The attacks came just about every month and they were simply awful.
Now, I haven’t had an attack for more than 2 years. I don’t think I’ll ever have another one ever again.
At their worst those attacks were disabling. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t go to work….
I was literally unable to get up because even the slightest movement of the affected area was beyond unbearable.
I couldn’t sleep properly with bedclothes … which, in cooler weather, meant turning the heating up in the house.
Not comfortable for my wife, not good for our energy bills.
The causes of gout… and the real causes of gout
After my first encounter with gout my doctor gave me the standard explanation of its causes.
He said that gout was caused by excess uric acid in the blood.
Uric acid is a byproduct of the processing of certain foods.
The uric acid comes from the liver as a waste product. It’s sent to the kidneys from where it is supposed to be removed from the body.
I had gout because, in a nutshell, gout is what you get when your body isn’t expelling all its uric acid.
The excess uric acid forms tiny, spike-shaped crystals.
Those crystals get into your bloodstream.
From there, they find their way into your joints.
And from time-to-time the immune system attacks them.
And when the immune system does that… the inflammation that results is experienced as a ‘gout attack’.
Also known as excruciating, awful pain.
If you suffer from gout then I truly feel for you. I know what you’re going through.
It’s been just over 2 years now since my final gout attack. But I still remember what it felt like.
Anyway, that was the doctor’s explanation of gout. So far, so simple.
Gout only gets worse
Over the first year or so my gout attacks went from one attack every 1 or 2 months, to monthly and then, occasionally, to every few weeks.
I started with the standard meds: anti-inflammatories, steroid jabs, drugs to reduce the uric acid in my blood….
Really, despite his best intentions I think my doctor was simply trying things out.
Treatments are offered as much in hope as in the expectation they’ll do anything.
But even when a drug did do some good I knew I was just managing the condition.
And I realized that for many gout sufferers this was the case.
They could swallow any number of pills, inject as much steroid as their bodies could handle… and avoid every suspect piece of food and drink.
The underlying problem – the actual cause of the gout – was still there, creating all sorts of problems for the body to deal with.
I followed the typical Do’s and Don’ts. It’s typical stuff – exercise more, lose weight, eat a balanced diet (whatever that is), eat less red meat, don’t smoke (I never have), go a couple of days a week without alcohol…
And it made precisely no difference to my gout at all.
Although, to be honest: if I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have bothered with any of that.
Asking the awkward questions
My natural curiosity prompted me to ask questions about this disease.
If uric acid leads to gout then… why did I suddenly have too much uric acid in my blood?
Well, it makes sense that either (a) I was suddenly producing too much of it or (b) that my body simply was no longer removing it effectively.
And it turns out that the answer is… b.
In fact, for 90% of gout sufferers scientists say it isn’t over-production of uric acid that is the problem.
It’s the under-processing of it.
In other words, something’s going wrong with the body’s ability to expel uric acid properly.
So I was quite puzzled.
Here’s how I thought about it.
There was a time when I hadn’t even heard of gout – much less suffered from it.
Then I had gout for just over 3 years.
And then, two years ago, I experienced my last ever gout attack. And never suffered another one.
So. For a number of decades of my life my body handled the uric acid effectively.
Suddenly it could no longer handle that acid properly… and so I found myself with gout.
Fast-forward after three years of gout and, once again, everything is fine. I’m gout-free.
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work this out.
Remember: it’s not that I’m producing too much uric acid that’s the problem.
It’s that I’m no longer removing enough of it from my body.
So at first, something in my body was working, it was getting rid of the uric acid.
Then it stopped working. So I got gout.
Then it started working again.
The pain disappeared, there were no more flare-ups and I was completely healthy once more.
But there it is: I had gout because something had stopped working.
And it’s that ‘something that had stopped working’ that most of our doctors are failing to address.
If we find out what it is that stopped working – and then started working again – then we’ve found the key to ending gout forever.
What I now know – but didn’t know then
I haven’t had even a whisper of gout now for over two years.
And this is because, unlike most sufferers, I found a practitioner who tackled my gout from where it started.
As opposed to just handling the symptoms.
Once she’d done that… the problem of my body not processing uric acid properly was over.
Bye bye gout!
I’m going to tell you about her approach now.
But, first, just be sure about this. Because if you suffer gout this probably is your experience too.
Once my doctor decided I had gout he followed a pretty standard pattern of advice, medications and treatments.
Doctors all over America typically focus on three different approaches to the gout problem.
First, since uric acid is the by-product of the food we eat, they look at dietary restrictions on food – mostly on red meat and alcohol.
The thinking is that if less uric acid is being produced in the first place there’s less for the body to deal with.
That sounds a lot more sensible than it actually it is.
Second, gout patients try drugs that tackle the uric acid that’s already made it to the bloodstream. The aim here is to help the body do its job of dissolving this excess.
That meets with unpredictable results. But, worse, it’s dealing with the excess uric acid – not the reason why there’s excess uric acid.
