Gout occurs when there is too much uric acid in your body. There are many different ways to treat gout, and some are more effective than others. Occasionally, cranberry juice is mentioned as a way to prevent painful gout attacks. While cranberry juice has many healthful benefits and is worth drinking, don’t consider it a gout cure.
Gout attacks occur when uric acid in the blood crystallizes in the joints. This happens when the uric acid level in the blood gets too high either because your body can’t get rid of it through the urine or you are consuming foods that are too high in purines.
Though cranberries’ effect on gout hasn’t been studied extensively, it is known that cranberries are acidic. This lowers the body’s pH level and less uric acid is expelled. If the body is ridding itself of less uric acid, then the levels within the body will rise.
A German study looked at the effect of cranberry, black currant and plum juices in 12 healthy males. It found that though there was no change in how much uric acid the body excreted, the body’s pH level fell and the uric acid levels rose about 50 percent. This change came from drinking just 11 oz. of juice a day over 20 days. Though the study didn’t look at gout sufferers, it does not bode well for them. One caveat of the study is that the uric acid levels rose in the urine. The blood levels of uric acid weren’t tested.
Perhaps one way that cranberry juice might be considered a help in preventing gout is that it is a fluid. Gout sufferers should increase their overall fluid intake as much as they can. The more a person drinks, the more she will urinate and the more uric acid will be eliminated, even if it is only a little bit each time.
Because of this study and anecdotal evidence that suggests gout attacks increase after Thanksgiving, cranberries aren’t usually recommended for gout sufferers. There are other fruits and juices a gout sufferer can chose without picking one that, at best, may be neutral in helping gout pain and, at worst, a trigger for an attack.