‘Brain fog’ is a colloquial term used to describe the feeling of being scatter-brained, confused, forgetful or mentally impaired.
“Where did I leave my keys?“
When we reach “a certain age,” we all have these moments. Some people call it brain cloud; some call it brain fog but most people just accept it as part of getting older. But, is that always the true? Brain fog, is not really a medical condition that can be diagnosed but it might be a warning signal of a different underlying health problem that should be identified and addressed.
“What was i was saying again?“
From autoimmune diseases like connective tissue disease to long-covid or some neurodegenerative diseases like parkinson’s, brain fog is often one of the common early warning signals that should not be ignored. According to a recent study, published by the Journal Annals of Clinical and Transnational Neurology, The neurological symptoms from viral infection such as long-covid can include brain fog, tingling, numbness, dizziness, headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision and fatigue. To date, this is one of the longest follow-up studies of neurological symptoms of long Covid patients but were never hospitalized. At The Regeneration Center brain fog is amongst the top symptoms that patients report as reasons why they seek out stem cell therapy for anti-aging and wellness.
Cognitive fog,Foggy brain or hazy thoughts can be experienced in several ways, including:
- Poor concentration
- Memory troubles
- Frequent Lack of mental clarity
- Inability to focus for extended period of time
Brain fog symptoms can result from stress and mental fatigue from long periods of concentration or intense work. In many cases, getting simply getting enough quality sleep is the best solution as it helps our bodies metabolize vital elements more efficiently. But for patients with severe or chronic brain fog that cannot be treated through rest or exercise and should be properly evaluated. If brain fog is interfering with your school, job or home-life, it’s time to pay attention and take it seriously.
How long does Brain fog last?
For most cases, the good news is that early intervention can provide easy treatment options so that chronic brain fog is not something patients are doomed to endure for their entire life.
What Are some causes of Brain Fog?
People experience brain fog for several reasons, so early intervention and identifying the root underlying causes is critical in helping to resolve that loopy feeling and hazy thoughts in the head. Through proper diagnosis and early intervention many patients are surprised to learn that symptoms they did not think were connected to brain fog are also resolved.
Six common causes of Brain fog
1) Lack of Quality Sleep – Not getting quality sleep is a classic precursor of brain fog. Poor sleepless nights interfere with our brain’s ability to function properly. Many people often shrug off the importance of getting quality 8 or 9 hours of sleep each and every night. To ensure that you get good sleep, focus on what may be blocking you from sleeping and causing insomnia. When the brain is tired and exhausted, it becomes harder to think clearly, reason, and focus.
2) Stress – Stress takes a tremendous toll on the body and mind and has been well documented for centuries. Chronic symptoms of physical and mental stress can include elevated blood pressure (hypertension), weakened immune system, and frequent depression. When people are always stressed out, their brains becomes exhausted. Frequent stress can lead to poor concentration, Mental fog and cloudy thoughts.
3) Medications (Prescription and Over The Counter) – Brain fog is a very common side effect of some medications. Sometimes this can be fixed as easily as adjusting the dose or changing medication brand. Patients should try to avoid making random adjustments without talking with their doctors first. Brain fog is also commonly associated with patients who have chemotherapy for cancers including: Pancreas cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer and lung cancer.
4) Hormonal changes due to Age – As we age changes in hormone begin to affect men and women equally. Brain fog as a symptoms is proven to be linked with reduction in hormone levels. For men, this is associated with lower levels of testosterone and for women, shifts in production of progesterone and estrogen cause several symptoms including brain fog. Brain fog related to aging is among the most common symptoms caused by hormonal shifts and can result in frequent bouts of forgetfulness, cloudy thinking and poor concentration.
5) Poor Diet – Research has proven that there is a direct link between mental acuity and what we digest. For some patients, brain fog can result from deficiencies in vitamin cobalamin (B-12). B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin involved in our metabolism and is essential to normal healthy brain function. Other dietary factors such as food allergies to dairy, aspartame or nuts can also cause biochemical imbalances triggering symptoms such as lethargy, sibo brain fog.
