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Gout Dugout. Issue #023.Dr.Parkinson's gout cure - details; water use in gout; the Purine theory.
November 01, 2009

Welcome to the November 2009 issue of The Gout Dugout Newsletter. If you get two new ideas about gout from it, reading it will be time well spent.


Who was Dr.James Parkinson? You've heard of Parkinson's disease. He was the early 19th century British doctor who the disease is named after. His "Essay on the Shaking Palsy" published in 1817 was I guess an early attempt to define and deal with it. Parkinson obviously achieved some eminence in the development of our understanding of it.(More about Parkinsons disease below).

What's less well known is that both Parkinson and his father suffered from gout. Maybe James Parkinson inherited it. In those days it seems the inheritance factor was greater than it is today. I've read numbers as high as 40 - 50% of all gout cases being inherited at that time. If all you have to do is ask "did an ancestor have gout?", then the percentages are probably right.

Parkinson was also a gout author, writing about 30 years after uric acid (originally known as lithic acid) was first discovered. You can read his 1805 book "Observations on the nature and cure of gout", here if his early 19th century prose is to your taste.

Parkinson got much right about gout but he didn't have today's understanding. A great deal was learnt after his lifetime, including the role of purines and uric acid. Nevertheless, Parkinson had at least one remedy for gout which he reported worked to cure a patient. (It may have cured more than one). And if you've read the pages on about the components of his remedy (below), you'll understand why it can work in some cases. And yes, it does include that old friend of gout sufferers, baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). His gout cure was (my comments in brackets):

1. Avoid alcohol (thus reducing purines).

2. Eat a good quantity of vegetables (which will reduce purines and supply antioxidants, including the natural Vitamin C which encourages uric acid excretion).

3. 15 grains (that's a 19th century measurement, it's NOT grams) of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) a day. (thus encouraging uric acid dilution and excretion and MSU crystals reduction).

4. Exercise

He didn't say avoid offal, (liver, hearts, kidneys etc.), which we now know is purine rich food. Nor high purine fish. But just the above choices ought to at least reduce uric acid somewhat, and maybe stave off a gout attack, depending on what else you do.

Remember, always discuss taking baking soda (bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate) with a doctor first. Many of its possible side effects are on the baking soda page at

I am indebted to "Gout, The Patrician Malady" by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau for this information about James Parkinson's gout cure. You can purchase this book at online bookshops or you may find it in your local library. The book is a history of gout through the ages, a history of how physicians, academics, writers and sufferers struggled to understand it. There's some wacky remedies in it, as you might expect from earlier centuries' ideas. It's rich in detail, so rich in fact that you'll probably need three readings to take it all in.


The link below is to an interesting recent story I read - a huge reminder about the power of alcohol to be a gout trigger. In this case the story teller, an American gout sufferer, had been drinking pretty heavily for five days in America before another five days drinking in Britain, where this fellow had gone on an enjoyable pub crawl and brewing techniques practice trip. The whole ten days turned out to be a gout trigger.

Read this interesting story here, but if you just want to read the gout attack part, go straight to the last paragraph.


In the 18th and 19th centuries the consolation of getting gout was the belief that other ailments or diseases were now less likely to strike. And I have read of more than one gout sufferer of those days say that his back pain (or whatever was troubling him - gout was almost invariably a man's disease in those days, or it was the men who wrote about it) - disappeared when the gout attack arrived.

In October a similar sort of story hit some of the world's English language media. Researchers in the U.S. have discovered that high levels of uric acid retard the onset of Parkinson's disease.(PD). Parkinson's disease is the feared neurological disorder where the body no longer responds to the commands of the brain. One common symptom is shaking of the hands, but there are many others. The researchers aren't saying you won't get PD, just that high uric acid (UA) levels slow progression to it. And perhaps if you get it, a high UA level will slow its progression, no mean achievement if you have to live with it for decades, as some do.

In the Barry Sears' books I frequently mention, because of the fish oil and insulin reduction treatment I call FILLIP for gout and its pain ... he has some interesting things to say about using fish oils for Parkinson's and other disorders like Alzheimers and dementia.

If you're interested in gout and Parkinsons you can read more about it on the BBC and Bloomberg sites. These links take you straight to the stories.



