"Internal Gear" for the Hardcore

2:17 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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I didn't notice a thread on herbs, vitamins, foods or supplements ("internal gear"?) in a cursory search (not to compete with prescribed medications).

I've had good results in winter using echinacea/chamomile tea in evenings and sucking on an elderberry & zinc lozenge upon setting out in the mornings (immune and allergy support and can "chill" without all the carbon monoxide from that "other" herb).  In summers, vitamin B-1, and using garlic, basil, peppermint, rosemary, cinnamon or thyme in lotions or in your diet--avoiding scented soaps or deoderants--for two weeks before the trip seems to help with the bug & DEET problem.  All year, I like to bring some kind of electrolyte powder (like Gatorade) to add to my water, esp on long trips away from a "normal" refrigerator.

Below are a couple of example sites for this, though there are many. 

So, what "internal" gear works for you?

http://www.tillotsoninstitute.com/

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/19979406/ns/today-today_home_and_garden/t/bug-best-products-tips-avoid-insect-bites/

2:34 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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I guess you know some flavors of Gatorade contain brominated vegetable oil, a flame retardant.  Not good.  Otherwise, "internal gear" would have to include pretty much everything I bring out foodwise---including teas and supplements.  Some ideas---

** I met some backpacking Seventh Day Adventists who turned me on to activated charcoal capsules for "food poisoning" or an upset gut.

**  In the same vein, I used to take out peppermint oil geltabs to ease stomach distress.  There's a theme here.

**  Caffeine is an unneeded drug so my teas are always herbal like you say, chamomile and echinacea and peppermint being faves.  Nettle tea is probably my all time favorite.

**  Lately I've been on a vegan kick and so I take B12 supplements and pack out tempeh which goes good in soups.

**  I found a pretty good fruit powder from Frontier Co-Op which hits the spot on long hot days of humpage, and it isn't loaded with cane sugar or red or yellow or black or white dyes, etc.

4:44 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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I always use raw garlic in my food when hiking in bug country. Especially in places like Alaska. When I cycled across Alaska in 2006 I never got bit by the various bugs thats swarmed me daily. A netting was good just to keep them away from my face.

I don't use scented anything on my skin when I am either outdoors or working periods so that has never been something I have had to give up before a trip.

5:10 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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Glycerine, which is quite inexpensive by the gallon, is an excellent sugar/honey substitute for tea. Also handy for quick energy and starting fires.

6:43 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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Supplements of calcium/magnesium/zinc can help prevent muscle cramps (arch cramps, brutal) Glucosamine chondroitin can help minor knee pain. Garlic has never done anything for me, neither has vitamin c.

9:37 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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Great ideas, fellas; thanks!  Amazing how multipurpose glycerine is--combined with potassium permanganate it produces "instant" fire; and sweetens tea!

Glad to hear it said that glucosamine chondroitin actually works--I've seen it on the market but didn't know if it would really help (knee pain is getting to be a problem, esp on the downhills).

Appreciate the http://www.frontiercoop.com/ site--wonderful selection of "gear"!

11:56 p.m. on December 31, 2011 (EST)
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My "internal gear:"

  • Flaxseed oil--good source of omega 3 fatty acids and antiinflammatory
  • Gingko (so I can remember where I'm going)
  • Coenzyme Q10--good for the heart and blood vessels, antioxidant
  • Cinnamon--repels bugs (smells a little better than garlic).   

Thanks for the interesting thread, Bunion.

 

 

 

 

2:23 a.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I always pack viles of panax ginseng root,  about 3 a day, and add to that EmergenC mineral and vitamin sups.  I find cayenne capsules effective for dispelling insects  in spring/summer plus improved circulation in winter.  Also raw honey from Pete Youngs bee farm for my mint/green tea and oatmeal. His raw honey has the texture of peanut butter and is not quite so messy as other honeys and packs well.

Happy New Year!

5:12 a.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I am old school.

I stick to the basic three food groups: pizza, steak, and beer.  Everything else is just a dietary supplement.

My favorite supplements: Coffee, smoke, and whiskey.  Everything else is good only for its placebo effect.

And everything else is just additional weight in the sack.