Common food allergies & sensitivities to:
- Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste Blue)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Dairy Products
To avoid triggering feelings of aspartame brain fog get a food allergy test and remove certain foods from your diet to see how it can impact mental sharpness.
6) Medical Illnesses, Diseases, and Disorders – Brain fog can often be traced to changes in blood glucose levels (diabetes type 2), Lupus, Chronic fatigue syndrome, pancreatitis and fibromyalgia are just a few examples of medical conditions that can affect the way you thing and you cognitive function.
Other diseases, syndromes, and disorders that can cause brain fog include:
- Sjögren Syndrome
- Lyme Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Onset MND
- Peripheral neuropathy caused by damage to neurotransmitters
- Autoimmune Diseases (such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis ms brain fog)
- Transverse myelitis
- SIBO brain fog – Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis
What is Chemo Brain?
“Chemo brain” is a very common term used by cancer survivors around the world to describe memory and thinking problems that often occur both during and after cancer treatments. Chemo brain is also called chemo fog, cognitive dysfunction and cancer-related cognitive impairment syndrome.
Diagnosis of Brain fog and Dizziness
Since brain fog is a symptoms and not a disease/root cause, a single blood test, genetic screening or radiology scan cannot correctly diagnose the root cause. The diagnosis stage is done over time though the process of elimination so its important that patient try to be aware of when brain fog is occurring and its its a sign of illness or possibly side effects from other issues such as medication. Keeping track of the quality of sleep, diet, or stressful events can help. To help your doctor understand your medical needs be sure to have records and personal notes ready when you go in for an evaluation. Some helpful information needed for precise diagnosis can include:
- Current mental health status
- Dietary Intake
- Frequency and Level of Physical Activity
- List of current medications, including OTC Supplements
Common Brain fog causes
Tell your doctor about any other symptoms you might be experiencing including:
- Dry Skin
- Hair Loss
- Changes in Appetite
- Brittle Nails
- Changes in Weight
Tests to help detect & eliminate brain fog include:
- Liver Function Test
- Thyroid Function Test
- Blood sugar test for abnormal Glucose Levels
- Kidney Function Test
- Nutritional deficiency Test
- Test for Infections (Viral and Bacterial)
- Sample of Cerebrospinal fluid (lumbar puncture)
- Test for Inflammatory Diseases
Samples from cerebrospinal fluid can be especially helpful to reveal any elevated levels of proteins that are suggestive of inflammation. The presence of these unexpected antibodies are usually found in patients with compromised or activated immune systems.
Can anxiety cause brain fog?
Other antibodies found in blood and cerebrospinal fluid are unique to the samples from cerebrospinal fluid, suggesting the presence of brain inflammation. Depending on your symptoms your physician may also recommend radiology scans like X-rays, MRI, Ultrasound or CT scans. Doctors may also recommend allergy testing and sleep studies.
Natural cures for brain fog include:
- Proper Sleep ( At-least 8 to 9 hours sleep every night )
- Seek out physical activities that you enjoy
- Reduction in consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages
- Moderate levels of exercise every week
- Exercise the brain by learning something new. This can include classes, hobbies, or brain puzzles and games
- Eat more fruits, protein, veggies, and healthy fats like avocados. Learn about foods to fight inflammation
The Importance of Exercising The Brain
Physical fitness and exercise plays a crucial role in relieving brain fog and improving overall health. However, one well-established and essential element that continues to be overlooked is exercising the brain.
Exercising the brain can be beneficial in many ways including:
- Helping to retain mental sharpness as we age
- Alleviates brain fog
- Reduces symptoms of depression
- Keeps us engaged in the world and increases knowledge
How to get rid of brain fog
While the brain is not a muscle, it can be strengthened and improved through mental exercise, much like the body’s muscles are strengthened and improved through physical exercise. That is why so many comparisons are made that liken the brain to a muscle.
