Cranberries have a long history of use among Native Americans for treating urinary tract infections. Both the juice and extracts from the fruit are used medicinally. Cranberries do not cause gout attacks. In fact, they are actually sometimes recommended to help gout attacks. Consult a doctor for more information before using cranberries for any medical condition.
Gout is a type of arthritis. When too much uric acid builds up in the body, crystals form in the joints, which become red, painful, swollen and stiff. Gout usually affects men over 40, but it could also affect women, especially after menopause. Risk factors include a family history of gout, excess alcohol intake, and eating foods rich in purines, such as shellfish, meat and sweetbreads. People with gout are also more likely to develop kidney stones, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, high triglyceride levels and atherosclerosis.
Medical management of gout usually includes dietary restrictions; organ meats, red meat, fatty fish and shellfish are limited because they are rich in purines. People with gout should limit protein from animal sources, and also restrict their intake of alcohol and sugar. Another recommendation is to drink plenty of fluids eight glasses of water a day, as that helps flush excess uric acid out of the body. The University of Maryland also suggests taking a multivitamin with trace minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and 500 to 1000 milligrams of vitamin C daily.
Cranberries and Gout
Medications for gout include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, to help decrease pain and swelling. Aspirin is an NSAID, and cranberries contain significant amounts of salicylic acid, which is an important ingredient in aspirin. According to MedlinePlus, drinking cranberry juice regularly will increase the amount of salicyclic acid in the body; salicylic acid can reduce swelling, one of the symptoms of gout.
Cranberry Juice and Uric Acid
Cranberry juice has been found to decrease the level of uric acid in both the urine and the blood. Researchers reported in the August 2005 "Journal of Urology" that both urine and serum uric acid decreased after human subjects drank cranberry juice. The University of Maryland advocates drinking 8 to 16 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice daily or taking 300 to 400 milligrams standardized cranberry extract for gout.
Considerations and Warnings
People who have gout attacks are also more likely to develop kidney stones. Although cranberry juice is recommended to manage gout, it may increase the risk of kidney stones for some people. Talk to your healthcare professional to determine if cranberry juice should be a part or your treatment.