Gout is a form of arthritis. Its symptoms can be controlled in two main ways: with medication and by following a diet that helps decrease the level of compounds in the body that cause the joints to become painfully inflamed. Health experts recommend green tea for gout sufferers since it is low in the purine compounds that trigger gout attacks and contains a high concentration of antioxidants that suppress inflammation. If you have gout, speak to your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of drinking green tea.
Gout is a disorder that occurs when excess uric acid builds up in your joints and tissues and forms urate crystals. The presence of these crystals can cause bouts of fever and extreme joint pain in what is called a gout attack. The joints may also become red and swollen, and bumps may develop just beneath the skin of your feet, legs and arms. Uric acid levels accumulate and result in gout if your body produces too much of the acid or if your kidneys are not functioning properly. You are more likely to develop gout if your family has a history of the disease, if you use certain medications, if you are a man over the age of 40 and if you eat a diet high in purine-containing foods.
Green Tea Purine Content
Purines are compounds that are both synthesized by the body and consumed in foods like mushrooms, green leafy vegetables like spinach or asparagus, shellfish like mussels, organ meats, and fish such as mackerel or anchovies. When the body metabolizes purine compounds, uric acid is produced. Health professionals advise people with gout to strictly avoid foods that have a high purine content of between 150 to 825 milligrams of purines for every 100 grams of the food and to limit their use of foods containing 50 to 150 milligrams of purines per 100 grams. Green tea is considered a low-purine food since it contains less than 50 milligrams of purines per 100 grams. People with gout can consume large amounts of low-purine foods without triggering a gout attack.
Green Tea Antioxidant Content
Green tea may offer another benefit for gout sufferers -- its high antioxidant concentration may help decrease the joint inflammation and swelling characteristic of gout. Green tea contains a wide variety of antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols, including gallic acid and the catechin compounds epigallocatechin, epicatechin and gallocatechin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, taking 250 to 500 milligrams daily of green tea extract or drinking 2 to 4 cups of tea prepared from green tea leaves may help control the symptoms of gout. However, more clinical research is needed to determine the effects of long-term green tea use and to set safe dosage ranges.
Green tea is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a safe or effective treatment method for any condition, including gout. Green tea extract supplements are not checked for purity or to verify the quality of their contents. Green tea use can cause dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea and should be avoided by anyone with a digestive, neurological or cardiovascular disorder. Green tea can interfere with antibiotics, blood thinners, atropine, clozapine, oral contraceptives, lithium, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and iron supplements. Do not attempt to self-treat gout or any other condition with green tea, and do not use the tea as a substitute for medications your doctor has prescribed.