The brain is not a muscle, but it should be exercised like one.
Just as full body physical exercise is needed to be effective, a mental workout should also exercise as many regions of the brain as possible. Here are several ways to give your brain a total workout. Try them, and you may be surprised how much they help relieve your brain fog!
A common brain functions that diminishes when we age is memory. In many cases, this slow memory loss can be distressing and debilitating. This is because memory plays a vital role in many other cognitive abilities. Brain fog that accompanies memory loss only worsens over age and when we struggle with memory issues.
Mental exercises to help strengthen and retain memory are easy; they take very little time and are inherently engaging, effectively reducing brain fog. Engagement also makes them stimulating and entertaining. This is no small matter. Its been proven that the more we enjoy doing something, the more inclined we are to do it consistently.
Improve your memory by singing
One easy memory game that works great for symptoms of memory loss and brain fog is learning to sing a new song. Choose any type of music you enjoy, find a new song and work on memorizing the lyrics. This simple exercise helps keep memories sharp and makes you popular with your friends on karaoke night!
Another simple but effective memory game is entering a room and focusing on five random objects. Be sure to take a mental note of what they are, where they are located inside the room? Then leave the room, and try to recall each object using as much detail as possible. Then re-enter the room and see how you did. For more precision, set a timer for about 2 hours and then retest how well you remember the object details and location.
Comprehension exercises can also help your brain maintain or increase its level of understanding. One simple way is to learn a new word every day. There are dozens of ways to do this, beginning with simply picking a random word from a dictionary. Some people find it more interesting to choose from a style of writing they usually don’t read. For example, reading from a section in entertainment news might not be your usual first choice but could help you learn a new word or work of art. Alternatively, reading a type of novel or nonfiction book that covers a topic you are unfamiliar with. This exercise can increase the chance of discovering a broad range of new words you were unfamiliar with, prompting your brain to focus, concentrate and comprehend its meanings.
Focus Exercises – Developing better focus and attention throughout the day is more important than ever. Our modern world is filled with distractions, which means that having a healthy attention span is even more important in today’s society than in centuries past. One game to help improve focus is to practice mindfulness when performing an act. For example, when washing your dishes, place as much attention as possible on that specific task. Notice how hot or cold the water is, the elements of texture on the sponge in your hand, the smell of the dish washing liquid, and the textures and shapes of the dishes that you’re washing.
What does brain fog feel like?
Learning how to focus can be difficult at first so begin with an easy goal of practicing 5 minutes a day. Take this daily ritual seriously and don’t let distractions lure you from spending dedicated time. As you slowly improve, gradually increase the amount of time to a level that fits your daily schedule.
Executive Functions – Executive functions are a group of cognitive processes that are necessary for the control of behavior. Very simply, it is our brain’s ability to use logic and reason when solving a problem. Brain cognitive games that require fast decision making are a fantastic way to quickly improve executive function. There are several online sites such as luminosity and mind games that have hundreds of free fun games you can use to exercise many different brain functions.
Some other ways to naturally improve memory and focus include:
- Learn a new dance move
- Learn another language
- Language or math puzzles, such as sudoku
- Learn a new life skill, such as painting, woodworking or cross-stitching
Treatments for Brain Fog
Traditional treatments for brain fog require addressing whatever the underlying symptoms are. For anemic patients with brain fog a doctor may recommend adding iron supplements to help boost your red blood cell production and thereby reducing brain fog. Alternatively patients with autoimmune disease that are causing damage to tissue, organ, or nerves some biological medication may be recommended.
Stem Cell Treatment For Brain Fog
Brain fog can be caused by several factors but certain features are distinctly associated with the condition, including damage to specific organs such as lung or heart. Patients with COPD and IPF lung disease experience shortness of breath while patients with heart disease often report having frequent heart palpitations in addition to hazy memory and brain fog. Others experience significant inflammation which can be caused by an overactive immune system. Impaired cognitive symptoms have also been identified in several viruses including: COVID-19, HIV, coronaviruses MERS & SARS, Epstein-Barr virus and hepatitis C.