I often mention Traverse Bay Farms in this newsletter because I believe they make very good cherry and other fruit products. You know that people report that cherries help them deal with gout. There's also the studies. Cherries have been shown to reduce uric acid levels although not as much as drug medications do.

A reader emailed me this month and said he got relief from gout by drinking cherry extract plus 8 ounces of water to which he added one teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Three glasses in three hours was often enough for relief. But sometimes, depending on severity, he took Tylenol (paracetamol) or Indomethacin. This kept the gout attacks to a minor level and limited to one day. Make sure you check with your doctor before you take baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). There could be side effects that affect you.

In November Traverse Bay Farms have a special offer on their cherry juice concentrate - basically it's free shipping when you order six bottles. There's also free shipping on some other products. Last month I wrote about the options you have for intaking cherries in the winter and spring with the exception of copy about cherry jam/preserves/conserves. (Which I'll do next month).

The juice concentrate is probably the best and the cheapest option and here we have a special where you don't pay to go and get it which you might if you make extra journeys to get cherry products. (Fuel, vehicle depreciation, fares whatever). And if you are house bound because of a gout attack this means you don't have to ask someone to go get it for you.

Traverse Bay Farms are located by the shore of Lake Michigan in the U.S.A. It's obviously easier to order if you live in the U.S. or Canada but they deliver fast to a number of countries. See the cherries page on for details.However, the free shipping applies to the 48 continuous U.S. states only.

I've lived in the past in at least two countries in Asia where quality cherry supplements could not be bought. If you live in such a country consider ordering from Traverse Bay Farms. It will cost you more but quality supplements are vastly preferable to not finding more options to prevent gout attacks, especially when they tend to increase as you age. I think if you have gout it's better to spend more on treating this well, than spending on any other aspect of your life. But you know your own financial and gout circumstances of course.

To access the Traverse Bay Farms site go to this page at and click on the Traverse Bay Farms image or the text link. You can also request a free cherry health report, and TBF will find out for you free if there are any import restrictions on these products in your home country if you ask them. This is a true service and a time saver.


In October, The American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals held its annual Scientific Meeting, this year in Philadelphia, the home city of that famous gout sufferer, Benjamin Franklin . These sorts of occasions are always ones where the pharmaceutical companies like to present the latest news and research on medications they are developing, for obvious reasons. We'll look at the latest research news on two new gout drugs next month. But here's some interesting research on water use in gout.


Among the natural remedies for gout, the most interesting news at this Conference was a study on water use in gout, or rather, the effects of drinking water. So often it's said you must drink at least 8 -10 glasses daily, perhaps less if its alkaline water. Until you get used to this, drinking so much water is a daunting task for just about anyone from any nationality. I'm sure many gout sufferers think they can get away with 4 daily glasses or less. But if that's what they think, they have got into bad habits.

The research presented at this Conference says you should not drink just four glasses or less. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine surveyed 535 adult (mainly men) gout sufferers. Those who drank 2 -4 glasses of water a day reduced their risk of gout by just 18%. It was not considered statistically significant. Those who drank 5 - 8 glasses a day reduced the risk of another attack by 43%. And those who drank MORE THAN 8 glasses a day reduced the risk of another attack by 48%. 18% compared to 48% is a big difference. Let's hope the respondents memories were accurate.

Another way of looking at these results is to say, even if you drink eight plus glasses a day you still have a 50/50 (or 52/48, really it's the same) chance of another attack. But is the glass half full or half empty? I would say that when you add in other natural gout remedies - diets, alkaline water, baking soda, exercise, keeping warm, Vitamin C, Potassium Citrate, Cherries, and the rest, the glass is much more than half full. And drinking this amount of water may be preferable to Allopurinol or one of the others.

Before increasing your water intake, check with your doctor.

Next month - The research on two new gout drugs; and choosing the best cherry jam/preserves, among other items.

Thanks for reading and all the best.

John Mepham BA (Hons)

165,Union Street, Maidstone, Kent, United Kingdom ME14 1EY

P.S. You may distribute this newsletter freely and free-of-charge, providing any links in it remain unchanged and it remains intact. Partial copying is not allowed.

NB. The contents of this newsletter contain medical information, not medical advice. Please always discuss gout remedies with a doctor or other health care professional before implementing any treatment.

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