Fresh lemon juice and gout: studies have shown that lemons may help to neutralize uric acid, thus reducing the risk of recurrent gout attacks. So, if you’ve got gout, you should definitely consider this remedy.
Lemon Juice and Gout
Before we get into how lemon juice may help your gout, let’s just remind ourselves of what gout is…
Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by the sudden onset of extremely painful flare-ups in the joints and surrounding tissue.
The root cause of gout is higher than normal levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, a condition called “hyperuricemia.” Under this condition microscopic needle-like crystals of monosodium urate can form out of the uric acid and settle in the joints.
The body’s natural inflammatory response to these crystals produces the typical symptoms of a gout flare-up (also called a gout attack): inflammation, swelling, shiny red skin over the joint which is warm to the touch, stiffness and, of course, excruciating pain.
Lemon is a citrus fruit that has been used down the ages for all kinds of ailments, since we first realized what a quality staple this fruit is. The high quantity of citric acid (5% – 6%) in the lemon is what gives it its sour flavor, much prized in cooking and drinks.
Lemon juice has been used, and is still being used, as a natural remedy for maladies such as anemia, constipation, nosebleeds, headaches, dizziness, and bleeding gums – symptomatic of scurvy; a vitamin C deficiency.
The lemon is a very good source of folate and potassium, and very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium; all things that are highly beneficial to your overall health.
But it’s also especially high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which helps to:
- boost your immune system
- lower your risk of heart disease
- heal and maintain healthy blood vessels, bones, tendons and ligaments
- build protective scars and heal surface wounds
Vitamin C is also widely recognized as a natural remedy for gout, known to be able to reduce uric acid in the body. High uric acid is the root cause of gout, so if you can lower and maintain your uric acid at healthy levels (below 6mg/dL), then you can prevent gout flares from blighting your life.
How Lemon Juice Works for Gout
Studies have shown that lemons – as well as tangerines, oranges and clementines – are highly effective at neutralizing uric acid in the body, thus reducing the risk of gout attacks. So, if you have gout, you should definitely consider this natural remedy…
When your body reaches highly acidic levels, uric acid begins to crystallize in the joints and can cause an attack of gout. Even worse, this crystallization can occur in the kidneys producing kidney stones; which you really want to avoid, believe me!
The best way to address this is to maintain your body slightly on the alkaline side. Lemon juice can help do that. It stimulates the production of calcium carbonate which helps to neutralize uric acid, thereby decreasing acidity and moving to a more alkaline state.
Here’s what Dr. Zina Kroner D.O. wrote on Dr. Ronal Hoffman’s Intelligent Medicine (TM) website…
“Uric acid crystallizes and forms stones in an acidic environment. One way to prevent this is by alkalinizing the urine or making it more basic. Urine alkalinization can be achieved with administration of potassium citrate or sodium bicarbonate as directed by your physician. Lemon juice stimulates the formation of calcium carbonate, which neutralizes acids like uric acid. Therefore, drinking freshly squeezed lemon in a glass of water after meals can prevent a gouty attack. Baking soda also can help alkalinize the urine.”
And the potassium in lemon juice also helps to reduce acidity. Studies have shown that potassium citrate prevents urine from becoming too acidic. So the potassium in lemons can help to reduce the risk of kidney stones.
You can see now why savvy gout sufferers drink the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon in a glass of water after meals to help prevent gout attacks and kidney stones. And it can help your digestive system too.
Note: The opposite of an acid is an alkali. The pH scale (potential of hydrogen) is used to measure acidity and alkalinity in the blood and body tissue. It ranges from 1 to 14. Below 7 (neutral) is acidic, above 7 is alkaline. ‘1’ is most acidic and ’14’ most alkaline. It’s generally accepted that a healthy body needs to be slightly more alkaline than acidic; between 7.35 and 7.45.
How to Take Lemon Juice
The simplest way is to squeeze the juice of 1 or 2 lemons into a glass of fresh water and drink it in the morning when you get up, on an empty stomach. Do this daily.
Some people also recommend adding baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to lemon juice and water to create a potent, fast-acting, pH re-balancing drink. And it can alter pH very quickly when drunk; but there’s one thing that needs to be understood about this particular gout remedy…
Sodium bicarbonate is a ‘buffer,’ a technical term that means that, when added to a liquid, it has the ability to change the original pH of the liquid (whether acidic or alkaline – it doesn’t matter) towards a pH of 7, i.e. neutral; neither acidic nor alkaline.
But, remember, you need to keep your body slightly more alkaline than acidic, so why would you use this remedy? Good question…
Well, even though adding baking soda won’t move your pH into alkaline territory, it will move it up from acidic towards ‘neutral’ much more quickly than lemon juice on its own.
This is why its main use is at the onset of a gout flare and not for ongoing maintenance. i.e. Once the symptoms have abated stop adding it to your lemon juice drink.
First though, before taking this remedy, you MUST consult with your healthcare practitioner or doctor that you are okay to take baking soda because it can react negatively with some medications and conditions.
For example, you should NOT add baking soda to your lemon juice if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, appendicitis, or suffer from intestinal bleeding.
So make sure you check with your doctor first.
Once you are given the all-clear by your healthcare practitioner or doctor, here’s how to take lemon juice with baking soda…
Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a 8oz glass of cold water with 1/2 (half) teaspoon of baking soda (flat not heaped) and mix well. Use exact measurements for the most effective results. Now, it may foam up when mixed, but allow it to go completely flat before drinking.
And because baking soda is so very high in sodium, whilst taking this remedy:
- never exceed 4 teaspoons of baking soda per 24 hour period (equivalent to 8 drinks).
- avoid salt completely and change to a salt-free diet.
- reduce the amount of baking soda as symptoms improve and leave out altogether when abated.
Another way to benefit from lemons and their gout-fighting properties is to add a few slices of lemon into a cup of hot drinking water and let infuse for a while. This is my favorite way, first thing in the morning. I prefer this to the earlier cold water drink.
Yet another is to add slices of lemon to a cup of green tea, especially caffeine-free, and let them infuse for a while. This is particularly useful as green tea has natural anti-inflammatory properties.
And here’s the thing; adding lemon and fresh lemon juice to all these different types of drinks on a daily basis helps you to take-in more liquids than you might otherwise have done. Drinking 2 to 3 liters of liquid per day (not alcohol) is important in helping your kidneys flush-out excess uric acid and prevent uric acid crystals forming in your joints.