For many years I have tried to produce a comprehensive review of apple cider vinegar for gout. I have finally given up, for a very simple reason.
Despite the high level of interest amongst gout sufferers for ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), there is absolutely no scientific information to say that ACV is good for gout. Having said that, there is no evidence to say it does not work. There is just no information.
The only mentions of apple cider vinegar relating to gout or uric acid, are only acknowledgments that many people believe that ACV helps gout followed by declarations that there is no evidence for this.
I am intrigued that such strong support for the benefits of apple cider vinegar can exist alongside zero evidence, but there are three explanations of how this may happen.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar For Gout A Placebo?
Placebo is a common consideration in medical trials. Doctors acknowledge that patients can get better with inert substitutes for medicines if they believe that the medication will work. Many drug trials compare the target drug against an inactive placebo. Drugs have to significantly outperform the placebo in order to be deemed effective.
I was surprised to see how effective placebos can be. Looking back on recent colchicine dosage trials, I noticed that the placebo success rate for pretend colchicine substitute is 15-17%. I.e. Almost 1 in 5 people report positive pain relief from something that has no medical properties. If you apply this to the US population, it equates to 1-1.5 million gout sufferers who are likely to report positive pain relief from an inert substance. Plenty of scope there for people to find gout pain relief from apple cider vinegar.
Please note that I am not suggesting that people are fooling themselves. Placebo is a well recognized medical phenomenon, and if it makes you feel better, that is not wrong.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar For Gout A Coincidence?
If a gout flare is left untreated, it will usually disappear naturally after a few days. It is perfectly possible that the relief noted by ACV drinkers would have happened anyway. Scientific studies could be designed to take this into account, but without them, we are left with the possibility that gout pain relief from ACV is mere coincidence.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar For Gout Just Hydration?
The biggest component of ACV is water, and sufficient intake will prevent dehydration. We know from several studies that hydration is good for gout, and we are left with the possibility that ACV is effective in the same way that almost all fluids are.
Apple Cider Vinegar For Gout: Next Steps
As there are no scientific studies on apple cider vinegar for gout, we are left with the conclusion that, if it works for you, then it is good. The biggest danger is that ACV, by whatever means, will help you cope with the pain, but if it only masks the symptoms whilst uric acid crystals continue to grow slowly, you are in danger. These deposits can destroy your joints slowly, so in later years, when you are least able to cope, you could be left with permanently crippled joints. Irrespective of pain, if you have ever had a gout attack, you must test uric acid at least once per year – more frequently if it is not stable, or you are unsure what your level is.
I guess that leads on to a further possibility. If you decide to test your own uric acid rather than leave it to your doctor, you could run your own experiments on the effects of apple cider vinegar on uric acid. If you do that, please share your results in the gout remedies forum, where you can also ask for advice on how to do it.
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Apple Cider Vinegar For Gout: References
- Title: Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2008. Authors: Zhu Y, Pandya BJ, Choi HK. Published: Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Oct;63(10):3136-41. doi: 10.1002/art.30520.
The prevalence of gout among US adults in 2007-2008 was 3.9% (8.3 million individuals).