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Overview: Treating Brain Fog with Chinese Medicine in Toronto, ON


Many conditions and medications can cause brain fog: allergy, stress, GI problems, injury, cancer treatments, stroke, medications, insomnia, hormonal imbalance, etc. A successful treatment for brain fog, and brain health in general, should be able to address all causes involved safely. As a traditional medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years, Chinese medicine can provide help improve brain health and cognitive function by addressing the various underlying conditions with a focus on inflammation control and circulation quality.

  • Acupuncture can alleviate brain fog by improving circulation and calming the nervous system.
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine can reduce inflammation, open the airway, improve blood circulation, and reduce blood clots.

Treatment from an experienced Chinese medicine practitioner can improve sleep quality, hormonal balance, and digestive function and regulate the immune and nervous system to keep your brain in healthy conditions and stay focused.

Understanding Brain Fog and What Is Behind It

As a leading Chinese medicine and acupuncture clinic in Toronto, Canada, Kampo Health often has patients come in with complaints of brain fog. Brain fog is a term used to describe a range of symptoms that affect cognitive function, including difficulty concentrating, memory problems, mental fatigue, and a general feeling of mental cloudiness. It is considered representative of your brain health and cognitive function.

You don’t need special treatment for a brain fog if you can clearly identify a cause, such as an overnight drinking party, having a cold, or overworking on a project before the deadline. Having occasional brain fog is common and normal, But if forgetfulness and lack of focus regularly impact your daily life, that is something you should pay attention to and seek help. Chronic brain fog is not normal. It can be a sign of impending doom. People who live to the age of 85 have a nearly 50% chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Take care of your brain health now before it is too late.

These are some general ways to get rid of brain fog from Dr. Google:

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Change your diet.
  3. Reduce computer and mobile phone time.
  4. Take supplements such as Vitamin B12, D, iron, magnesium, and ginseng.
  5. Exercise.
  6. Use the power of your mind; think positively.

However, if you have tried all the above and still struggle with brain fog, then you may need to look deeper into the underlying conditions that lead to the decline of brain health and cognitive function.

There are many conditions that contribute to brain fog. The common ones are:

These conditions are commonly associated with brain fog and are not treated very well by conventional medicine. Sometimes, those conditions can be neglected or dismissed by your doctors. I hope this post can provide you with some useful information about brain fog and how it can be treated by Chinese medicine effectively.


Can Allergy Cause Brain Fog and Fatigue?

Allergies may be more common than you think. It’s important to note that even if you are not diagnosed with an allergy, that doesn’t mean you don’t have an allergic reaction. Allergic reaction is a continuous spectrum, whether you have an allergy depends on where the line is drawn for diagnosis. Some allergy symptoms are obvious such as red itchy eyes and congested sinuses, but some are subtle and seemingly non-related such as brain fog.

Brain fog, dizziness, and hazy-headedness are the main symptoms well-known to seasonal allergy sufferers. Scientists have found a few mechanisms that link allergy to brain fog.

  • Inflammatory Response: Allergies trigger an inflammatory response in the body, including the brain. When you’re exposed to an allergen, your immune system releases chemicals, such as histamine, to fight off the perceived threat. This immune response can lead to inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Inflammation can affect the normal functioning of brain cells and disrupt communication between them, resulting in cognitive difficulties and brain fog.
  • Cytokine Release: Allergies can lead to the release of certain immune system molecules called cytokines. These cytokines play a crucial role in regulating the body’s immune response, but they can also affect brain function. Excessive release of certain cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), has been associated with brain fog and cognitive impairments.
  • Allergic Rhinitis: Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is an allergic reaction that affects the nasal passages. When you have allergic rhinitis, your body releases histamine and other chemicals, causing symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion. These symptoms can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and cognitive difficulties during the day, which may contribute to brain fog. You can read my case of Treat Allergic Rhinitis with Chinese Medicine
  • Chronic Inflammation: Prolonged allergic reactions can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to various neurological conditions, including brain fog. The persistent inflammatory state can disrupt normal brain function and affect cognitive processes. Therefore, managing chronic inflammation is a crucial part of treatment for brain fog with Chinese medicine.

