Gout sounds like a horrifically
painful condition brought on by affluence that was
considered fashionable and a sign of wealth. Though we know now what causes
gout, a buildup in uric acid caused by a rich diet
of meats and booze that mostly affects men. It was a malady met
with a lot of confusion back in the glory days of gout. Today we’re talking
about the disease of kings, that is, gout. But before we dip
our toes into this, be sure to subscribe to the
Weird History channel and let us know about what
favorite disease you would like to hear more about. Now get your
anti-inflammatories ready. We’re going gouting. Gout is an arthritic condition
characterized by the Mayo Clinic as sudden, severe attacks
of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the
joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. It’s not surprising
then that people affected by gout lovingly
describe the condition as agonizing. In the late 17th century,
physician Thomas Sydenham wrote that gout was so
exquisitely painful as to not endure the weight of the clothes
nor the shaking of the room from a person’s walking
briskly therein. Translated roughly to
today’s nomenclature, gout was painful as [BLEEP]. So painful, in
fact, one couldn’t wear clothes or be in a room
with people quickly pacing around. Take your impatient
pacing elsewhere, Thomas. Thomas likened the
feeling of gout to that of a
dislocated bone, which is not a favorable condition
for a bone to be in. In the 19th century,
Reverend Sydney Smith described his gout flareups as
equal to walking on eyeballs. So, yeah, good luck on
seeing that pleasant picture from your brain. Much like Robin Hood, gout was
thought to specifically attack the rich. From the earliest
description from Hippocrates himself, gout was linked
with indulgent foods and heavy alcohol consumption,
a diet only the wealthy could afford. Due to this fact, gout
started getting a reputation as the disease of
kings and even became a bit of a humble brag,
depicted as desirable since it was a
clear if not painful and gross proof of wealth. Poor people were priced out
of the fun time gout provided. In an 1900 comment from the
London Times, a writer claimed, the common cold is well named,
but the gout seems instantly to raise the patient’s
social status, meaning gout sufferers were
the original influencers of their times. Hashtag meatfoot,
hashtag datgoutlife. Medical treatments for
gout ran the gambit as far as making any
logical sense at all. From acupuncture
in ancient China down to consuming
autumn crocuses and the Byzantine
Empire, it seemed like a lot of throwing darts at
the wall and seeing what stuck. But the strangest
remedy of them all came from a 1518 medical
book with a terrifying recipe for better health. Eat a fluffy little kitten. Physician Lorenz Fries
described this on-the-level gout treatment recipe as, roast
a fat, old goose and stuff with chopped kittens,
lard, incense, wax, and flower of rye. No, but we aren’t done yet. Once you eat this
kitten-stuffed goose, take the drippings from this
creepy turducken Thanksgiving table centerpiece and apply
to those achy, gouty joints, as one would with BenGay. And just to state the
obvious to everyone, this concoction
did not cure gout. The closest to a
cure of all these were the Byzantine’s
since today colchicine is used to treat gout, which is
made from the autumn crocus and not from
adorable house pets. You know what they say
about a man’s foot size? Well, they took that extremely
seriously from the 16th to the 18th century. Many during this time thought
of gout as an aphrodisiac because nobody ever understood
what a woman wanted. In 1588, essayist Michel
de Montaigne declared, when a man’s leg were
in a weakened state, the genital parts are
fuller, better nourished, and more vigorous. Nasty and wrong. Gout of the junk is not a
thing so no need to add that to your Bumble profile. In 1693, a Dutch writer,
with a very loose idea of how a human body
works, said gout was great because it allowed men to
rest their reproductive organs due to the whole in so
much pain I can’t walk and must lay down
aspect of having gout. He said, for when a patient
who is suffering from gout is forced to lie
on his back, anyone who knows the
channels of the sperm trace their source
to the kidneys can easily and at his
leisure comprehend that the loins and the
kidneys are hot and inflamed. If you should find yourself
with hot and inflamed kidneys, please go to a
hospital immediately, no matter how excited
you might also feel. The oldest description of
gout dates back to 400 BCE by Hippocrates himself. He believed gout was the
result of phlegm settling into the joints and claimed
this delicious and unsettling condition to be incurable. Hippocrates stated,
persons affected with the gout who
are aged have tophi in their joints, who
have led a hard life, and whose bowels are
constipated are beyond the power of medicine to cure. Hippocrates went on
to assign the disease cute little nicknames, terming
gout the unwalkable disease and arthritis of the
rich, since he also noticed the correlation of an
indulgent diet of rich food and wine and contracting
fat beef foot disease. For centuries, the most
glaringly apparent and widely understood trait associated with
gout was its penchant for feet. The ancient Greeks referred
to gout as podagra, or foot grabber, due to the
afflictions favorite place to settle in and get
cozy was the big toe of the poor or, in most
cases decidedly not so poor, gout sufferers. In the 17th century, our
old pal Thomas Sydenham noticed this, too,
