What is brain fog? It feels like your thinking is clouded, memories and words are hard to pluck out of the ether and your head generally feels like it’s full of cotton wool. Multitasking and problem-solving may be more difficult and it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed. In fact, depression and malaise are common secondary symptoms.
There are many reasons for brain fog, Covid being one of them but also stress and other maladies. So what’s happening? And what can we do about it?
Bringing some summer sunshine into the winter gloom. St John's Wort is primarily known as a herb for banishing the winter blues and this has been borne out by a Cochrane Collaboration review , which is supposed to be the last word in evidence based medicine - which concluded that St John's Wort is as effective as standard anti-depressants in treating major depression, with fewer side-effects.
This is supposed to protect people from the plague - but in the absence of any recent outbreaks it is hard to verify that particular claim. However, it is really easy to make, and contains herbs with known antibacterial and antiviral properties. It also, of course, contains apple cider vinegar, which is a really brilliant thing all on its own.
The Psoriasis Association estimates that around 1.8 million people in the UK are affected by psoriasis1. Psoriasis is usually described as an immune-mediated, chronic inflammatory disorder that presents with silvery scales on bright red plaques on the skin. It commonly occurs on the knees, elbows and scalp, but different types of psoriasis can also affect other parts of the body. 50% of patients will suffer from some nail changes ranging from ‘pitting’ to complete destruction of the nail2. Many patients experience some associated itching of the affected areas of skin. Psoriasis is also associated with a type of joint condition called psoriatic arthritis which affects 30% of psoriasis patients3. Patients with psoriasis have a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome and lymphoma depending on the severity of their condition4. Patients with psoriasis may also have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disorders, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and Crohn's disease6 7.
I have recently been running workshops for bar-tenders interested in making their own cocktail bitters, which has prompted me to take a closer look at why these botanicals have such a widespread appeal. Here are some notes that I passed on to them during a workshop at the aptly named Milk Thistle Bar in Central Bristol. Mankind has used bitters for medicinal purposes for millennia. We have evolved a highly sophisticated set of taste receptors for differentiating between the many shades of bitter, reflecting our development as a species across a wide range of habitats and available plant foods. The key point being that many toxic substances in nature share similar chemical characteristics, and our taste receptors have evolved to allow us to identify potential poisons. We can identify these chemical groups through our senses and our programmed response is generally one of repulsion.