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What is the herbal product they sell in Cusco for altitude?

What is the herbal product they sell in Cusco for altitude?

Old Jun 13th, 2023, 07:23 AM
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What is the herbal product they sell in Cusco for altitude?

What is the name of the herbal product they sell in Cusco pharmacies for helping deal with minor issues of altitude? I think it is known to alleviate headaches somewhat.
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Old Jun 14th, 2023, 10:55 AM
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The only herbal product that I know of used to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness is coca. Coca tea is made from the dried leaves of the coca plant and is sold everywhere and is provided to guests in many hotels. I like the taste but it has no effect in reduce teh symptoms of altitude.

Many Peruvian chew coca leaves usually with an alkaloid to release the active ingredient. The main effect for me when I tried it on a high altitude trek was a numb mouth and tongue. I guess it did provide some temporary alleviation of the breathlessness ( or maybe it was just a mild high??)

it could be you are thinking of the "sorojchi" pills which are available from pharmacies. Sorojchi is the Quechua word for altitude sickness. The pills are not really "herbal" though- they are a combination of aspirin and caffeine and a few other ingredients. They may help with a headache but I very much doubt they will do anything for AMS.

If you are concerned about the altitude then I would ask your doctor about a prescription for acetazolmide which can help some people. Best way is to ascend gradually to higher altitude see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/altitude-sickness/ for more info.
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Old Jun 14th, 2023, 12:18 PM
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Wow thanks for the run down and experiences with all of that!

What do you mean they chew it with an alkaloid? When I google that it says something about naturally occurring nitrogen.

It is probably the Sorojchi pills. I had read on a travel blog that the writer said they sold a herbal product in the pharmacies, I bet they meant those pills.

Are coca leaves easy to find, like in local markets or small grocery stands?

I live in Colorado so deal with altitude a lot but getting older and you can still get bit by it. I've noticed over the last years starting to get more susceptible when coming from Denver at 5K staying over night at 10-11K that sleeping harder and sometimes headaches the first couple of days so I'm definitely not as resilient as I was when I was younger.
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Old Jun 14th, 2023, 10:29 PM
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You are welcome. "What do you mean they chew it with an alkaloid?" I mean exactly that. They use an alkali such as lime ( calcium hydroxide) or ash ( which I presume is the same sort of thing) . As I understand it and I am not a chemist, the alkali acts as a catalyst to release the active ingredient.

Coca leaves are ubiquitous and can be found in any market. You will often see ladies sitting alongside there baskets of leaves and usually the ash . A bag cost a couple of soles. You will also see baskets of leaves for guests in the smaller local type accommodations. Coca tea is everywhere and, as I said , I find it quite pleasant ( but then I am a tea fanatic and always try different types wherever I am)

My experience over the many years I have been going to high altitude is that I seem to be affected less and less. I think there is some empirical evidence to suggest that older people are affected less than the young or it could just be that my body has adjusted over the years. My first time flying in to Cusco I was quite badly affected, in recent years I have barely been affected by the altitude, just a little breathlessness.

PS Coca may help with some of the symptoms but the active ingredient being cocaine, I doubt it will help with sleep issues!
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Old Jun 15th, 2023, 07:59 AM
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Coca leaves helped keep me awake without jitters. One of the effects of very high altitudes is that you feel sleepy.

For a headache, I use Advil for the first day or two at the first sign of one. After a few days I had no major issues. Staying hydrated helps you acclimate. One tip is to avoid alcohol and a big dinner, at least for the first few nights. Drink about 2 liters of water a day. Do walk slowly going up hill especially at first. Don't stay in Cusco the first few nights if that can be avoided. Better to sleep in the Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo) and use that as a base and then end in Cusco, if you are taking the train to Machu Picchu.

f you have a short visit and must sleep in Cusco before hiking, speak to your doctor about the need for medication which you can start a few days before arriving (Diamox or the generic). If you do take Diamox you can't combine it with some other meds containing salicylates such as aspirin or Pepto bismol.
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Old Jul 8th, 2023, 05:10 PM
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Coca Tea helps. Other options for altitude sickness are Dramamine, or Scopolamine Transdermal Patch. In Peru you can also purchase OxyShot, similar to a personal inhaler when one feels the need you can pump a shot (similar to asthma inhaler).
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Old Jul 8th, 2023, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SuperJ
Coca Tea helps. Other options for altitude sickness are Dramamine, or Scopolamine Transdermal Patch. In Peru you can also purchase OxyShot, similar to a personal inhaler when one feels the need you can pump a shot (similar to asthma inhaler).
Dramamine and Scopolamne are used to treat travel/motion sickness and have no effect whatsoever in dealing with altitude sickness. Please do not post such potentially dangerous misinformation.
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