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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
April 2003
Letter to the Editor
Ginkgo for Prevention of High Altitude Illness
Brother Bernard Seif, SMC, EdD, NMD
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It was a pleasure to read Tim Batchelder's excellent article called "High Altitude Adaptation, Coca Use and Health in the Andes" in the January 2003 edition of the Townsend Letter. Readers who are planning to travel to a high altitude might find the related information and clinical experience I recently gained by planning for and spending three weeks in Tibet and nearby areas, helpful to them.

A well-designed study on the effectiveness of 120 mg Ginkgo biloba twice daily at least five days prior to ascent as prophylaxis for Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) prompted me to encourage our group of fourteen pilgrims to do this and not one of us developed significant AMS. I also took Rhodiola (Hong Jing Tian) along for treatment. The Rhodiola flower flourishes at high altitudes and helps to relive AMS symptoms. A few of us who developed a headache from time to time found that a dose or two of Rhodiola relieved it.

We picked up another group of fourteen travelers from Belgium with our bus and dropped them off at their hotel. Every one of them had the nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe headaches associated with AMS — and none of them had any idea about prevention or treatment. We were happy to share with them our experience and medicine.

Readers can go to for additional information.
(2/20/04, Webmistress note: A password is required to access this site.)

Brother Bernard Seif, SMC, EdD, NMD
Salesian Monastery
HC 1, Box 455, Frantz Road
Brodheadsville, Penn. 18322 USA
Phone/Fax 570-992-3448

1. Maakestad, K., Leadbetter, G., Olson, S., & Hackett, P. Ginkgo biloba reduces incidence and severity of acute mountain sickness. (Abstract) Proceedings, Wilderness Medical Society Summer Conference, Park City, Utah, August 9-12, 2000.



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