Many of us have experienced feelings of spaceyness, together with difficulty focusing and a slight feeling of being disoriented. When these feelings cannot be associated with any identifiable disease or condition, I group them under the nonspecific category called “brain fog”.
Most people’s episodes of brain fog are brief and fleeting, but for some the feeling is semi-permanent. It is one of the most frustrating and non specific conditions that patients complain about because it robs them of their quality of life. Those afflicted are often not sick enough to be bedridden, but are not well enough to enjoy a productive life. Brain fog can be associated with other conditions where maintaining mental focus is an issue, as in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Autism.
The inability to concentrate can affect both adults and children alike and is often associated with other physical, psychological, and emotional problems. Some causes relate to infectious diseases such as Lymes disease, Epstein Barr virus and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that go undiagnosed and untreated for years. Physical changes from concussive accidents, low blood pressure, and menopause can leave people dazed and unfocused for months and even years. Neuropsychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia can also produce alarming rates of cognitive decline. In some cases there may be added complications such as memory loss.
In Chinese medicine, the ability to concentrate relies heavily on the abundance of vital energy (Qi) and a smooth flow of nutrient rich blood to the brain, providing for a clear mind, healthy heart, and radiant spirit. The source of the nourishing vital energy that is essential for clarity of mind comes from the normal digestive functioning of the stomach, spleen, and pancreas as well as the kidneys. Excessive damp and mucous build-up in the digestive organs, notably the spleen, prevents pure energy from rising to our heads and denies the energetic nourishment needed for clear mental activity and a bright spirit.
In my experience poor diet and inadequate sleep are the most common causes of digestive weakness. Excessive consumption of foods such as sugars, dairy, wheat and fried foods are commonly implicated in the production of dampness and mucous.
At Tao of Wellness, over the past 30 years we have successfully treated numerous patients with brain fog. It is important to first pin point the underlying cause of the brain fog and determine how the pure energy is being obstructed from rising to the brain.
Treatment is often two fold: first, we focus on removing the cause of the fogginess, and second, we strengthen and harmonize the functioning of the digestive organs and of the heart blood circulation to increase production and flow of vital energy and restore clarity of spirit.
A successful treatment involves the following: Changing one’s diet to remove the foods that contribute to dampness and/or heat, and to include foods that regulate blood sugar and nourish bodily functions; weekly acupuncture to direct the flow of nourishing energy to the brain; Chinese herbal tea to restore organ function and balance; and regular energy enhancing exercise and meditation to improve circulation and mental concentration.
Gradually, over the course of several months, our patients observe their vitality returning and they are able to regain a normal and full life.
Brain fog does not have to become part of your life. If you or someone you know suffers from an inability to concentrate or a lack of mental clarity, support for restoring a good quality of life may be available through a naturalistic approach like in Traditional Chinese medicine. If necessary, it is also our approach at TOW to work with other mental health professionals and neurological specialists to ensure that the highest quality of care is given. I invite you to speak to any of our doctors about your mental health concerns.