But seriously, eat enough normal foods and you should have to worry about carrying and ingesting an apothecary of rare elements from the four corners of the globe.

Ed

2:16 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi, or anyone for that matter,

In case you want to save money on buying 'activated charcoal tablets' just grind up a piece of charcoal from your camp fire, or a fire ring in general with the butt of your knife etc. Mix with a little water and shoot it like a shot.

I will attest to the fact that charcoal works wonders on the stomach, especially if you have injested something poisonous. Learned this trick in SERE school. It might not taste good, but it works and its the exact same thing as the tablets you can buy minus the gelcap.

4:11 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Tipi, or anyone for that matter,

In case you want to save money on buying 'activated charcoal tablets' just grind up a piece of charcoal from your camp fire, or a fire ring in general with the butt of your knife etc. Mix with a little water and shoot it like a shot.

I will attest to the fact that charcoal works wonders on the stomach, especially if you have injested something poisonous. Learned this trick in SERE school. It might not taste good, but it works and its the exact same thing as the tablets you can buy minus the gelcap.

 Okay, I'll be one of the anyone's haha.

Could you elaborate just a bit, particularly on the charcoal to water ratio...and about how many ounces total? Do you mean an actual 1 oz. shot?

I realize this is not something you probably have to measure.

Are we talking a marble size piece of charcoal?

Thanks,

Mike G.

4:52 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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I would say somewhere around a marble, quarter, penny, something bigger than a pencil eraser. I guess it really depends on how much bad stuff you injested, but a marble size is probably a good starting point. Any that you take in will be better than none.

It's not an exact measurement by anymeans, but just grind some up mix it with enough water so that you can easily shoot it. It tastes something awful, which is the whole reason behind the water so you can just shoot it.

5:34 p.m. on January 1, 2012 (EST)
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Though it gets bad press, I swear by Airborne on and off the trail. I have beat things back with it. I also try to eat well -- lower carbs, whole foods, water, water, water. Paleo is especially easy on trail: Nuts, seeds, dried meats. I agree with Ed. Eat and hydrate and keep your resistance built up....if that fails, its Airborne for me!

10:38 a.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi Walter said:

I guess you know some flavors of Gatorade contain brominated vegetable oil, a flame retardant.  Not good.  Otherwise, "internal gear" would have to include pretty much everything I bring out foodwise---including teas and supplements.  Some ideas---

** I met some backpacking Seventh Day Adventists who turned me on to activated charcoal capsules for "food poisoning" or an upset gut.

**  In the same vein, I used to take out peppermint oil geltabs to ease stomach distress.  There's a theme here.

**  Caffeine is an unneeded drug so my teas are always herbal like you say, chamomile and echinacea and peppermint being faves.  Nettle tea is probably my all time favorite.

**  Lately I've been on a vegan kick and so I take B12 supplements and pack out tempeh which goes good in soups.

**  I found a pretty good fruit powder from Frontier Co-Op which hits the spot on long hot days of humpage, and it isn't loaded with cane sugar or red or yellow or black or white dyes, etc.

 Thanks for getting this thread started with such a good list of ideas.  I am getting to the age where my electrolytes want more attention than I'm used to, esp nowadays, on hot trips, when my battery runs down WAY before dark!  Frankly, I did NOT know about the brominated vegetable oil issue in Gatorade.  I've noticed that you pack a lot of fruits and vegetables on your trips--does that keep the sodium, potassium chloride, etc., in line for you; like magnesium in the teas, calcium in the tempeh, potassium in dried peaches, etc., or do you use a supplement as well?  I've been toying with the vegan idea for a long time--nice to see some credibility being stated for that.  Thanks again.

2:02 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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"credibility"??? Several things stated above do not have any support from controlled medical experiments.

I had a bit of discussion with my sports medic after my run-in with the snowboarder who dislocated my elbow for me about the glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM thing. There is some support for glucosamine (one, but not all "glucosamine" compounds) and chondroitin (one, but not all "chondroitin" compounds), but no supporting evidence whatsoever for MSM as preventative measures for some (but not all) forms of arthritis, when taken over extended periods. Note that the support is for preventative and prophylaxis, not for healing. They have no effect on joint injuries, either as relief or aiding healing. A torn ACL is a torn ACL. It can heal if you get the right therapy, but glucosamine and/or chondroitin provide no help.

