What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is often described as the feeling that you can’t think clearly, hold on to thoughts, or concentrate.1 It is a subjective phenomenon.
While there is no official medical term for brain fog, the term “clouding of consciousness” is generally used as the common brain fog definition.
Brain Fog Symptoms
What does brain fog feel like? – In addition to feelings of forgetfulness and the inability to concentrate, some people report that their head feels heavy or achy. It can cause feelings of cognitive fog or mental haze when it comes to communicating or finding the right words.1 The severity of symptoms of brain fog appear to vary from person to person.
Brain Fog Causes
What causes brain fog? There’s a wide range of causes for brain fog. And there is no brain fog test. But if you are dealing with any of the following conditions or diseases, a foggy brain could be among the effects.
- Adrenal fatigue
- Food Triggers
- Gluten intolerance
- Histamine intolerance
- Liver problems
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Thyroid Problems
Brain Fog After Eating
If you feel as if you have a fuzzy brain after eating, it’s possible that there was something in the food that triggered an allergic reaction.
Aside from dairy and gluten, the most common trigger is carbohydrates. Brain fog after eating is usually immediate and can last for several hours.
PMS Brain Fog
A foggy mind or poor concentration during PMS is likely linked to the significant shift in balance between estrogen and progesterone. During this time, chemical changes also occur in the brain. Fluctuation of serotonin levels is thought to be associated with fatigue and premenstrual depression.5
To reduce the chances of impact of foggy head or brain fog, PMS therapies such as sugar reduction may help reduce symptoms.
Brain Fog Thyroid
Thyroid brain fog is usually associated with hypothyroidism. Brain fog is not a known symptom of hyperthyroidism, the condition of an overactive thyroid gland.
Some sufferers of low thyroid function report severe brain fog that can manifest to look like depression.
Lupus Brain Fog
Chronic fatigue and mental fog are a common symptom of lupus that may affect up to 50% of patients. Taking care of your body and creating a good mental environment are two important steps for lupus brain fog management.10
Gluten Brain Fog
Anyone living with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, may be familiar with the head fog that comes with ingestion of gluten. The phenomenon is sometimes referred to as coeliac brain fog.
One study noted that mental fog described by celiac patients was reduced when they adhered to a gluten-free diet.2
Pregnancy Brain Fog
The continual shift of hormones during pregnancy is believed to be at the root of what is often called “baby brain”, or moments of cloudy thinking or forgetfulness. The combination of fatigue, hormones, stress and other conditions may make brain fog particularly noticeable during this time.6
Menopause Brain Fog
Just like with PMS, changes in progesterone levels during menopause can create fuzzy brain moments. For this source of brain fog, menopause treatments such as increased vitamin B12 intake may help.
Depression Brain Fog
Perhaps the most complex source of brain fog, depression can also create brain fog anxiety. Treating brain fog related to depression is best done in consultation with a healthcare professional.
Fibromyalgia Brain Fog
It is generally accepted within the medical community that fibromyalgia involves inflammation of the central nervous system. Any kind of inflammation prompts the autoimmune system to fight back, which can change the balance of serotonin and other chemicals necessary for brain clarity.3
Chemo Brain Fog
By design, chemotherapy aggressively attacks cancer cells, further taxing the immune system. Significant shifts in hormonal and chemical balances are an accepted risk and contribute to “chemo brain” or periods of declined cognitive function.
MS Brain Fog
People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) commonly report brain fog. Multiple sclerosis remains a difficult condition to treat and manage. However, there is evidence that symptoms can be managed with increased serotonin.4
Lyme Disease Brain Fog
As medical science learns more about the delayed signs of Lyme disease, there is growing evidence that it may influence neurological function. Symptoms may be delayed for years after the initial infection, but inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain has been known to occur.7
Histamine Intolerance Brain Fog
Histamine is a hormone that causes blood vessels to dilate, smooth muscle contractions, lower blood pressure and acts as a neurotransmitter.8 In some people, higher than normal histamine levels can lead to inflammation that, in turn, may promote brain fog.
Candida Brain Fog
An emerging theory notes that the symptoms of brain fog or mental fuzziness may originate in the gut. It’s believed that changes in gut flora, primarily due to an overgrowth of candida may influence the body’s ability to absorb certain compounds needed for proper cognitive function.
If you’re suffering from brain fog and candida, following a candida diet designed to starve the microorganisms back to healthy levels could help relieve symptoms.
