12 Ways How To Prevent Altitude Sickness Naturally (Science-Backed)
Altitude sickness is a major issue in high-elevation regions for climbers, travelers, and adventurers alike — but there's many natural preventions for altitude sickness. As a company with years of high-altitude experience in Colorado, this is the most extensive guide available where we share with you the top ways how to prevent altitude sickness naturally, with some solutions that you won't find mentioned anywhere else!
How To Prevent Altitude Sickness Naturally
Over the years, we've covered the numerous ways how to prevent altitude sickness naturally. In this guide, we'll provide all of the solutions, strategies, and remedies researched in one spot.
To name a few, preventing altitude sickness naturally has included everything from supplemental oxygen and sleep to antioxidants and teas.
What Causes Altitude Sickness?
Altitude sickness, also known as mountain sickness, is mainly caused by the lower oxygen levels at higher elevations.
With lower air pressure and oxygen, physiological and oxidative stress starts to take a toll on the body. This leads to symptoms including headaches, fatigue, and trouble breathing.
While altitude sickness is most commonly referenced to start over 8,000 feet, we've found research showing it to start at 5,000 feet.² Altitude sickness is problematic for more people than traditionally anticipated, even in Denver at 5,280 feet it's estimated that 10% of visitors experience it.³
The higher you go, the worse the symptoms can get. Symptoms of altitude sickness can include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling ill
These symptoms usually develop within 6-24 of high altitude exposure. Keep reading to learn all the ways you can use to prevent altitude sickness naturally.
12 Ways How To Prevent Altitude Sickness Naturally
Altitude sickness negatively effects many travelers whether climbing, hiking, vacationing or flying.
To avoid the misery of altitude sickness, we'll share the top ways how to prevent altitude sickness naturally. We utilize our many years of high-altitude experience being based in Colorado, and hundreds of hours of research, to give you the best remedies, strategies and solutions.
Here's 12 Ways How To Prevent Altitude Sickness Naturally:
1. Hydrate Properly
Wilderness Medical Society estimates you lose water twice as fast at high altitudes.⁴ High altitudes are also known to cause increased respiration, leading to fluid loss, and overall these factors lead to dehydration.
You should drink plenty of water
, between 3-4 quarts of water per day, according to the Cleveland Clinic to help not getting altitude sickness.⁵
To enhance hydration, add sea salt (electrolytes) into your daily meals, and take Zaca chewable tablets
to increase water absorption.
With modern science, its been discovered that CBD can help many symptoms that are similar to altitude sickness — including vomiting, nausea, and headaches.¹¹ ¹²
Improved sleep was also a benefit of CBD, and with evidence of sleep aiding in recovery, this is yet another advantage of CBD for high altitude trips.¹²
3. Altitude-Fighting Tea
Tea for altitude sickness, while less commonly known, is an effective way to prevent altitude sickness naturally. Used in cultures around the world, teas are cherish in places such as the Andes mountains and the Himalayan mountains.
Muna Tea, Ginger Tea, Green Tea, and Black Tea are some of the teas that are made for high altitude climbers and travelers. One study done at Mt Everest showed black tea to have a profound effect at high elevations for mood, reduced fatigued, and hydration.⁶
4. Ascend Gradually
When traveling to high elevations, ascend gradually whenever possible. While locals are typically well accustomed to the high altitudes, it's the visitors coming from lower elevations that aren't adjusting that run into altitude sickness problems.
For example when visiting Colorado, visitors that fly in are recommended to stay a night or two in Denver (at 5,280 feet) before heading to the mountains. Then it's safer to visit destinations such as Breckenridge at 9,600
feet since the body has had some time to acclimate.
5. Take Antioxidants
It's now known that high elevations cause oxidative stress and free radical damage on the body.⁷ In research, antioxidants are proven to be a good solution.⁸
One study in India revealed glutathione, the body's master antioxidant, to be reduced by 45% from high altitudes.⁹ Take antioxidants to help fight the altitude oxidative stress, and with glutathione specifically you can replenish your levels.
6. Optimize Sleep
Poor sleep can be detrimental to your body being able to repair and recover from high altitude physiological stress. Sleep can even help improve oxygen and blood flow.¹⁰
Optimize your sleep and altitude adjustment by getting at least 7-9 hours a night. It's also recommended to get plenty of natural sunlight during the day to assist your melatonin levels and sleeping cycles.
