Potassium VS gout

I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. Nothing in this post constitutes medical advice. You should consult your doctor before trying any sort of home remedy.

Next the WARNING:
While potassium is a nutrient with a recommended daily allowance (RDA) and everything, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much potassium can cause cardiac arhythmia. Too much cardiac arhythmia can cause DEAD. Potassium is the active ingredient in a lethal injection, and it’s what Kevorkian used.

I suffered from gradually worsening gout attacks for 15 years. By gradually worsening I mean that they grew more painful, more frequent, and were affecting more joints. At first it was just my big toes, but later it got to my knees and had begun in my fingers as well.

At first eliminating certain foods from my diet worked pretty well, but eventually this was not enough. My doctor wanted to prescribe one of the drugs approved for gout–both of which had daunting lists of side-effects. I, however, wanted to find an alternative, whether pharmaceutical, home-remedy, or lifestyle in nature. Just as long as I wasn’t condemned to taking one of those scary drugs for life.

I researched it on the web sporadically for years and only last June (2008) did I first hear about potassium. It was just a passing mention on a website that had rather a lot of advice, most of which I had read before. There was, though, a mention of how and why it might work, which I’m not qualified to explain. I don’t wish to link to the page, and I didn’t bookmark it anyway. My doctor had never heard of the use of potassium for treating gout, but allowed me to proceed with caution.

Since I started taking potassium 10 months ago I haven’t had even a single attack! I’ve blown off most of the dietary restrictions and eat and drink what I want to, and still no attacks. (I seem to have lost my taste for peanuts, though)

For some reason (presumably consumer safety) all the potassium supplements I’ve seen in stores have a mere 3% of your RDA. Not surprisingly a single caplet is not enough to do much. I gradually increased from 3 a day until I found a dosage that keeps me symptom-free. I take 8 caplets per day spaced out over the whole day–which is still less than one-quarter of RDA. THIS IS NOT A RECOMMENDED DOSAGE. DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR ANYTHING. Be aware that many foods (lists are available on the web) have significant amounts of potassium in them naturally and that if you eat or drink a lot of these you would want to reduce your supplement intake accordingly.

I have noticed no difference in the different forms of potassium available. Potassium Gluconate is usually the cheapest and works for me just fine. (You could also get all the potassium you like from drinking enough black cherry juice, if you can find a store that has it. Do your own math to figure how much you might need, the %RDA per serving is printed on the bottle)

Again, please talk to your doctor and research possible health risks before you even think of trying this or anything like it.
ETA: The irony is not lost on me that gout has often been called the ‘rich man’s disease’.

Rich Mann

A question: did you consider trying guaifenesin for your gout? It’s not considered as effective as modern gout drugs but it’s safe and cheap.

Thanks, I have an appointment 5/13 and will ask. I’ll PM you to let you know if she concurs.

Did the cherry juice do you any good or would it have required too much volume? I tried it but could discern no difference, no benefit. I drink a lot of Gatorade but looking at the bottle in front of me see the potassium’s only 2% RDA in a 20 oz bottle.

I’m currently on Allopurinol but suffer from no side effects whatsoever.

Lumpy, no. I wasn’t offered that by my doctor. Just Colchicine and Allopurinol–both of which I had heard bad things about.

lieu, the problems with cherry juice are availability and expense. I live a few miles from The People’s Republic of Berkeley, and even here in hippie heaven, with whole and health food stores aplenty, it’s hard to find. The few stores that carry it are chronically out of supply.
I seem to remember that it would take about 3/4 of a quart per day to equal my current intake, and that would cost at least 10 times what supplements are costing me. And, I’d still have to keep pills on hand for when the stores run out, as they are wont to do.

Most multivitamins also seem to have about 2%. I really think they’re scared someone will O.D. if they get too much from too many sources in a short time. This is actually a reasonable cause for concern.
ETA: Yes, do PM me. I’d like to know what another doctor thinks about this. My own doctor is dumbfounded. (Unless he’s just dumb)

What works for me:

Cur back on the meat, I eat a lot of meat.
Eat more green leafy than you really like.

Yes, I take potassium. 2 x 99mg (3%)
I also take Cranberry Fruit caps, 3000mg, 2 x = 60mg of “C” (100%) & 20mg “E” (20%) of daily.

If I go off that and get an attack, lots of Black Cheery and Cranberry juice and Epsom salts hot soak and then don’t go off again for a few years until I get stupid again.

