You can feel it once in a while: the unusual lag of information and trouble processing details. Your agility in remembering things is cloudy one day and clear the next. You may also feel so distracted that it takes you a long time to finish a simple task correctly. It can be a scary thing, thinking you are heading into age-related cases of brain aging like dementia.
What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog, or mental fog, is a situation characterized by a lack of focus, mental clarity, and hampered memory. Many people experience brain fog but it does not always due to an illness or a serious condition. It is simply a term used to describe the loss of ability to think properly and getting easily distracted.
Brain fog comes from causes such as:
- Radiation from devices and gadgets
- Lack of sleep
- Side effects of certain medications
- Environmental factors (pollution, toxins, chemicals, etc.)
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases
In elderly people, brain fog is often mistaken as the onset of cognitive disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s. However, unlike these degenerative diseases, brain fog does not manifest any other worrying symptoms like complete memory loss. It is simply the slower processing speed and bouts of forgetfulness due to aging brain cells.
Herbal Remedies for Brain Fog
Did you know that hydration can also affect how your mind functions? When you are slightly dehydrated, it tends to slow down brain processes. So, it is important to keep yourself frequently hydrated to prevent mental fog from happening.
Lifestyle changes can also do so much in improving your memory. Get enough restorative sleep, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and engage in brain training games and activities.
To give your brain a better advantage against aging, you can also rely on herbs with promising benefits on neurological functioning.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a calming herb that treats mild cases of stress and anxiety. It has a nervine property which soothes the nervous system and improves its performance. Lemon balm is used for brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, insanity and depression. It also makes a potent herb for preventing brain fog.
Lemon balm is a perennial herb you can use as food garnish or prepared as tea or infusion. To clear brain fog, anxiety and insomnia, take 4 to 6 pieces of dried lemon balm leaves. Boil it in a cup of water and steep for 10 minutes. Drink it twice a day, especially before bedtime to re-wire your brain and free your body from stress and tension.
There are two types of ginseng that are effective against brain fog: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng). Both herbs have an adaptogenic property that gives the body a normalizing and balancing effect. They have the same active compounds as well. However, American ginseng is more of a cooling herb and Korean ginseng has an invigorating, warming effect.
An infusion of ginseng root boiled in water and steeped for 15 minutes helps in managing brain fog. To alleviate its bitter taste, you can add honey to it according to your preference. During cold weather, Korean ginseng is the best one to take. Get the brain-promoting properties from the cooling American ginseng during hot weather.
Please note that these herbs have very potent effects and may interfere with medications and boost their effect. If you are taking medicines for depression, high blood pressure and other conditions, talk to your healthcare provider before taking ginseng.
Withania somnifera or Ashwagandha is a memory enhancer herb that enhances the functions of the brain’s neurotransmitters. Consuming ashwagandha can repair damaged brain cells and slow down aging. It also improves blood circulation by regulating cerebral blood flow. Despite changes in blood pressure, a well-regulated blood flow ensures adequate oxygen and nutrient supply in the brain. Thus, it keeps the brain active and well-focused at all times.
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha is the best herb for nervous conditions like chronic stress and anxiety that may cause brain fog.
A decoction of ashwagandha leaves or roots is good for stress and slow memory. Or you can powder its roots, take 5 grams of it and mix it in a tsp of honey. Take it once a day to improve cognitive and logical alertness or treat sleeplessness.
Ginkgo Biloba is a perennial tree whose leaf extract is a popular herbal supplement for various illnesses. Its major benefit is in supporting normal brain health and promoting mental alertness. Ginkgo is considered a natural memory enhancer and is used in treating the early stages of dementia. By increasing the blood flow in the brain, ginkgo prevents dendrite connection loss and increases the brain’s efficiency.
If you want to protect your brain from toxins and oxidative damage, take ginkgo herbal capsules twice a day. You can also boil ginkgo leaves in a cup of water and drink 1 oz of it once a day to prevent brain fog.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a tropical plant well-valued in Ayurvedic medicine for brain health. It is a curative herb that helps improve mental acuity and cognition. Bacopa acts as a sedative, but it does not dull the mind similar to prescription medicines like barbiturates. If you want to enhance your learning skills, increase memory retention and treat brain aging, Bacopa is an effective plant for it.