Common signs of an activated immune system include elevated levels of circulating cytokines and abnormal T-cell activity. Over time this chronic immune system dysregulation leads to fatigue and neurological symptoms. If the inflammation and scarring is not treated early it can eventually cause permanent neurodegeneration. While MSCs+ stem cell therapy cannot directly target the symptom of brain fog it can be used to target the underlying cause via immune system modulation and cellular differentiation into other vital cell types in the human body. The Regeneration Center uses tissue specific stem cells including:
- Endothelial Cells – These cells form a single cell layer lining all blood vessels in the body to regulate the exchanges between tissue and the bloodstream. Chemical signals from isolated endothelial cells can organize the growth and redevelopment of connective tissue cells in the layers of the blood-vessel walls.
- Neural stem cells including astrocytes – Neural stem cells are self-renewable, multipotent cells that help create radial glial progenitor cells which help create all neurons and glia in the Central nervous system (CNS)
- Heart stem cells – multipotent cells which are self-renewing and help create coronary vessels along with heart muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes
- Liver cells and Hepatocytes
- Stem cells specific Tendon (Tendon Stem cells), cartilage stem cells, bone cells, and muscle cells
- Hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow or peripheral blood
How to treat brain fog
Isolated and enhanced Mesenchymal stem cells are used to initiate repair for organ injuries by either replacing the damaged cells with new cells or initiate the bodies own repair system via the paracrine (cell signaling) mechanism. When used properly, isolated and expanded MSCs+ stem cells can improve functionality of damaged organs in the body which helps to alleviate the underlying negative symptoms such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath that can lead to chronic brain fog.
Persistent sibo brain fog can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Don’t just shrug it off and blame it on “getting older.” Many illnesses, injuries, and disorders affect brain function and focus. The sooner you understand the cause of your brain fog, the sooner the health reason behind it can be identified and treated.
At the Regeneration Center, we use functional medical therapies to address a wide array of conditions related to cognition impairment due to brain injuries and brain fog.
Published Clinical Citations
 ^ Meeusen, R., Van Cutsem, J., & Roelands, B. (2021). Endurance exercise-induced and mental fatigue and brain fog. Experimental physiology, 106(12), 2294–2298. https://doi.org/10.1113/EP088186
 ^ Theoharides, T. C., Cholevas, C., Polyzoidis, K., & Politis, A. (2021). Long-COVID syndrome-associated brain fog and chemofog: Luteolin to the rescue. BioFactors (Oxford, England), 47(2), 232–241. https://doi.org/10.1002/biof.1726
 ^ Stefano, G. B., Ptacek, R., Ptackova, H., Martin, A., & Kream, R. M. (2021). Selective Neuronal Mitochondrial Targeting in SARS-CoV-2 Infection Affects Cognitive Processes to Induce ‘Brain Fog’ and Results in Behavioral Changes that Favor Viral Survival. Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 27, e930886. https://doi.org/10.12659/MSM.930886
 ^ Conti, P., D’Ovidio, C., Conti, C., Gallenga, C. E., Lauritano, D., Caraffa, A., Kritas, S. K., & Ronconi, G. (2019). Progression in migraine: Role of mast cells and pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. European journal of pharmacology, 844, 87–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.12.004
 ^Asadi-Pooya, A. A., Akbari, A., Emami, A., Lotfi, M., Rostamihosseinkhani, M., Nemati, H., Barzegar, Z., Kabiri, M., Zeraatpisheh, Z., Farjoud-Kouhanjani, M., Jafari, A., Sasannia, S., Ashrafi, S., Nazeri, M., Nasiri, S., & Shahisavandi, M. (2022). Long COVID syndrome-associated brain fog. Journal of medical virology, 94(3), 979–984. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.27404