Health & Wellness

How to Get Rid of Brain Fog: 7 Natural Remedies

Losing the ability to think clearly and/or respond quickly and effectively is one of the most frustrating symptoms you can experience. Even if other symptoms are tolerable, I often find that experiencing fuzzy thinking will send people running into the doctor’s office looking for a way to get rid of brain fog.

Think about it. It’s so frustrating to begin speaking only to forget what you were about to say. Or maybe you keep misplacing your purse or keys and end up running around frantically searching for them while you try to avoid being late for an appointment. And what was that new neighbor’s name again?

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix when it comes to brain fog. To get rid of brain fog, you can’t just treat the symptom. Instead, you have to address the root cause.

The great news here is that brain fog can be remedied! By identifying and treating the root cause, you’ll not only clear brain fog but also improve your other symptoms as well!

But before we get how to get rid of brain fog, let’s discuss what it is and its possible root causes, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

 

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog isn’t an official medical term, disease, or diagnosis. Instead, it’s a collection of symptoms focused on lack of mental clarity such as forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty processing information, and trouble with focus and concentration. [1]

Interestingly, brain fog typically doesn’t appear as a lone symptom and is often accompanied by other symptoms, including irritability, headaches, fatigue, and more. That’s why it’s so important to identify the root cause of your brain fog—so you can work to reduce or eliminate all of your worrisome symptoms. Keep reading to discover the five most common causes of brain fog.

5 Common Causes of Brain Fog

In order to get rid of brain fog, you must first determine its root cause. Why? Well, if you were to take a supplement that’s designed to help improve brain fog related to insomnia but your brain fog is the result of dehydration, that supplement won’t help you very much.

It’s important to understand that all brain fog is caused by an imbalance in the body. Here are five of the most common causes of brain fog and their accompanying symptoms you should look out for.

1. Thyroid gland problems.

What it is: Simply put, if your thyroid is out of balance, it will either be underactive or overactive. If it’s underactive, you may have hypothyroidism. If your thyroid is overactive, you may have hyperthyroidism. And studies have shown that both conditions are associated with cognitive decline. One study even found that people with subclinical hyperthyroidism were at increased risk of developing dementia. [2, 3]

What to look out for: Hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, forgetfulness, dry skin and hair, hoarse voice, cold intolerance, frequent and heavy menstrual periods, and weight gain.

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include trouble sleeping, having an enlarged thyroid gland, irritability, muscle weakness, tremors, vision problems and/or eye irritation, sensitivity to heat, infrequent or light periods, and weight loss.

2. Dehydration.

What it is: Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water to function properly. This typically happens you’re unable to replace water lost or used by your body. Interestingly, a recent study conducted on 12 women showed that when they decreased their fluid intake to only 6 ounces in a 24-hour period, their cognitive flexibility, including attention and focus, decreased. Additionally, they were prone to more errors. However, upon rehydrating, the women’s focus and attention spans returned to normal. [4]

What to look out for: Dehydration symptoms include thirst, dry lips and/or mouth, flushed skin, fatigue, irritability, muscle cramps, sluggish bowels, and feeling like you’re getting a cold or lump in your throat. Brain fog can occur at the earliest stages of dehydration and may be your only symptom. Pay attention to your body and its cues, and try drinking more water to improve your focus.

3. Adrenal fatigue.

What it is: Adrenal fatigue is a collection of symptoms—also known as a syndrome—that appears when your adrenal glands are doing a poor job managing hormones in response to chronic stress. Numerous human and animal studies have shown that cortisol (the “stress hormone” released by your adrenal glands) can inhibit cognitive function—specifically memory retrieval. [5, 6]

Think of this example I use quite often: Imagine you’re being chased by a bear in the woods. While you’re running, do you notice the beautiful flowers you pass? Once you get away and are safe, can you remember which way you ran to get there? No! Why? Well, it’s because the cortisol helped you focus on your destination and caused you to miss all the small details in between. You’ve likely experienced this in your day-to-day life.  Have you ever home from work and not fully remembered the drive or walked into your kitchen and completely forgot why you were going in there? Guess what? It’s not dementia—it’s cortisol-induced brain fog!

What to look out for: Adrenal fatigue symptoms include feeling constant fatigue along with insomnia, menstrual cycle changes, lack of libido, hair loss, depression, anxiety, pain, poor immune health, and poor thyroid function.

4. Perimenopause.

What it is: Perimenopause refers to a time when a woman’s body is beginning to transition into menopause, or the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It typically occurs around ages 40-45, though it may start earlier, and lasts around three to four years (on average). Several studies have reported a connection between perimenopause and brain fog.

