Excellent Home Remedies for Altitude Sickness


Do you feel woozy in the stomach when climbing a mountain or hill? Do you get this feeling in addition to feeling nauseous, dizzy and completely weak whenever you climb high altitudes? Then the chances are you may be suffering from altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (ASM). Not to worry, though, for there are millions of people out there who suffer from the same issue and also there are many home remedies for altitude sickness, which treat as well as prevents this condition effectively.

What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness or ASM is considered as a condition that affects individuals after they cross a specific height when climbing mountains. It can start as low as 5000 feet and become more pronounced as the altitude increases. AMS is very common at heights of over 10000 feet and can easily affect 3 out of 4 individuals at this stage.

Causes of Altitude Sickness

ASM occurs when the brain gets less oxygen. This happens when you move high too fast and the air around you thins rapidly. This forces you to inhale lesser oxygen than usual, thus forcing you to breathe even more deeply to get more oxygen. This, in turn, has a direct effect on your brain as it struggles to function with the low oxygen levels at higher altitudes. This condition worsens as you move further upwards.

ASM does not affect everyone, but, it is quite hard to predict who will suffer from the condition as well. Those who are not used to exerting themselves at high altitudes can also stand the chances of getting altitude sickness.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

Many perceive altitude sickness to be a mild condition that can be uncomfortable to deal with, but not harmful. This is not true at all. Failure to treat altitude sickness at higher altitudes can lead to a more serious medical condition called High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). This condition can lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs, causing immediate death if not treated in time. Hence, it is essential to take note of the symptoms of altitude sickness and start treating the condition as and when they start occurring. Accordingly, some of the more common symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling of extremities
  • Heart palpitations
  • Impaired thinking

The symptoms of AMS usually start within 12 hours of ascending 5000 feet or above. The symptoms may worsen at night, but would start dissipating within a day or two.

Excellent Home Remedies for Altitude Sickness

Luckily, there are many simple and really effective home remedies that would help you to prevent as well as treat altitude sickness in no time at all. So, the next time you intend to go for mountain climbing but are too afraid of getting altitude sickness, take along a note of these remedies to help you out at high altitudes.

1. Lemon Juice

Lemon JuiceLet’s start with some good old lemon juice for altitude sickness. This juice is known to reduce headaches, coughs, vomiting and fever associated with altitude sickness. Here are two ways you can intake lemon juice for the same purpose.

Method 1: Lemon Juice and Garlic

A concoction brewed with lemon, garlic, and water can help relieve you off the dizzy and nauseous feeling you get at high altitudes.

What you need:

  • Lemon – 1
  • Water – 1 glass
  • Garlic cloves – 2 to 3

What you need to do:

  1. Cut the lemon and squeeze out its juice.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them.
  3. Add the lemon juice and the crushed garlic to the water and stir nicely.
  4. Strain the mixture and drink it whenever you feel queasy in the stomach. This will help get rid of altitude sickness instantly.

Method 2: Lemon and Honey Juice

All that vomiting can leave you with a very sore throat and stomach. Adding some honey to the lemon juice will soothe the throat and stomach in addition to combating the symptoms of altitude sickness.

What you need:

  • Lemon – 1
  • Water – 1 glass
  • Honey – 1 tbsp

What you need to do:

  1. Take 1 glass of water
  2. Cut the lemon and squeeze out the juice into the water.
  3. Add the honey to it and stir well.
  4. Drink this concoction the moment you start experiencing the symptoms of ASM.
  5. This will help deal with the latter effectively.

2. Garlic

GarlicGarlic is an effective home remedy for altitude sickness. In addition to thinning the blood, it improves the blood circulation throughout the body, thus reduces the symptoms of altitude sickness effectively.  Garlic also helps your body make use of oxygen more efficiently, thus reducing the breathlessness at high altitudes.

What you need:

  • Garlic cloves – 3 to 4

What you need to do:

  1. As and when the symptoms of altitude sickness start setting in; peel a few cloves of garlic and start munching them.
  2. This would help reduce the feeling of nausea and dizziness that accompanies altitude sickness.

3. Lavender Oil

Lavender OilMany have vouched for the effectiveness of the lavender oil in treating as well as preventing altitude sickness. The smell of the oil is known to have sedative effects that can calm the mind and reduce restlessness. Lavender oil can also help in reducing stomach discomfort and headaches caused by altitude sickness significantly.

What you need:

  • Lavender oil – 2 to 3 drops

What you need to do:

  1. Apply the oil directly on the head for a headache that is caused due to high altitude sickness.
  2. Alternatively, you can inhale the oil to repel altitude sickness symptoms like dizziness and nausea.

Note: Lavender oil may cause a burning sensation on the skin. Hence, do a patch test on the skin first before applying the oil to relieve a headache.

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne PepperThere’s nothing that would wake up the brain faster than a strong dose of pepper. If you tend to feel very nauseous and dizzy at high altitudes, consider using cayenne pepper to take care of the issue.

