Colchicine has been used to treat acute gout attacks for thousands of years, first as an herbal remedy and now as a pharmaceutical.

Colchicine is derived from a plant called Autumn Crocus, whose healing effect on pain and swelling has been referred to in 3,500-year-old Egyptian medical scrolls.

Colchicine as a Gout Treatment

The pain of a gout attack is essentially the pain of inflammation.

  1. During the process of inflammation, white blood cells rush to the location of the gout attack to heal damaged tissues.
  2. Once there, the white blood cells multiply in number via the natural process of cellular division, thereby increasing inflammation.
  3. Colchicine slows inflammation (and reduces gout pain) by altering the genetic process of cell division, effectively reducing white blood cell multiplication.

Unfortunately, this repression of natural cell division is not limited to white blood cells, but includes many other types of cells in the body — increasing the potential of dangerous side effects.

Colchicine for Gout Prevention

As a medication for gout, colchicine has been shown to have a uricosuric effect, which means it increases the elimination of uric acid via urine.

Other — more natural and less invasive — ways to promote uric acid excretion exist without interfering with the genetic process of cell reproduction.

FDA Approval and Price Gouging

Prior to 1982, colchicine was used in one form or another as an unapproved drug and as an herbal remedy. In 1982, colchicine was approved by the FDA but only when used in combination with another drug called probenecid.

In 2009, the FDA awarded a drug company called URL Pharma exclusive rights to market colchicine as a treatment for acute gout attacks. This award came after the company paid a fee to the FDA of $45 million.

As a result, the price of a colchicine tablet increased from about 9 cents to more than $4.50 a dose (which makes me wonder whether the FDA works for us or for Big Pharma).

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Possible Side Effects of Colchicine

The side effects of colchicine include:

  • Severe, painful diarrhea.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Blood in the stool or urine.
  • Headache, hives, and sores in the mouth.
  • Numbness in the hands or feet, pain, fatigue, weakness.

  Bottom Line:  Colchicine can be effective against gout, but the risks of genetic alteration and severe diarrhea may outweigh the benefits. Trust me — better, less toxic ways exist to manage gout!