In my clinical experience of treating allergy and brain fog in Toronto, one group of allergy patients often have migraines, dizziness, and heavy-headedness triggered by weather and pressure changes, their brain fog is caused by the “dampness accumulation” in TCM term, and the treatment is different from the hay fever group with nasal and eyes symptoms, which has a different underlying TCM pathology that requires different treatment.


Is Brain Fog/Fatigue Related to Digestive Problems?

It is not uncommon for people to feel tired and sleepy after a meal. In those cases, there seems to be a clear link between brain function and digestive health. While there is no definitive answer to whether digestive problems can directly cause brain fog, there is evidence to suggest that there may be a connection between the two.

The gut and the brain are closely connected through the gut-brain axis, a bidirectional communication system involving the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system in the gut. This connection allows for the exchange of signals and chemicals between the brain and the gut. The gut also houses a complex community of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota, which can influence brain function and behavior.

Digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) have been associated with brain fog in some individuals. The exact mechanisms behind this connection are not fully understood, but several factors could contribute:

  • Inflammation: Digestive problems characterized by inflammation, such as IBD, can trigger an inflammatory response that may affect brain function and contribute to brain fog. Both IBS and food intolerances can trigger inflammation in the gastrointestinal system. Inflammatory molecules released during this process can travel to the brain and promote inflammation there as well. Inflammation has been linked to cognitive impairments, including brain fog.
  • Gut Microbiota: Imbalances in the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, have been linked to various health conditions, including digestive problems and mental health issues. It’s possible that alterations in the gut microbiota composition could indirectly impact brain function and contribute to brain fog.
  • Nutrient Deficiencies: Some digestive disorders can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, which may result in deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals essential for optimal brain function. Nutrient deficiencies can contribute to cognitive symptoms, including brain fog.
  • Increased Permeability of the Gut Barrier: Digestive problems like leaky gut syndrome, where the intestinal barrier becomes more permeable, may allow substances to leak into the bloodstream that can trigger an immune response. This immune response could potentially affect the brain and contribute to cognitive symptoms.

Whether patients come in for digestive problems or other conditions such as brain fog, digestive health is always considered in the treatment plan because Chinese medicine thinks digestion is the fundamental component of health. Chinese medicine at Kampo Health Toronto Clinic offers a complete line of treatment for your digestive issues through customized natural herbal formulas, acupuncture and moxibustion treatments.

It’s important to note that brain fog can have various causes, and digestive problems are just one potential factor. Other factors such as sleep disturbances, stress, hormonal imbalances, medication side effects, and chronic fatigue syndrome can also contribute to brain fog.


Can Stress Cause Brain Fog?

Yes, stress is a known contributor to brain fog. When you experience stress, whether it’s acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), it can have a significant impact on cognitive function and lead to symptoms of brain fog.

Stress triggers a physiological response in the body, including the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can affect various aspects of brain function, including:

Impaired concentration and memory: High levels of stress hormones can interfere with the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for executive functions like concentration, memory, and decision-making.

Chronic stress can lead to other problems, such as disrupted sleep, anxiety, excessive worrying, and emotional responses, such as frustration, irritability, and mood swings, which can further affect cognitive function and contribute to brain fog.

Managing stress requires a multi-faceted approach that goes beyond what this post can cover. Nonetheless, Chinese medicine can be utilized as a part of the strategy with its holistic treatment such as herbal formulas, acupuncture, moxibustion, etc, for reducing brain fog and improving overall cognitive function. I will discuss the details of Chinese medicine for stress management in a separate post. But here are some general strategies for stress management:

  • Stress Reduction Techniques: Engaging in stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness can help alleviate the physiological and psychological effects of stress.
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve cognitive function. Aim for regular exercise, even if it’s just moderate-intensity activities like walking or cycling.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Prioritize getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and maintaining a routine that includes time for relaxation and self-care.
  • Social Support: Connecting with supportive friends and family or seeking professional help through therapy or counseling can provide emotional support and help manage stress.


