The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Antioxidants don’t prevent acute mountain sickness

     Acute mountain sickness may be caused by oxidative damage that results in leaking cerebrovascular fluid.

    Oral antioxidants, didn’t make a difference in this study by researchers in the UK.

    First, the details.

    • 83 healthy lowland volunteers ascended to 5200 meters on the Apex 2 high altitude research expedition.
    • Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments.
      • 1-gram l-ascorbic acid, 400 IU of alpha-tocopherol acetate, and 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid (Cultech Ltd., Wales, UK) daily in 4 divided doses
      • Placebo
    • Prevalence of acute mountain sickness was measured using the Lake Louise Consensus score sheet (LLS).
    • Neither the researchers nor participants knew the treatment given — double-blind.

    And, the results.

    • There was no difference in the incidence or severity of acute mountain sickness between groups at any time at high altitude.
    • At Day 2 at 5200 meters, 69% of the antioxidant group and 66% of the placebo group had acute mountain sickness — not significant.
    • There were no differences in pulmonary artery systolic pressure, oxygen saturation, presence of a pericardial effusion, or acute mountain sickness as assessed by a visual analogue scale.

    The bottom line?
    The authors “found no evidence of benefit from antioxidant supplementation at high altitude.”

    About a year ago, researchers from Birmingham, UK reviewed pharmacotherapy options to prevent and treat of acute altitude- related problems. They concluded that more research was required to establish the role of antioxidants.

    3/11/09 22:3 JR

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