I’m writing this from Taos, NM – a mountain town of 7000-foot elevation. The nearby ski valley basin sits at 9200 and snowcapped Wheelers Peak is over 13000. It’s quite a difference from where I live near Las Vegas, which is close to 2000 feet.
Wheelers Peak and Taos Mountain is one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve been coming here regularly for over twenty years and hiking the ski basin is my favorite activity. The Taos Mountains are prime bolete mushroom territory. A successful hike and picking is usually rewarded with red wine, butter, crusty bread and skillets full of fresh mushrooms.
If it wasn’t April and I had more time, I would be experiencing all of these locations. Usually I’d also be experiencing all the problems associated with high elevation – shortness of breath, headaches and lethargy. I wouldn’t have to be going up the mountain either. Staying in town would be enough to wipe me out.
This trip is different and similar to my trip here in the summer of 2014. I can tell the elevation has changed but so have I. I feel a little sluggish but nothing that would slow me down. Gone are the immediate headaches and the need for naps. So what is different now from my usual experience? That’s easy – regular consumption of adaptogenic herbs.
I regularly use TianChi and Inner Peace. Both are part of my nutritional program. I didn’t just formulate them to sell, I wanted to be able to use herbs like rhodiola, ashwagandha, schizandra and reishi on a regular basis. Creating these products in the form they are in, allowed me to do that along with helping thousands of people.
When I was introduced to adaptogens back in the 90’s, the information was sparse but what we did know was that they were used by Russian cosmonauts to alleviate the effects of being in space. Blood oxygenation, endurance and altitude sickness were all part of the story. There is volumes of Russian research backing up all of these claims.
As with all herbs it’s your own experience that creates the knowledge with which you use new substances and adaptogens are no different. I’ve had plenty but one that sticks out is a friend who had planned a trip and hike to Machu Picchu.
In case you’re not familiar with it, Machu Picchu is around 8,000 ft elevation and is not a hiking destination for the weak hearted. What makes the trip even harder is flying into nearby Cusco to start the journey, has you landing at over 10,000 ft. That’s a pretty hard adjustment from Los Angeles, CA.
It’s definitely a trip that requires physical preparation. My friend was not one to overdo exercise and for him, walking around LA with a backpack a mile or so at a time was about all he could muster. He was also carrying an extra 30lbs, which could pose its own health problems and your ability to adapt to radical change,so of course he turned to me for herbs.
I gave him rhodiola, schizandra and eleuthero, the adaptogenic big guns at the time, and had him on the program for about a month before his trip. Still I didn’t have high hopes for him, knowing his lack of conditioning and preparation. Surprisingly he came back with glowing stories of the trip and total lack of problems adapting to the altitude.
Of course this added to my own library of anecdotal information about adaptogenic herbs, information I still rely on to help people adjust to their own particular challenges in life.