One of the things Esther and Doris provided us with for the bike trip to Tibet, is a huge amount Hongjintian. I never heard about the product until yesterday, it is a Tibetan herbal medicine that should prevent altitude sickness. I am always a bit skeptical about taking medicine, so I did a Google search. There are not a lot of pages about it, and there is not even a Wikipedia entry yet (quite unusal nowadays), but it turns out it can be quite effective in treating altitude sickness. It also has one very interesting side effect: if you take the medicine your alcohol resistance will be higher (your can drink more before you get drunk).

Over the past days I have read a lot of English language articles about altitude sickness and hypoxia (deficiency of oxygen in your body), but none of them mention Hongjintian. Some advise to take Diamox, but this can have some serious side effects. Is the Hongjintian medicine not known outside China, or is Tibetan medicine not (yet) accepted in the Western world? It is possible that this product might not even be readily available outside China. I found one site with an abstract describing recent medical research with 200 people that were treated for acute mountain sickness. 67% of them either recovered after taking Hongiintian and an additional 30% improved. Not sure how reliable this research is of course, but it sounds almost too good to be true. Anyway, I have started to take the medicine (6 pills per day), and will take it for the next 3-4 weeks until we leave the Himalaya.

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  1. Just wondering if you have any follow up to this post. Did Hong Jing Tian work to prevent or alleviate AMS?

  2. I did not get AMS in Tibet, although the altitude gave me headaches and I slept quite bad the first days. Not sure what the exact effect of Hongjintian was for me, but at least it helped psychologically.