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Do Coca leaves work for altitude sickness?

April 30, 2014

Not for us. In Cusco, Peru, where the elevation is around 3,400m, I was suffering altitude sickness. A few days in and after some hiking around (which in hindsight maybe we should have just lounged around), I was having terrible headaches and a resting heart rate of ~120bpm. Chewing the leaves, drinking the tea, sucking on Coca candy, all of them did absolutely nothing for me. They were bitter and tasted really like… well leaves! Plus, all the cups of Coca tea also gave Alison an upset stomach. It was only when we arrived at Km82 (2,700m) to start the Inca trail did I start to feel better. Thankfully I left the worst behind!


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