The sudden and intense needle-like pain of a gout attack can be unbearable. Soothing the hot, swollen, and sensitive joints affected by gout is often all you can think about when suffering through a flare-up.
What truly helps reduce the pain and inflammation caused by gout? You’ve heard that apple cider vinegar for gout is a great natural home remedy, but does it work? How do you take it? What is the best time to take apple cider vinegar? Are there any adverse effects? Is it safe? We answer all these questions, and more, in this article!
Apple Cider Vinegar for Gout
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has a long history of being touted as a versatile natural product that has positive health benefits. It is a readily available product you can find at any grocery store and it can be easily incorporated into your everyday diet.
It can taste great on a salad or in a fruit-packed apple cider vinegar drink recipe. If adding this sour, fermented ingredient to your food is not your thing, there are also a variety of supplements available, such as ACV gummies. You can even try ACV pills or capsules, which are typically available in the natural section of your grocery store or the supplement section at your local pharmacy.
As a natural product and food ingredient, the perceived risks of side effects are low, especially when compared to many of the pharmaceutically available gout treatments. And so, it is easy to see why this simple ingredient has gained traction as not only a solution for gout pain relief but also as a cure-all natural superfood.
Apple cider vinegar is certainly trending, but does it work? Is it an effective home remedy for gout?
What is Gout?
Gout is a fairly common form of arthritis that causes inflammation and pain. It typically affects the big toe joint, but any joint in the body can be affected—even the knees.
The pain and inflammation often arrive in waves, and sufferers can experience excruciating periods of pain, followed by episodes of remission. Over time, the episodes can worsen, and in addition to pain, you may experience a decrease in mobility. (1)
What Causes Gout?
Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in the body, specifically your joints. This build-up can cause swelling, redness, and intense pain.
Uric acid is a naturally occurring crystal product produced by the body. Our body produces crystals by breaking down the purines in the foods that we eat. Products such as red meat, seafood, alcoholic beverages, and fructose-sweetened foods are rich in purines.
While eating a high-purine diet is certainly a risk factor, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop gout, as many factors influence your likeliness to develop this specific type of arthritis.
Typically, the body can dissolve and pass the uric acid crystals through your blood system, into your kidney, and out through your urine with ease. However, sometimes the body creates too much uric acid or doesn’t excrete enough into the urine, and the crystals build up causing intense pain. (2)
Gout Risk Factors
The list of risk factors below will increase the chances that you develop hyperuricemia, which can cause gout.
- Being male
- Being overweight
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Congestive heart failure
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- Poor kidney function
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Diet high in fructose
- High-purine diet
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Gout?
Currently, there is no direct evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar for gout. You may be tempted by the hundreds of blog posts that claim this simple kitchen ingredient can detox your body of uric acid and gout-causing inflammation. Anecdotally, it may provide some benefit in certain individuals, but research is yet to confirm this on a large scale.
Don’t expect to experience a miraculous decrease in pain or swelling as a result of drinking ACV with every meal. If curing the insufferable pain and swelling that comes with gout was that easy, gout wouldn’t be the complex issue that is today.
With that said, there may be some indirect ways in which drinking ACV can help your condition.
pH Levels Relationship With Gout
When the content of uric acid in the blood decreases, it is significantly less likely to crystalize in your joints. The theory goes, apple cider vinegar for uric acid may be a way to cure gout if it can flush the excess uric acid from the body since it has a more alkaline pH level.
A recent Japanese study analyzing the acidity levels of urine in a group of individuals found that more acid in urine inhibits the body from properly excreting uric acid. To put it another way, urine that is more alkaline is better at carrying uric acid out of the body.
The study used two groups—one that stuck with an acidic diet, and one that stuck with an alkaline diet. Researchers found the alkaline diet, which included vinegar, was more beneficial in reducing uric acid levels in the body. Though, vinegar wasn’t the only component considered for the study. (3)
Controlling Other Risk Factors
Additional evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar may help minimize certain risk factors for gout, including insulin resistance and obesity. Controlling these risk factors also reduces the likelihood of developing hyperuricemia.
One animal study performed on rats eating a high-fat diet found that vinegar made the rats feel more full, which led to significant weight loss. (4)
Another study from 2010 followed 12,000 men, ages 35-57, for a lengthy 7-year duration. Researchers compared the subjects who lost significant weight against those who didn’t. The results showed that the group who lost weight was four times more likely to have reduced their uric acid levels. (5)
Another trigger, unsurprisingly, is the foods you eat. One study found that sugar, red meat, alcohol, and seafood may increase uric acid crystal buildup in the body. To effectively flush uric acid out of your body, stick to a low-fat diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while consuming the other items in moderation. (6)
Safety Precautions When Drinking ACV
The effects of ACV for weight loss are statistically significant, and for most people, trying an ACV treatment won’t cause any harm.
It is important to remember that apple cider vinegar is very acidic, and therefore it can erode your tooth enamel if not diluted by water. It may also cause an increase in acid reflux in some individuals. If you have sensitive teeth, or frequent gastrointestinal issues, ACV may not be the best home remedy for your gout.
- More Reading: Can apple cider vinegar go bad?
Other Natural Home Remedies to Get Rid of Gout
While ACV is among the most-tried home remedies for gout, some people may consider the following additional options to get rid of gout:
- Cherry extract
- Lemon juice
Like apple cider vinegar, there is no concrete evidence on these items to cure gout by themselves. But they may cause a small decrease in the number of uric acid crystals present in your body.
Most of these natural remedies are also known to target inflammation, which may help reduce redness, swelling, and pain. Like ACV, turmeric helps weight loss in some individuals and is worth a closer look if you don’t get the results you want from apple cider vinegar alone.
Final Thoughts on Apple Cider Vinegar for Gout
Using apple cider vinegar on your salad will always turn out great, but using ACV for gout, may not give you the results you are hoping for. While it is not likely to harm you, it may not be the miracle cure you’re seeking.
You may find some benefits in weight loss while using ACV, but it is not guaranteed. Other natural remedies for gout may have a greater impact on inflammation and reducing uric acid concentrations.
If the pain and inflammation become unmanageable, or your range of motion is impacted, it is important to seek medical assistance for your condition. Sometimes a dietary plan or medications will be prescribed by your healthcare professional.
If severe enough, and left untreated, gout can progress into other serious conditions, including kidney stones and heart problems. For this reason, it is important to consult your doctor, even if using home remedies to treat your gout.