Brain Fog - Causes and Treatments

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Brain Fog - Causes and Treatments

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?

What causes brain fog?

The short answer is inflammation. The slightly longer answer is it’s about poor energy delivery. The brain guzzles energy, using 20% of your body's total, so poor energy delivery often results in a foggy brain.

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response and is essential to any healing process. However, inflammation can impinge on the body’s ability to generate energy and communicate it to all the cells that need it.

Contributing factors:

  • Lack of sleep: During sleep your brain clears the accumulated junk that it has inevitably generated through the day. This process is driven by the glymphatic system. Too little sleep may fail to clear toxins and cellular detritus, which may impair efficient brain function.
  • Toxins: Toxins are everyday. Our bodies are exposed to and deal with toxins constantly, from the food we eat, to the waste products of metabolism, and environmental factors such as pollution, pesticides, and cleaning products. Inflammation also increases the toxic load. Toxins burden the body, cause inflammation and can directly affect certain tissues. We can’t get rid of them from the environment but we can aim to avoid them where possible and support the body’s own detox mechanisms.
  • Poor circulation: Poor circulation will result in lower oxygen, nutrients and energy reaching the brain. And more of those nasties not being carried away by the blood.
  • Poor diet: Your brain needs fuel and a poor diet will contribute to brain fog. Brain specific deficiencies to look out for are fats (medium and long chain), B vitamins and antioxidants. Remember, a balanced diet is key to a healthy body throughout.  
  • Over indulgance: Drinking cider does not make you more intelligent, contrary to how it might feel at the time!
  • Food intolerance: Food intolerances lead to inflammation in the gut, meaning fewer nutrients are absorbed. Inflammation cues (cytokines) can also travel across the blood-brain barrier and result in inflammation in the brain. This is particularly documented for gluten intolerance but can occur with any intolerance. 
  • Systemic Inflammation: Similar to food intolerances, conditions that are marked by chronic inflammation can lead to brain inflammation. These include chronic rheumatic and autoimmune conditions, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
  • Endocrine imbalance: Hormones help regulate how we cope with changes. The thyroid and adrenal glands in particular regulate how we use and conserve energy. Their health and efficiency directly affects the function of that energy guzzler, the brain.
  • Stress – When we are stressed, mental clarity can be diminished because cortisol (one of the stress hormones) affects the hippocampus, the part of the brain that governs memory.

Brain Booster compound

Taking the above into consideration, we have developed a compound to address brain fog and improve mental function. This formula is designed to combat the underlying causes of brain fog and also improve function in those who simply want a tune up. Exam takers, take note!

I woke up feeling like someone had cleaned the windows A quote from a patient after consuming the above mix

The herbs

These herbs were chosen as they have a long tradition of helping with memory and cognitive function. This mix should improve circulation to the brain and work with the glymphatic system to clear the brain of anything unwanted. It is also designed to provide an ally to combat stress, anxiety and depression – which both produce and are produced by brain fog.

Brahmi – is a neuroprotective and a nootropic (learning and memory aid), traditionally used as an aid to learning by Brahmi scholars.

Rosemary – is a circulatory stimulant, specifically for the brain, and a mild antidepressant.

Sage – Is an anti-inflammatory tonic for poor memory, headaches, anxiety, depression, confusion and nervous exhaustion.

Gotu kola – Is a nootropic adaptogen (it helps the body adapt to stress) that has a long history as a brain tonic. It improves circulation, memory, and intelligence and reduces fatigue, anxiety and depression as well as helping remove toxins in the body.

Ginkgo – is a circulatory stimulant, specifically for the brain. It enhances energy and has been used in chronic fatigue syndrome. It is also used to improve anxiety and depression.

How to use

Take 7.5ml 2x per day over the course of a fortnight. This should be enough to notice a difference. It may be that symptoms will return after stopping, in which case carry on for longer. Noticing a difference should act as a spur to try and identify the underlying cause. In which case a consultation with a herbalist is called for!

Cautions

Use with professional advice during pregnancy and when breastfeeding. Use with caution alongside cholestasis. Seek advice before using with blood thinning medication or shortly before an operation.

Further reading

Myhill, S. and Robinson, C. (2020) Ecological Medicine – The Antidote to Big Pharma and Fast Foods, London:Hammersmith Health Books.