Out with gout

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Gout can be excruciatingly painful, as many older men will attest.

The mostly male affliction comes from eating too much red meat, seafood and animal viscera like liver and kidneys as they are laden with protein, and from imbibing too much alcohol.

The most common symptoms are hot, swollen ankles and sore joints in the fingers and toes, particularly the big toe.

Although there are pills that give temporary relief, gout usually recurs because the sufferer refuses to give up his protein-rich diet, so the pain keeps getting worse.

The lumpiness on the digital joints, ankles and wrists make moving around very hard and painful, which is why men with gout often take to their armchairs for long periods of time.

Another thing about the palliative pills is that they can damage the liver and kidneys, play havoc with the stomach, and impair digestion.

Truth is, a proprietary medicine for curing gout does not exist, so unless the patient gives up the massive protein intake and heavy drinking, the disease is bound to make life a living hell.

RUBBING OUT THAT GOUT:

"¢ Massage the affected limb or limbs with remedial alcohol twice a day, once in the afternoon and once before sleeping

"¢ Do all the joints on the affected limbs, not just the sore ones

"¢ A bottle of remedial alcohol usually lasts 10 days

"¢ Keep the alcohol away from uncovered sores and wounds

"¢ Eat yogurt after meals (two or three small tubs daily)

"¢ Diabetics should use sugar-free yogurt

Remedial alcohol is available free of charge at Minh Dang Quang Pagoda, 505 Hanoi Highway, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City. Tel: 091 371 0268 or 091 727 7268. Or contact Mr. Son at 093 739 1938.

Alcoholics and men rich enough to afford lots of red meat and seafood are the big losers in this respect.

Gout is not caused by a virus, bacterium or other microbes but by uric acid building up in the blood and turning into crystals that get trapped in the joints.

The reason that it mainly affects the feet and hands is simple gravity.

According to recent research by the American College of Rheumatology in Philadelphia, drinking skim milk can help as it contains orotic acid to stimulate the kidneys and thereby get rid of

some of the uric acid, while swallowing eight or more glasses of water daily can reduce the pain of gout by at least 40 percent.

Besides steering clear of the main culprits, Dr Nguyen Hong Thu, director of the Gout Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, recommends sufferers not eat eggs, bamboo shoots or mushrooms.

They should also cut back on their intake of duck, chicken, eel and frog, as well as soft drinks because of all the carbohydrates they contain and which can pile on the pounds and only make the gout worse.

Thu advises people who weigh over 50 kilograms to eat less than 100g of protein daily, drink plenty of water, and fill their stomachs with cucumber, tomato, manioc and other food rich in fiber.

It's also important to keep the weight down and exercise lightly but frequently, stay warm when the weather is cool, and ease the mind as stress is known to exacerbate gout.

After many years of studying the disease and working out how to treat it, herbalist Luong Thi Tu, based in Hanoi, urges men with gout to eat yogurt twice a day after meals, sugar-free in the case of diabetics.

Yogurt not only repairs the sore stomach that accompanies gout, it contains vitamins A, B, and C, and various enzymes that neutralize and eliminate uric acid quickly.

Herbalist Tu says the uric acid can be neutralized from the outside too, by rubbing the joints with the sort of alcohol that some herbal remedies are soaked in.

It's best to massage in the alcohol once in the afternoon and again just before sleeping. The ideal way is to lie face upward or downward, raise the leg or hand to be massaged, rub in the alcohol and give the joints a good shake afterwards.

This treatment combines chemistry and physics and has no ill-effects. What's more, it seems to work.

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