My 22-year-old son has severe pain in his joints and his ankle is swollen. Blood test results show that his uric acid level is 7.6mg/dL. He drinks soy milk, so could his condition be related to his diet?

A health condition associated with high uric acid in the blood was until recently considered a "rich man's disease" (because only the wealthy could afford to eat salted meats and rich breads regularly). However, this condition is now seen in many people and one reason for this is the increased intake of foods with high purine content such as gravies, liver, sardines, sweetbreads, asparagus, beef, cauliflower, chicken, crab, lamb, lentils, lobster, mushrooms, oatmeal, oysters, peas and spinach. Uric acid is normally eliminated through urine. High uric acid levels can be caused either by excess production of uric acid in the body or by decreased excretion of uric acid in the urine. Factors that may cause high uric acid concentration in your blood include: intake of certain drugs (for example aspirin), alcohol consumption, hypothyroidism, obesity, psoriasis and a purine-rich diet.

High uric acid levels may also appear prior to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease or chronic kidney disease. When uric acid crystals accumulate around the joints, it causes inflammation and intense pain. Some people may be able to lower their uric acid levels through diet alone. Your son can try the following:

  • Avoid eating beef, lamb, seafood and bread
  • Reduce intake of purine-rich foods
  • His diet should include green leafy vegetables, celery, cabbage, parsley, kale, tomatoes, fruits like banana, cherries and strawberries, breads that
  • Do not use yeast, nuts, milk and milk products, chocolate and tea
  • Drink water boiled with gokshura* seeds (Tribulus terrestris; small caltrops)
  • Consult an ayurvedic practitioner for a detailed diagnosis

My hairline is making my forehead look very small. Please suggest a remedy to increase the size of my forehead through permanent hair removal. I feel very awkward when I am around people who have broad foreheads.

Hair always seems to grow where it's not supposed to and disappears from areas where you want it to grow. You need to either use a hair removal cream or visit a salon and have the unwanted hair waxed or threaded.

Application of turmeric, kasthoori manjal*, scrubbing, and so on may weaken the hair follicle, but these are not permanent remedies for removing hair.

External application of romasathana thailam* could also help.

*Available at shops selling herbal products