Gout is a type of arthritis that causes painful inflammation in one or more joints. In gout, elevation of uric acid in the blood triggers the formation of crystals, causing joint pain. Malaysia is a mega-biodiversity country that is rich in medicinal plants species. Therefore, its flora might offer promising therapies for gout. This article aims to systematically review the anti-gout potential of Malaysian medicinal plants. Articles on gout published from 2000 to 2017 were identified using PubMed, Scopes, Science Direct, and Google Scholar with the following keyword search terms: “gout,” “medicinal plants,” “Malaysia,” “epidemiology,” “in vitro,” and “in vivo.” In this study, 85 plants were identified as possessing anti-gout activity. These plants had higher percentages of xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity (>85%); specifically, the Momordica charantia, Chrysanthemum indicum, Cinnamomum cassia, Kaempferia galanga, Artemisia vulgaris, and Morinda elliptic had the highest values, due to their diverse natural bioactive compounds, which include flavonoids, phenolics, tannin, coumarins, luteolin, and apigenin. This review summarizes the anti-gout potential of Malaysian medicinal plants but the mechanisms, active compounds, pharmaceutics, bio availability, and safety of the plants still remain to be elucidated.
How to lower uric acid levels naturally
Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when blood uric acid levels are abnormally high. The uric acid forms crystals in the joints, often in the feet and big toes, which causes severe and painful swelling.
Some people need medication to treat gout, but diet and lifestyle changes may also help. Lowering uric acid can reduce the risk of gout and may even prevent subsequent flares in people with this condition.
However, gout risk depends on several factors, not just lifestyle, so it is important to talk to a doctor about the best gout prevention strategies.
1. Limit purine-rich foods
Purines are compounds that occur naturally in some foods. As the body breaks down purines, it produces uric acid. The process of metabolizing purine-rich foods may lead to gout by causing the body to produce too much uric acid.
Some foods that are high in purines are otherwise healthful, so the goal should be to reduce the intake of purines rather than to avoid them altogether.
- wild game, such as deer (venison)
- trout, tuna, haddock, sardines, anchovies, mussels, and herring
- excess alcohol, including beer and liquor
- high-fat foods, such as bacon, dairy products, and red meat (including veal)
- organ meats, for example, liver and sweetbreads
- sugary foods and beverages
2. Eat more low-purine foods
By switching from foods with a high purine content to those with a lower purine content, some people may be able to steadily lower their uric acid levels or at least avoid further increases. Some foods with low purine content include:
- low-fat and fat-free dairy products
- peanut butter and most nuts
- most fruits and vegetables
- whole-grain rice, bread, and potatoes
Dietary changes alone will not get rid of gout, but they may help prevent flare-ups. It is also important to note that not everyone who gets gout eats a high-purine diet.
Other factors, such as genetic susceptibility, also play a role. African Americans are more vulnerable than white people to gout. Postmenopausal women and people with obesity also have a higher risk.
3. Avoid drugs that raise uric acid levels
Certain medications may elevate uric acid levels. These medicines include:
- diuretic drugs, such as furosemide (La six) and hydroelectrically
- drugs that suppress the immune system, especially before or after an organ transplant
- low-dose aspirin
Drugs that raise uric acid levels may offer essential health benefits, however, so people should speak to a doctor before changing any medications.Medical News Today Newsletter Stay in the know. Get our free daily newsletter
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4. Maintain a healthy body weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight may lower the risk of gout flares and heart disease.
Reaching a healthy body weight may help reduce the risk of gout flares. Obesity increases the risk of gout, especially in people of a younger age.
Being overweight also increases a person’s risk of metabolic syndrome. It can raise blood pressure and cholesterol while increasing the risk of heart disease. While these effects are harmful in their own right, being overweight also has an association with a higher risk of elevated blood uric acid levels, raising the risk of gout.
Rapid weight loss, especially when it occurs due to fasting, may raise uric acid levels. Therefore, people should focus on making long-term sustainable changes to manage their weight, such as becoming more active, eating a balanced diet, and choosing nutrient-dense foods.
5. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks
The heavy consumption both of alcohol and of sugary drinks — such as sodas and sweetened juices — correlates with an increased risk of developing gout.
Alcohol and sweetened drinks also add unnecessary calories to the diet, potentially causing weight gain and metabolic issues.
6. Drink coffee
Some research indicates that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop gout. For example, a 2010 analysis of data from female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study found that gout risk decreased as coffee consumption increased.
Women who consumed 1 to 3 cups of coffee per day had a 22% reduction in their risk of gout compared with those who drank no coffee. Women who consumed more than 4 cups of coffee per day had a 57% decrease in their risk of getting this condition.
A handful of studies have also linked coffee consumption to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis of long-term coffee consumption found that people who consumed 3–5 cups of coffee per day had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.
As people with gout have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, drinking coffee may help improve their overall health.
Coffee does, however, increase the risk of chronic kidney disease and the likelihood of bone fractures in women, so it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with a doctor.
7. Try a vitamin C supplement
Taking a vitamin C supplement may lower the risk of gout. A 2011 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin C significantly reduced levels of uric acid in the blood.
Reduced uric acid levels could lower the risk of gout attacks. Research has not conclusively proven that vitamin C treats or prevents gout, however — only that it lowers uric acid levels.
8. Eat cherries
Eating cherries may reduce the risk of gout attacks, particularly in people with a prior history of the disease.
Preliminary research suggests that cherries might reduce the risk of gout attacks, particularly in people with a prior history of the disease.
A 2012 study of 633 people with gout found that eating cherries for 2 days lowered the risk of a gout attack by 35% compared with eating no cherries.
This effect persisted even when researchers controlled for risk factors, such as age, sex, alcohol consumption, and use of diuretics or anti-gout medication.
Among people who also used allopurinol, an anti-gout drug, the combination of the drug and cherries lowered the risk of another attack by 75%.