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homeopathic "meds" for altitude
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Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/03/2011 15:46:44 MST Print View

I've found two homeopathic "meds" useful for high altitude backpacking and winter ski touring. I live at just over 2,000 ft. and 8,000 ft. is the beginning of high altitude for me even though I ski patrol between 8,500 ft. and 9,500 ft. every week.

1. Ginko Biloba capsules> proven in tests by the U.S. Olympic traing site in Colorado Springs to reduce (not eliminate) headaches and nausea resulting from exposure to high altitude. Young people, even in excellent cardio-vascular condition, are more subject to mild mountain sickness than older people. Go figure... They ahould be taken 4 to 5 days before going to higher altitudes and several days thereafter.

2. NO2 tablets> Actually just one amino acid, L-Arginine, in 8 hour time-release micro encapsulation. NO2 releases nitric oxide in the blood which is a vaso-dialator, the very same gas relased in larger amounts by Viagara or Cialis and often used by climbers going above 7,000 meters.

I've found NO2 very helpful, especially for a fast "second wind" recovery. Dosage goes by body weight. More weight = more tabs. I take 4 B/C I weigh 180 lbs.

Like me you may be very leery of taking anything to enhance performance at altitude but after trying NO2 I was convinced.

Ginko Biloba may help me so I take it as a prophalactic even though I've never had altitude sickness... yet. But it even occasionally strikes people who live at high altitudes.

My feeling regarding high altitude backpacking trips is I'd rather take these meds" than have my party be forced evacuate me to a lower altitude if I got sick.

BTW, as a ski patroller schooled in HAPE and HACE problems I do know when a person MUST be evacuated rapidly to save their life. Those are TRUE EMERGENCIES, not just the more common misery of altitude headaches and nausea.

Edited by Danepacker on 03/03/2011 15:55:41 MST.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Meds for altitude on 03/03/2011 16:17:28 MST Print View

I admit to being a yellow-bellied coward, but I prefer meds that have passed the FDA formal clinical trials, phase I, II, and III, with subsequent FDA approval. My wimpish attitude is that anything that is powerful enough to work, is powerful enough to be dangerous.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Harumph! on 03/03/2011 20:18:28 MST Print View


Well, I too am wary of homeopathic drugs but since GNC and Vitamin World have sold them since 2001 with no problems and I've taken NO2 since 2002 with no problems I'll stick with them. (However I have noticed a fondness for dog food since I bagan using NO2. And sometimes I sit on the floor and lick my privates for no good reason. ;)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Meds for altitude on 03/03/2011 20:35:45 MST Print View

"I admit to being a yellow-bellied coward, but I prefer meds that have passed the FDA formal clinical trials, phase I, II, and III, with subsequent FDA approval."

With the number of drugs that have been given FDA approval, only to be recalled later due to serious side effects, I'd say you're the brave one.....

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/03/2011 22:09:42 MST Print View

There was some positive findings published in the NEJM in 2001 about Ginko Biloba, but I believe later studies that were more controlled found it no better than the placebo affect. It's not bad for you, just not helping either (other than your mind). The last time I looked into this (maybe 3-4 years ago) it seems that acetazolamide was the only option that had a good evidence of being effective.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/03/2011 23:04:06 MST Print View

Maybe there is a different understanding of what homeopathic medicine is over there but taking Ginko Biloba and or NO2 is considered here herbal medicine and "supplements".
This is what we refer to as "homeopathy" :
(BTW unlike with herbal medicine , IMHO, homeopathy is total bunkum...)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/03/2011 23:26:07 MST Print View

"The last time I looked into this (maybe 3-4 years ago) it seems that acetazolamide was the only option that had a good evidence of being effective."

