Brain Fog - What is it, and what can you do about it?



Hi everyone! The Lyme Blog has been on a bit of a hiatus while I enjoyed the summer with my family, and this fall we welcomed an exchange student from Germany into our home as well. So lots of excitement and fun in our house, but sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything! Today I want to talk a bit about Brain Fog. It’s one of the most common and most troubling symptoms of not only Lyme Disease, but many other diseases and conditions as well.


So what is Brain Fog? Well, it’s essentially a feeling of confusion, or being in a “fog” while trying to think, concentrate, or recall information. People may describe Brain Fog as feeling “spacy” or forgetful, or they may have more debilitating symptoms where they forget where they are driving, or have trouble recalling important information or details. Certainly any new symptoms like this should warrant a discussion with a physician or other healthcare provider, but if these symptoms are an ongoing result of a chronic condition, there are some things that you may be able to do to help.


Brain Fog is frequently described as a symptom in patients with Lyme, Fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s (thyroid disease), gut dysbiosis/SIBO/Candida, and sometimes in cases of PTSD. Often times these conditions may overlap as well.


There are several things that may contribute to the feeling of Brain Fog. In Lyme Disease, the most obvious culprit would be the Lyme bacteria (spirochetes) in the brain tissue. But there are several other contributing factors as well, like inflammation, sleep quality issues, stress, and even the way we think.

The good news is that there are some things that we can do to help. First and foremost, SLEEP! As a person with chronic illness, I can’t stress enough how important it is to sleep - good, quality, refreshing sleep, and plenty of it. Please make sleep a priority. Your body needs it.


Exercise is another thing that is extremely important. Now I know that when a person is sick and in pain, exercise can seem like a very daunting prospect, but it really is hugely important. You see, different exercises affect our brains in different ways, and the brain body connection is an important one, so taking care of our physical bodies also affects our brain health in a positive way. I have found that a mix of walking, bicycling, yoga, and light weights is incredibly beneficial for me. I feel better both physically and mentally when I exercise regularly.


Another factor to consider is hormones. Thyroid, sex hormones, and adrenals are all part of this trifecta of hormones that can wreak havoc on our health if they are out of balance. I have found working with an integrative physician to be extremely helpful for my issues in this regard. Depending on the severity of the problem, there may be some natural solutions to consider for balancing hormones: maca is one that is amazing for thyroid, adrenal, and especially sex hormone balancing. It’s an adaptogen, meaning it brings balance without drastically altering or introducing outside hormones to your body. Maca can be a great starting place for a lot of people with minor imbalances.


Stress reduction and relaxation is another extremely important piece of the puzzle when we are talking about Brain Fog. Things like meditation/prayer, yoga, and taking time to “decompress” at the end of the day, can all be helpful.


Reducing inflammation can be helpful in just about any situation, but especially for anyone dealing with a chronic illness and Brain Fog. When we talk about inflammation, the key areas of focus are typically:

  1. Diet - reducing potentially problematic and pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and sugar, and introducing probiotic-rich foods can often be helpful, and may go a long way in promoting GI health.

  2. Curcumin/turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory used by many to reduce pain and inflammation in the body.

  3. Nettles, boswellia, quercetin, oatstraw, green tea, ginger, tart cherry, pineapple…..the list of nature’s anti-inflammatories goes on and on!


I also want to touch just briefly on the power of positive thinking. At my sickest, I recall being unable to work, drive a car, brush my own hair, or even walk without holding onto something. It was absolutely horrible. But I refused to give up! I refused to believe that I wouldn’t get better, and slowly but surely I have regained my health. I still have good days and some bad days, but I try hard to not let the bad days get to me, to not get “stuck” in the bad days, and to really appreciate the good. When we become our illness - when we spend all day every day thinking about our illness - it’s very hard to not get “stuck” sometimes. Trust me, try not to get “stuck.”


Lastly, I have some exciting news that I want to share. Our very own Tailor Made Smoothie Shoppe is now offering Wellness Shots and Wellness Boosts (a small serving of coconut water mixed with beneficial herbs and plants, or the same mixed into a smoothie) in the following options: Immune Support, Stress Reduction, Memory, Inflammation, Master Cleanse, and Liver/Gallbladder Support. I wanted to mention this because some of these things (especially the Inflammation and the Memory shots) may be helpful in alleviating some of these Brain Fog symptoms. For example, the Inflammatory herbal blend contains several of the natural considerations I mentioned earlier, including ginger, turmeric, tart cherry, pineapple, and green tea. These boosts are made using an herb brand that I love and trust called Eclectic Institute, and the products may also be purchased at the smoothie bar or in our store. Stop by and try one sometime soon!


Until next time, be well.





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