Herbs on High

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Magazine by Michael Miracle) Altitude sickness can really muck up a ski trip. Mainly because once you're in its clutches, the best remedy is to descend to a lower elevation (read: back to Omaha). The key, therefore, is prevention. Taking it easy your first day at altitude and steady hydration are the obvious steps. But when we lined up our chakras, doused ourselves in patchouli, and consulted our trusty herbal handbooks, we found there are other preventative measures worth considering a couple of weeks


you get on the plane.

The preventative: Garlic
Purported benefits: Contains nine compounds alleged to help thin the blood. Thin blood flows¿and thus carries oxygen¿through your body more easily.
How to ingest it: Pop a pill or...like a man: Eat whole cloves, raw.
Potential side effects: Perpetual bachelorhood.

The preventative: Reishi Mushroom
Purported benefits: Claimed to improve oxygenation of the blood and combat insomnia.
How to ingest it: Pop a pill or...steep it into a tea or put it on your pizza.
Potential side effects: You accidentally get some of the local herbalist's "private stash" and are soon convinced that Jerry Garcia had a good singing voice.

The preventative: Coenzyme Q (Co-Q-10)
Purported benefits: An enzyme said to improve the use of oxygen at the cellular level, especially in heart-muscle cells.
How to ingest it: Popping a pill is pretty much your only option.
Potential side effects: Your friends catch you repeatedly scarfing white pills, think you've gotten hooked on ecstasy, and stage an intervention.

The preventative: Coca Leaves
Purported benefits: Used widely in Peru and Bolivia to combat the lethargy and headaches brought on by altitude sickness.
How to ingest it: Like a native: Drink coca tea or chew the leaves.
Potential side effects: Incarceration. Because cocaine is derived from the coca leaf, possessing it in the U.S. can give you a headache of an entirely different sort.