Gout affects approximately 4% of the population, or 8.3 million people, and is on the rise.1 Men are more likely to be affected than women, and chances increase with age, obesity, and whether or not the individual has heart disease or other cardiovascular issues. While women aren’t as prone to gout as men, if they do develop it, it’s more likely to happen after menopause.2
What is gout?
So what is gout? Put simply, it’s a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals that often begins in the big toe or other areas of the foot or ankle. Most uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passed through the urine. However, when there’s too much, a buildup can occur.3
Causes and symptoms of gout
If an individual is prone to have gout, purine-rich foods can cause flare-ups. Purine is a naturally occurring chemical found in certain foods. When the body breaks down purine, uric acid forms.
Some foods that are high in purine or that can contribute to gout flares include:
- Red meat
- Sugary foods*
- High-fructose corn syrup*
- Organ meat
* High-sugar and high-fructose corn syrup foods don’t usually have high levels of purine, but they do contribute to inflammation. Therefore, many people find that these foods contribute to gout flares.
Since gout is a form of arthritis, the symptoms are like those of other types of arthritis—swelling, inflammation, and intense pain. Gout attacks usually come and go, but when they happen it can be quick and severe.
The different stages of gout
There are several different stages of gout according to Medical News Today:2
- Asymptomatic hyperuricemia – During this stage, individuals won’t show symptoms, but will still have high uric acid levels.
- Acute gout – Just like the name suggests, during this stage acute flare-ups that cause inflammation and pain will occur.
- Interval gout – This stage occurs in between acute gout flares.
- Chronic tophaceous gout – This stage usually occurs after many years of dealing with gout and is the most debilitating. It occurs when the crystals develop into hard lumps and can appear in other places of the body.
- Pseudogout – This is actually different from gout even though symptoms may be similar. Instead of uric acid build up, pseudogout is caused by calcium pyrophosphate deposits.
Treatments for gout
Conventional treatments for gout include taking medications to help alleviate inflammation and pain, as well as medications that help reduce uric acid levels. However, there are several natural options that can be done as well. These include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating a whole-food diet abundant in plants and anti-inflammatory foods
- Avoiding any foods that may cause flare-ups*
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate and quality sleep
- Reducing stress
- Taking anti-inflammatory supplements and herbs
- Using essential oils
*While it goes without saying that foods which increase uric acid levels should be avoided, many individuals who struggle with gout, arthritis, and autoimmune disease often find that there are certain foods that cause flare-ups and inflammation. Although there are many foods that are known to cause inflammation, other foods may be contributing to flare-ups that you wouldn’t normally suspect. Because individuals are unique, these foods may be different from person to person, meaning that it’s a good idea to keep track of when flare-ups occur and to note if there are any foods that may be contributing.
Essential oils for gout
When looking for essential oils to help with gout, the key is to find oils that are detoxifying, pain-relieving, and/or anti-inflammatory. Detoxifying essential oils can help support the body with the detoxing process, analgesic essential oils help with pain, and anti-inflammatory essential oils help with inflammation.
Peppermint is one of the best essential oils for gout for good reason. Not only does the high menthol content give the oil a soothing, cooling sensation when applied topically, it is also frequently used to help with pain relief.4 Peppermint is great used on its own (many individuals enjoy the cooling sensation), or it can be added to a blend containing other essential oils.
2. Juniper Berry
Juniper berry essential oil is also a great option to consider for gout. Supporting the body’s detoxification process during a gout flare is important so that the body can get back to its normal state as soon as possible—this is what makes juniper berry a viable choice.5 Due to its detoxifying properties, it may be especially beneficial when dealing with a gout flare. Juniper berry can be added to blends or even used during a detoxifying Epsom salt bath.
Lemongrass essential oil is one of the best essential oils for gout due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties.6 Many people like to use lemongrass in topical applications to help with inflammation and pain. A word of caution: lemongrass essential oil has a very potent aroma, is phototoxic, and can be uncomfortable on the skin if not properly diluted. As with all essential oils, it’s important to make sure to properly dilute lemongrass before topical use to avoid any adverse reactions.
