Sufferers will testify to the fact that gout is an extremely unpleasant and painful condition, which is unpredictable and can blight the lives of those afflicted with repeated attacks. Ouch!

So where do probiotics fit into this picture?

picture of gout
Build up of uric acid crystals around the affected joint

Well, first let’s take a look at how and why the condition develops...

Gout occurs when there are high levels of uric acid circulating in the bloodstream, a situation known as hyperuricemia. The accumulation of crystals causes acute inflammation around the afflicted joint, which can become red, swollen and incredibly sore in a very short time and remain so for between 3-10 days. 

Urid acid is a by-product that is created when the body breaks down substances known as purines, a chemical compound that the body uses to form adenine and guanine, which in turn are used to form DNA and RNA.  The uric acid is normally carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys where it is excreted in urine; however, some individuals have a problem breaking down excess levels of uric acid and consequently tiny crystals of sodium urate can begin to accumulate around joints in the body, usually in the extremities and in particular the big toe, which is why gouty old men from the pages of history are always depicted with a huge bandage on their foot!

shell fish
Gout - the 'rich man's disease'

In fact, gout was once known as the ‘rich man’s disease,’ as the condition can be partially caused by consumption of purine-rich foods such as meat, shellfish and offal, once foods only available in plentiful quantities to the wealthy. Nowadays these foods are more readily available, but for some, that luxury comes at a price. Those who are afflicted can therefore help to manage the condition by watching their diet, but as are purines are present in such a broad range of commonly-consumed foods, a purine-free diet can be quite restrictive. 

Pain and discomfort are not the only considerations for gout-sufferers, however, as hyperuricemia has also been implicated in the development of other more serious conditions such as arteriosclerosis, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, along with nephropathy in diabetic patients. Conventional treatments for the condition include heavy duty pain relief using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids, but it is well-known that these drugs can have equally unpleasant side effects. 

So the options are fairly grim for gout-sufferers – a very restricted diet and a cocktail of drugs that can cause other issues that are almost as bad as the condition itself. 

But can probiotics offer a natural alternative for gout sufferers?

Well, research into this field is so far limited but promising, with one 2014 Chinese study indicating that lactic acid bacteria may have the ability to break down the uric acid, as an excerpt from the study abstract suggests:

“Foods high in purine compounds are more potent in exacerbating hyperuricemia. Therefore, the development of probiotics that efficiently degrade purine compounds is a promising potential therapy for the prevention of hyperuricemia.”

For the purposes of the study, which was published in PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53) in September 2014, a total of fifty-five different lactic acid-producing live cultures were derived from Chinese sauerkraut, The research team then monitored the bacteria’s ability to degrade two substances that are involved in purine metabolism, inosine and guanosine. The bacteria were also tested for acid tolerance, bile tolerance, anti-pathogenic bacteria activity, cell adhesion ability, resistance to antibiotics and the ability to produce hydrogen peroxide.

Of the fifty-five candidates, three strains of bacteria were identified as being particularly effective, with one, DM9218, showing the best probiotic potential compared with the other strains despite its poor bile resistance. DM9218 was found to have a 99% similarity to Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1, and a derivative strain, DM9218-A, was found to have better resistance to 0.3% bile salts, and was proven to survive in the gastrointestinal tract of rats. The research team therefore proposed that DM9218-A has potential to be developed as a probiotic in the prevention of hyperuricemia in the normal population.

Whilst we don’t currently offer this specific strain in our range, other strains of Lactobacillus plantarum are contained in our ‘For your cholesterol’ product where they act to break down bile salts.

Probiotics and inflammation

Probiotics are already widely used to help reduce inflammation – check out one of our latest blogs, ‘Woman and Home likes OptiBac Probiotics for inflammation,’ that explains how these beneficial bacteria can help to modulate immune responses. 

Until more research is done in this area, supplementing with a high-quality, broad spectrum probiotic to help facilitate digestion might, in theory, help gout sufferers to better metabolise purines and uric acid. 

Are you a gout sufferer who has managed to find relief using probiotic supplements? If so, please leave a comment below and share your story with us.

