You must have at one time or the other experienced fogs. When there is a fog, there is reduced visibility, confusion and disorientation as a result. It seems like a big blanket of cloud has just covered everything. The fog might be light enough that it still permits you to see to the end of the street some, or it could be so terrible that you can barely see your hand in front of your face. Due to the reduced visibility, cars can begin crashing into each other. This is what it is like to have a brain fog.
Brain Fog is a term used to describe a set of symptoms that affect the ability to think. Note that it has not been described as a disease, because it isn’t. If a person is having an episode of brain fog, they usually experience the following symptoms:
- Feeling confused;
- Lack of focus;
- Poor memory;
- Difficulty articulating thoughts and putting them into words;
- Deficiency in communication;
- Mood swings.
In short, the person feels disoriented and confused, unable to see far or to see clearly, just like in a fog.
How we are killing the brain.
Why say that? Well, because a good number of the causes of brain fog are self-induced. They are the result of poor lifestyle and dietary choices. They are due to our poor and terrible sleeping habits, dependence on junk food, and refusal to give ourselves a break, even when we know it is well needed. We do not give ourselves a chance to reorient, but just jump awake to a startlingly loud alarm shrieking in our ears, rush off into the bath, and off to work, grabbing a cup of something hot on the way.
The lunch break arrives and there is that mail that has to be replied during the lunch, which is itself a fast food packed with sugars and unhealthy fats. Then we get home at the close of the day and need some strong drink to cool down the nerves, and that is dumped in just before beginning work on that report that needs to be ready by morning. This is done late into the morning, and then the cycle begins over again.
The detrimental effects of all these accumulate over time and will eventually lead to brain fog. This is because the poor sleep, diet and overall lifestyle habits throw the brain chemicals out of balance. The imbalance results in this brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, and feeling blue. These go on to get aggravated and become chronic insomnia, anxiety and depression. To crown it all, these conditions are potentially able to graduate into dementia eventually.
Brain Chemicals and a healthy brain.
Three chemicals are particularly significant for the purposes of this article:
- Serotonin: This gives a feeling of calmness and serenity, aids self-consciousness and optimism. If there is a drop in serotonin levels, it results in increased vulnerability to physical/emotional pain. As a result, there is increased dependence on painkillers, anti-anxiety and antidepressants. These medications pose a threat of developing brain fog, impaired sexual function, and addiction to these drugs.
- Dopamine: This is the chemical that makes you feel motivated, energized, and pleasured. When this is lower than it should be, then one feels the need to take stimulants like caffeine. The induced levels of energy due to the stimulants can be easily crashed down from, and there is the danger of side effects like listlessness. Of course, there is the risk of addiction.
- Cortisol: This is a stress hormone that throws you in high gear. There are moderate levels of cortisol in the brain normally, but if this balance is disturbed, there will be problems, for example, exhaustion or excitement or both. On attempting to combat this with sleep aids, antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, there is a resulting brain fog, exhaustion and risk of addiction.
So, one can begin to appreciate the levels of delicate balance of chemicals in the brain, and the chain of events occurring if something should go wrong with one of them. If that chain is not broken, it becomes a cycle that spirals down further and further into worse and worse conditions.
Treatments for Brain Fog, therefore, focus on restoring the normal ranges of these chemicals to keep the brain functioning optimally.
The concept of Brain Fog in Ayurveda.
In Ayurveda, the brain can be said to consist of three parts functionally, matching up to the three doshas:
- Dhi – which is responsible for learning and understanding, and is controlled by the vata dosha.
- Dhriti – that takes care of all retention and processing of knowledge function, regulated by the pitta dosha.
- Smriti – responsible for memory, and is under the kapha dosha.
These three parts work in synergy for effective functioning of the brain. However, for some reasons, like poor diet or weak agni for example, there might be an accumulation of ama in the brain. This ama clouds up the mind and the brain is, consequently, unable to function well. So, there is confusion, lack of focus and poor memory, which are common symptoms of Brain fog.
What causes Brain Fog, more specifically?
As has been made clear, poor lifestyle and dietary choices go a long way to causing brain fogginess. However, aside or further from these reasons, a number of other situations can lead in one way or the other to fogginess of the brain, and they include:
- Toxins: Toxins ingested in food and food wrappers, industrial or household pollutants, cleaning products, stagnant air due to poor ventilation;
- Hormone Disturbances: These could be due to pregnancy, menopause or contraceptives.
- Medication: contraceptives are again in this class. Other medications include anti-psychotic drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, attention deficit disorder drugs, etc.
- Cancer Treatment: Chemotherapy can cause “chemo brain.” Someone with chemo brain has trouble remembering details or multitasking and takes longer to finish things.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: This is a condition of perpetual fatigue, usually lasting longer than six months. The fatigue is not alleviated by resting. One major symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is Brain fog.
- Multiple Sclerosis: A brain disease affecting memory, attention, planning and language.
- Lupus: This is an auto-immune disease. Brain tissues can get attacked and damaged.
- Depression: The mere lack of energy and motivation that comes with depression makes it difficult to think clearly. The mind is fogged in.
Treating the condition.
Medications can be prescribed for taking care of brain fog. For example, antioxidants helps the brain by preventing oxidation, since the brain needs a lot of oxygen and is very vulnerable to oxidation. You might want to watch out for side effects though.
Ayurvedic Home Remedy – Ama Buster.
This can be made ready with:
- 1 tablespoon each of ginger powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder.
- 2 tablespoons each of mint leaves and fennel seeds.
Crush the mint leaves and fennel leaves, and mix the whole thing together. Take 1 teaspoon of the mixture in a quarter or half cup of water.
Other Cures for Brain Fog with Ayurveda.
There abound Ayurvedic options for treating brain fog, that won’t merely alleviate the symptoms, but also remove the root causes and restore balance to the brain and body systems as a whole:
- Madhya Herbs: It is not mere coincidence that that sounds like Medhya Herbals. These herbs are excellent for treating brain conditions.
- Essential oils:
- Rosemary oil for mental clarity;
- Basil oil for fatigue and concentration.
- Yogic breathing exercises.
- Abhyangha-massage therapy.
Righting the wrong in lifestyle and diet for improved brain health.
- Learning and memory exercises to improve cognitive function.
- Physical exercises as appropriate.
- Spend less time with screen and technologies, especially towards bedtime.
- Get sufficient restful sleep, not sleeping with one eye open.
- Take less caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Connect better other people, this helps you relax.
- Taking up a spiritual practice helps you feel a connection to something higher than yourself, making you worry less.
- Having a clearly defined sense of purpose helps reduce feeling of confusion and disorientation.
- Balance up the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. Your brain needs more of omega-3, while omega-6 can be harmful to the brain if it is in excess.
- Avoid canned foods.
- Let your meals be rich in vitamins, essential amino acids and healthy fats.