Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of brain fog as a consequence of brain inflammation. At the time the concepts were new and floating around in my brain as fairly complex biochemical pathways that produced nasty consequences. Over time I have been able to relate these concepts to real world experiences and people that have made it much more real and understandable.
First of all lets consider inflammation. Lets imagine little drops of acid floating around both inside the cells and outside the cells. Every time one of these drops bumps into something, it burns it. This is inflammation – the chemical burning of the body. When burning happens, whatever got burned does not work right anymore. So when we are talking about brain cells, we are dealing with dead and dying cells that no longer work to enable us to think, remember, or feel. This is what is happening in brain fog; brain cells are being burned up and our ability to think and feel are being stopped.
If this happened to all the brain cells at once, we would die. Fortunately this only happens to a small number at a time, or just to small parts of the inside of the cells – usually the part that is for creating the energy the cell’s need to function. The brain compensates by forming new pathways, but this takes time. In the meantime we have brain fog, either because of dead cells or cells that have insufficient energy to function properly. Your brain engine ends up clogged up or out of gas.
Sometimes the cause of this massive acid drop formation is something dramatic like a stroke or a concussion, but more commonly it is caused by toxins in our foods and auto-immune reactions against our own brain tissues. We most always have some acid formation as the process of burning sugar as an energy source in the brain forms some acid (free radicals). If we are healthy we have plenty of anti-oxidants to neutralize these normal levels of acids. This is why we want to eat lots of dark vegetables and fruits, as they are full of anti-oxidants, which help to restore our master body anti-oxidant: glutathione.
Recently I have been getting feedback from patients and my companion Ellen regarding brain fog. Ellen says it is like having had four drinks. You simply are not present and can’t concentrate well. In her case it is like she gets really fatigued and can hardly function. Her coordination gets bad and her muscle strength drops significantly. In her case, her stroke symptoms get much worse. Another patient was telling me he always used to wake up grouchy and not wanting to deal with the world for several hours and several coffees. He changed his diet and that turned things around for him. Now he wakes up actually embracing the day and may not even have coffee.
Ellen was able to really feel the impact of her brain fog a few days ago. We actually took it away, temporarily, with the use of turmeric extract and resveratrol in my anti-inflammatory chocolate combined with the supplement Neuro O2, Nitric Balance, and acetyl glutathione. These are the main brain anti-inflammatory supplements I use in the office. To stop her brain fog we had to use some very large doses, but within minutes she felt amazingly better and clearer.
How much of these herbs do we need to use? The doctor who designed the formulas said to think of the question like asking a fireman how much is the right amount of water to put on a fire. The answer is whatever amount it takes to put the fire out. There is no right dose – use whatever it takes to get the job done. In Ellen’s case that was about six times the normal dose. Literally it was like turning the lights on in a dark room. She could suddenly think and feel and be present again. The effect lasted about six hours and so now we are dosing her three times a day with this six-fold dose to knock down the brain inflammation.
This may seem like a forceful approach, but when you really get it that we are talking about saving brain cells that will never be replaced, then it puts things into a better perspective. We are our brain functionality. If our brain is not functioning fully, then we are not us fully. Like Ellen said, she feels like she has had four drinks. She is not the girl I know if she tries two drinks. You can think or feel and you become a zombie-like creature functioning on automatic when you are in a brain fog. Any sort of mental stimulation or emotional challenge exhausts you and you just want to go to bed and pull the covers over your head. Brain fog is not a way to live!
This concern for a loss of my own brain function is what started me on my journey onto a grain, dairy, and sugar-free lifestyle. Most of the time I have been living a carb-free lifestyle and letting my brain function on burning fats for energy. Fat burning produces a tiny fraction of the “acid” free radicals that sugar burning for energy creates. I also consume the same anti-inflammatory supplements that I have been giving to Ellen as an added protection, but in a smaller dose as I have no active symptoms with which to gage my need. Lately I have loosened up to a Paleo lifestyle, which allows me some root vegetables. I would say my diet is about 70% vegetables, 20% protein foods, and 10% fruit, when I am being my best. If I am being “bad” my protein consumption goes up primarily in the form of nuts.
Once you get used to it this is not a difficult lifestyle to maintain, except when you go out and try to find good choices on a restaurant menu. So often the choice comes down to salad with sliced meat on it. But is this restriction worth it? For me I would have to say, “yes,” as holding on to my joy of experiencing life with a fully present and alive brain is everything. I don’t want to live my life dumbed down by a failing brain. I like being me and engaging the challenges life tosses at me. How about you?