Lately, I’ve received a number of questions regarding remedies for common health problems. Among them, readers have asked me how they can treat gout, cystic acne and toenail fungus. Here are the questions below:
1. I have developed gout in my big toe. Is there a remedy for the pain and a way to keep it from coming back? It is so bad that I can't wear the boots that I need for my job. – Dewayne
2. I am 17 and having a lot of trouble with cystic acne on my face, chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs. Are there any available treatments besides harsh prescriptions that dry my skin? - Garrett
3. What can I do to get rid of embarrassing toenail fungus? – Jereme
In cases such as the three described above, I’ve found that natural remedies often can be just as effective as prescription drugs. I spoke with my friend Chris Kilham, the Medicine Hunter and Fox News contributor, to learn what plant-based cures are available to treat these health problems.
I think it’s important to explain exactly what gout is and why it develops. Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by an imbalance of uric acid. Uric acid is a normal byproduct of the human metabolism; however, when there is an excess of it, it can crystallize in and around the joints and lead to acute arthritis, which can be incredibly painful.
Luckily, there are a number of natural remedies for gout. You should always consult your doctor before altering your diet, but Kilham recommends black cherry, in particular.
“There’s excellent evidence of gout being relieved by black cherry,” Kilham said.
One recent study, which was conducted by the University of California Davis, actually found that consuming one serving of cherries daily reduced uric acid levels, the driving force behind gout, by as much as 15 percent.
While black cherry supplements can work, Kilham prefers drinking black cherry juice to treat the ailment.
For the second question, pertaining to cystic acne, Kilham said manuka oil is effective in treating the irritating, bacteria-filled blemishes.
Manuka oil, or Leptospermum scoparium, comes from the leaves of a bush that grows in New Zealand. It contains profound anti-bacterial properties and is used as a topical remedy for many skin ailments, including acne and inflammation.
“In terms of killing acne eruptions and getting to bacteria, manuka oil works very, very well,” he said. “If you put it on cystic acne regularly, it’s going to take it way down or get rid of it completely.”
Finally, to treat toenail fungus, Kilham absolutely swears by tamanu oil, or Calophyllum inophyllum, a tropical nut oil from the Pacific Islands. The anti-fungal properties of the oil have been well-documented in previous studies.
“Toenail fungus responds rather brilliantly to tamanu oil,” Kilham said. “If you put the oil on the nail, it will get rid of the fungus.”
If you are interested in any of these items, call your local natural foods store to see if they carry them. If not, they are available online. As always, remember to consult your doctor before trying any remedies at home. E-mail me your health-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.