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Counseling with Mrs. Hsu



Gout - Most painful disease

What is Gout?

Medical Literature from the past speaks of a most painful disease that mysteriously seemed to afflict only the only classes - people who were able to eat more and "better" food than most of the ordinary folks could afford - Gout.

Today, this "royal" form of arthritis has become so democratic that it actually is more common at the other end of the socioeconomic scale. About one million Americans have gout, making it first on the list of inflammatory joint diseases. Most of its victims are men over age 40, but women are not immune to it either.

What happens when a person develops gout?

Most people have the primary form, which develops when the body either makes too much uric acid or the kidneys are unable to clear this substance from the blood stream fast enough. A high level of uric acid can lead to the formation of urate crystals, which settle in joint tissues and ultimately lead to the agonizing symptoms of gouty arthritis. Hypertension can damage the kidneys and some medications, used to lower blood pressure, actually raise uric acid levels in the blood.

Gout does not happen overnight. Urate crystals may build up silently for decades. Then, with little warning, an attack of excruciating pain tells the victim that something is seriously amiss. The trouble starts when needlelike urate crystals form in joint fluid. There they trigger a series of events that draw white blood cells to the area. These cells engulf the crystals, which they correctly see as dangerous invaders, and in the ensuing battle the joint swells and reddens with inflammation. The body's fight can be so intense that the victim may actually develop a fever, especially if several joints are affected. After the initial attack, the person may not experience another one for quite some time, eventually however, if the disease is left to run its natural course, chalky urate deposits called tophi, can collect in joints, ligaments and tendons and under the skin. In addition to permanent joint damage, long-term complications can include kidney stones.

Most men who are afflicted have their first attack in their late 30s or 40s. The situation is different for women, who typically don't have their first flare-up until they are in their 60s. Early in life, estrogen protects women against high uric acid levels. In menopause, estrogen levels fall and uric acid levels rise.

What can be done?

Standard medical procedure involves giving the patient certain drugs that keep uric acid levels in check. Unfortunately, these drugs have serious side-effects ranging from rashes to liver damage. One drug that suppresses the inflammatory response is so toxic that it is only used in small doses to ward off especially painful attacks of gout.

Eating "well", which usually means eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods, used to be for wealthy people only. Today, almost everyone in this country at least, can afford to eat themselves into their early graves. An average sized man who gains just 10 pounds between the ages of 25 and 35 doubles his baseline risk for the disease. For every 10 pounds thereafter, a man's risk doubles again. Diabetes and hypertension increase the risk for gout, so does alcohol consumption on a regular basis. About 75% of people with gout have high levels of triglycerides, which are fatty substances in the blood.

In other words, - take Mrs. Hsu's food combining ideas to heart and exercise on a regular basis.

Your "Secret" Weapon

But there is more. Many people have reported especially good results in reducing uric acid levels by taking one of Mrs.Hsu's old and time honored "supplements" - GINSENG TEA! If you already have been taking ginseng tea regularly, you know of its many health benefits, its ability to lower uric acid levels in the blood may however be news to you. If you are not drinking it yet and your physician tells you that you have an elevated uric acid count, give ginseng a try (3-5 cups of Korean Panax ginseng a day) and see what happens to your blood. You will be pleasantly surprised.


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