Ginkgo biloba decreases acute mountain sickness in people ascending to high altitude at Ollagüe (3696 m) in northern Chile

Wilderness Environ Med. Winter 2007;18(4):251-7. doi: 10.1580/06-WEME-OR-062R2.1.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Altitude
  • Altitude Sickness / drug therapy
  • Altitude Sickness / prevention & control*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Chile
  • Ginkgo biloba / chemistry*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Plant Extracts
  • Acetazolamide