as olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil.
- Conduct a patch test. Place a small amount of your oil mixture in a discrete area. Wait one or two days to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction.
- Many essential oils are toxic, so avoid taking them orally.
- Some herbs and supplements can interfere with your prescription medications, so discuss them with your doctor.
- Essential oils are highly concentrated and meant to be used topically or diffused as aromatherapy. They can cause unpleasant side effects like headaches.
If you’re experiencing painful gout attacks, talk to your doctor about a treatment plan. If you want to stick with natural treatments, you have many options.