What causes foggy thinking or brain fog?
There are a couple of possibilities for confusion, forgetfulness, or inability to concentrate (other than Alzheimer’s or dementia) if you feel like your brain isn’t functioning well:
Unstable Blood Sugar
Your brain needs a steady supply of glucose to function properly. Foods that spike your blood sugar and cause a subsequent crash in blood sugar lead to gaps in glucose supply to your brain. Keeping your blood sugar stable maintains more stable brain function.
Insulin’s job is to move glucose from your blood into your cells. If your body isn’t listening well to insulin, that is, you have insulin resistance, then glucose doesn’t get moved into your brain tissue for use in brain function.
Inflammation in your brain
Inflammatory triggers like food sensitivities cause widespread inflammation. This inflammation is not limited to your gut or your skin, but can also cause inflammation in your brain. The inflammation negatively impacts your brain function.
High stress or anxiety
A brain that is overloaded with stress or anxiety, can’t function well. Think of a deer in the headlights, immobilized by fear and not able to get out of the way of the obvious danger.
High ammonia or lactate levels
High blood levels of either of these substances can contribute to foggy thinking. Helping your body metabolize these waste products clears up a foggy brain.
Underactive thyroid function
Mental lethargy or foggy thinking can be because your thyroid isn’t working properly. Other symptoms that are associated with hypothyroidism can be slow metabolism, weight gain, low energy, hair loss, and poor temperature regulation/feeling cold.
Hormones interact with neurotransmitters and thereby influence how your brain works. Low levels of hormones can manifest as low libido, hair loss, menopause symptoms, anxiety, depression, and difficulty thinking clearly.
What is the natural treatment for foggy thinking?
When addressing cognitive function problems in our patients, our naturopathic doctor would help you to:
- Stabilize your blood sugar through healthy, whole foods diet.
- Improving your insulin sensitivity through exercise, use of herbs and minerals such as cinnamon and zinc and natural substances like N-Acetyl Cysteine and Inositol.
- Reduce brain inflammation – test for and remove IgG and IgA-mediated food sensitivities and environmental allergies, if appropriate.
- Counsel you regarding high stress or anxiety. Reduce stress where possible, exercise to reduce the effects of stress and treat the cause of anxiety – neurotransmitter balance, hormone imbalance, HPA axis dysfunction, vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies.
- Balance your hormones
- Optimize your thyroid function
Blood work that may be helpful for foggy thinking:
hsCRP, food sensitivity blood testing, HbA1c, estradiol, progesterone, LH, FSH, DHEAs, testosterone, TSH, free T3, free T4, ammonia, lactate, 8-9 a.m. cortisol.
Our naturopathic doctor will get to the root of foggy thinking. She can order all of the above tests, if they are appropriate, and use natural means like diet, stress reduction, vitamins, minerals, and herbs to restore healthy cognitive function.
Authored by Dr. Pamela Frank, updated Feb. 10, 2022
Brain Fog Research
The flavone luteolin has numerous useful actions that include: anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, microglia inhibition, neuroprotection, and memory increase.
Theoharides TC1, Stewart JM2, Hatziagelaki E3, Kolaitis G4. Brain “fog,” inflammation and obesity: key aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders improved by luteolin. Front Neurosci. 2015 Jul 3;9:225. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00225. eCollection 2015.