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Why do I have brain fog all the time?

Question

I seem to live in a perpetual fog, like I can’t think clearly or I’m not all the way there. Why do I have brain fog?

Answer

Brain fog is a sign of brain inflammation. Although inflammation in the brain doesn’t cause pain, it can cause symptoms of brain fog.

The brain is protected by a thin lining called the blood-brain barrier, which allows nano-sized compounds in or out of the brain as appropriate. However the blood-brain barrier can become “leaky,” just as the gut barrier can. This allows large particles into the brain that don’t belong there. These invaders trigger the brain’s immune system and cause inflammation.

Brain inflammation can also result from:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Chronic inflammation in the body
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Gut infections
  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Heavy metals and pollutants
  • Head injuries or stroke

If left unmanaged brain inflammation causes damage to nerve tissue and accelerates brain aging, increasing the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

A commonly seen cause of brain fog is a food intolerance, particularly to gluten. Many people have resolved chronic brain fog simply by adapting a strict gluten-free diet. Recent research has shown gluten to be implicated in many neurological disorders, including brain fog.

The good news is the brain is responsive to inflammation management. Research shows a variety of natural compounds and botanicals have powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the brain.

These compounds and therapies to address the underlying cause of your brain fog—whether it is hypothyroidism, gluten, a hormone deficiency, or all three—can not only lift brain fog but also ensure better brain health and function for years to come.

  1. Katja Reply

    Can you give us examples of these natural compounds?

    • bshook Reply

      Sure, some natural compounds that have been shown in the literature to decrease inflammation are:
      - Curcumin from Tumeric
      - Catechin from Green Tea
      - Resveratrol
      - Rutin
      And there are several others including essential fatty acids, glutathione (not oral), Vitamin D and S.O.D. This is not a complete list, but these supplements are excellent for inflammation and especially autoimmune conditions.

      The key to decreasing inflammation is not in these compounds though…sorry, but it is in your diet. These are supportive compounds that can make a significant difference, but adopting a Paleo diet, which removes almost all allergens from your diet is the first step. Many of my patients don;t like it when I tell them this, but it is what it is and I can’t change that. Take my advice, go Paleo, start supplementing with these compounds, and watch your world change.

  2. Katja Reply

    Wonderful, thank you so much for the detailed and prompt reply it is much appreciated!

    Kind regards,

    Katja

  3. Katja Reply

    Just a quick follow up question: my “brain fog” issues seem to be related to a hormone imbalance (they are particularly acute during the first 10 to 14 days after my period starts – the fog literally lifts after that). I am going to start the Paleo diet which makes a lot of sense but am wondering whether you think there is anything else I should be doing given what I just described – btw I have done basic tests for thyroid, diabetes, anemia, and everything comes out as it should for a ‘normal healthy person’…

    • bshook Reply

      No problem, happy to answers questions when I have time. Patients commonly get test results that are “normal”, however “normal” results on a standard lab panel only compare you to an average of the people that have been tested at that particular lab. Further, lab ranges are pathological ranges, not optimal healthy ranges…this is when functional medicine and “optimal range” or “normal lab range” comparison comes into play.

      Think of it this way, your lab markers are a number, but are they all in the middle of the lab range, or are they close to the top or bottom number of the lab range? When should that number start to be of concern? We (functional medicine practitioners) use the optimal ranges which are more narrow, and they give you a much better understanding of subclinical system decline, and they allow you to be proactive, not reactive.

      With that said, your labs are not standard lab range bad, but they may be outside of normal when considering optimal health. Further the standard insurance and general practice work-up is very inadequate at assessing your health, especially Thyroid panels. Typically you only get TSH, and are lucky to have any additional markers…horribly inadequate and reflects the outdated knowledge and limited understanding of thyroid physiology of the person ordering the test. Don’t get me wrong, the doctor means well, but…outdated.

      I would go Paleo, make sure you are not sub-clincially anemic, make sure to get in physical activity (doesn’t have to be vigorous at all), and then have an adrenal stress index (salivary test to assess your adrenal gland output over 24 hrs…salivary) and go from there.

      Hope this helps…the ASI test I order is from Diagnostecs Lab…

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