On supplements (especially vitamin and mineral supplements), it turns out (in controlled studies by nutritionists) that the body utilizes vitamins and minerals obtained through natural foods orders of magnitude better than supplement pills or additives to your "100% of all vitamins" cereal. This is particularly true for organically grown foods.

Since I do a fair number of high altitude expeditions (I mean really high altitudes, not just 7000 to 10,000 ft, more like 18,000 ft and up), I have long had a strong interest in speeding up acclimatization. Luckily, my DNA has the magic 6 for fast acclimatization, as is supported by the monitoring that was done on all expedition members last July in Peru. At one point, it was widely rumored that ginko biloba helped accelerate acclimatization. Peter Hackett, who has carried out high altitude studies for many years, ran studies of this on Denali. He told me that at first there was some indication that it did help, but more extended studies showed that any help was minimal. Diamox does help for most people (I do not use it myself), though not all. Point here is that just because someone swears by a supplement or herbal does not mean it will work for you or for anyone for that matter. You need to take a close look and not just take some random person's  word for it (especially if the word comes over the web).

Always view advice of any kind on the internet skeptically (even Trailspace, which is pretty dependable for advice on hardware, tents, and clothing).

2:53 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Bill's advice rings true for me.  I use supplements as exactly that - additions to a normal healthy diet and accepted medical treatments.  But I do use them.  Ginger helps me deal with soreness over long hikes, as does glucosamine.  For sound sleep, I use sleepytime tea.  For extreme low spirits I use 1 liter of cowboy coffee and an airline bottle of whiskey.  I have not conducted double-blind studies of this last supplement, but I believe it to be effective!

4:42 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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If I'm not exercising hard and not getting dehydrated, gator aid is like poison to me - all it does is screw up the bodies electrolytes.

 

All I need on a camping trip is 2 envelopes of instant hot chocolate, mixed in hot water in a jet boil cup per night.

Just comfort food before turning in for the night.

I've usually hiked enough during the day to make me sleepy.

5:10 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Whomeworry was a classic....lol!

8:36 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Ed Whome's diet is unbalanced and does not include the complete 5 basic food groups - alcohol, chocolate, fat, salt, and sugar. Under some circumstances, complex starches are permitted supplements in the form of chips (corn, potato, and chocolate).

8:53 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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You guys are funny.

I have in the past few years worked on improving my eating habits, I've never been a food junkie, but now I pay closer attention to eating a balanced diet with lots of whole grains, fruits, nuts, veggies, chicken and fish.

I have learned to count my carbs, proteins, fats, etc for planning backpacking menus, and I'm learning how to change the ratio around to accommodate my activity levels and needs.

For supplements I use fish oil,  local raw honey, herbal teas, dark chocolate, red wine, and rum.

I wish I had started learning a lot sooner.

9:01 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Im no doctor but i believe that glucosamine chondrotin helps with joints.  Ive used it when working out with weights for years and i take it a few days before going on a long hike.  I also take fish oil and believe it to have similar positive effects.  I find that i recover quicker after workouts.  The multi-vitimin is taken because i like the bright neon pee. 

9:24 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S said:

Ed Whome's diet is unbalanced and does not include the complete 5 basic food groups - alcohol, chocolate, fat, salt, and sugar. Under some circumstances, complex starches are permitted supplements in the form of chips (corn, potato, and chocolate).

Spoken like a true high altitude dirt bagger.  I was refereing to the "valley" diet.

Ed

11:44 p.m. on January 2, 2012 (EST)
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giftogab said:

Though it gets bad press, I swear by Airborne on and off the trail. I have beat things back with it. I also try to eat well -- lower carbs, whole foods, water, water, water. Paleo is especially easy on trail: Nuts, seeds, dried meats. I agree with Ed. Eat and hydrate and keep your resistance built up....if that fails, its Airborne for me!