Yes, true for about the last 15 years now.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/04/2011 02:46:30 MST Print View

Hi Eric

Neither of these are homeopathic medicines. To quote Wikipedia:

'Depending on the dilution, homeopathic “remedies” may not contain any pharmacologically active molecules, and for such “remedies” to have pharmacological effect would violate fundamental principles of science. Modern homeopaths have proposed that water has a memory that allows homeopathic preparations to work without any of the original substance; however, there are no verified observations nor scientifically plausible physical mechanisms for such a phenomenon. The lack of convincing scientific evidence to support homeopathy's efficacy and its use of “remedies” lacking active ingredients have caused homeopathy to be described as pseudoscience, quackery, and a "cruel deception". '

Homeopathy was also described in the Wikipedia article as 'bunkum', a sentiment I would endorse. Remember, if water has a memory as they propose, it is also going to remember being used to flush your toilet, wash down an abattoir, and being used as an enema.

The treatments you are talking about may be a form of 'alternate' medicine, but they do have some scientific basis, even if slight.



Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Re: homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/04/2011 08:23:02 MST Print View

Homeopathic meds are perfectly safe. In fact, you can down an entire bottle of the stuff (as many have done) with absolutely no effect.

Sugar pills don't require FDA approval.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Naysayers repent! on 03/04/2011 16:44:00 MST Print View

Well gents, I too was skeptical of NO2 but the results over years of use have always been positive.

Having taught psychology I fully understand the "placebo effect" and once saw that in the case of NO2 the placebo effect had NOT worked. I'd unknowingly taken Chitsosan tablets instead of NO2 and wondered why I felt no positive aerobic effects on my fast-paced 8,000 ft. hike. So I chalked it up to just having an "off day".

Upon arriving home I realized I'd taken the wrong tablets. (But I SURE didn't have any constipation the next day with all that Chitosan in me!)

So, for me at least, NO2 does work. In weight lifting it helps me keep "pumped" for an extra 2 hours and at altitude it works very well. (And in mornings after using NO2 I'm ALWAYS tumescent.) So there.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
OK now you've got my attention on 03/04/2011 17:09:56 MST Print View

This is your best argument yet. Guess I'll have to try it, even if it means sitting on the floor etc as you recommend.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/04/2011 20:11:34 MST Print View

+1 on the NO2 suppliments. Used them 2 years ago starting several days before starting the SHR, no negative effects from altitude that I normally get on day 1 and sometimes day 2. Last Year started JMT hike from Whitney Portal, no NO2, got altitude sickness again, didn't make Whitney Summit, but still made it to Tyndall Creek/Shepherds Pass JCT once I got below 11,500' or so. I will be using them again this year.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/04/2011 20:24:09 MST Print View

BTW, I have nothing against "alternative" medicine, in fact I grew up with that.
It (herbal medicine) was pretty standard in the village so that is how we "cured" headaches , colds, constipation,diarrhea,insomnia, rashes, cuts, wounds... , my point was simply about the terminology.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
what works for me on 03/04/2011 21:56:22 MST Print View

Personally, I always take some doritos and put them in the blender. I've used this religiously before going to any significant altitude, and it's always worked for me. Eat 'em with a spoon, straight out of the bag. Wow! No altitude sickness, 100% reliable. Also, I always put my socks on inside-out. I'm not saying that the socks thing is supported by Western science, just that it's always worked amazingly well for me.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: homeopathic "meds" for altitude on 03/04/2011 22:19:44 MST Print View

This NO2 stuff might be useful for an old fart (self included), but I don't know how well it works.

2 NO2 -> 2 NO + O2

I have no idea how quickly it acts, but if Nitric Oxide and Oxygen were liberated, that could get interesting. Nitric Oxide tends to relax the large-bore arteries, therefore allowing increased core circulation. I'm not directing this at any individual, but I picture somebody perhaps over 50 years old with a slight cardiac insufficiency, or with a touch of hardening of the arteries. I could understand how that might work, but I think I would want to bounce that off my cardiologist. People with these conditions often carry nitroglycerine tablets for a similar effect, but more of an instant burst. Possibly the NO2 supplements do something. I don't know.

