For centuries, many have called gout "the disease of kings" because it affected men who ate rich diets and drank heavily. As early as the ancient Greeks, doctors wrote about gout, claiming that only wealthy men could become afflicted with it. And when royals like Henry VIII came down with gout, it transformed into a fashionable condition. Just like the French imitated the royals at Versailles, Europeans aimed to get gout as a status symbol. In the 16th century, men claimed that gout prevented other maladies and even called it an aphrodisiac.
What causes gout? Today, we know that uric acid in the blood leads to gout, but ancient doctors blamed a simpler culprit: rich foods. The symptoms of gout include excruciating pain, often in the foot or joints. And while gout might seem like a disease of the past, it's on the rise in the United States today.