Have you been feeling forgetful or foggy headed?  If you feel like you can’t focus, feel detached and unfocused with a cloudy mind, feel tired even with plenty of sleep, or struggle to stay on task, you might be experiencing “brain fog.”

Brain fog can be caused by various issues, including depression, anxiety and chronic stress.  Brain fog can be frustrating and annoying, but it’s often a symptom of a deeper problem. The key to overcoming brain fog is to look at the internal environment and correct the imbalance from within.

In East Asian Medicine, brain fog is related to the spleen and its capacity to lift clear energy (qi) to the head and brain without obstruction.  The spleen is one of the primary digestive organs in EAM. When it’s working well, you feel energetic and alert and have a robust, healthy digestive system. If the spleen isn’t working well, it can lead to pathogenic water buildup, which we call dampness in EAM.  Dampness can be caused by weather, diet, stress, medications and even some medical conditions.  It can affect your mind, leading to brain fog, fatigue or just feeling sluggish. The concept of dampness in EAM, relates similarly to damp climates.  Dampness is said to stagnate qi and obstruct the meridians.  It is thought to be one of the most common disease causes, especially in cold, damp climates.

Because brain fog is closely related to the spleen and how it is functioning, there are several things you can do to help.  Supporting the spleen through lifestyle and dietary changes can be some of the easiest ways to help eliminate brain fog.

1. Recharge your batteries – Stress, worrying and overthinking can damage the spleen. If you’re working nonstop, constantly connected to your phone or staring at screens all day, it can take a toll on your mental and physical well being. Take regular mental breaks throughout the day, intentionally stay off your phone and practice tai chi, qigong, yoga or meditation to help your mind relax and recharge.

2. Create a healthy sleep routine – Get to sleep early enough to ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep. Wake up around the same time each day to create a consistent sleep pattern.  Also, make sure that your sleep hygiene is addressed.  The bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool to insure deep, restful sleep.  And don’t use your phone as your alarm clock, as it can emit electromagnetic frequencies that can disrupt sleep, even when not in use.

3. Warm the gut – Think of your digestive system as a fire. If you throw something cold on the fire, the fire will go out.  If you throw something warm on the fire, it helps stroke it.  Cold foods, even raw foods, can be hard on your digestive system and can diminish the function of the spleen.  Warm foods, such as soups and cooked vegetables, help keep your digestive fire burning.  And if you do plan on eating colder foods, ALWAYS pair them with something warm, like tea or hot water with lemon.  This will create a thermodynamic balance that helps keep the spleen functioning optimally.

4. Eat consistently – The spleen functions best when you create consistent patterns.  Try to eat meals around the same time each day. Take a break when you eat.  Instead of scrolling your phone or working, enjoy your food and let your mind and body focus on digestion.  If you use intermittent fasting, stay on the same schedule or keep it as consistent as you can.

Another great way to help keep brain fog at bay is through the use of regular acupuncture treatments.  Acupuncture has been used in East Asian Medicine for thousands of years to treat various conditions and improve whole body and cognitive wellness.  Acupuncture needles stimulate the central nervous system and trigger the release of chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These biochemical changes can stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal and promote overall health and well being.

If you’re dealing with brain fog due to modern day life stressors, parenthood or even long COVID, taking an East Asian Medicine approach can help you find balance and improve your overall health.  Please feel free to reach out if you have specific questions or want to schedule an appointment.

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