Over the past six months, I have conducted an important experiment that could change the lives of many people who suffer from the same thing I suffer from: episodes of gout.

Until about 100 years ago, the disease, which is associated with the overconsumption of rich foods and booze, mainly afflicted the members of the upper classes. But with the generalization of the good life in advanced capitalist societies, it descended to the middle and lower orders.

Though gout, which can be terribly painful, affects six million Americans, one of whom is me, there is no sure cure. And the reason for this (I suspect) is not found within the state of science itself (if given the chance, medical researchers could eradicate it without much difficulty), but because of the moral attitude toward the disease.

The opinion that many doctors share with the average Joe or Jane is that gout is the price one pays for eating things that are too delicious, or drinking wines that are devilishly bold and aromatic. Cut these things from your diet, and the gates of a gout-free heaven will surely open. This is the general attitude.

So what are we supposed to do? Live like monks? Eat roots or watercress instead of buttery goose eggs and fried oysters? I think not. Gout sufferers of America, and indeed the world, I have found the solution. I now know how we can chow like kings and keep the gout in check. It is with creams or balms that contain CBD (aka cannabidiol, the medicinal, nonpsychoactive compound in cannabis).

I have written before about using CBD joints to deal with the disease. And to some extent, they are successful. But I found two problems with smoking CBD: One, you need to smoke a lot for it to be effective. And two, smoking a lot is very disorienting. Your mind is clear but your body is a buzzing mess. It's kind of like lucid dreaming. Plus it smells.

Also, CBD joints or CBD pills are effective only during the early stages of a gout attack. Miss that opportunity, and all they do (in my experience) is reduce the pain as the attack runs its one- or two-week course. Because a gout attack happens very suddenly, and goes from not-too-bad to the kind of pain that Satan inflicts on those who failed to follow the word of the Lord, what a sufferer really wants is a drug that can end the episode no matter what stage it is at.

Before I discovered CBD creams and balms, also called topicals, the only drug that could do that for me was steroids. But steroids are horrible. They make you want to hit people and they turn off your immune system (gout comes down to the body's self-defense system firing its weapons on the crystals in your joints that were formed because of an excessive amount of uric acid in your system).

How do these CBD creams and balms work? You apply them directly on the point of pain, and that's it. You feel a gout flare, you rub the CBD cream on the flare, and you go on with your life. I'm serious. It works if you use the right cream or balm. Here are the ones I found to be very effective.

Lazarus Naturals, Full Spectrum CBD Balm, 1,200 mg ($50 at lazarusnaturals.com)

In the six months I have used this balm—which has 1,200 milligrams of CBD for a two-ounce container—I have not experienced a gout episode it could not conquer, no matter how advanced or severe. It is truly the real deal.

Upon applying the balm on a throbbing area on your foot (gout loves the foot more than any other part of the body), the effect is felt almost immediately. The pain beats a hasty retreat. You are on the winning side of this war. And if one adds a standard dose of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (like ibuprofen or naproxen), the battle is over in a matter of minutes. This is the great thing about the CBD approach. It cuts your consumption of those other more unhealthy and synthetic substances (I do not want to know what's in naproxen).

I have suffered from gout for nearly a quarter century, and during much of this time, I found it gravely imprudent not to have ibuprofen pills near me at all times. But when I started using this balm, I found weeks, and even months, where I didn't consume a single ibuprofen pill. The success beat all expectations because of the potency of the balm (1,200 mg!). Obviously, the more CBD the better.

Tuscura, Deep Relief, 300 mg ($45 at tuscura.co)

Deep Relief, a cream made by a company in Bellevue, is very effective against the early stages of gout. It has the texture of a royal lotion—not too thick and not too liquidy. The cream also claims to cure a bunch of things that are not my problem: fungus, scrapes, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Aesthetically, I prefer Deep Relief to Lazarus's balm—the packaging is better, the cream is more princely—but 300 milligrams for 1.7 ounces is not enough potency to deal with advanced-stage gout. For that you need Lazarus's 1,200 milligrams.

Fairwinds, Flow CBD Deep Tissue & Joint Cream, 250 mg ($40 at your neighborhood pot shop)
By far the best-smelling and solidly effective topical for gout will be found in a jar of Fairwinds Flow. But unlike the above two creams, it has more than CBD in the mix. Its ingredients include, for a 1.1 ounce jar, 250 milligrams of CBD, 100 milligrams of THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), and 25 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). I'm not sure how these other more intoxicating substances contribute to the relief from gout pain, but the product works—again, for the earliest stages of gout. Also, I love putting the cream in my hair, as it makes it smell like a young, forest-beautiful, and breezy wild thing.

But in general, the rule for CBD creams and balms is simple for a gout sufferer: the more potent the better.