Altitude sickness, also called acute mountain sickness (AMS), is an illness that’s caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen
levels at high altitudes (usually above 8,000 feet/2,400 meters). Mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travelers at high altitudes are susceptible to AMS.12
What Causes Altitude Sickness?
Altitude sickness causes are related to reduced air pressure. At high elevations there are lower levels of oxygen. When people are
not acclimatized to lower air pressure and reduced oxygen it can cause adverse symptoms because the body isn’t able to intake the usual amount of oxygen. Additionally,
altitude sickness causes are attributed to climbing at high elevations too quickly and not letting yourself adjust on the way up. Certain people are more susceptible
to altitude sickness. If you are used to living at sea level and haven’t traveled to high elevations it can make you more vulnerable to altitude sickness symptoms.
Anyone who has had altitude sickness in the past is also likely to develop it again.
Altitude Sickness Symptoms
Altitude sickness symptoms will normally appear between 6 and 24 hours after climbing to a higher altitude.3
Usually, altitude sickness is mild. Mild altitude sickness symptoms include:
Rapid heart rate
Shortness of breath1
But in more severe cases, you may also notice the following altitude sickness symptoms:
Cyanosis (skin turning blue)
Coughing up blood
Loss of consciousness
Gray or pale complexion1
Natural Remedies and Herbs for Altitude Sickness
Anyone planning to travel to high altitudes should take preventive measures to avoid succumbing to altitude sickness. Altitude sickness natural remedies
can help prevent altitude sickness and can help treat symptoms if they do start.
Here are the top altitude sickness natural remedies to try before traveling:
Coca Leaves - Coca leaves are often recommended for altitude sickness. Chewing on coca leaves or drinking coca leaf tea can help ease symptoms.
Ginkgo Biloba - Ginkgo biloba is also a popular remedy for treating altitude sickness. It has been used traditionally to help boost blood flow, which reduces certain altitude sickness symptoms.
Fennel - Fennel is an altitude sickness natural remedy used to boost blood flow. This helps to oxygenate the body and lowers dizziness and shortness of breath symptoms.
Reishi Mushroom - Reishi mushrooms can help to improve the body’s ability to intake oxygen. This can help increase breathing and reduce lightheadedness. It can also help to boost energy levels, lowering fatigue.
Cinnamon - Cinnamon is one the best altitude sickness natural remedies because it helps with nausea and vomiting. It can also help to improve breathing and prevent fatigue.
Clove - Cloves can help mountain climbers or travelers increase their oxygen uptake. Taking a clove infusion before travel can help to prevent altitude sickness.
Ginkgo biloba is a natural herbal supplement that can be taken to help prevent altitude sickness. Ginkgo biloba helps to increase blood circulation which allows for a higher tolerance of low oxygen levels to the brain. Take 60-240 mg of gingko biloba extract daily.
May cause excess bleeding if you take it while you are using anticoagulant medication.
Chewing coca leaves is a traditional South American health remedy for altitude sickness. Coca leafs can be infused into a tea as well. Drink a coca leaf infused tea to help calm mild symptoms of altitude sickness.
Fennel has natural blood thinning compounds which makes it an excellent anti-aggregator. Eating fennel herbs can help increase blood circulation and help tolerate the low levels of oxygen that cause feelings of altitude sickness. Add fresh fennel herbs to meals or take fennel seed supplements in capsule form.
Reishi mushroom is a traditional remedy for altitude sickness used in Asian regions. Eating reishi mushrooms can help to prevent and alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness by helping the body increase its ability to consume oxygen.