First the DISCLAIMER:
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.
Finally the ANECDOTAL “EVIDENCE”:
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’.