In one study, 230 women from ages 33 to 55 were interviewed about their perceived cognitive function. Approximately 60 percent reported unfavorable memory changes “over the past few years.” These unfavorable changes included word and number recall, disruptions in everyday behavior (such as losing items), difficulty concentrating, and forgetfulness—often requiring the use of memory aids. And in another study, perimenopausal women were 1.4 times more likely to report experiencing forgetfulness than premenopausal women. [7]

What to look out for: Perimenopause symptoms vary greatly but can include hot flashes, insomnia, erratic menstrual cycles, vaginal dryness, irritability and mood swings, and short-term memory troubles.

5. Insomnia.

What it is: Insomnia is a condition categorized by the inability to fall or stay asleep. There are two different types of insomnia: short-term and chronic. Short-term insomnia lasts three months or less while chronic insomnia affects the sufferer for at least three nights each week for over three months. According to a study published in 2017, lack of sleep actually inhibits neurons in the human brain to understand and translate information, which explains why insomnia is so often accompanied by brain fog. [8] And it may surprise you to learn that the use of prescription sleep aids (such as Ambien) has been linked to decreased cognitive function as well. [9]

What to look out for: Insomnia symptoms include trouble falling and/or staying asleep at night, waking up too early, daytime fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, depression or anxiety, inability to focus, and increased errors. [10]

Brain fog remedies - Dr. Pingel

How to Get Rid of Brain Fog: 7 Natural Remedies

Once you’ve spoken with your doctor and identified the root cause of your brain fog, you’ll be ready to form a plan to get rid of brain fog for good. Here are some of the best natural remedies you can try, depending on your personal situation.

1. Manage daily stress. 

Stress is the major cause of adrenal fatigue and is even linked to each of the five common causes of brain fog above. With our constantly ringing cell phones and the barrage of emails, it can be tough to keep stress levels down—especially since you never know what’s right around the corner. I’ve found that carving out time during the evenings without my phone helps me disconnect. And incorporating proper nutrition is also crucial to maintaining balance and reducing daily stress loads.

2. Get quality rest.

Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely crucial for optimal brain function. But I’ve struggled with insomnia myself, so I know it can be hard to overcome. Take a look at my top five home remedies for sleeping difficulties to help you get some quality shut-eye!

3. Practice active relaxation.

We all have something we enjoy doing, whether it’s shopping with a friend, journaling, or even participating in a yoga class. The point here is to make a decision to do something that will help you to unwind and relax. Not sure where to start? Check out some of my best ways to reduce stress for some fun tips to help you relax.

4. Get moving.

The simple act of moving around fights brain fog more than you may realize. In fact, a study published in January 2019 showed that participating in regular exercise such as walking, cycling, or climbing stairs improves your ability to think. And, amazingly, these positive effects to your thinking skills only increase as you age! [11] So whether you like walking alone in nature or simply decide to start taking the stairs instead of the elevator, try to move a little more throughout your day to help get rid of brain fog.

5. Check for food allergies.

Studies have shown that cognitive function improves when a person removes an offending food allergen from their diet. But it can be difficult to know if a food allergy is actually at the root of your brain fog. If you suspect this may be a concern for you, try eliminating the most common allergenic (i.e., inflammatory) foods from your diet. Once you begin to feel better, slowly add those foods back in, one at a time, until you can identify your offending food. Then you know what you should avoid in the future.

6. Clean up your diet.

In addition to checking for food allergies, it’s always a good idea to try to remove any outside toxins from your diet. You’d be amazed at how much better you’ll feel (both physically and mentally) by removing processed, toxin-laden foods from your daily diet. And a big part of this is drinking more water. Try to replace any sugar-filled beverages with water—and aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces. Check out my organic shopping list so you know exactly which foods are particularly high in pesticides. It’s a great starting point to cleaning up your diet and help get rid of brain fog.

7. Take brain-boosting herbs.

There are many herbs and supplements to choose from that can help fight brain fog. Once again, the key is to know what’s causing your brain fog so you know which herbs and supplements to choose. For example, Ginkgo biloba is notable for improving both memory and concentration—if your brain fog is the result of adrenal fatigue. [12]


Key Takeaways

  • Brain fog is a common symptom of an underlying issue that typically appears in conjunction with other symptoms.
  • To get rid of brain fog, you can’t just treat the symptom. Instead, you must determine the root cause.
  • Five of the most common causes of brain fog include thyroid gland problems, dehydration, adrenal fatigue, perimenopause, and insomnia.
  • Once you determine the root cause, there are scientifically-proven natural remedies you can use to help you get rid of brain fog.

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