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 the blood sugar and cause a subsequent crash in blood sugar can lead to gaps in glucose supply to the brain. Keeping blood sugar stable will sometimes help maintain more stable brain function.
Insulin’s job is to move glucose from the blood into the tissue. If your body isn’t listening well to insulin, glucose doesn’t get moved into the brain tissue for use in brain function.
Inflammation in the brain
Inflammatory triggers like food sensitivities can cause widespread inflammation, not limited to the gut or the skin, but can also cause inflammation in the brain, negatively impacting 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 danger.
High ammonia or lactate levels
High blood levels of either of these substances can contribute to foggy thinking.
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 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 anxiety, depression and difficulty thinking clearly.
What is the natural treatment for foggy thinking?
When addressing cognitive function problems in our patients, our naturopathic doctors 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.
- 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, under functioning adrenal glands, vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies.
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.
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.