Ginkgo biloba has a remarkable ability to increase blood flow throughout the body, enabling it to cope better with decreased atmospheric oxygen levels. The leaf extracts have antioxidant properties which increase vasodilation and peripheral blood flow in the capillary vessels. It also decreases blood viscosity and helps regulate cerebral energy metabolism.
The results below are the most compelling data to date supporting the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba in prevention of AMS. The group taking the Ginkgo biloba had no increase in their AMS score (which is remarkable), while the acetazolamide and placebo groups showed increases of 36% and 54%, respectively. The authors concluded that their study provides evidence supporting the use of Gingko biloba in the prevention of AMS, demonstrating that 24 hours of pretreatment with Gingko biloba and subsequent maintenance during exposure to high altitude are sufficient to reduce the incidence of AMS in participants with no previous high-altitude experience.
Wilderness Environ Med. 2007 Winter;18(4):251-7. Ginkgo biloba decreases acute mountain sickness in people ascending to high altitude at Ollagüe (3696 m) in northern Chile. Moraga FA, Flores A, Serra J, Esnaola C, Barriento C. Laboratorio de Fisiología, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo-Chile.firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To determine the prophylactic effect of Ginkgo biloba (doses 80 mg/12 h, 24 h before high-altitude ascension and with continued treatment) in preventing acute mountain sickness (AMS) at 3696 m in participants without high-altitude experience.
METHODS: Thirty-six participants who reside at sea level were transported to an altitude of 3696 m (Ollagüe). The participants were divided into 3 groups and received G biloba (n=12) 80 mg/12 h, acetazolamide (n=12) 250 mg/12 h, or placebo (n=12) 24 hours before ascending and during their 3-day stay at high altitude. The Lake Louise Questionnaire constituted the primary outcome measurement at sea level and at 3696 m. A Lake Louise Self-Report Score greater than 3 was indicative of AMS. Oxygen saturation, heart rate, and arterial pressure were taken with each evaluation for AMS.
RESULTS: A significant reduction in AMS was observed in the group that received G biloba (0%, P<.05) comparison with the groups receiving acetazolamide (36%, P<.05) or placebo (54%). No difference was observed in arterial oxygen saturation in the G biloba (92+/-2) vs the acetazolamide (89+/-2) groups. However, a marked increased saturation in arterial oxygen was seen in comparison with the placebo group (84+/-3, P<.05). No statistically significant differences were observed in mean arterial pressure or heart rate. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence supporting the use of G biloba in the prevention of AMS, demonstrating that 24 hours of pretreatment with G biloba and subsequent maintenance during exposure to high altitude are sufficient to reduce the incidence of AMS in participants with no previous high-altitude experience.
Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as an adaptogen by scientists due to its ability to increase resistance against a variety of chemical, biological and physical stressors and to help the body to recover homeostasis. Rhodiola rosea is also known for it’s ability to fight fatigue and increase energy. Rhodiola also promotes faster adaptation to climatic changes.
Athletes have used Rhodiola to improve increase endurance and improve performance. It is also believed to increase strength and shorten recovery after strenuous and prolonged endurance events and workouts.
Rhodiola also has been shown to reverse the effects of asthenia. It reduces fatigue, labored breathing, rapid heart rate, sluggishness, and excessive sleeping.
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1989 Nov;14(11):687-90, 704. Effect of Rhodiola on preventing high altitude reactions. A comparison of cardiopulmonary function in villagers at various altitudes Zhang ZH, Feng SH, Hu GD, Cao ZK, Wang LY.
The highland villagers are subject to abnormalities in their cardiopulmonary function as they move from 2500m altitude to 4475m altitude areas. Rhodiola can efficiently protect the villagers from the above said mountain reaction.
RHODIOLA ROSEA INCREASES VO2MAX AND ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE
Zhang ZJ, Tong Y, Zou J, Chen PJ, Yu DH. (2009) Dietary supplement with a combination of Rhodiola crenulata and Ginkgo biloba enhances the endurance performance in healthy volunteers. Chin J Integr Med. 15:177-183.
PURPOSE: To determine whether the ingestion of Rhodiola would enhance the endurance performance of healthy volunteers and change relevant hormones in a favorable manner.
METHODS: Seventy healthy male volunteers (age ranges from 18 to 22 years old) were randomly assigned to Rhodiola group (n = 35) or placebo group (n = 35) for 7 weeks. Endurance performance (VO2max) was measured at the baseline and the endpoint.
RESULTS: Sixty-seven subjects (34 in the Rhodiola group and 33 in the placebo group) completed a 7-week treatment. The Rhodiola group displayed a significantly greater baseline-to endpoint increase in maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) than placebo group in both absolute (P=0.020) and relative values (P=0.023).
CONCLUSION: Rhodiola supplementation can improve VO2max and endurance performance.
Acute Mountain Sickness; Prophylactic Benefits of Antioxidant Vitamin Supplementation at High Altitude, Damian M. Bailey, Bruce Davies. High Altitude Medicine & Biology. March 2001, 2(1): 21-29. Published in Volume: 2 Issue 1: July 6, 2004 Hypoxia Research Unit, Health and Exercise Sciences Research Laboratory, School of Applied Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, South Wales, UK CF37 1DL.
Free-radical-mediated damage to the blood-brain barrier may be implicated in the pathophysiology of acute mountain sickness (AMS). To indirectly examine this, we conducted a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial to assess the potentially prophylactic benefits of enteral antioxidant vitamin supplementation during ascent to high altitude. Eighteen subjects aged 35 ± 10 years old were randomly assigned double-blind to either an antioxidant (n = 9) or placebo group (n = 9). The antioxidant group ingested 4 capsules/day-1 (2 after breakfast/2 after evening meal) that each contained 250 mg of L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), 100 IU of dl-α-tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E) and 150 mg of α-lipoic acid. The placebo group ingested 4 capsules of identical external appearance, taste, and smell. Supplementation was enforced for 3 weeks at sea level and during a 10-day ascent to Mt. Everest base camp (5180 m). Antioxidant supplementation resulted in a comparatively lower Lake Louise AMS score at high altitude relative to the placebo group (2.8 ± 0.8 points versus 4.0 ± 0.4 points, P = 0.036), higher resting arterial oxygen saturation (89 ± 5% versus 85 ± 5%, P = 0.042), and total caloric intake (13.2 ± 0.6 MJ/day-1 versus 10.1 ± 0.7 MJ/day-1, P = 0.001); the latter is attributable to a lower satiety rating following a standardized meal.
These findings indicate that the exogenous provision of water and lipid-soluble antioxidant vitamins at the prescribed doses is an apparently safe and potentially effective intervention that can attenuate AMS and improve the physiological profile of mountaineers at high altitude.