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altitude meds: western vs. eastern

quimby

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2010
Hello Booties!

I'm about to embark on my first journey into significant altitude (the Andes).
I've read extensive debate about whether to use diamox and I'm still on the fence although I did get a 5 day prescrition to bring along.

The other day I ventured into a Chinese herbalist who gave me altitude meds that he gives travelers who venture into Nepal and Tibet. The box is in Chinese but from what I gather the name of the medication is "Gao Yuan Ning". I'm not finding much information about it on the internet aside from the fact that they provide this to the Chinese army for quick ascents.

Does anyone out there have any experience with this Chinese medicine? I'm curious if it is herb based and what herbs? side effects? I wonder if I should give it a try or just go with the devil I know, the diamox.

Thanks!

Kate and Dan

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Location: Toronto, Ontario

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2010
In my experience — medication is not needed.

I try to stay away from meds as much as possible. After arrival, try to ease your way into high altitudes. Drink plenty of clear liquids. The low humidity at high altitude tends to dehydrate you, which can make you feel sick. Avoid alcohol and excessive salt for a few days—these items exacerbate dehydration. Take it easy for the first few days. Stick with meals that are easy to digest, etc.

And if you're in the Andes, you'll have access to plenty of coca! Just chew some leaves and drink copious amounts of tea. It's yummy.
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Bare Paw

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  • Added on: May 28th, 2010
I did a report on this topic while in Pharmacy School. Diamox is stil the go-to med for Westerners, but the side effects can be bad. The dehydration it causes can be dangerous, especially if you are doing any hard climbing. As far as herbals go, ginkgo biloba has been shown to help, but make sure you are getting a quality preparation. Some brands sneak other herbs in that lower it's effectiveness. In South America, the coca plant is used in teas, or the leaves are chewed. This gives a mild dose of cocaine that helps with the effects of the elevation. There is no scientific evidence to support the Coca leaves, but many anecdotal reports. The addictive properties and legal issues should be taken into account as well.




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