For me, the Cranberry Caps are more important than maxing out the Potassium…


I have gout. It’s attacked my toes, joints in my feet and even - on one memorably painful occasion - my knee. And I know what causes me to have an attack and how to avoid having any further attacks.

Drink water.

It’s really that simple. If I’m thirsty for any significant amount of time, I’ll have a gout attack within 24 hours. But if I keep up my normal water consumption of at least a gallon a day, I’m gout free. I’ve tested this and confirmed it - go without enough water, have an attack. I have indomethacin on hand to alleviate the attack when they happen, but I’m never had to take it for more than two days in a row once I’m drinking enough water.

Cherry juice is a “Clever Hans” cure. It’s so vile that the only any way anyone could choke down a quart of the nasty stuff is by washing it down with even more water.

I always have a bottle of water with me. I drink so much water that people comment on it. I only go to movie theaters that allow me to bring in my own water (Hello AMC! Eat flaming death Logan Theater!)

My goal is to drink enough water that my urine is clear. The only time it’s not is that first piss in the morning, and even then I go to sleep with a bottle of water beside me in case I get thirsty.

Gout is a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Drinking a lot of water flushes the uric acid from your body helping it from accumulating in the joints in the first place.

Your experience my vary, but my advice - which is both free and easy to follow - is to drink a lot of water.

I agree on the water drinking along with some cranberry juice. I find I really need to drink a lot of water if I have any red wine. BTW, I like cherry juice, it is much more common as a fruit juice in some countries and you can find it in the aisle with other juices in many places. It’s different than the ‘medicinal’ cherry juice you find in the states.

Well, I don’t drink any cranberry juice or cherry juice. Water seems to do just fine.

The Wikipedia article blames too much protein in the diet. My wife is on a very low-carb, essentially all protein, diet and drinking enough water has kept her from having any gout attacks for years.

gaffa, I should have mentioned that I did the water thing too. Still do. At least a gallon a day–more if I sweat. It helped for a long time, but eventually just water wasn’t enough. With the potassium I never get so much as a twinge, even if I do get a little (or a lot) behind on my water consumption.
Does anybody know what it is about cranberry that helps? Is it a diuretic?

Water works well for many. BUT it depends if the person is an over-producer or under excreter of uric acid.

Cranberry is a natural anti-inflamitory among several other reported benefits. People point to it to be a cure for lots things that ail you. There is good science for the anti-inflamitory claims. With anti-inflamitory drugs occasionally scripted for acute attacks - seems reasonable that consistent intake of cranberry would help.

I have delt with gout for twenty years. For the last several years I have avoided acute attacks by staying super-hydrated. Today, I’m in some of the most intense pain. The acute attack began two days ago. I immediately jumped up my water intake and started colcrys. It’s been so long since my last attack I did not even know the FDA had taken colchicine out in the US market. In my experience two tabs of colchicine then one every hour for the next four hours has disturbed my gut but got me out of pain. Kind a cruel “joke” urgency to run for the restroom is part of the resolution for a problem that creates great pain to walk. From what I can figure the colcrys is identical or nearly to colchicine, but two days in and the pain is worse. I broke an ankle years ago and this is the site of my attacks - so this kind of attack puts me on a cane. Generally I just keep doing whatever - figure it hurts no matter what so why stop life. Today I just cannot go… I’m not crying or passing out when I step down… For now so thank God for small graces!
Two questions - is colcrys the same as colchicine?
I’m having cramping muscles - I know my current diet is light on potassium - the drug and water have not stopped the pain - I the additional symptoms lead me to this page… Is there any direct medical support for potassium to help with gout.
I just drank 3/4 of my rec. daily potassium intake in a massive fruit smoothie - should shake the cramps if not the whole attack. Thoughts?

I’ve never used any drugs for gout. For some reason, if there’s any bad side effect to a drug, I get it. So I avoid presciptions as much as possible.

I don’t know why potassium works, but it really does for me. If you didn’t notice, I started this thread in 2009–I still haven’t had another real attack!

I found out about potassium in a web search. I ignored advice from any site that advised aspirin (most of them), and gave serious thought to any advice from a site that knew that aspirin makes gout worse. The site that recommended potassium said something about helping your kidneys to function properly. It couldn’t hurt, so I gave it a shot.