What you need:

  • Cayenne pepper – 1 tsp
  • Ginger root powder – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1 glass

What you need:

  1. Add the ginger root powder and cayenne pepper powder to the water.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture and drink it.
  4. You will start feeling better instantly.

5. Fennel Seeds

Fennel SeedsFennel seeds can come to your rescue in cases of acute altitude sickness with mild to severe symptoms. These seeds have been found to be very effective in treating conditions like nausea, acidity, and stomach upset that accompany AMS.

What you need:

  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1 glass

What you need to do:

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add the fennel seeds to it.
  2. Let the seeds simmer in the water for 10 minutes or so.
  3. Strain the mixture and drink it to treat altitude sickness.
  4. Repeat this remedy whenever you experience the symptoms of altitude sickness.

6. Cinnamon

CinnamonCinnamon happens to be another popular remedy for altitude sickness. Studies have revealed that it helps to soothe the stomach muscles, preventing nausea and vomiting in the process. If you tend to experience these symptoms frequently while traveling or climbing, consider using cinnamon to handle them.

What you need:

  • Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1 glass

What you need to do:

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add the cinnamon powder to it.
  2. Stir it nicely until the cinnamon is dissolved in the water completely.
  3. Strain the mixture and drink it whenever you feel nauseous or experience stomach upset.
  4. Follow this remedy to treat altitude sickness.

7. Cocoa Leaves

Although its use is controlled in countries like the US, cocoa leaves are found easily in high altitude regions, thanks to their manifold benefits in dealing with AMS. Rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, cocoa leaves can help reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness to a great extent. You can choose to chew the leaves or brew a tea using them to prevent altitude sickness.

What you need:

  • Cocoa leaves – a handful
  • Water – 1 glass

What you need to do:

  1. Add the cocoa leaves to the water and boil the mixture for about 10 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture and drink it whenever you start experiencing altitude sickness to avoid altitude sickness.

Herbal Potions

There are a number of herbs that can come to your aid in combatting altitude sickness and its symptoms. Here are some of those herbs, which you can use as potions when climbing high altitudes.

8. Gingko Biloba

The gingko biloba has a great track record when it comes to tackling AMS and its symptoms. It is one of the most effective home remedies for altitude sickness. The herb helps improve blood circulation throughout the body. In addition to this, it helps your brain tolerate and adjust to low oxygen levels in the surroundings, thus keeping you steady even in very high altitudes. You can use gingko biloba in the following ways.

Method 1: Gingko Biloba Tea

This is the easier of the two methods to intake the gingko biloba herb. It would also offer instant benefits owing to its minimal preparation time.

What you need:

  • Gingko biloba leaves – a handful
  • Water – 1 Glass

What you need to do:

  1. Boil the water and immerse the gingko biloba leaves in them.
  2. Steep the mixture for about 10 minutes and strain it.
  3. Drink this concoction every time you experience altitude sickness to feel better.

Method 2: Gingko Biloba Tincture

This remedy offers an effective altitude sickness treatment. It would take some preparation beforehand. However, it is more effective than the tea and can really come to your rescue in times of need.

What you need:

  • Dried gingko biloba leaves – 150 gm
  • Vodka – 500 ml
  • A glass jar

What you need to do:

  • Place the leaves in the glass jar and add the vodka to it.
  • Keep the jar in a dark place, shaking it periodically to mix the ingredients.
  • After a month, remove the leaves and strain them to extract their liquid.
  • Store this liquid in a bottle and take one teaspoon of it whenever you feel sick or nauseous due to altitude sickness.

Note: Gingko biloba can interact with the altitude sickness medicines you are already taking. So check with a doctor before choosing the herb to use it.

9. Peppermint

Individuals suffering from altitude sickness can get a respite from the condition by opting for peppermint. This herb properly answers the question, how to prevent altitude sickness. It contains substances that protect and soothe the stomach lining. This would, in turn, reduces the uneasy feeling caused by altitude sickness, preventing nausea and vomiting in the process. You can choose to use peppermint either as a tea or oil for the issue.

Method 1: Peppermint Oil

A sudden bout of altitude sickness can be cured almost instantly with some peppermint oil.

What you need:

  • Diluted peppermint oil – 2 to 3 tsp

What you need to do:

  1. If you start feeling nauseous, smell the peppermint oil to combat the feeling.
  2. If you are experiencing headache due to altitude sickness, then apply some diluted peppermint oil on your forehead.
  3. This would give you immediate relief from the pain.

Method 2: Peppermint Tea

If you don’t prefer peppermint oil, you can always rely on peppermint tea to do the job.

What you need:

  • Peppermint leaves – A handful
  • Water – 1 glass
  • Honey – 2 to 3 drops

What you need to do:

  1. Boil the water and steep the peppermint leaves in it for about 10 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture into a glass and add honey for taste.
  3. Drink this mixture every time you experience nausea, stomach upset or vomiting due to altitude sickness. The symptoms would disappear almost immediately.