 Giftogab,

I had the same effect--"beat things back"--just using Zicam (almost all zinc), so your Airborne must be at least that effective.  I see it's controversial, but most of that was about business practices and the slow process of scientific "approval," it seems.  Thanks for sharing.

10:25 a.m. on January 3, 2012 (EST)
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My Dr. told me a secret.  He told me that the word Supplement is FDA lingo for something not proven by real science to do anything.  

If Chris Sharma and Steph Davis swear by some supplement I think its more a function of their sick excercise and climbing schedule rarther than some pill they take. 

I prefer things that work like caffiene.  I drink less than a cup of coffee daily so when I use energy goo with caffiene or strong coffee on the trail it works well.  A favorite of mine is Excederin, or its generic, mexican-produced, non-union equivilant: basically aspirin plus caffiene.

Having said that I thik a balanced diet will do it for you vitamin-wise.  If you are overseas and eating poorly, by all means, take a multi-vitamin. 

 

2:03 a.m. on January 6, 2012 (EST)
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Bill S,

back when I lived in Colorado (Denver) I knew a bunch of guys that were into the 14's and all that.  One of them told be about using Tums or equal for altitude issues, something to do with the calcium in the tums that lets your red blood cells carry more O2.  Have you heard of this before and dose it work or is it BS? 

I don't have anything high planned right now, but I hope to do the JMT next year (summer 2013).

And as for trail Sumplements, I'm with ED, real food and drink, though I am a Tequila guy.  I did get a bottle of Single Barrel JD for Christmas, just the right size for a little camping...  :)

Wolfman

1:41 p.m. on January 6, 2012 (EST)
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Wolf,

I would suggest you read Charlie Houston's Going Higher and High Altitude and Peter Hackett's Mountain Sickness to get the real information from the two leading researchers on the subject (Houston passed away a couple years ago, but his books continue to be available and the work is being carried on by his colleagues). Note that I am not an MD. What I say below is from my wilderness first aid courses, discussions with Peter Hackett, and reading Hackett's and Houston's books on altitude illness, along with some other authors and Paul Auerbach's 11-pound Wilderness Medicine tome (which has the references to the original research, along with a DVD that links you to the original articles that are on line).

The basic prevention is gradual ascent ("Climb high, sleep low", moving your sleeping altitude up by 1000 ft per day when you get above 10,000 ft), plus good nutrition (high in carbohydrates) and hydration. Do not overexert (highest incidence of AMS and its more severe forms is among fit males ages 18-30 - the "macho men"). Excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to slow acclimatization. Aluminum hydroxide sodium carbonate (Rolaids) has been suggested, but Hackett says there have been no controlled studies and really is no evidence that it is effective (it is supposed to regulate blood pH). The proven prophylactic is Diamox (acetazolamide). But it has some side effects that some find annoying (tingling fingers, makes carbonated beverages taste "funny", whatever that means, though that is the description I have heard from a number of people), and it is not necessarily effective, as witness 3 people I was with on the Mexican volcanoes a few years back, despite their taking a higher dose than is recommended currently. When AMS progresses to HAPE or HACE, there are more potent drugs (like dexametazone, made famous, or infamous, in the movie Vertical Limit). But the real remedy is descend, descend, descend!!!

When I was in Peru, the commonly recommended "cure" was to chew coca leaves (you can buy them on the street, or in tea bags or loose in the grocery stores - but then you can also buy any prescription medicine in the local apothecary shop without a prescription in Peru, including morphine, Diamox, and other drugs that are outright illegal here in the US). Some people claimed to get relief, but then there are no controlled studies. Since I have no problems with altitude, I have no personal experience with such things and certainly would strongly recommend against self-doctoring with such drugs.

There is an urban legend that two of the ED drugs (sildenafil and tadalafil) help with altitude acclimatization. Apparently there is some evidence that they help a little, related to their effect on blood pH being similar to Diamox. Like all prescription medicines, they do have side effects (one of which has generated a lot of bad-taste jokes among dirtbag climbers).

