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Portada / Useful information for travel to Peru / Data for traveler / Medicinal plants for altitude sickness

Medicinal plants for altitude sickness

The Incas were our main exponents of natural medicine in our geographic area. For this reason, we present natural remedies for the problem of altitude sickness.
plantas medicinales de la hoja de coca
Coca tea is the primary natural remedy for altitude sickness.

The use of medicinal plants comprises a wide variety of techniques and treatments that have been used over the years with the purpose of curing and treating various health conditions.

The use of medicinal plants for altitude sickness is a quick and viable solution, without the use of drugs, to counteract the symptoms of mountain sickness. The main plants used are: coca leaf, muña, chachacoma, mint, and capulí.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness, also known as soroche, is a condition that can affect some people who visit high-altitude areas, due to the decreased oxygen in the air.

Symptoms of altitude sickness

The most common symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion

Coca Leaf

Coca, or Erythroxylon coca, primarily used in infusions, is a stimulant, analgesic, and blood pressure regulator, which enhances blood oxygenation, reducing respiratory discomfort. It also acts as a digestive aid by reducing nausea and stomach pain.

Medicinal plants, coca leaf


Muña, or Minthostachys setosa, is used in infusions for treating headaches, gastritis, and altitude sickness. It helps improve breathing, reduce fatigue, and stomach discomfort. Like the coca, it is a traditional botanical species in Inca medicine.

Medicinal plant, Muña


The Prunus capuli Cav, a 20-meter-tall tree, has three forms of application: the fruit is used as a purifier, the leaves as a cardiac rhythm regulator and for altitude sickness, and the bark of the tree as an anti-rheumatic. This plant is also used to relieve cough, bronchitis, and oxygen deprivation.

Medicinal plants for altitude sickness


Mint, or Mentha piperita, has a biochemical composition that mainly includes eugenol and rosmarinic acid, which are anticoagulants. These can improve blood circulation, but should be used in minimal doses for people with diabetes. It also combats dizziness and headaches. Its use, like the plants previously described, is based on infusions.

Medicinal mint plant


The high Andean plant Senecio nutans, commonly used in infusions, primarily aids in treating altitude sickness. Similar to coca leaves and muña, chachacoma assists in circulatory issues and can counteract the main symptoms of altitude sickness.

Chachacoma plant

Over-the-Counter Altitude Sickness Pills

While medicinal plants are often the first option for treating altitude sickness, they sometimes take time to become effective.

  • Sorojchi Pills: An option when medicinal plants are ineffective are Sorojchi Pills, which help alleviate symptoms caused by altitude sickness and stimulate the nervous system.
  • Diamox: Acetazolamide is a common choice that helps improve breathing and reduce symptoms. This medication should be taken with plenty of water and works best before reaching high altitude.