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Gout Dugout.Issue#029.Can we get a uric acid reduction from Banaba?; new info on Quercetin for gout.
May 03, 2010

A warm welcome to the May 2010 issue of the Gout Dugout newsletter It's the ten minutes' read that could give you a couple, or more, useful gout ideas.


We are going to try and find out if banaba for gout is a good idea. Banaba, (aka Lagerstroemia Speciosa, Queen's flower or Crepe Myrtle), is the medicinal plant whose leaves are reported to contain substances that lower uric acid and blood glucose levels. A study was done in Japan. Because of this capability, Banaba shows up in natural gout remedies such as Flamasil and Goutcleanse.

In the Philippines, one Asian country where the flower grows, it's a folk remedy for diabetes, gallbadder and kidney stones - presumably including those that are mainly formed from uric acid. In this country pharmacies sell various Banaba brands of herbal tea bags and we are going to test it. I can't do this test myself because I am still doing the pantothenic acid test and if I tried both and my uric acid levels fell, I wouldn't know what had caused it.

So I have recruited a male member of our household in Manila, 47 years old. He does not have gout. We have had a clinical laboratory take his uric acid and blood glucose levels. And just to see what happens we've also taken his markers of heart disease and diabetes too, (e.g. cholesterols,triglycerides, blood pressure) since both are linked with gout. He's also been weighed.

He will drink 3 cups of Banaba tea a day for two months. Sugar and milk, or a slice of lemon, will not be added. The rest of his diet will be unchanged. We'll then re-do the laboratory tests, and announce what has happened in The Gout Dugout.

This is not exactly a double blind, placebo controlled study of more than a hundred gout sufferers, but we shall learn something.

Below is an advertisement for Flamasil which contains Banaba in its formula. Click on the link if you want to lean more.

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I don't know how many readers take quercetin for gout, or for anything else, but it's talked about everywhere as an anti inflammatory and as a dietary supplement that can lower uric acid. But as usual with many natural remedies for gout the evidence is thin that it can lower uric acid or deal with gout type inflammation - I think test tube or petri dish studies. And it has reduced uric acid (UA) in a couple of mice studies by encouraging its excretion.

However, not so long ago, a study was done in China on quercetin that sheds a little more light on its ability as a gout fighter or preventer.

It wasn't on humans though, but rats. Hyperuricemia (high uric acid),other symptoms of the metabolic syndrome - insulin resistance which leads to high insulin, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol etc. plus kidney dysfunction, was induced in the rats - bless 'em. They were treated humanely. This was done by putting fructose, the main sugar in most fruit, into their drinking water for four weeks.

So the rats had a uric acid (UA) problem along with some metabolic syndrome problems and kidney dysfunction. Fructose, as well as glucose, leads in humans, many think and some studies show, to the metabolic syndrome. Call it the metabolic sindrome. Then eventually come many nasty events if not well treated - Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and maybe gout because insulin inhibits uric acid excretion and poor kidney function raises uric acid levels.

Given Allopurinol, Quercetin and Rutin

After four weeks of fructose the rats were divided into three groups - those who were given fructose and allopurinol, those who got fructose and quercetin and those who got fructose and rutin - for another four weeks. If rutin rings a query in your mind, but you can't quite remember what it is, it's the flavonoid (as is quercetin) that's added to well-made preparations of Vitamin C to make Vit C better absorbed in the body. And it's a "chemical relative" of quercetin. But rutin for gout? Just about unknown.

So what happened to the rats' UA level and kidney dysfunction and symptoms of the metabolic syndrome?

The blood uric acid level improved with allopurinol,(no surprise there), it improved with rutin and it improved with quercetin. Given the amounts used on the rats, allopurinol performed better in lowering their uric acid than rutin and quercetin, which performed about the same.

Other improved symptoms

Next, the metabolic syndrome symptoms also improved - triglerides, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. And the insulin resistance, (i.e. glucose metabolism effectiveness), and insulin levels, induced by fructose, was improved by all three. Given the amounts of quercetin, rutin and allopurinol used, quercetin and rutin lowered insulin levels by more than allopurinol, and showed better rises on the insulin sensitivity index (a measure of insulin resistance improvement), than allopurinol.

There was little difference in the performance of rutin and quercetin, although for LDL cholesterol and triglycerides rutin was slightly better. At the higher level of intake they were better than allopurinol. But allopurinol of course is not a number one med for reducing insulin. The insulin results within the metabolic syndrome tests are probably the most important ones for gout sufferers because insulin inhibits uric acid excretion. But all symptoms of the metabolic syndrome are important for gouty humans.

However, in tests for uric acid, blood pressure, insulin and body weight rats not fed fructose (the control rats) were not affected by allopurinol, rutin or quercetin. They had to have metabolic syndrome caused in this case by fructose, for the three substances to be effective.

What about uric acid excretion ?

Fructose fed fats had less uric acid in their urine, and less uric acid excretion than the control rats. But in the fructose rats allopurinol, quercetin and rutin significantly increased the volume of uric acid in the urine and significantly increased its excretion.

And much of the kidney dysfunction caused by the fructose intake was improved by all three substances, including a normalisation of the inflammatory prostaglandin PGE2 level in the kidney. However they had no effect on the control, normal, rats.

The researchers had to keep saying "fructose induced metabolic syndrome", "fructose induced uric acid" etc. because that's what they had done, and their standard of accuracy required it. But what quercetin and rutin achieved may apply to all causes of metabolic syndrome.

If there were any side effects on the rats of quercetin and rutin, they weren't mentioned. But it's a pretty safe bet that there weren't. Any side effects from allopurinol were not mentioned.

Of course what we need now is a quercetin and rutin test on gouty humans, who have metabolic syndrome.

Want to get more quercetin into your diet? Eat an unpeeled apple (more quercetin is in the skin) and a portion of onions every day. Other foods high in quercetin are on the quercetin page.


I suppose when people get their first gout attack and they want to know what diet they might use, the purines diet is the first they hear about from Internet searches and health professionals. By the time they become an old hand at dealing with gout however, they have probably learnt there are many more diets for gout. In fact I can think of five, and I mean diets, not special foods like cherries - the low purine, the Zone diet, the controlled carbohydrate Atkins-style diet. Even a conventional low fat/low calorie diet can help in gout because it too can improve some markers of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.

And finally there's the least known - an alkaline diet which raises body pH levels though alkaline foods aided perhaps by alkalising supplements. By taking this approach you improve the odds of excreting more uric acid. A majority of gout sufferers have gout not because they over produce uric acid, but because they don't excrete enough. Our pH for gout pages start here.

If you want a free pH food chart with 45 alkalizing recipes, click on this link to and when the home page arrives, the download link for the chart is on the right. pHionbalance products


At long last the pages about the Atkins diet for gout are going up on in May. They haven't been easy to write - there's so much contradiction out there. But among next month's items, I'll write a summary about what I learnt.

Thanks for reading, and all the best.

John Mepham BA(Hons)Econ.

799,Infantry Street, Palar-Armor Village, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

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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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