The Literary History Of Gout

Gout-A Badge Of Honor And Proud Station In Life

Gout can lay claim to a long and rich literary history. Touted as the disease of aristocrats, gout has been proudly embraced by kings and noblemen through the centuries. It has been implied that King Asa, the King of Jerusalem, died of the disease about 900 years before Christ. Gout was such a badge of honor that those who suffered with it through the ages refused to acknowledge the possibility that the problem may be rheumatism. Rheumatism was thought to be a poor man's disease while gout was the sole property of the rich.

Such writers as Charles Dickens, in his book "Barnaby Rudge", has his character Mr. Chester apologize for the woman servant whose job it was to open the door, in this fashion: "You will excuse her infirmities! If she were in a more elevated station of society she would be gouty. Being but a hewer of wood and drawer of water she is rheumatic."

In the August 21st, 1898 edition of The New York times, a quotation is made from Lucian as being medical writers' choice for the most graphic description of gout pain. It reads, "Thro' every joint the thrilling anguish pours, and gnaws, and burns, and tortures, and devours."

Gout-It Has The Power To Keep Diseases At Bay

Not only was gout declared to be a noble disease, it was also considered to be a good luck charm and a remedy rather than a problem. It was commonly understood in the 17th and 18th centuries that gout was not compatible with other diseases, therefore it was mutually exclusive. Since it was exclusive, it served as a way to ward off other diseases. Horace Walpole, in writing his English letters, made the following claim: "It prevents other illness and prolongs life. Could I cure the gout, should not I have a fever, a palsy or an apoplexy?" He continued, "I believe the gout a remedy and not a disease, and being so no wonder there is no medicine for it, nor do I desire to be fully cured of a remedy."

Sought as a remedy in the 18th century, English patients who suffered with such maladies as consumption or melancholy (depression) were often sent to Bath (England) as a form of medical prescription. It was hoped that while they were in the waters at Bath they would acquire gout and then be cured of their diseases.

Gout-The Original Viagra

Perhaps the most interesting idea that has been ascribed to gout is that of it being an aphrodisiac. Hieronymus Cardanus of Pavia, a physician and mathematician, claimed gout to be an aphrodisiac in his Podagra Encomium of 1562. Gout, given the character of a woman, was praised as such "a cause of happiness is she (the gout) that those who are restrained by her are compelled to lead lives that, except for the pain itself, are happy. For she does not render them sterile but restores them to Venus with increased prowess."

The 17th century Dutch jurist, Gerhardus Feltmann posited that the increased sexuality of a person with gout was due to the effect of bed rest upon the reproductive organs. "For when a patient who is suffering from gout is forced to lie on his back, anyone who knows that the channels of the sperm trace their source to the kidneys can easily and at his leisure comprehend that the loins and kidneys are hot and inflamed."

It seems that person with gout can enjoy status, safety from other diseases and sex.  Hmm.