Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid that accumulates in the joints, most often presenting in the big toe. Uric acid is a metabolic by-product of the breakdown of proteins in the liver, especially of purine-rich foods like red meat, shellfish and organ meats. Alcohol, fatty foods, sugar and other acidic-forming foods exacerbate the formation of uric acid as well. When uric acid levels are too high, the body cannot excrete it at a quick enough rate, and the uric acid crystallizes and lodges into the tissues surrounding joints. These crystals are needle-sharp and poke into the soft tissues of the joint creating acute inflammation and often excruciating pain. Herbs are helpful at modulating the inflammation associated with gout flare-ups, and helping the body to eliminate excess uric acid.