May 30, 2020 9:31:48 PM
When someone mentions gout, you think of Ben Franklin and Samuel Johnston, the 1700s. Do people still even get gout?
You bet they do, plenty.
A couple weeks ago a friend told me he wasn't feeling so good. He said he was thinking about picking up a nearby hatchet and cutting off his big toe. He sounded serious.
He had gout.
This fellow is not a complainer, so I knew the pain must be severe.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, the source of medical information for this column, gout is a common and complex form of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid in the joints.
"An attack of gout can occur suddenly, often waking you up in the middle of the night with the sensation that your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the sheet on it may seem intolerable."
This describes the symptoms my friend was suffering.
"I've had a lot of pain in my life but that was the first time I couldn't sleep," he said.
In many cases diet is the culprit. Beef, organ meats, seafood, beer and drinks sweetened with fructose are the worst offenders. The same uric acid build-up that causes gout can collect in the urinary tract and produce kidney stones. Women are less susceptible to gout, at least before menopause when they have lower uric acid levels.
My friend had modified his diet, was drinking lots of water and, as instructed by a nurse friend, taking Advil. None if it was helping.
A couple days later when I stopped by he was immeasurably better.
He'd called a friend, a retired home economics teacher in New Hope, and she told him to eat cherries.
He immediately went to Sunflower, bought a jar of maraschino cherries (the ones with the red dye). He ate 20 cherries that first night and drank most of the juice. By the next morning he felt better. The following night he was able to sleep.
The pain associated with gout is a result of inflammation. Inflammation is linked with many human ailments including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, even Alzheimer's. Diet has a major impact on inflammation.
And guess which food packs the biggest anti-inflammatory punch?
Cherries according to an article published by U.S. News and World Report in 2015 titled "10 Foods that Fight Inflammation."
The piece references a study that showed cherries have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.
The other nine anti-inflammatory foods listed are olives and olive oil, turmeric, red onions, grapes, chia seeds, broccoli, salmon, ginger and blueberries.
Under the heading "alternative medicine" on the Mayo Clinic website non-medicinal treatments for gout include coffee, vitamin C and, yes, cherries.
"I got a buddy on Sand Road who had been going to a specialist (for gout)," my friend said. "He had it so bad he couldn't unzip his britches."
He told his friend about the cherry cure, but hasn't heard back.
As for my friend, he's a believer.
He says he might have resorted to more radical therapies had he not learned about the cherry cure.
"By now, I'd have nine toes," he said.
The sensory pleasures of summer -- Friday we were able to eat a ripe peach purchased from a roadside vendor and stick our nose into a cluster of mimosa blooms. Two highly recommended meditations. A reminder, as if one is needed, how great is to be alive and living in the South. And now the kitchen is redolent with ripening fruit.
This too shall pass(?) -- Not anytime soon if the up-close socializing witnessed at a downtown business with this sign prominently on display is common practice. A friend said a week or so ago the staff and most of the customers at the gas station where he buys beer were wearing masks. For his most recent visit a few days ago, he was the only person in the store with a mask.
This advice from the conservative website "The Bulwark" seems reasonable:
"There are ways to emerge from the quarantine that are reasonable and will lower the chances of a renewed surge of the virus. These involve avoiding high-density events where people are close to one another for prolonged periods of time (like sitting the stands at a racetrack or ballpark) and medium-density events that take place indoors (like movie theaters or work places or cocktail parties).
"It involves wearing masks much of the time in order to cut down on preventable aerosolization of virus particles."
A radio program mentioned someone's Facebook post calling people who wear masks sissies. Others have tried to inject politics into the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it's been over-hyped.
More than 100,000 Americans of every political persuasion have died from this virus, and more are dying every day. The number of new cases in Mississippi is on the rise -- 418 new cases on Friday.
The war is far from over, folks. Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance.
Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.
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