MY BIG TOE TOLD ME I WAS DEHYDRATED!
It’s hard to talk about when you are not feeling well.
A couple of months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation in my left big toe.
“That’s weird.” I was trying to remember if I hurt myself at the gym or what was the cause. But it didn’t take long for me to figure out that it was gout. Gout was saying to me, “I’m baaaackkkk!”
I’d had it before.
I’d been taking my tart cherry supplements religiously. On top of that I was taking Chancra Piedra, another anti-gout supplement. My dad suffered from gout but he was big on alcohol being the mainstay of his lifetime diet. He was overweight. I don’t drink alcohol (much) and I am not overweight.
I’d read all the articles on overcoming gout. I read about purines. You are not supposed to eat organ meats or spinach. Spinach has the highest level of purines of any vegetable. But I love palak paneer, an Indian dish with spinach, spices and fresh cheese.
Meats are high in purines, especially in organ meats, but purines also appear in every cell in the body. It’s kind of like just part of who you are. It’s a part of who I am. Did you know Murine eye drops are made out of urine! Just take the M off the name. Apparently, some contend that 70% of purines are already in your body and 30% come to you through diet. There is a balance to be had with purine levels. The breakdown of dying cells release the chemical reaction that creates uric acid in the body but there is a distinct need and use of uric acid to keep the body cleansed.
So now I know purines create uric acid which is a necessary part of the immune system. Acids kill stuff. Bad stuff. Now, it’s the job of the kidneys to flush excess uric acid out of the body and keep the uric acid levels sane. But my toe is so big and it hurts like hell. I’ve got uric acid crystals growing in my big toe joint! Since the kidneys are supposed to flush excess uric acid out of my system, what am I to think? “Are my kidneys failing?” “Do I have kidney disease?” A natural sequence of thought when yo’ big toe is swollen and painful, chock full of excess uric acid crystals. I bet they look pretty under a microscope!
These are thoughts that went through my mind as I read and read and then read some more.
I had had a test last year to measure the uric acid in my blood stream. The test is to be administered when you are NOT having a flare up. My uric acid level was near borderline high and I was counselled by the doctor to do whatever I needed to do to get the uric acid lower. “Take the medicine or take your supplements, whatever.” That was my medical instructions.
There are pharmaceutical drugs and I’d tried those once. I don’t like synthetic drugs and for every action there seems to always be an equal and opposite reaction. Like the commercials that tell you about a new anti-depressant that has the known side-effect of potentially increasing the likelihood of suicide. Uhh, no thanks. I’ll continue to seek a more natural solution.
I am not saying here to not take the medicine if you must. But I am saying, “is there an alternative or am I missing something?”
I mentioned I love a spicy Indian dish that is made of spinach and cheese. And that spinach is very high in purines, which cause uric acid, too much of which will cause painful uric acid crystals to form in the joints. The big toe is a common place to get these painful crystals but it can also appear in the knees and elbows, fingers.
After ten more hours of study and reading everything I could get my hands on, it became clear to me that either I wasn’t flushing the uric acid out fast enough or I was abusing my body by eating spinach!
I took a stand, purely philosophical and by that, I mean intuitively. I made the mental decision that no, I don’t have kidney disease and that I eat well. I haven’t eaten organ meats recently and plant based purines do not produce as much uric acid as purines from meat. I don’t hardly ever consume alcohol.
I started thinking about my kidneys and the flushing process. Finally, I asked the right question: Am I drinking enough water? For the kidneys to do their job of flushing of uric acid, there needs to be enough liquid passing through the kidneys in order to get the job done.
Think about it! A surgeon doesn’t settle for 10 seconds of washing their hands under the tap? Why do surgeons wash their hands meticulously and their wear gloves?
In fact, surgeons will take up to five minutes to scrub their hands. That requires a lot of water!
Then I stumbled upon an excerpt, “A previous study in by Choi et al in the USA showed that people with a higher vitamin C intake have a lower risk of gout. There are also studies in healthy volunteers that suggest that vitamin C supplements reduce blood uric acid levels. eReference”
And this is from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Gout, a condition that afflicts more than 4% of US adults (70), is characterized by abnormally high blood levels of uric acid(urate) (71). Urate crystals may form in joints, resulting in inflammation and pain, as well as in the kidneys and urinary tract, resulting in kidney stones. The tendency to develop elevated blood uric acid levels and gout is often inherited; however, dietary and lifestyle modification may be helpful in both the prevention and treatment of gout (72). In an observational study that included 1,387 men, higher intakes of vitamin C were associated with lower serum levels of uric acid (73). More recently, a prospective study that followed a cohort of 46,994 men for 20 years found that total daily vitamin C intake was inversely associated with incidence of gout, with higher intakes being associated with greater risk reductions (74). The results of this study also indicated that supplemental vitamin C may be helpful in the prevention of gout (74).
A recent meta-analysis of 13 RCTs revealed that vitamin C supplementation (a median dose of 500 mg/day for a median duration of 30 days) modestly reduced serum uric acid concentrations by -0.35 mg/dL compared to placebo (95% CI: -0.66, -0.03) (75). Though lowering serum uric acid may help prevent incident and recurrent gout, more studies are needed to test this possibility. eReference
I’ve been a Linus Pauling fan for decades and I always have Vitamin C powder on my shelf. Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize for his discoveries in molecular biology including the double helix DNA bonding. He also was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his protest and advocacy against nuclear armaments.
I decided that maybe I am not getting enough liquid to help the kidneys do their job.
I began in earnest drinking half my body weight in ounces of water. That is I weigh 170 so I should drink 85 ounces of water a day. Sounds like a lot. There are those who say you don’t have to drown your body with water. But 85 ounces is only ten 8 ounce glasses or seven 12 ounces glasses a day.
I added a quarter teaspoon of Trader Joe’s Vitamin C crystals to the glass each time. Sometimes I’d add a drop of Stevia to the glass of water to give it ever so slight sweet taste.
Within 24 hours my toe was much improved. Within a week, it was almost completely normal. Because gout is a form of arthritis, I still take joint supplements and I am a firm believer in the best anti-inflammatory oils: high potency omega-3. So, I take that twice a day as well. My advice: If you suffer from gout flare ups, check your water intake and add Vitamin C to your regimen several times a day.