7. Supplemental Oxygen
Popularized by brands like Boost Oxygen, canned oxygen is commonly found in mountains town stops for altitude sickness. In our research, canned oxygen may not be strong enough to have a beneficial effect but rather oxygen tanks (supplemental oxygen) are more proven.
Decreased oxygen levels are known to be a major cause of altitude sickness. A study from the University of Pennsylvania showed at noteworthy effect from using supplemental oxygen (oxygen tanks) at high elevation.¹⁴
8. Limit Alcohol
To prevent altitude sickness naturally, there's key things to avoid like alcohol that are just as important as steps or remedies to take. Alcohol can worse your body's ability to recover, causing dehydration, decreased sleep quality, and lowering blood oxygen saturation.¹³
Avoid or at least limit alcohol your first few days at high altitude, or until you feel acclimatized.
9. Coca Leaves
Coca leaves, while illegal in the US, are traditionally used in South America including Peru for altitude sickness. Anthropological Research found that Coca may relieve altitude sickness by means of suppressing the production of red blood cells.¹⁵
If you're planning to visit places like Cusco
, Machu Picchu
, or La Paz
— Coca leaves, tea and candy are commonly found in local shops.
10. Avoid Strenuous Activity
Avoid strenuous activity for at least 24 hours after arrival at your high altitude destination. This includes hiking, running, and heavy lifting. Initially, you should rest frequently by taking breaks.
This kind of stress can exacerbate potential altitude sickness symptoms and put undue stress on your body. Once you've acclimated or feel free of any symptoms, it's safe to explore more and increase your activity level.
11. Essential Oils
Essential oils are another way how to prevent altitude sickness naturally. While there's not specific research done on altitude sickness, Dr. Axe recommends essential oils for nausea, headaches, and sleeping issues related to altitude sickness.¹⁶
Specifically, lemon oil, peppermint oil, and lavender oil are all shown scientifically to have benefits that could aid in high altitude symptoms.
12. High-Altitude Vitamins
If you're wondering what vitamin helps with altitude sickness, we have many insights from researching this area of science extensively. In addition to glutathione that is already mentioned, DHM is another herbal vitamin you can supplement that is shown to aid in high altitudes.
A study done on DHM, a flavonoid extracted from the Hovenia Dulcis plant, shows it to improve high altitude performance and cellular respiration activity.¹⁷
In summary of how to prevent altitude sickness naturally, follow these top ways including — hydrating properly, CBD, altitude-fighting tea, ascending gradually, taking antioxidants, optimizing sleep, supplemental oxygen, limiting alcohol, coca leaves, avoiding strenuous activity, essential oils, and high altitude vitamins. The combination of just a few of these can give you a much better experience at high altitudes!
Top-Rated Altitude Supplement
Ideal for high-altitude adventures — Zaca Chewables are a natural supplement to help you rehydrate, replenish, and recover quickly. The unique formulation includes a balanced blend of herbs, amino acids, and antioxidants including glutathione and hovenia derived DHM. These chewables work faster than traditional supplements, and gives you essential nutrients anyone needs when they travel. Great-tasting and easy-to-use, simply take 2-4 chewables per day or as needed. Try Zaca's chewable supplement today and fuel your next mountainous trip.
1. Top 7 Tips for Altitude Sickness Prevention
2. Patient education: High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness)
3. Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your trip to Colorado
4. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
5. Altitude Sickness Cleveland Clinic
6. The Effect Of Drinking Black Tea At High Altitude On Hydration Status And Mood
7. High altitude and oxidative stress
8. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
9. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
10. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
11. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165951/12. Medical Cannabis, Headaches, and Migraines
12. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series
13. Effects of Alcohol
14. Supplemental oxygen and hyperbaric treatment at high altitude: cardiac and respiratory response
15. Coca Chewing and High-Altitude Stress: Possible Effects of Coca Alkaloids on Erythropoiesis
16. Traveling into Thin Air: Altitude Sickness Prevention
17. Dihydromyricetin Improves Physical Performance under Simulated High Altitude