Gout is a painful condition with no cure that can seriously hamper quality of life. Now, research reveals a specific probiotic can lower gout episodes and potentially reduce the number of medicines that may be prescribed.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. It develops when an excess of uric acid in the blood, also known as hyperuricaemia, leads to deposits of uric acid crystals in one or more joints, causing inflammation.
The condition can affect any joint in the body, but the big toe joint is most commonly affected, followed by the fingers, wrists, other toes and ankles.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) estimates the prevalence of gout in the general population to be around 1.5 per cent – but this number rises with age. After age 85, around 11 per cent of men will suffer gout, along with 4.2 per cent of women.
That gender gap is replicated across all age groups, with the AIHW estimating as much as 90 per cent of all gout cases in Australia are in males.
Gout can be managed or even prevented by long-term therapy with medications and lifestyle changes to reduce levels of uric acid in the body.
There is no complete cure for gout, but the symptoms can be managed with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and low-dose colchicine.
Now, in a study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid have identified a specific type of probiotic strain that helps lower the number of gout episodes a person has and may reduce the need for gout-related drugs.
Additionally, the probiotic improved certain blood parameters in study participants related to oxidative stress, liver damage and metabolic syndrome.
A probiotic is a product that contains live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that can help improve gut health and digestion when consumed orally.
The strain in question is L. salivarius, a bacteria normally found in the gastrointestinal tract. In the study, 30 patients with previous incidences of gout were split into two groups of 15.
One group was given L. salivarius supplements daily for six months, while the other received doses of the anti-gout drug allopurinol.
After analysis, the research team found that people with gout who received the L. salivarius probiotic had a significant reduction in the number of gout episodes and in the use of gout-related drugs.
Additionally, they also experienced an improvement in some blood parameters related to oxidative stress, liver damage and metabolic syndrome.
“Regular administration of L. salivarius … reduced serum urate levels, the number of gout episodes and the pharmacological therapy required to control both hyperuricemia and gout episodes in individuals with a history of hyperuricemia and suffering from repeated episodes of gout,” the report concludes.
It’s hoped that with further study, treatment options for gout can be expanded to include therapies based on the L. salivarius probiotic. More analysis will be needed to establish exactly how your gut microbiome influences conditions such as gout.
Have you ever had gout? What did you have to do to treat it? Let us know in the comments section below.
Also read: What swollen fingers may be telling you