Parasites and Brain Fog
Unhealthy parasites in the gut can come from a variety of sources and cause mental fog, among other symptoms. A parasite detox may help reduce mental fog symptoms naturally.
Diabetes Brain Fog
People who live with diabetes can experience frequent bouts of brain fog. By some accounts, this happens when blood sugar levels surge. One theory is that the inflammation of tissues and autoimmune response may inhibit the brain’s ability to manage synaptic activity. However, this theory is still under review.
ADHD Brain Fog
Currently, the relationship between ADHD and brain fog is still under review. Mental fuzziness may be a result of the same differing brain processes that manifest as ADHD or a secondary symptom of difficulties concentrating.
Liver and Brain Fog
Liver conditions and disease make it difficult for the body to expel toxins. One theory is that a build-up of toxins in the liver and other organs can impede the brain’s ability to produce enough serotonin.
Adrenal Fatigue and Brain Fog
Adrenal fatigue comes from frequent and repeated release of adrenaline into the bloodstream. This usually is caused by chronic stress, sleep deprivation, calorie restriction or excessive caffeine consumption.
Often, hormones are released to counteract the adrenaline causing an imbalance. As a result, the brain may be deprived of chemicals necessary for proper cognitive function.
Brain Fog Cure
As the above sections reflect, there are many causes of brain fog: autoimmune disease, cancer treatment, hormone imbalances, and food allergies, to name a few.
As there are various causes of brain fog, unfortunately there is no definitive answer on how to clear brain fog. However, there are several popular methods that people report to be helpful.
Taking vitamins for brain fog is one of the easiest treatments to try. Vitamin B12, is one of the most popular brain fog supplements. In the body, vitamin b12 is required for healthy energy levels, brain function and nervous system.
A B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, numbness and mental fogginess. It’s not uncommon for many elder, vegetarian, vegan or people with diabetes to be mildly deficient.
S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring chemical that helps regulate key functions at the cellular level. It has become a popular treatment of brain fog due to its use in the treatment of liver disease and depression.9 In the body, vitamin B12 and folate work together to produce SAMe, which improves mood and immune function.8
Serotonin supplements are also popular. But it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare professional before taking serotonin.
Coconut oil is rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acid. Many believe these are keys to good neurological health since they are building blocks of the cells that protect nerves and neural connections. Anecdotally, many people have also report improved clarity of thought after reducing sugar intake.
Supplements for Brain Fog Treatment
For those wondering how to get rid of brain fog, treatment through supplements is a popular choice. Supplements designed to reduce brain fog can easily be found at your local pharmacy, and online retailers like Amazon.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Ross, A. J., Medow, M. S., Rowe, P. C., & Stewart, J. M. (2013). What is brain fog? An evaluation of the symptom in postural tachycardia syndrome. Clinical Autonomic Research : Official Journal of the Clinical Autonomic Research Society.23(6). 305–311. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10286-013-0212-z
- Lichtwark, I., Newnham, E., Robinson, S., Shepherd, S., Hosking, P., Gibson, P., Yelland, G. (2014). Cognitive impairment in coeliac disease improves on a gluten-free diet and correlates with histological and serological indices of disease severity. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 40(2). 160-170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/apt.12809
- Senzolo, M., Schiff, S., D’Aloiso, C. M., Crivellin, C., Cholongitas, E., Burra, P., & Montagnese, S. (2011). Neuropsychological alterations in hepatitis C infection: The role of inflammation. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 17(29), 3369–3374. doi:3748/wjg.v17.i29.3369
- Mostert, J. P., Admiraal-Behloul, F., Hoogduin, J. M., Luyendijk, J., Heersema, D. J., Van Buchem, M. A., & De Keyser, J. (2008). Effects of fluoxetine on disease activity in relapsing multiple sclerosis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory study.Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 79(9), 1027-1031. doi:1136/jnnp.2007.139345
- Mayo Clinic. (2014, December 16). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – Causes. Retrieved September 19, 2017 from – View Reference
- Wick, M. (2014, December 16). Does “baby brain” really exist? Retrieved September 19, 2017 from – View Reference
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, April 3). Lyme disease- symptoms. Retrieved September 19, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20019701
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2017, February 15). Histamine. Retrieved September 19, 2017 from https://www.britannica.com/science/histamine
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (201, January). S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): In Depth. Retrieved September 19, 2017 from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements/SAMe
- Smith, H. (2017, April 11). 5 Strategies for Coping With Lupus-Associated Brain Fog. Retrieved September 19, 2017 from – View Reference