Altitude sickness is a health condition that happens to your body when you go to places of high altitude (usually over 2,400m above sea level).
This occurs mainly because the higher you go the more your body needs oxygen yet the oxygen levels at this altitude are low.
Since the surrounding air cannot fulfill your body's needs for oxygen, you might start experiencing headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting etc.
To manage the condition naturally and effectively, here are 5 essential oils for altitude sickness.
Primarily, it tackles reduced oxygen and nausea, but it is also great for treating headaches.
It helps with reduced oxygen because the menthol found in peppermint oil improves your ability to breathe by opening up your bronchial tubes so you can take in more oxygen with each breath.
In terms of nausea, peppermint oil is one of the best - PERIOD; and some may even argue that it's number one.
It is so great at treating nausea that in 2016, researchers found that it was even effective on individuals experiencing queasiness following cardiac surgery (1).
To use peppermint oil to improve oxygen intake and treat nausea from altitude sickness, simply inhale directly from the bottle when symptoms appear for quick relief.
You can also pour a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball, your handkerchief or any other clean piece of cloth and sniff it every now and then.
For headache relief, a 10% peppermint oil to ethanol solution should be applied to the forehead and the temples when symptoms appear.
If necessary, you can repeat every 15 minutes for an hour but one study using this exact formula found that volunteers experienced significant relief after only 15 minutes (2).
You can also combine 4-5 drops of peppermint oil with 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil such as olive oil and rub on the back of the neck for headache relief.
After returning home or arriving at the high altitude location, you should get started on your eucalyptus aromatherapy so you can ease your symptoms away as quickly as possible.
One way is by inhalation. Inhaling eucalyptus oil opens up your nasal and bronchial airways, allowing you to take in significantly more oxygen, thereby combatting the root issue in altitude sickness.
Furthermore, it is also very effective at relieving headaches and easing nausea as well as vomiting.
You can diffuse a few drops of oil in a room if multiple individuals are battling mountain sickness, or inhale directly from the bottle.
Like the peppermint oil, you can also pour a few drops on a cotton ball or clean piece of cloth and inhale when symptoms start to pop up.
Another benefit is that it is an excellent pain reliever so if you regularly have muscle aches and pains after a climb, you need to familiarize yourself with eucalyptus essential oil asap! (3)(4)
In addition to inhaling its aroma, combine about 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and one ounce of a carrier oil such as olive oil and massage gently into the problem areas.
Lavender essential oil works by reducing headache and nausea, which are the main symptoms of altitude sickness.
To manage the condition, you need 4-5 drops of lavender oil mixed with about a teaspoon of a carrier oil such as olive oil.
If you’re prone to pimples, use a noncomedogenic (ie it doesn’t clog pores) carrier oil such as argan oil.
Next, rub the oil around the temples as well as on the back of your neck.
Inhaling the sweet aroma of lavender essential oil will also enhance its health benefits and is strongly suggested.
You need to apply the oil before, during and after climbing to the high altitude area.
This is a proprietary blend of essential oils including Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Lemon, Cardamom, Ravintsara, and Ravensara that works primarily as a decongestant, which means that it will unblock the lung and chest cavity anytime you experience breathing difficulties so you can take in more oxygen.
Since altitude sickness is caused (mainly) by low oxygen levels in the body, using this essential oil allows your body to make the most of the limited oxygen available at those higher elevations.
It helps significantly if you breathe deeply as well. The more oxygen you take in, the better!
As the name suggests, you can breathe in (directly or by diffusion) the aroma of this oil to take advantage of its decongestant properties but it can also be applied to the chest, neck, and back.
Ideally, you should do both for maximum benefit.
Cypress essential oil does extremely well as a decongestant because it will help clear any congestion and eliminate or prevent phlegm build up in the respiratory tract and lungs.
This is of great health benefit when you have mountain sickness because you may have problems breathing and getting quality oxygen.
Another health benefit of cypress oil for altitude sickness is that it helps to stimulate blood circulation which allows your body to more effectively carry oxygenated blood to your organs, limbs and other body parts.
Cypress oil has also been found to have sedative properties, soothing nerves and anxiety, thus allowing you to stay calm while you ease the condition away.
Analgesic properties have also been associated with cypress oil, and this will relieve your headache, which is a symptom of mountain sickness.
To clear congestion, directly inhale diffuse cypress oil when you feel the onset of symptoms.
For improved circulation, add about 10 to 15 drops of cypress essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil and massage into the neck and torso.
With the essential oils above, you can prepare multiple natural remedies to treat various health conditions successfully.
You can combine them to take advantage of their various strengths or make your own custom blends to use them synergistically but you should keep at least one in your cabinet to help ease the symptoms of altitude sickness.
This is because it may still affect you even if you did not face any negative effects on your previous outing.
You should also keep an eye on your symptoms and seek medical attention or descend immediately if your condition continues to get worse.
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