Rhodiola Rosea – herbal remedy for acute mountain sickness

Rhodiola Rosea - herbal remedy for acute mountain sicknessI received another email from one of our members, who managed to climb Mount Kinabalu on the 4th of July. Alison went to climb the summit with her family – her husband and two children. She did asked me about Rhodiola Rosea, few weeks before she climbed Mount Kinabalu, but I could not give her a good answer.

She went up to the peak – and prepared herself with Rhodiola Rosea one week before the climb – after Googling about the herb from the net. And the result was stunning. This is her email:

Hello Ruhaizad,

WE DID IT!! Thanks to our wonderful guide, Sapirin Sumping, I am happy to say that 3 out of our family of 4 made it to the summit on 4 July. My husband and 19 year old son who are both very fit, experienced headaches. The 16 year old who is less fit suffered severe AMS symptoms and stayed at Laban Rata while we climbed to the summit.

I had chosen to take Rhodiola Rosea (2 capsules daily for week before climb) and experienced NO AMS SYMPTOMS AT ALL. Thought this follow up might interest you and possibly your readers.

Thank you again for your informative newsletter. We will return to Sabah next year but not to climb the mountain…..once was enough!!

Alison Zorn

Well, congratulations and thank you for your feedback, Alison! I really appreciate what you have done for yourself and for other readers of this blog. After receiving your email last two days, I did some research on Rhodiola Rosea. As I am a practicing medical physician, I don’t like to endorse medication or supplement to the climbers, UNLESS I have a good and solid information about it and have a positive feedback (like the one that I received from you).

I did some Googling the past couple of days about Rhodiola Rosea and I found a very interesting new information about combating acute mountain sickness – without using paracetamol and ibuprofen. Although the result that I found were merely mixed (positive and negative), I guess it is no harm using Rhodiola Rosea as a supplement for preventing acute mountain sickness.

Quoted from All-The-Tea Company:

Rhodiola has been used by Tibetans as a traditional remedy for more than 1000 years. Today, it is popular around the world, used as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are defined as substances that have no toxicity or side effects at normal dosages and that non-specifically increases the body’s resistance to disease and to physical and chemical stresses.

Rhodiola has been used by Tibetan doctors in formulas to treat dysentery, back pain, lung inflammation, painful and irregular menstruation, leukorrhea, epidemic diseases, limb edema, traumatic injury, and to heal burns. According to Chinese interpretation, rhodiola can support vital energy (qi), help the body resist pathogens, enrich the blood, nourish the brain, improve intelligence, and preserve health.

Recently, various preparations of rhodiola, alone or compounded into prescriptions, have been produced and used in clinical practice to prevent and treat various diseases. The rhodiola preparations have been shown the following effects: to reinforce physical strength, enhance body endurance, compensate for low oxygen, relieve tiredness and weakness, improve efficiency of physical and mental work, treat cardiac and pulmonary diseases, and counteract side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancers.

In the clinical studies, rhodiola was evidently effective for treating weakness, poor appetite, heart palpitations, dizziness, chest distress and insomnia. The herb could also increase blood levels of hemoglobin and platelets and reduce the heart rate. After rhodiola was used to treat patients with coronary heart disease, attacks of angina pectoris were relieved along with the partial blood oxygen pressure of the arteries and arterial blood oxygen saturation was elevated.

One of the adaptogenic applications of rhodiola that has received considerable research attention is for aiding adaptation to high altitudes, thus, as a preventive and treatment for mountain sickness. Perhaps by related mechanisms, rhodiola has been shown to significantly aid athletic performance and to delay fatigue by improving oxygen utilization during exercise. Researchers speculate that rhodiola also helps reduce the stress that occurs secondary to exercise by regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, normalizing the body functions more rapidly after vigorous exercise.

So, if you plan to climb Mount Kinabalu next time, try Rhodiola Rosea as a supplement. It will then reduce the risk of you getting acute mountain sickness during your once a lifetime quest to the summit of Borneo.

This entry was posted in Climber's Tips on by .

About drizad

A self employed General Practitioner who lives with his lovely family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He dedicates his spare time serving people with precious information on climbing the Majestic Mountain of the Borneo, Mt Kinabalu. Reachable at drizad(at)gmail.com

9 thoughts on “Rhodiola Rosea – herbal remedy for acute mountain sickness

  1. Jo

    Hi there,
    Just came across your blog. Am interested to try out the herbal remedy for altitude sickness you mentioned. Do you know where i can find it in KL?
    Thank you so much

  2. Yin


    I’m going to climb in June. May I know Jo, did you manage to get the product in KL? Am looking for it too. Or Dr. Izad, is it possible to get Alison to tell where did she manage to get the herb?

    Thanks a trillion.

  3. drizad Post author

    Hi Yin,

    Oh, Allison is a New Zealander. Maybe it is good if you go hunting for it in most main pharmacy in KL…

  4. Yin


    Thanks Dr. Will do the hunting around KL. If I’m able to get it..will provide the info to you for the others in future.

  5. Wati


    Regards about ‘Rhodiola Rosea’, wonder if Yin has any feedback about it after his climbing on last June? It really interest me. By the way I’m going up on the 12th Dec.


  6. Abdullah Tahir

    Assalaamualaikum Izad,

    Memang benar tentang kebaikan Rhidiola tuuu….saya memang makan herba tu dan saya ada buat formulation sendiri tentang herba tu….maklumat lanjut hubungi saya kemudian.

  7. Mohd adib

    Saya ingin bertanya dimana boleh dibeli rhodiola rosea? Sudah penat mencari dimana2 tapi tidak jumpa. Harap dapat beri feedback. Terima kasih.

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