2:22 p.m. on January 7, 2012 (EST)
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Ya'll,

The commentary here has been fabulous!  "Internal Gear," from what I'm reading, is taking shape for me as whatever helps in being physically and mentally (enjoyably) PRESENT to the NATURAL COMMUNION, rather than distracting preoccupations with "symptoms" (like hypothermia, situational joint/muscle pain, diminished electrolytes, bug attraction, H2O absorption, poor nutritional "ratio," likely GI problems, altitude acclimation, immunity compromises, etc.).  Thanks for sharing personal solutions (and humor).

Not wanting to belabor the idea, I have a question (and example "solution") about another side of "internal gear":  What helps to be spiritually PRESENT to the experience of the wilderness event?

Take the example of a friend of mine who's a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Before leaving on even short trips, he ALWAYS pays closer attention to "working Steps 8 and 9"--makes needed "amends" for at least HIS part in bothersome interpersonal issues he's having currently:  wife ("abandonment" issues?), boss, children, friends.  He says this helps clear his mind for a more "conscious contact" with Mother Nature and stops the "unfinished-business committee meetings" in his head.

I know this may seem rather vague (not intended to be a therapy group); but, please, take a minute to share what works (or might work) for you?!?!

8:48 p.m. on January 7, 2012 (EST)
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I will be armed with Diamox for the trek. BillS: Thanks for more book titles....ordering them now!

As far as the controversey with Airebore: yes, the headlines reported them losing their lawsuit regarding claims of being able to cure the cold. However, the actual victory was less definitive and had more to do with the puffery factor. So I never wavered from using it and just beat back a cold that everyone else got a Christmas.

12:46 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Bunion said:

..What helps to be spiritually PRESENT to the experience of the wilderness event?

Take the example of a friend of mine who's a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Before leaving on even short trips, he ALWAYS pays closer attention to "working Steps 8 and 9"--makes needed "amends" for at least HIS part in bothersome interpersonal issues he's having currently...

..I know this may seem rather vague (not intended to be a therapy group); but, please, take a minute to share what works (or might work) for you?!?!

You either decide to be in the moment or decide to meditate of matters residing outside your physical present situation or both.  There is no one ideal mindset; however, it really depends on what you are trying to achieve/experience.  Getting into the moment isn’t so much about blocking out distractions as it is getting into the moment, experiencing and relating to the here and now.  IMO your buddy gets wrapped up in processes and rituals, when perhaps more clearly identifying the given objective and directing his energies thusly would be less complicated.  Then again AA is very process oriented.

(Did I just prattle on about a a bunch of nonsense?)

Ed

11:00 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for your comment, Ed.  I like the here-and-now approach much better than the then-and-there anyway!  My friend from AA says that "working" his program has kept him alive (he used to have a BAD case of it), so that's just what works for him, and his wife is GLAD.

On another vein, I read a comment by one of our trailspace members that suggested that there is a type of "awakening" (or some kind of breakthrough-insight-kind-of-deeper-awareness-thing) that can come to a solitary hiker if they stay out long enough and don't mood alter artificially.  I wonder if it's common to others?  I especially enjoyed the two prose writings I enjoyed in the "18 Days in the October Mountains" trip report--both in-vivo expressions of the kind of "spiritual moment" (my words) that I'd like to understand better. 

9:06 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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i vaguely recall the young man chronicled in 'into the wild' looking for some sort of enlightenment through solo adventures.  i'm not sure that is what he achieved.  

i don't know about an awakening, but hiking does help clear my head.  the combination of being outside in a wild place, experiencing the sights and sounds and feelings, the physical exertion, the lack of talking (hopefully).  for me, it doesn't have to be a solo excursion, as long as i'm with friends who appreciate where we are & don't feel the need to talk all the time.

i remember taking these.  four of us out for a long weekend.  no one was talking, just breathing hard and trying to stay warm.  temperatures topped out at -10f, and gusts were near 100, we later learned.  hard to feel more awake/alive.  


-11.jpg


rime-ice-above-treeline.jpg

3:13 a.m. on January 15, 2012 (EST)
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Just to have gotten to the place and moment of those pictures must have been awesome--didn't have to push through a crowd to take those shots!  Your trip with friends who value not talking too much reminds me of an old monastic admonition that "by observing silence one is better able to hear the 'small voice'."  Thanks for the story and "chilling" pics, LB.

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