Finally, other drugs are offered to tackle the pain and inflammation of gout as it arises. Again, this deals with what is happening but not why it’s happening.
Still, on the surface, all this is perfectly understandable.
But there’s a serious problem here.
Because for as long as the emphasis is on tackling gout at the point where the disease is already in some way in motion…
…we’re simply not addressing what set it in motion in the first place.
We feel like we’re doing something useful.
But we’re tinkering at the edges of the problem.
Which is why gout can – and often does – go on for years and years.
Yet it doesn’t have to.
Gout has dangerous risk factors
Things get a tiny bit worse.
During that first visit my doctor told me two other things. And I didn’t like either of them.
First, he pointed out that each gout attack makes another attack more likely. Once you’ve had a few attacks that’s about it… get ready for gout as a regular thing.
Some people that have had attacks of gout over a longer period can end up developing a more chronic, or persistent, form of gout.
It’s called chronic tophaceous gout and the pain and loss of mobility is life-altering and disabling.
Then he told me this.
Gout is a risk factor for other conditions – some of them even more serious than the gout itself.
In other words, because I had gout it was more likely that I’d get at least one of those other conditions.
And those other conditions included heart disease – particularly heart failure and strokes.
He added that gout was also a risk factor for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, stress and a number of unpleasant other conditions.
And there isn’t a limit on which of those afflictions I could find myself suffering from.
It might be that, in time, I contracted just one of them.
But it could be two of them. Or three.
The possibility of my gout being a risk factor for me suffering those all at once did shock me quite a bit.
I felt like I was just waiting for something else to go badly wrong with my health.
One day things really became too much
Just over 2 years ago I had a gout attack that was so painful I was crying.
I’m not one of life’s cryers.
But I had let it go on for a week and was in so much pain I honestly started questioning whether I wanted to live.
I went back to my doctor – turned out he was on vacation. So I saw one of his colleagues instead.
She was a nice lady. Thoughtful. She listened.
And she could tell I was badly affected by this latest flare-up.
We had a long conversation and she told me about a practitioner who specializes in dealing with gout.
Seems this practitioner had a startling record with permanently ending gout for her clients.
Not reducing it. Removing it.
That practitioner’s approach was verified both in theory, in experiment and in real life.
She based it on three decades of science coming from leading researchers in the US and Europe.
The research’s successes in tackling a range of health conditions are mounting up – and for some years now the medical community has been rethinking some of their most fundamental ideas about how the body works.
From that research she had created her ‘gout strategy’ that is now having such profound results for gout sufferers.
My doctor admitted it wasn’t her area of expertise.
So she gave me the name of that alternative health practitioner she’d mentioned.
And that’s when I first heard of Shelly Manning.
And, if it’s not too dramatic a statement to make, what I learned from Shelly changed my life.
The end of gout
Shelly Manning is an accomplished natural health researcher and writer. She began her work on natural health remedies after suffering years of very painful arthritis.
She discovered that where modern medicine was consistently failing to relieve a person of their suffering it was often because they didn’t really know what was causing the condition in the first place.
They tackled what they could see… but the rest was a mystery.
Shelly’s research took in dozens of peer-reviewed studies from universities across the world – plus personal testimonies from hundreds of arthritis sufferers.
She eventually became completely free of arthritis – which was not only an immense relief to her but it also drove her to share her discoveries with others so that they too would never suffer such horrible ongoing pain.
Both her arthritis and her gout remedies are hugely successful today and many people have Shelly to thank for their pain-free lives.
She laid out some simple gout truths that made perfect sense to me.
First, she pointed out that doctors always tell you to eat healthily because, whether you’re ill or healthy, it’s generally sound advice.
What’s more, if you go from eating and drinking a lot of junk to eating lots of good quality food then your overall health is bound to improve a little.
But this is where I learned a startling insight from Shelly:
You can eat correctly – as your doctors tell you to.
But you can also eat correctly specifically for gout.
Which isn’t the same thing.
Because you can eat food that specifically tackles gout head-on.
Food that removes the source of gout. That ‘something that stopped working’ that we learned about earlier.
And that’s a whole different ball game.
This ain’t theory…
How this insight came about is fascinating.
Scientists have long known food is a medicine.
But what’s been happening since the 1980s is that scientists have steadily worked out why it’s a medicine.
Shelly Manning understands the science of this inside out. What she told me was jaw-dropping.
But let me give you the short version.
And we’ll start with something really weird.
No, your gut’s not weird. Not in itself.
But check this out.
You have, it is estimated, something like 75 trillion bacteria in your gut.
There are more bacteria in the gut than cells in the entire human body. And you’ve had them all your life.
The bacteria in our gut make up what is called our ‘microbiome’.
The microbiome refers to all the bacteria that live with us in our guts.
It’s the community of bacteria – plus other micro-organisms – that are permanently with us.
There’s nothing special or unusual about the human microbiome.
In fact, plenty of mammals – and some insects – also have microbiomes. They’re a fact of life.
We humans have had our gut microbiome since the dawn of humanity. We need it.