Oftentimes chamomile gets overlooked because it’s frequently associated with digestive issues or stress, but it actually has a long history of use for inflammation and pain. In fact, a study conducted in 2015 found that participants with osteoarthritis significantly reduced their need for pain relievers when using topical applications of chamomile oil 3 times a day for 3 weeks.7 While it’s not the most expensive essential oil on the market, chamomile is definitely higher priced than many. However, very little is needed so it’s a great investment. I recommend using it in a formulation with other anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving oils.
By now it’s common knowledge that lavender is one of the most versatile and commonly used essential oils. We all know it’s great for promoting feelings of calm and relaxation. However, studies have also found that lavender has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties as well.8 It’s excellent when used in either diffuser blends or topical applications, so really the sky’s the limit. Personally, I prefer to use it in conjunction with other oils because it works harmoniously with most essential oils.
Ginger essential oil is frequently used in formulations for pain and inflammation and it’s no wonder. Numerous animal studies have found that ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, one animal study conducted in 2016 found that although there wasn’t a significant impact on acute swelling, rats treated with ginger essential oil had significantly reduced joint swelling during the chronic phase of arthritis—up to 38%!9
7. Celery Seed
Although it may not be one of the most common essential oils, celery seed is definitely considered one of the best essential oils for gout. Animal studies have found that celery seed essential oil can actually increase the potency of medicines used to treat disorders causing chronic inflammation.10 This makes it a no-brainer for gout, pseudogout, arthritis, various autoimmune diseases, and more. Another bonus is that even though it may not be the most common essential oil, it’s still very affordable.
Essential oil blends for gout
Below I’m including 3 different blends to help with pain and inflammation for gout. These blends can be used topically and should be applied to the affected area. As always, feel free to substitute essential oils to suit your preferences or needs.
Combine each of the following blends with one tablespoon carrier oil of choice such as jojoba, olive, coconut, or almond.
Gout Essential Oil Blend #1
- 4 drops celery seed essential oil
- 7 drops ginger essential oil
- 7 drops chamomile essential oil
Gout Essential Oil Blend #2
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 7 drops juniper berry essential oil
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
Gout Essential Oil Blend #3
- 2 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 8 drops peppermint essential oil
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
As you can see, using essential oils for gout can be a great way to help support your body’s natural ability to fight inflammation and pain. The easiest way to do this is to use them topically in blends formulated specifically for inflammation, pain, and detoxification. However, it’s also a great idea to experiment and see if certain foods and lifestyle habits contribute to or help reduce gout flares. Remember, many of the choices that we make can directly affect our overall health and well-being!
About Nicole Stine Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
1. Hendrick, Bill. “Gout on the Rise in the U.S.” WebMD LLC. WebMD.com.
2. McIntosh, James. “Everything You Need to Know about Gout” Healthline Media. Medicalnewstoday.com.
3. “High Uric Acid Level” Cleveland Clinic. My.Clevelandclinic.org.
4. Dresden, Danielle. “What Are the Benefits of Peppermint Oil?” Healthline Media. MediLexicon International.
5. Tief, Tracey. “Detoxifying with Essential Oils” The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. Naha.org.
6. Boukhatem, M. N, M. A. Ferhat, et al. “Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-Inflammatory and antifungal drugs.” Libyan Journal of Medicine 9, no. 1 (2014): 25431.
7. Shoara, R., M. H. Hashempur, et al. “Efficacy and safety of topical Matricaria chamomilla L. (chamomile) oil for knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled clinical trial.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 21, no. 3 (2015): 181–187.
8. Silva, G. L., & C. Luft. “Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil.” Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências 87, no. 2 (2015): 1397–1408.
9. Funk, J. L., & J. B. Frye. “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of the Essential Oils of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) in Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Pharma Nutrition 4, no. 3 (2016): 123–31.
10. Whitehouse, M. W., & D. E. Butters. “Combination anti-inflammatory therapy: synergism in rats of NSAIDs/corticosteroids with some herbal/animal products.” Inflammo Pharmacology 11, no. 4-6 (2003): 453–64.