A researcher from the University of Otago discovered that early Māori skeletal remains show symptoms of gout and corroborates evidence that the idea that the disease is genetic and not completely based on lifestyle choices.

PhD student Anna Gosling also researched historic newspapers and records of missionaries, physicians and accounts by Captain James Hook and his crew. She found evidence that Māori people, indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, suffered from gout around the time of European settlement this counters the myth that the disease mainly affected the upper-class European settlers and not the indigenous people.

”Most of the papers discussing gout in Māori talk about gout as if it is a disease primarily related to transitions to modern lifestyles and the adoption of a westernized diet such as soft drinks, alcohol and highly processed foods,” Gosling said in the Otago Daily Times.

Gosling’s paper was published in the journal Rheumatology and build on work by Otago biological anthropologist Hallie Buckley and other researchers who found skeletal evidence of gout in the koiwi from Wairau Bar in 2009.

“The Europeans … may not have recognized the disease which the Māori were suffering as being gout because Māori were not living lifestyles of luxury and excess as seen in the upper echelons of European society at the time,” Gosling said. “While lifestyle, particularly diet, can contribute to the likelihood of developing gout, there is also a genetic component, which seems particularly strong among Māori and Pacific Islanders.”

The results offer evidence in how gout should be treated in patients who suffer from flares, and can provide additional background information in predicting whether people will suffer from this disease.

Gosling said that those treating gout should be aware that there is evidence dating back possibly thousands of years that people suffered from gout. This evidence should that this disease is not just the result of lifestyle choices, and an awareness of this can hopefully send the message that modern drugs are available to help prevent gout.

Treating gout naturally
For those who suffer from gout today, there are natural remedies to help avoid flares or treat them when they occur. These treatments have shown to reduce high levels of uric acid by breaking down purines, improving blood circulation, providing nutrients and reducing pain, inflammation and swelling.