10. Licorice

Another well-known herbal remedy for AMS, licorice can help soothe the mucous membrane of the stomach, thus reducing the stomach upset caused by altitude sickness. You can consume licorice in the form of a tea to treat altitude sickness effectively.

What you need:

  • Licorice powder – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1 glass

What you need to do:

  1. Add the licorice powder to the water and boil the same for about 10 minutes.
  2. Let the mixture cool down a bit.
  3. Strain it afterward and drink the mixture to treat the signs of altitude sickness.

11. Ginger

GingerIn the case of altitude sickness, this remedy that has used ginger in it will teach you how to treat altitude sickness effectively. Ginger is known for its manifold health benefits. The herb has a great ability to get rid of even severe cases of altitude sickness in a jiffy. A quick remedy for the condition involves chewing on some raw ginger in order to combat nausea, vomiting, and dizziness at high altitudes. Alternatively, you can brew a concoction using ginger and drink it to feel better instantly.

What you need:

  • Raw ginger – 2 inches
  • Water – 1 glass

What you need to do:

  1. Peel the ginger and grind it to extract its juice.
  2. Mix 1 tbsp of this juice in a glass of water.
  3. Drink the concoction before you start your ascent.
  4. You can also choose to drink it midway if you start feeling nauseous or dizzy.

General Tips to Avoid Altitude Sickness

In addition to following these natural remedies to combat altitude sickness, consider these general tips that would come to your rescue in times of need as well.

Take it Easy: If this is your first time at such a high altitude, take it easy. Stay calm and relaxed on the first day of your ascent until your body adjusts to the low oxygen levels in the region. Any form of strain can worsen the symptoms of altitude sickness. Stay away from exercises that would force you to exert your body. Activities like running, hiking or any other strenuous activity is best avoided as you focus more on leisurely activities that help your body and mind relax.

Stay Away from Cigarettes and Alcohol: It is considered best to avoid smoking and consuming alcohol at high altitudes. These activities would dehydrate your body and increase breathlessness. Smoking would also decrease your respiratory drive while sleeping, thus worsening the symptoms of AMS considerably. So kick down these habits until you are back at the ground level.

Drink Lots of Water: Your body will tend to become more dehydrated at high altitudes, thus causing the symptoms of altitude sickness to worsen. The best way to avoid this is to keep your body hydrated by drinking lots of water (at least 4 quarts). This will help you cope with altitude sickness and its symptoms better.

Eat Easily Digestible Foods: Stay away from foods that would take a long time to digest. Your focus should be on eating foods that you can digest easily so that they don’t come back up your throat when you feel sick. Refrain from eating junk, fried or oily foods as they would increase the risk of nausea and stomach upset at high altitudes. Stick to carbohydrate-rich foods as these would be light on the stomach and prevent altitude sickness to an extent.

Practice Pressure Breathing/Purposeful Hyperventilation: Breathlessness is a common symptom of altitude sickness. You can combat this by practicing pressure breathing. Sit down and breathe deeply, focusing on forcing out all the stale air from your lungs. This will have the double benefit of ridding your body of the excess carbon dioxide while allowing it to intake more oxygen. It is best if you speak to a guide or experienced mountaineer about the pressure breathing and practice the same at ground level before you start climbing. This, in turn, will help you to tackle breathlessness easily as you reach higher altitudes.

Use Portable Oxygen Hyperbaric Chambers: If you find it hard to tackle the breathlessness that comes with altitude sickness, consider carrying along a portable oxygen hyperbaric chamber. This will help you increase your oxygen intake as and when you start experiencing breathlessness while climbing.

Climb no Further: Some individuals tend to keep on climbing even after experiencing acute symptoms of altitude sickness. This is not advisable at all. If you start experiencing altitude sickness, stop climbing immediately. Sit down and relax for some time. Wait for the symptoms to dissipate completely before you start climbing again. If the symptoms show no signs of reducing, start descending immediately.

Check with a Doctor: It may be considered wise to check with your general physician before traveling to a high altitude region. Depending on your body condition and constraints, your doctor would probably give you a customized treatment chart to help combat altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness can be quite an uncomfortable condition to handle while mountaineering and traveling. It can also develop into a life-threatening situation if not treated in time. Rather than relying on altitude sickness medicines, you can make use of these natural and completely safe home remedies for altitude sickness and its symptoms. You can also follow these general tips to get relief from AMS, thus you can travel to any height you desire without feeling sick.

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Hey all, I am Suzanne, I love collecting new information on natural cure for health ailments. I always feel that nature has remedies for all our health problems, we just have to use it in the right way. I am DIY pursuer and thus keep trying natural things to get rid of nasty diseases. You will be amazed to know about the treasure mother earth has and how it can help us improve our health. Join me in a journey which take you closer to nature and keep you healthy.