describing a gout flareup, waking up a patient with a
pain which usually seizes the great toe, but sometimes
the heel, the calf of the leg, or the ankle. Today, doctors chalk up
gout’s foot fetish tendencies due to the extremities
not being as warm as other parts of the body. The big toe, in
particular, collects a build up of urate
crystals, gout’s power source and favorite food because
it is used the most frequently. The Boston Tea
Party, a major step toward the American Revolution
and the most tea ever spilled before Twitter, may not have
even happened if not for gout. William Pitt the Elder,
Britain’s leading statesman was suffering a gout flareup
during the parliamentary debate of the Stamp Act in 1764. Once he was better, Pitt
pushed to repeal the act, saying Americans are the sons,
not the bastards of England. As subjects they are entitled
to the right of common representation and cannot be
bound to pay taxes without their consent. Yet another tinge of gout
caused Pitt to miss yet another parliament meeting
in which members agreed to impose a high
tax on tea imported to the American colonies,
which led to people dumping tea into a river over a boat to tell
those English where they can stick their higher taxed tea. If only Pitt had been
there to argue his case, the Boston Tea Party may
not have ever been a thing. Henry VIII, who we just
did a video on recently, was a hot-tempered
murderous King who got rid of a couple
of wives and obsessed over his lack of male heir. But did you know
he also had gout? Yes, but hardly the only ruler
to suffer from a bad case of the disease of kings. Decades earlier, the Florence
Medici ruler Piero di Cosimo was so sick with
gout he was rudely nicknamed Piero the Gouty
by a less sensitive society than we have today. Benjamin Franklin, too,
suffered from the affliction. Benji the big gout baby wrote a
letter to his beloved disease, saying Madame Gout,
what have I done to merit these cruel sufferings? Gout did write back to him. Many things. You have ate and drank
too freely and too much indulged those legs of
yours in their indolence. Pretty cool to write fan fiction
of your crippling and chronic disease, but that’s
crazy old Ben Franklin. Another leader who fell victim
to his diet of meats and wine was Emperor Charles
V, whose empire included territories of
Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. Charles was a gout boy, but
not like a regular gout boy, like the one that changed the
course of history gout boy. Due to his meaty diet and
love of beer and wine, including a novelty-sized
four-handed drinking mug I’m sure everyone
thought hilarious, his gout flareups were so
severe that during his clashes with the French he
could barely lead. After the French
took Metz in 1552, our meaty emperor was suffering
from the effects of gout so brutally he called
off the attempt to recapture it from
the French, handing them an important victory and
bumming out the Emperor’s army. Charles basically said, don’t
blame me, blame my gout, before abdicating his throne
and retiring to a monastery where nobody expected
anything from him and he could suffer
from his affliction without having to do things. Those who came down
with a case of gout were advised to stay
off their feet and rest. But in the interim, doctors
came up with a few alternative, and let’s face it, cute
footwear to treat the symptoms. For centuries, doctors
would use a gout stool to relieve inflammation,
which was quite literally just a common stool for
which to rest a leg and not a magical
stool that cured gout. Doctors would also wrap
the foot in a flannel and told patients to
wait for the bout of gout to pass, which could
take up to two weeks. Advice also given to parents in
the ’90s, when their children, too, became wrapped in flannel. Just wait for it to pass. By the early 20th century,
physicians ditched the flannel and designed a glass boot, which
doctors would use to apply heat to treat the symptoms of gout. While the heat might have
provided temporary relief, it unfortunately also made
things a whole lot worse. Heat could dislodge
the uric acid from its cozy home in the
joints and travel straight to the kidneys, which were far
less hospitable environment for uric acid, as the
organ would shut down and the patient could perish. Gout is caused by
hyperuricemia, or excess of uric acid in the blood. Estrogen provides protection
for women from hyperuricemia, making them less likely
to contract gout. However, as women age
and experience menopause, estrogen decreases while their
are opportunities for gout, unlike their opportunities for
meaty film roles, increases. Doctors have also
discovered gout likes to keep it in
the family, finding up to 80% of gout sufferers come
from a family of fellow gout sufferers. Nepotism does work
against people sometimes. First recognized as a
form of arthritis in 1848 by Alfred Baring
Garrod, the condition continues to affect millions
of people to this day. In fact, doctors are
seeing cases of gout rise, with the affliction
affecting 8.3 million people in the United States alone. As the US population becomes
older and heavier, what with food and wine being so
tasty and exercise being so, eh, I’ll start it
next year, doctors should probably expect those
numbers to continue to climb. As should gout’s social status,
because Jared Leto and Dick Cheney are two notable people
who both have the affliction. So have you had
to deal with gout? Do you feel shame? Let us know in the
comments below. And while you’re at it, check
out some of these other videos from our Weird History.