References: 

Li et al, (2014) ‘Screening and Characterization of Purine Nucleoside Degrading Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Chinese Sauerkraut and Evaluation of the Serum Uric Acid Lowering Effect in Hyperuricemic Rats’ PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 09/2014; 9(9):e105577. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.010557

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gout/Pages/Treatment.aspx

Image credit 1: Web MD http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/ss/slideshow-gout
Image credit 2: Daily Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/gout-no-laughing-matter-serious-3155837

Comments

  • I have found no relief from using supplements.
    I found drinking water, cutting out as much sugar as possible, and avoiding grain products give me much more relief!

  • Hello Nat,

    Thanks for your feedback about your own experiences.
    I'd agree that looking at diet is one of the most important things to do when trying to improve our health holistically. There is a temptation these days to look for super pill or supplement that will miraculously 'cure' all of our problems, whereas our overall health may be dependent on a variety of different factors, including diet, lifestyle, environment and genetic predisposition.

    I would be interested to know if the supplements you took were probiotics, however, or other food supplements?
    Do share this with us if you would like to.

    Warm wishes,

    Kerry

  • Chanca piedra twice a day no more gout...

  • Response from OptiBac Probiotics

    Hi Rudy,

    Thank you for your comment, and I'm pleased that you have found a natural remedy which has provided you with some relief.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Kerry

  • I been hit with gout since I was 24 years of age. More occurring attacks during my 30's. Out of all the non-prescription relief methods, I found cherry pills from a health store for maintenance did help at times but hard to say if I did benefit from taking them. Even taking a high dose of Ibuprofen was no match. But those days it was all I had.

    My diet or “trash eating” included beers, fast food, processed foods you name it. After a while the attack no longer happened in my big toe. The attacks moved to my joints: Ankle, knee, elbow and fingers. I was starting to believe the attacks happened when the fall and winter started. November up until February was when I would start allopurinol. I have two bottles of indomethacin unused and 1 bottle of allopurinol unused.

    They were prescribed to me a year ago. When I feel an attack won’t go away. I might take up to 3 capsule of indomethacin in a day and the issues is gone. I believe this gout attack streak being lesser over the last two years is due to being on a daily probiotic. I have notice a promising pattern since I started the probiotic two years ago. If I miss a few days of taking a probiotic. I just get back on it. Not to mention I scaled back my daily diet of sodas (2 cans a week sometimes more), I was never a red meat eater but I still ate the same amount prior to the probiotics. I drink plenty of water and still have my morning coffee. Wine red or whites, wheat beer more often than lager. I found that losing weight causes an attack.

    I would like to eat healthier and look healthier while having my occasional spirits while BBQ’ing on the weekends. I think the probiotic helps.

  • Response from OptiBac Probiotics

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience with us.
    We're delighted that you've found a natural product to offer you some relief, in the form of probiotics. Let's hope you continue to find a benefit.

    With warm wishes,

    Kerry

  • I am having gout attack almost every week. I tried several alternative treatments because I am afraid of Stevens–Johnson syndrome. Then I thought about taking probiotics after reading a research about hyperuricemia and bacteria. In less than an 24-hours after consuming probiotics inflammation was reduced. After 2 days swelling is totally gone.

    It worked for me.

    Best regards,
    Jake Cruz

  • Response from OptiBac Probiotics

    Hello Jake,

    Thanks for sharing your experience - that's great news!

    With best wishes,

    Kerry

  • Hello,
    I started suffering from gout many years ago. The attacks were infrequent at first and then became more frequent, which was worrying. I did some research and read that probiotics could prevent gout attacks. I take a supplement which contains 3 billion friendly bacteria. I had been taking them for a while and suddenly realised that I hadn't had an attack. The only time that I have had an attack was after taking antibiotics.
    Renee

  • I've suffered from gout for years and started taking [probiotics] 3 months now and eating the same ( no gout this far ). I'm a firm believer in probotics helping.

  • Response from OptiBac Probiotics

    Hi Travis,

    That's great news! Thanks for sharing your experience with us, and I hope that probiotics continue to offer you some benefits.

    With best wishes,

    Kerry



Write a comment