Uric acid is present to some level in blood under normal circumstances. However, it is a waste product that forms from the breakdown of purines, which are chemicals that occur naturally in the body and are present in some foods. As a waste product, uric acid is filtered and eliminated from the body by the kidneys. However, levels of uric acid can rise high enough to pose a threat as they begin to crystallize in the joints and tissues. This is the main risk factor for arthritic gout, which is a painful inflammatory joint disease. The condition of high uric acid levels is known as hyperuricemia and this can be effectively managed with Ayurvedic medicine, diet, and lifestyle changes, helping to prevent or treat gout.
Ayurvedic herbs and dietary modifications can help to correct dosha imbalances and the buildup of ama in the body, which are linked to high uric acid levels and gout. The condition of gout is even described in Ayurvedic texts, wherein it is referred to as vata rakta, indicating that it is primarily a disease associated with vitiation of vata dosha. Unlike western medicine, which relies on medications to treat symptoms such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, as well as xanthine oxidase inhibitors, and probenecid, Ayurveda relies on diet therapy and herbal medicine, providing a natural and holistic approach that is free of side effects.
The main Ayurvedic treatment for high uric acid levels includes the following:
Ayurvedic medicine in general emphasizes the need to eliminate processed foods in favor of whole or natural foods. This is particularly relevant for lowering uric acid levels, with some added recommendations. You are advised to avoid or severely limit any intake of alcohol, sugar, dairy products, legumes, meat, and seafood. The broad recommendations of this Ayurvedic diet for gout and uric acid levels is also supported by modern medicine, with research showing that these foods are high in purine and tend to raise uric acid levels (1).
Triphala is one of the most popular Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations that has been in use for millennia, with references to the formulation even found in the Caraka Samhita. The name derives from the fact that it contains three herbal ingredients – bibhitaki, amalaki, and haritaki. All of these herbs affect the doshas and the formulation itself is regarded as tridoshic, helping correct any imbalances. Although commonly used today to support immunity and digestion, the traditional Ayurvedic medicine is also regarded as an effective natural treatment for gout and high uric acid levels. This is because of potent anti-inflammatory properties that have been highlighted in research (2).
Giloy or guduchi is a widely used herb in Ayurvedic medicine and is often consumed as an immune boosting supplement. However, it has a wide range of therapeutic applications because of its diverse health benefits. A review of several studies indicates that extracts from the giloy stem can actually neutralize uric acid levels in the body, making it an effective herbal remedy for gout and high uric acid (3). In addition to directly controlling uric acid levels, the herb also exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects that can provide relief from painful gout symptoms.
Although best known for its skincare benefits and a common ingredient in herbal cosmetics, neem also has various other medicinal properties. In Ayurveda, it is used as both an oral and topical medication to treat gout. The leaves, which can be made into a paste are applied over the inflamed joints. The application of herbal balms and oils containing neem will also help relieve symptoms. The pain-relieving benefits of neem for gout are most likely linked to its proven anti-inflammatory effects (4).
In addition to adopting an Ayurvedic diet for uric acid management and using Ayurvedic formulations and herbs like triphala, neem, and giloy, you can also include other herbs and spices in your diet to treat gout. Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like haldi or turmeric and ginger can be particularly helpful, while ingredients like karela, tulsi, and moringa can also help. In addition to diet and herbal medicine, however, remember that holistic treatment requires changes to your lifestyle as well. A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk and severity of gout, so it would be a good idea to take up a gentle exercise form like yoga. Studies show that yoga can also be helpful because of its ability to lower stress levels, which can exacerbate gout symptoms.