Altitude sickness

If you’re planning a trip to somewhere mountainous, it’s worth thinking ahead. Altitude sickness can take days out of your precious holiday, and there are no easy treatments. But there are ways of preventing or minimising the problem.

First, research has shown that people whose blood is high in antioxidants are far less likely to suffer. That means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, starting well before your journey. And plan so that you don’t ascend or descend too quickly; the body needs time to acclimatise at each stage.

Second, dehydration can bring on altitude sickness. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol as it tends to make dehydration worse.

Third, herbs that stimulate your circulation can help. Ginkgo is particularly useful here, and you should start taking it at least a week before you travel. Garlic helps too; it’s a blood thinner as well as boosting circulation. Start taking capsules or raw garlic before you go, and carry on throughout the journey.

It’s worth looking into the traditional remedies in the region where you’ll be travelling. Garlic is used in Nepal and Bhutan. In China and Tibet, the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum or Ling Zhi is one of many possibilities, usually taken with several other herbs as a ‘tang’ or soup. Wherever you go, there will be home-grown answers to the problem.

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