Struggling With Brain Fog After Recovering from COVID-19?

Recent reports suggest 20-30 percent of people have brain fog three months after infection. Up to 85 percent of people with long COVID also have brain fog.

Brain fog can be one of the lingering symptoms experienced by some individuals after recovering from COVID-19. While there is no specific treatment for brain fog, there are strategies you can try to help alleviate the symptoms and support your overall recovery.

There are plenty of suggestions you can get from the internet. Here, I just want to emphasize how I view conditions such as brain fog related to post-COVID-19 infections and vaccination from a Chinese medicine perspective.

Chinese medicine is a non-pathogen-specific system. It focuses on the current pathophysiological state that patients present at the moment and derive treatment right from there. That means we do not view post-COVID patients any differently from others who suffer from brain fog. While I am aware of blood clots and dysautonomia as the most common complications from COVID-10 infection and vaccination, I still conduct whole-body assessments based on Kampo/TCM principle to identify the underlying factors and patterns and create treatment plans based on the information I collect. For details on how I treat COVID-19-related conditions, you can read Post-COVID/Vaccine Treatment with Chinese Medicine and 3 post-COVID/Vaccine Cases.


Concussion and Brain Health

Concussions are common in our life. Car accidents, sports, skiing, or simply a fall off the stairs or curb can all cause a concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs due to a blow or jolt to the head. It can lead to a range of symptoms, including cognitive difficulties commonly referred to as brain fog. Brain fog after a concussion is a common complaint and can persist for a variable duration. Here’s some information on the relationship between concussions and brain fog:

  • Post-concussion syndrome: Some individuals experience prolonged or persistent symptoms after a concussion, including brain fog, known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS symptoms can last for weeks, months, or even longer after the initial injury. However, most people recover fully from a concussion within a few weeks to a few months.
  • Underlying mechanisms: The exact mechanisms behind brain fog following a concussion are not completely understood in conventional medicine. From a common sense perspective, physical trauma will cause tissue damage, impaired blood circulation to the affected cells, and possible swollen and fluid accumulation around the injury site that further impairs the healing process. It’s believed that these damages disrupt normal brain function, leading to impaired communication between brain cells and altered neurotransmitter levels, which can result in cognitive difficulties.

    It’s important to note that brain fog following a concussion can be influenced by various factors, such as the severity of the injury, individual susceptibility, pre-existing conditions, and psychological factors like anxiety or depression. Additionally, co-existing issues like sleep disturbances, neck or vestibular (balance) dysfunction, and post-traumatic migraines can contribute to the persistence of brain fog symptoms.

  • Management and treatment: If you are experiencing brain fog or other persistent symptoms after a concussion, it’s essential to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional with expertise in concussion management can evaluate your symptoms, provide appropriate recommendations, and develop a personalized treatment plan. Treatment may involve cognitive rest, gradual return to activities, physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, vestibular therapy, visual therapy, medications for symptom management, and addressing any associated psychological or sleep-related issues.

    Recovery from a concussion can take time, and it’s important to be patient and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider. It’s advisable to avoid activities that can worsen symptoms, get sufficient rest, manage stress, and communicate openly with your healthcare team throughout the course of treatment.

In my opinion, from a Chinese medical view, the treatment of concussions should start as soon as possible. Chinese medicine provides a variety of options, according to the nature and stages of the injury. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, and tuina therapy are all very effective and safe if they are done by experienced practitioners with caution. In principle, the earlier the treatment, the less damage and faster, better recovery can be.

Best Chinese Medicine Clinic in Toronto for Brain Fog, Fatigue, and Cognitive Health

If you are experiencing persistent or severe brain fog that significantly impacts your daily life, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. They can help evaluate your symptoms, identify any underlying causes, and recommend appropriate treatment options.
If you are looking for an alternative, natural solution to optimize your brain health, you can Contact Us by email or phone, or book an appointment with our experienced Chinese medicine practitioners now.

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