Bacopa is sold as a powder, capsule supplement or extract. You can take the supplement according to the indicated dosage but for no more than two weeks. Preparing fresh juice from powdered leaves and stems is effective in enhancing memory and concentration. Just take 5 grams of the Bacopa powder mixed in a glass of water or fresh juice twice a day.
Indian pennywort (Centella asiatica), also known as Gotu Kola, is also a popular nerve tonic valued similarly to Bacopa. But while Bacopa is curative, Indian pennywort is preventive. It foils premature decline of neurological activities by nourishing the nerves, improving blood circulation and removing harmful toxins that cause early aging. Indian pennywort is purported as a potential cure-all herb with its wide range of therapeutic functions.
To improve memory and concentration, simply chew a few Indian pennywort leaves daily. You may also try this Gotu Kola drink recipe:
Dry a few Indian pennywort leaves and grind them into powder. Add some crushed almonds and a pinch of black pepper to improve its absorption. Grind and mix them well. Take one tsp of the mixture and add it to a glass of water or fresh juice and take it once a day.
Some mushrooms may help prevent mental fog. Lion’s mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi are three of the most vital nootropic mushrooms known for supporting brain health. They have preventative actions that combat neurodegeneration. They are often used as supplements against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Medicinal mushrooms are bioactive, which means you can get their healing benefits simply by eating them. You can also take them as herbal supplements to better manage their doses. But when foraging wild mushrooms, make sure that it is identified as an edible species and a therapeutic one.
If you are struggling with poor cognitive function, this Brain Bundle can help as it contains several brain-boosting botanicals, including: Lemon Balm, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi.
Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) or Holy basil is considered a sacred herb that Ayurvedic medicine valued as “The Unparalleled One.” It is an adaptogen that brings homeostasis within the body and reduces stress by balancing the cortisol level. Basil is calming and is effective against neuropsychiatric disorders. It is specifically useful in treating brain fog and personality disorders.
Holy basil acts as a protector against physical stress, environmental stress and toxins from pollutants. It rejuvenates the brain to boost its memory and concentration power.
Holy basil is available in essential oil and used in diffusers for aromatherapy. You can also buy it in capsule form if you don’t like the taste of fresh basil. The medicinal benefits of tulsi can also be enjoyed at home by preparing its infusion. Take five holy basil leaves, chop them coarsely and boil them in a cup of water. Let it sit for five minutes and remove the leaves. Enjoy it with honey or stevia.
Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) is a superfruit associated with vitality, longevity and greater health. Significant findings show goji berries can increase energy level, athletic performance, quality of sleep, ability to focus and mental acuity, among others.
Goji berry has effective adaptogenic, anti-aging, blood tonic and neuroprotective properties. Eating goji berries can improve cloudy brains and brain-related degeneration.
You will usually find goji berries in juice form or as dried fruit similar to raisins. They are also added to superfood trail mixes. The berries are effective in any form.
To make goji berry tea: Boil 2 tsp dried goji berry fruits in 1 ½ cups water. Simmer for 15 minutes and remove from heat. Steep for 40 minutes and drink one cup three times a day for brain fog.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the herb that you generally need for almost all health problems. It possesses a wide therapeutic effect and is touted as the most powerful herb for idiopathic illnesses. Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that manages many diseases and health conditions.
If your brain fog is due to stress or a result of other underlying health conditions, turmeric is a go-to herb to try. By managing stress and reducing symptoms of sicknesses, turmeric eventually helps clear the mind and improve its focus.
The best way of taking turmeric is by adding a tsp of its ground form in a glass of plant-based milk with a pinch of black pepper. Add honey to taste and drink it once a day, best before bedtime to facilitate better sleep.
Brain fog can happen to anyone regardless of age, but it is more chronic in elderly people. Our present lifestyle and exposure to radiation and pollution are culprits in disrupting brain functions. Changing our lifestyle to a healthier perspective is a simple step in supporting our physiological functions and slowing down aging.
Neuroprotective and supportive herbs are also there to help us fight common neurological issues. Many of these herbs are effective in re-wiring the brain to boost its functions. But, remember that these herbs are not without side effects. They are so potent and can interact with medications and worsen certain conditions.