Ouch ! Gout – the disease of kings

Ouch ! Gout – the disease of kings

One of the most common questions I am asked is How does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach the treatment of gout”?

So as a follow up from my previous blog, where I shared how common arthritic diseases that impair movement and cause pain such as lupus and Fibromyalgia, can be treated with Qi Gong exercises, I thought I would focus on What are the dietary recommendations for managing gout according to TCM?”  Covering which foods and acupressure bring relief to the painful arthritic condition of Gout.

In Chinese medicine, the same disease can be treated differently depending on the genetics, lifestyle choices and even emotions of the person presenting. The flip side of this means we can also treat different diseases with the same protocol.  So even though this blog will cover the solutions for gout, these can also be applied to all conditions that affect mobility and cause pain in the body such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.  “Improving flexibility and Reducing pain” for every body will be our focus for June in Chi Flow with Jo. (free class sign up below)

 “What causes Gout?” 

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by excessive levels of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is a normally occurring substance in the body that is excreted by the kidneys in urine. But if there is too much of it, uric acid crystals can collect in the joints, causing intense pain, redness, and swelling in the joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

If untreated, gout can cause irreversible joint damage, chronic pain issues, as well as joint deformity. Unfortunately, people are less inclined to move when in pain, and this leads to increased issues with lack of mobility, muscles weakness, and stiffness of the joints – so begins a never ending cycle.

What is the significance of liver weakness in gout?

Liver weakness according to TCM, often caused by a rich diet of red meat, fried food, excessive dairy, alcohol, ready meals and eating late at night, reduces the metabolism and breakdown of uric acid.  This makes problems with gout more significant. The overindulgence of foods give gout the nickname “the disease of kings”.  Weak Liver energy impairs blood flow which creates stiffness and pain.

The goal in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to bring the body back to balance and harmony by strengthening not only the Liver/ Gallbladder system but also the Kidney/ Bladder system, which as you can see in the diagram below is the mother of the Liver.  Supporting these will help to clear heat, internal dampness and improve blood circulation which will improve mobility and reduce pain.


What are the dietary recommendations for managing gout, arthritis and joint pain according to TCM?

 We can do this by avoiding foods that weaken the liver such as excessive fats, red meat and alcohol. Instead use foods that enhance liver function.

By following the 5 element chart you can see that these are green in colour and sour in flavour: For example, spinach, kale, broccoli, avocado lemons, limes and grapefruit.

(Find comprehensive list and recipes in my books.)

Avoid foods that weaken the kidney such as oversalted crisps, chips, refined sugar, and high fructose corn syrup found in fizzy drinks. Instead drink more water to help the elimination of Uric acid. Add a squirt of lemon to help the liver.

Try this recipe for Barley Water from a previous blog, it’s great for reducing painful acidic conditions in the body.

How can acupressure help with gout pain?

 Exercising more and working on healthy diet will help reduce uric acid levels, reduce inflammation, maintain weight and mobility, improve insulin resistance, and even extend lifespan.  But it’s hard when exercise can make the pain worse, so start gently with daily Qi Gong.

Combine this with self-shiatsu acupressure and you have a well balanced treatment protocol.

Studies show “that acupuncture is better in improving clinical effective rate, decreasing uric acid, and VAS score compared with western medicine. The overall incidence of adverse events in acupuncture group was lower than that in western medicine group.”

Spleen 6

Spleen 6 is a fantastic acupressure point for moving blood and reducing pain around the body. It is so powerful it is contraindicated in pregnancy.

This acu-point is also know as Three Yin Crossing because this is where the three Yin meridians of the Spleen, Kidney and Liver intersect. It is especially good for moving Qi/Chi/Energy and blood. It also helps clear damp and benefit Kidney energy.

You may find the point painful at first but use it consistently, on both legs everyday and you will notice a difference.  Find by measuring four fingers up from the ankle bone on the midline of the inner leg.
Press, massage and hold on both legs for anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes.

Is there a specific exercise regimen or protocol for managing gout in TCM?

Qi Gong, with its focus on gentle movements, breath control, and energy flow, offers holistic benefits for overall health. While it may not directly “fight” gout, incorporating Chi Gong into your day can support general well-being. Combining it with a comprehensive gout management plan, including lifestyle changes, can contribute to a life filled with ease and joy.

Health professionals working with people who have chronic arthritis can safely recommend these exercises to most adults with this condition with the expectation they will heighten the life quality of the individual, while reducing pain and depression in adults with this condition.

However one point alone does not create a long term treatment plan. If you suffer from painful joints and would like to increase your flexibility, mobility, energy levels and joy of life, join us in Chi Flow with Jo where we cover diet, acupressure and qi gong. There’s even a free class to try before you buy.


Self-administered acupressure or Chinese Medicine is not a substitute for visits to qualified healthcare practitioners.

Knowing how to treat yourself and your loved ones with complimentary therapies like acupressure can be greatly beneficial and convenient. However, for serious and chronic conditions, you’ll want to visit an Shiatsu therapist / Acupuncturist or other qualified healthcare practitioner who can develop a treatment plan based on your unique medical history and combination of symptoms.  

The information provided should not be considered medical advice.

Feeling creaky?  Get your blood and chi flowing for mobility and flexibility

Feeling creaky? Get your blood and chi flowing for mobility and flexibility

Are you stiff in the morning? Do your knees hurt when you stand up? Or are you finding it difficult to pick up or hold things like a coffee cup?

It could be that you are suffering Arthritis. This is a general term can refer to a wide variety of conditions such as Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Gout, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Fibromyalgia all of which cause pain in the joints.

In Chinese medicine, each client is different and viewed as a whole (holistically) including diet, lifestyle choices and genetics.

This means the same disease is treated differently depending on the person presenting.

However we can treat different diseases with the same protocol. In general painful, swollen joints would be treated by addressing the Liver.

Each of organs in Chinese Medicine is related to a season, flavour, time of day, a body part, an emotion and even a symbolic animal.

The liver (yin) with it’s partner the gallbladder (yang) is connected to the tiger. It is related to the spring and governs the tendons and ligaments, which give the body the ability to be flexible and agile.

TCM says that strength comes from the tendons, not muscles.
If you think of a big cat, it is strong, agile, and flexible.  Compare this to a cow, which has huge muscles but little real strength.
The liver, governing the sinews and tendons, has the ability to release strength and power.

Part of its function in western medicine is the regulation of metabolism and the release of energy stored in the body.

Ensuring the health of this organ will mean good blood flow to all the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints plus an increase in energy levels which can be affected by arthritic conditions.

Joint pain which can happen as we age, especially following  menopause but all conditions of stiffness and pain can be reduced by treating the liver with food, acupressure and Qi Gong exercise to reduce the painful swelling symptoms.  For food and acupressure solutions see my next blog – Ouch, Gout !

 It is true that whilst you are in the middle of a flare and your joints are red and inflamed, exercise is difficult. Pain decreases your activity level, and when the body is not moving much, your joints can stiffen and become less flexible. But a recent clinical review showed exercise modalities such as Qi Gong can be beneficial for restoring your flexibility after the immobility of a gout flare up.

Try this Tiger Move from the 5 Animals practice. For the month of June we will be using acupressure, diet and Qi Gong to improve all aspects of flexibility and mobility – they will cover a range of ability including some seated movements so that everyone can get mobile.

If you would like to try gentle, effective movement in your own home but as part of an line group that meets every weekday morning, join us for a free class: