Jana, selected from Natural Solutions magazine February 24, 2009
Your mind feels like San Francisco in the springtime: The fog is rolling in and it might not leave again until fall, unless you do something about it. Here are five common causes of “brain fog” and what you can do to bring back the sunshine.
1. Stress. Chronic stress overstimulates the brain. Turning down the figurative volume helps repair damage done to brain and nerve cells. Adaptogens (such as ashwaganda, panax ginseng, and rhodiola) can help your body cope with stress. L-theanine has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase sleep quality.
2. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Both of these are relatively recently recognized disorders that can cause impaired mental function. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to alleviate symptoms of both disorders. Light to moderate exercise can boost the immune system and improve mood and sleep.
3. Fatigue. As obvious as it sounds, fatigue affects the ol’ gray matter. Lack of sleep can cause symptoms mimicking mental illness. We need from seven to nine hours of sleep per night—and quality counts. Don’t check email or do work right before going to bed. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks late in the day. Practice calming techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing.
4. Nutrient deficiencies. Your brain is cranking through nutrients at a furious pace. Make sure a steady supply is at hand. Vitamins C and E have been shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The B vitamins can help improve memory. Zinc, Co-Q10, and essential fatty acids also help maintain healthy brain function.
5. Depression. Almost 10 percent of Americans suffer from depression, which can cause difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions. Read Natural Cures for Depression for what you can do to help relieve depression.
Neurotransmitter-boosting supplements, such as SAMe and 5-HTP, help lift levels of dopamine and serotonin. St. John’s wort, although bruised in recent media reports, is still a great option for minor depression.