Brain fog: What is it? Why do you get it? How can you make it better?

Brain fog: What is it? Why do you get it? How can you make it better?

Brain fog: What is it? Why do you get it? How can you make it better?


Firstly, What is ‘Brain Fog?’ 


Brain fog is a vague disorder, characterized by difficulty in thinking, remembering and concentrating.


How do you differentiate such a vague syndrome from just being a little off? or exhausted? Or Not on your game?


I’ll paraphrase the words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Justice Stewart was commenting on a case that had to do with free speech, the first amendment to the constitution. He was trying to explain the difference between erotic art, which is protected by the first amendment and pornography, which is not protected free speech— He didn’t know exactly how to explain where he would draw the line. He simply said, “You’ll know it when you see it.”


It’s like that with brain fog. If you’re experiencing brain fog, you’ll know the difference between it and needing a nap. 


What causes brain fog? 


There have been reports of brain fog associated with COVID-19. 


There’s scant evidence that the coronavirus can even get to the brain, let alone attack it directly. But that doesn’t mean indirect effects from COVID-19 can’t cause brain fog. Similar symptoms to brain fog have been reported after earlier pandemics: Such as the influenza pandemic of 1889, the influenza of 1892 (Russian flu), the Spanish flu pandemic (1918-1919), encephalitis lethargica, diphtheria, and myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome or post-viral fatigue syndrome)). 


Brain fog may be caused by inflammation. The syndrome has been reported after auto-immune diseases such as lupus. In lupus, and other inflammatory diseases, the cells that are supposed to fight off invaders malfunction and attack your own body. Widespread inflammation may result, including inflammation that affects the brain and may contribute to ‘brain fog.’


Lack of brain stimulation may cause brain fog. 


Human evolution has designed and selected for brains that were built to be stimulated. We’re social animals whose brains crave contact with other human beings. Our brains also require frequent intellectual challenge to function optimally. A year’s worth of mind stifling quarantine has caused an epidemic of brain fog. 


Brain fog and gluten 


The gut brain axis is just beginning to be understood, so the effects of gluten intolerance on the brain have not been fully defined. But, there’s some evidence that, in some people, gluten sensitivity may contribute to brain fog. And in rare cases, the only symptom of gluten sensitivity may be brain fog. 


How can you make brain fog better?


You do have the power to make brain fog better and in many cases you can even cure it. 


Exercise is a good first step to fight brain fog. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain. Get outside and take a nice walk. It’s a brain bonus if your walk is through nature. It’s a double brain bonus if you engage your five senses. Listen to the music of a singing bid. Smell the perfume of some fresh mown grass. Taste the clean breeze that blows after a thunderstorm. Watch a puffy white cloud float by. Feel the kiss of the warm sun on your cheek. 


You know what? Drag an old friend with you. It will be good for both of you. Wash away the dreary repetitiveness that you’ve been saddled with. Because our brains were built for that human touch, being with your old buddy will go a long way to clearing your brain fog. 


You might ask, “But doctor, is there anything I can take to help me fight my brain fog?”  


There’s no medicines that have been FDA approved for brain fog treatment. But, a peer reviewed study, published in the medical literature in 2015 has suggested that luteolin may be effective in reducing brain fog. 


Luteolin is a flavonoid found in a diverse group of foods and spices. Luteolin may be helpful in fighting “brain fog”. You might even enjoy some luteolin rich foods Like Radicchio, sweet peppers, hot peppers, celery, and pumpkins.