Does Potassium Help Gout?

'A Quick Readers Question From A Gout Sufferer'

The Short Answer –

Effective gout treatments are precious. Is potassium one of them? Does Potassium help gout? Could it be a major preventative treatment to avoid future gout attacks?

This article asks the question and comes up with the answer ‘Yes – potassium could help your gout and here’s how….’

Does Potassium Help Gout – The Facts

As early as 1978, a positive relationship between uric acid and potassium was being observed, during a trial published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

This is relevant because gout or ‘gouty arthritis’ as it is known in clinical journals, is caused primarily by a build up in your uric acid levels that ultimately leads to the formation of urate crystals.

These urate crystals then attach to your joints causing considerable pain, swelling and inflammation. If there is a link between potassium levels and gout, then it is very possible that potassium can help gout.

Finding more research…

Clearly then this link deserved further investigation and in 2013, Mr Charles Weber released a review of clinical papers that concluded not only that potassium and gout were linked through uric acid control, but that potassium could be used to control uric acid levels to some extent.

Instead of looking at pure potassium, he anlalysed some potassium bicarbonate supplements and observed that the effect of taking these was to make urine so alkaline that it helped the body to keep the uric acid soluble.

This is relevant because high uric acid levels on their own, do not mean you’ll automatically suffer with gout.

What causes ‘gouty arthritis’ is when these high levels of uric acid are converted into solid urate crystals.

Sound theory…

If potassium can alter just slightly your PH levels, then it is possible to stop or at least slow down the amount of uric acid forming these crystals. If you can reduce the number of urate crystals being made, then you have reduced the number of crystals ready to attack your joints.

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Does Potassium Help Gout – Establishing Where It Might Help….

According to the science, potassium absolutely does help gout.

What effect it will have when you are just starting to feel the pain of an attack coming on is questionable, but certainly it could play a role in a preventative strategy for the future.

Potassium would seem to work best when used as a preventative measure between gout attacks. It’s noted clash with NSAIDs as mentioned below is further reason for this assertion.

An image of 5 bananas as a source of potassium that is not as strong as potassium bicarbonate powder

The other really interesting link that backs up the use of potassium, sits within many of the studies. That is that actions that result in a LOSS of potassium from your body, can similarly have a negative effect (promoting gout).

Indeed, as noted by Rodman in ‘Urology Review’, gout was actually triggered by many of the same actions that saw potassium levels fall such as fasting, diuretics that cause potassium loss or surgery.

Indeed, so strong was Mr Weber’s views after his research that he concluded…

“I am convinced that potassium bicarbonate should be used to cure gout and chemicals never should be and that this procedure would eliminate gout from our society.”

Now this may be a bit strong, given that gout undoubtedly requires a multi-faceted approach to achieve maximum results – but it still makes a very strong final nail in the case.

Yes – Potassium Does Affect Gout – But What Should You Do Next?

Potassium bicarbonate is cheap and easy to buy anywhere. Make sure however, that what you are purchasing is ‘food grade’. It is already added to some foods, but can be purchased and dissolved in a drink or sprinkled on food.

Ready-made potassium supplements are another easy option for long-term gout prevention. There is no guarantee as to how much potassium you are actually getting though in a tablet, so please be slightly wary of these.

However, on the flip side as there is not a ‘recommended’ dose of potassium, if you purchase them from a recognised supplier, they will be safe.

Potassium supplements have been approved by the FDA as well as the governing bodies in many other countries (including the UK).

You should however, avoiding supplementing potassium into your diet if you are already suffering with any of the following –

  • low blood pressure
  • at risk of cardiac arrest
  • have an irregular heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • weakness or paralysis in any of your limbs
  • numbness or tingling
  • nausea, diorrheaa or vomiting
  • flatulence

Also you should consult your doctor before taking a potassium supplement if you are already on –

  • ACE inhibitors
  • blood pressure medication, especially diuretics
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

Now it is of course quite possible, especially if you’ve just had a gout attack, that you will be on an NSAID, but your Dr should be titrating you off these after the attack (they are dangerous for long-term use).

You can then look to use potassium supplements potentially as one of your preventative measures to avoid future attacks.

The Final Word –

Thanks as always go to our member who asked the question – does potassium help gout? It’s not something that gets commonly recommended and is certainly ignored by some of the ‘huge’ medical websites.

However, the actual clinical evidence for it’s inclusion as part of a gout prevention strategy is clear and fairly strong. It certainly wont help gout pain during an attack, but potassium will help gout in the long-run.

Perhaps then, it is something more clinicians should consider in greater detail in the future. Maybe one more, larger and more definitive study is needed before that starts to happen, but in the meantime if it is taken safely, why not use potassium bicarbonate or as supplements to help prevent gout?

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Further Gout-Related Reports...

References –

1. A C Kennedy, K Boddy, P C King, J Brennan, J A Anderson, W W Buchanan. (1978). The relationship between uric acid and potassium in normal subjects. The Annals Of Rheumatic Diseases.
2. Mr. Charles Weber (April 2013). Potassium Bicarbonate to Ameliorate Gout. WebMed Central.
3. John S Rodman. (September 2002). Intermittent Versus Continuous Alkaline Therapy For Uric Acid Stones And Ureteral Stones Of Uncertain Composition. Urology Review.
4. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. U.S. Food And Drug Administration.

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