Brain fog is cognitive dysfunction involving memory lapses, lack of mental clarity, focus, concentration, and mental fatigue. Depending on the severity of brain fog, it can interfere with work or school.
Chronic stress can cause mental fatigue. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus. Poor sleep quality – which results in an impediment of your brain’s ability to properly detoxify via a process controlled by glymphatics – is a big culprit.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy (aka baby brain) can cause brain fog, memory lapse, and short-term cognitive impairment. Perimenopause and menopause – which cause drops in progesterone and estrogen – can cause forgetfulness, poor concentration, and cloudy thinking.
Whatever the cause, the following are some effective solutions.
When it comes to nutrition, try intermittent fasting. You want to create a 6-8 hour eating window and fast for the remaining 16-18 hours (except water, coffee, tea). This practice allows for cellular “autophagy,” which translates into “self-eating.” Autophagy is a cellular and tissue rejuvenation process that works to remove damaged cellular components, including old and poorly functioning brain cells.
Drink beet juice with ginger. This combination is incredible for boosting nitric oxide (dilates blood vessels resulting in more oxygen and nutrients to the brain) and significantly reduces inflammation.
If you have food allergies or sensitivities, brain fog may develop after eating certain foods. Possible culprits include MSG, artificial sweeteners, peanuts (due to aflatoxin), dairy, and gluten can be triggers.
When it comes to supplements, make sure you’re adding ingredients including Omega3, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and B-12 daily as deficiencies in these micronutrients can bring about brain fog. Other proven ingredients that together work to improve focus, concentration, and alertness. These supplements can also reduce stress without drowsiness, memory, recall, mood and cognition – and if that wasn’t enough, it could enhance learning and accuracy. This because of the Neurofactor (an extract of whole fruit from the Coffea arabica plant), SunTheanine (a 100% pure L-isomer-theanine), and Cognizin CDP-Citicoline (cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine).
CBD may also help with brain fog. We will get into great detail about that later on. Brain fog may be a known side effect of some medications, including cholesterol lowering medication such as statins and chemotherapy (chemo brain). Talk to your prescribing doctor.
Consider laboratory tests that can help identify underlying issues. Blood work can assist your healthcare provider in identifying the underlying cause of brain fog. For example, a simple blood test can detect any of the following factors that may contribute to brain fog:
• Abnormal glucose levels
• Poor liver, kidney, and thyroid function
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Inflammatory diseases
with optimal sleep hygiene (a dark, cool, quiet room), stress management (know your limitations), and avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine. Intense exercise can clear brain fog more effectively than most things, so if you’re not exercising daily, it is beneficial to start immediately.
Other brain fog solutions include strengthening brainpower. Try solving brain puzzles, playing new board games, or learning a new language. It is also essential to support your brain-gut connection by increasing quality protein, fruits, vegetables, and soluble fiber in your diet. If you haven’t recently supplemented with high-quality probiotics, consider that also.
Whenever you can, take your walk outside to the next level and try forest bathing. The Japanese call this “shinrin-yoku”. What you achieve from spending time is a forest goes beyond just the sounds, scent, and sunlight and offers your brain more than fresh, clean air. When you forest bathe, the abundance of negative ions that have been proven to boost serotonin – the feel-good neurotransmitter – work to ease stress and worry and help us relax and think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.
When you need to clear the fog quickly, take a cold shower or splash cold water on your face. This increases the stimulation of the vagus nerve. Simultaneously, your body adjusts to the cold temperature, sympathetic activity declines, while parasympathetic activity increases.
CBD, your Endocannabinoid System, and Brain Fog
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was discovered in the late 1980s but was found to have evolved over 600 million years into animal systems. The ECS is made up of a network of receptor sites on cell membranes that fit into those sites like keys in locks called cannabinoids. ECS receptors have been found on almost every organ in the human body, with the highest concentration in the brain and central nervous system. One way to think about the Endocannabinoid System is as a computer software program where your brain/nervous system is the hard drive (or app vs. smartphone).
CBD oil is a derivative of the cannabis plant that’s rich in chemical compounds called cannabinoids. It contains only trace amounts of THC and will not get you “high”. The scientific literature for CBD is strongest for many forms of epilepsy where drugs don’t work. It also seems effective in managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
Market analysts expect the hemp-derived CBD market alone to hit approx. Twenty billion in the next five years. However, many supporters promote wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, and across a wide array of beauty products for dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema, and anti-aging products to reduce wrinkles, fine lines and plump your skin.
The greatest challenge is pinpointing effective doses. CBD is currently mostly available as an unregulated supplement, so it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. Look for is a broad spectrum source with about 25mg of CBD per dose.
The ECS role as the body’s innate balancing (“adaptogenic”) mechanism is key to the regulation of everything from appetite, energy metabolism, fertility, and immunity to sleep, mood, pain perception, and memory. Most people don’t know that even though the endocannabinoid system is named after cannabis, researchers have since discovered that it is not the only plant that produces ECS activators.
Lack of focus is a symptom of anxiety. Some professionals suggest that the inability to concentrate, which many brain fog sufferers describe, could be down to high anxiety levels. CBD, shown to improve serotonin uptake in the brain, which may work in a similar way to SSRI anti-depressant medication. It is also believed to affect brain physiology in a number of other ways, further reducing anxiety levels. Because CBD can reduce anxiety levels in many people, it is highly likely that the reduction in anxiety that many users experience will lift the brain fog and an improved focus and drive.