Altitude Adjustment in June Lake

I almost always get altitude sickness at 5000 feet or above. On a work trip to Denver and Aspen, I nearly broke down and used the hotel room oxygen canisters. I decided to woman up and have a glass of wine instead. Big mistake! I had a hangover the next day from a single glass of wine. Dehydration was the main cause of this, but I also think I’m sensitive to the decreased oxygen and take longer than others to adjust. Usually 3 days.

This weekend I’m heading up to June Lake at 7500 feet (7621 feet) to spend time among the beautiful changing fall leaves that are a rare sight in SoCal. Last year I went but was worried that nausea, lightheadedness, and that short of breath feeling might wreck the short trip. Wanting to be present and my best romantic self, I tried out a combo of natural and OTC remedies. They worked.

Ginkgo1

The altitude adjustment remedy:

  • Ginkgo tea – one cup a day for five days before trip and during trip
  • Or Ginkgo pills – 120 mg twice a day 5-14 days before the trip and during the trip.
  • Vitamin C – 1000 mg, Vitamin E – 400 mg, Lipoic Acid – 600 mg (small study, see below)
  • Lots of water – high altitudes suck water out of you
  • Portable humidifier – helps hydration and sinus discomfort big time when I’m asleep

And the OTC method (I’m skipping this on this trip):

  • *Ibuprofen – 600mg at beginning of ascent, 600 mg at altitude. Use as needed during trip.

Ginkgo3

Taking Ginkgo Biloba 120mg twice a day for 5-14 days before heading uphill can really help to relieve symptoms according to a few studies:

http://climbing.about.com/b/2010/08/25/ginkgo-biloba-helps-prevent-altitude-sickness.htm

http://www.everestnews.com/stories024/peterh.htm

It’s been discounted in a recent study when compared to an rx. I read the study here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC383373/

I noticed one flaw in the study, they did not have the participants use Gingko in the 5-14 days leading up to the ascent (except the day of).

*Ibuprofen. The other component that helped was using Ibuprofen. I’d like to skip Ibuprofen this trip as I intuitively feel there are some negative health affects. One toxin included as an inactive ingredient: Phtlalates, which have negative effects on reproduction for both men and women. Maybe in a single dose the amount used is safe, but when considering Pthlalates are found in many products the cumulative affect could be unhealthy. http://saferchemicals.org/toxic-chemicals/phthalates.html

When I used it last fall, I took 600 mg two hours before beginning ascent up the hill and another 600 mg once I reached the destination. I then continued to take Ibuprofen at lower doses during the weekend.

This time I’m going to try it without the Ibuprofen. I’ll see how that works out, wish me luck!

**UPDATE 10/16/13: The ginkgo teas leading up to the trip combined with taking ginkgo pills at elevation really helped! I think I’ll be fine without the Ibuprofen in the future, but is a solution if I don’t remember to start the ginkgo the week before the trip. 

**Disclaimer: I’m not a medical practitioner,  the above recommendations are for informational purposes only. Consult your health practitioner for the best recommendations for you.

Last, if you are going above 8000 feet, read the link below to prepare for this type of ascent.

http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php

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