Seconding the potassium angle. I had a few attacks several years ago and adjusted my diet. During the last acute attack I went with foods high in potassium for several days and symptoms eased - no drugs needed. I think it was something about the potassium reducing the crystallization of the uric acid (the crystals causing the inflammation of the joint). The best way to handle gout, IMHO, is management - less animal protien, more water. I only eat meat once a day, or less, and drink water all day long.

Yes, colchicine has been branded. The drug company took the old drug and ran the required FDA tests (that had not been done prior), and as a reward the drug company has exclusivity to sell you colcrys for 7 years. Too bad they could not fix the side effects.

One thing that’s changed in the three years since this thread last saw the light of day is that we’re now placing all threads with medical anecdotes and advice in IMHO, so let me move this thithr.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator

Oddly, generic colchicine works for my husband’s gout, but Colcrys does not. He has to get the colchicine from Canada.

I, too, am not a doctor or any kind of medical person. I have just had problems with gout. I had problems - I don’t anymore.

I have had the same experience as you! But I don’t think others want to hear this information. I found out by chance that taking a potassium supplement would stop a gout attack in its tracks. So I did a bit of research to find out what was happening. I ended up finding out that if you have a blood test done and your uric acid level is high, then your potassium level is going to be low. A high uric acid level always means a low potassium level. And that if you raise your potassium level, your uric acid level will go down. I don’t know how or why it works, but for years every time I start a gout attack I take potassium and the attack is stopped. It has worked every time. I wrote this information on another gout board two years ago, and there has only been one response. It’s like no one wants to have this information. It’s sad. Because the medications for gout are horrible. Just taking some potassium could help so many. But - it’s their choice.

A caution - if a person has problems with gout, I think it would be very wise to consult with his doctor to help him raise his levels of potassium. Too much potassium can be dangerous.

I read recently that Jim Belushi has gout. He takes a medication for it. But there’s no was to communicate with him to tell him to investigation the potassium/gout connection. But maybe he’ll find out on his own.

Continue feeling better.

My previous post was a reply to Rich Mann - my experience was similar to his.

This is an old thread, but I wanted to note that the OP’s warning about potassium is overblown, at least if you have healthy kidneys; the LD50 for potassium is about the same as for sodium (about 3 grams per kilogram, as the chloride salt - or over 200 grams for a 70 kg man), and most people exceed the tolerable upper intake for the latter:

By comparison (note that 5.8 grams of salt/sodium chloride is only 2.3 grams of sodium):

In other words, the minimum target for potassium is more than twice the tolerable upper intake for sodium, and as noted many people only consume half the recommended intake, if not less, so I think it is very safe to consume several grams of potassium a day from supplements (which would be dozens of pills at 3% each, never mind that the 3% is based on the FDA’s RDI of 3.5 grams, less than the recommend 4.7 grams minimum for optimum health).

Also, sodium is probably just as effective in lethal injection as potassium (although given that it has generally the opposite effects as potassium, the effects are probably too unpleasant for general use); the lethality is because a massive amount is suddenly introduced into the bloodstream, as opposed to a gradual controlled intake when ingested (the LD50 for injection is generally far lower than for ingestion). The same could be done with other electrolytes like calcium or magnesium.

Thanks for the tip on the potassium-- I will definitely give it a try soon.

I am in my 19th year as a gout patient, and the problem is getting noticeably worse.
Last year I had to take 191 doses of Indomethacin to keep from being crippled, and
by “crippled” I am not exaggerating. Colchicine used to work as well as Indomethacin,
but became ineffective last year, possibly because my supply was too old. I have no
plans to try Colchicine again until the price goes back to ~30 cents per dose. I also
tried Allopurinol but stopped after just a few weeks because I developed a rash. My Dr.
has prescribed Probenecid, which I have been putting off trying since she wants me
to take Colchicine in case I get an attack before the Probenecid takes effect.

Aside from the rash, which was very small and mild, none of the gout meds have
caused any side effects at all. However, my Dr. says prolonged Indomethacin therapy
at the level I was at last year can cause stomach ulcers and also may be contributing
to my high blood pressure.

Getting back to the Potassium I wonder if the 4700mg RDA per day is realistic:
Two tables I have looked at, one from the Mayo site, relate that bananas contain
about 450mg potassium each, meaning that you would need to eat 10 bananas
to get to RDA, and that sounds like a bit much.

Since ~25% RDA worked for OP I will start with that and hope for the best.