Fending Off Pseudogout?

I have been told that I have pseudogout and can’t find any information about dietary or nutritional help to manage this condition. Should I stop eating dairy products?  Are there supplements I can take?

– June 19, 2002

Updated on 6/20/2005

Pseudogout is a painful, arthritic condition that occurs when calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate crystals are deposited in a joint. Virtually any joint can be involved, but knees, wrists, and hands are most common. The disorder is also referred to as CPPD (for calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate) or chondrocalcinosis.

In true gout, the problem is uric acid crystals deposited in joints, especially in the big toe, causing painful swelling. True gout is a metabolic problem and can usually be brought under control with dietary measures or specific drugs. In pseudogout, the calcium crystal deposits create inflammation, with resulting pain and swelling, and over time can weaken the cartilage causing it to degenerate. No one knows why the crystals form. The problem may be inherited or due to various enzyme deficiencies. Pseudogout is also known to be associated with thyroid and parathyroid disorders. It is not believed to be directly influenced by diet, and specific drug treatment is not available.

Instead, the drugs recommended for pseudogout are intended to suppress inflammation and halt the progression of joint disease. Oral anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen) are commonly used, as are corticosteroid injections into affected joints.

To cope with pseudogout I recommend changing your diet to eliminate foods that favor inflammation. Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and all sources of trans-fatty acids, such as margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Instead, your diet should include omega-3 fatty acids found in sardines, wild Alaskan salmon and other oily fish and flaxseeds. I also suggest moving toward a plant-based diet with lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. For insurance, take an antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplement daily. There’s no need to eliminate dairy products unless you have other reasons to do so. Drink plenty of water to increase your urinary output and try to get the right type and amount of exercise to keep your joints happy.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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