UC San Diego was doing some research on this topic at the summit lab of the White Mountain Research Station, but that was several years ago. The scientists kind of scared me, because when I trotted up to their summit lab, they looked like they wanted to grab me as a research specimen.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Research Specimen on 03/05/2011 00:32:00 MST Print View


I think it was your elegant moustache that flagged you as a possible guinea pig. :)
They likely has already tested "normal" subjects and were likely looking for someone "beyond the norm". (I can't put it any more gently.)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Research Specimen on 03/05/2011 01:03:30 MST Print View

The darn UCSD scientists had gone up to the White Mountain summit lab by 4WD vehicle on the day before their big experiment with NO on human subjects. They had to get the lab ready, and then they discovered that the lab's electric generator required a key to start, and they had no key. We spent some time trying to hot-wire the thing, and then gave up. They had to go back down to Barcroft to search for the key, and then just hope that they could get things going with the human subjects on the following day. I looked over my shoulder to the west and saw a storm approaching, and that summit would be the last place that I would want to be in a storm, so I scooted out of there and headed down. No, I wasn't going to be their guinea pig. If they wanted a guinea pig, they should grab up one of the thousands of yellow bellied marmots that live along the trail.

My hunch is that your NO2 stuff is supposed to give you a very slow version of a nitroglycerine tablet. But lots of stuff is supposed to do things that are only realized in a marketing document. I sure would not want to get dependent on that sort of chemical.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 03/05/2011 10:53:53 MST.

bryan english
(apoxtle) - F

Locale: so cal.
no2 on 03/06/2011 08:00:39 MST Print View

I haven't used no2 for hiking but use it as a pre-workout supplement before going to the gym and i add it to my electrolyte drinks while cycling. it makes a noticeable difference as far as endurance and some strength. i will try using it on my next backpacking trip at altitude.
tried ginko and i don't think it helped.
diamox on the other hand does work. it's not "homeopathic" but i could really care less. better living through chemistry.

darren smith
(smudgedj) - F
Altitude on 03/06/2011 14:35:10 MST Print View

Only natural stuff I've found to work is Mate De Coca....properly banned in the US....Good for hangovers as well.

Erik Danielsen
(er1kksen) - F

Locale: The Western Door
Re: Coca on 03/08/2011 07:56:36 MST Print View

I'm with Darren, coca used in its herbal form is great stuff. Similar to caffeine with less crash, different (more pleasant/less stressful, imo) psychological side effects, and the big one for this thread... knocks any altitude-related symptoms right out of you.

Of course, the fact that some western scientists figured out how to turn it into a harmful, addictive drug through chemical refinement means that clearly a total ban on coca products and large-scale eradication of coca plants via herbicide is the only thing we can do, right (squeezing the supply, driving up the value, where does the money end up)? Obviously, once the coca plants are gone there will be no more cocaine, and then all the drug-addicts will stop getting high and turn into upstanding members of society. Right? I mean, the wholesale destruction of a cornerstone of Andean culture (no more sinister than coffee in its traditional use) and serious chemical damage to the environment is a small price to pay to achieve such a noble goal!

Thus, I will NOT complain that it's ridiculous that I can't drink Coca Mate instead of coffee in the mornings. That would clearly be selfish of me.

Really, though I was surprised to note that after discovering coca mate (made the mistake of drinking anise tea the first day I was in the andes, which provides no benefit) I was able to spring up the steep streets of La Paz (at 11000 feet or so in elevation) like I was back home at sea level. Later, climbing a mountain across from Machu Picchu (about 8000 feet) I felt a little sluggish so I munched some puffed coca beans and found that the problem was solved. Think chocolate-covered coffee beans, but with extra benefits for altitude.

Not saying this other stuff isn't great. Just saying it's unfortunate that due to the ridiculous politics surrounding coca in western cultures, we're missing out on a great altitude-adaptation aid.