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. Research shows that it’s also a common symptom of long-Covid, presenting as deficits in memory and cognitive reasoning.
Even for those who have not contracted the Covid virus, due to the events of the last few years, it’s no wonder that so many people are dealing with mental health struggles – especially brain fog. Brain fog is a common byproduct of the stress and uncertainty many have endured.
We often see brain fog at our clinic, Calm San Diego, specializing in brain and nervous system health, holistically addressing symptoms associated with anxiety and stress.
Although the stress and brain fog may feel like your “new norm,” the daily habits and lifestyle shifts you’ve made during the pandemic can hugely contribute to why you’re feeling the way you are.
The good news is there are ways you can improve your health and bring your body back to a place of balance.
When patients first come to our clinic, we ask them a few simple questions to better understand their day-to-day lifestyle and routines.
  1. How are you sleeping? There’s no doubt living through a pandemic has been stressful. Stress can affect your sleep, which can lead to poor cognitive function.
  2. How is your social life? If you’re working from home or generally going out less, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  3. How is your diet? Drinking more wine to cope with anxious feelings or indulging in comfort foods when you’re stressed can lead to brain fog and poor mental health.
Brain frog 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.
At Calm San Diego, we combine acupuncture and Chinese herbs to treat all sorts of issues related to mental function to address these health concerns at the root. We look at the whole person and consider everything, both internally and externally, that may be contributing to their symptoms.

Chinese Medicine - the concept of Dampness and how it relates to brain fog

In Chinese medicine, brain fog is related to the spleen and its capacity to lift clear qi (energy) to the head and brain without obstruction.
The spleen is one of the primary digestive organs in Chinese medicine. 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 Chinese medicine. 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 generally feeling sluggish. The concept of dampness in Chinese medicine 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.

Addressing brain fog with Lifestyle and Diet Changes

At Calm San Diego, we suggest supporting the spleen with lifestyle and diet changes, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture. Here are some of the suggestions we would give to our clients.

Take a minute to recharge.

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 wellbeing. Take regular mental breaks throughout the day, intentionally stay off your phone, and practice yoga or meditation to help your mind relax and recharge.

Enjoy warm foods.

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.

Eat consistently.

The spleen functions best when you create consistent patterns. Try to eat meals around the same time each day and avoid skipping meals. 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.

Create a 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.

Consider Chinese herbs for brain fog.

Several Chinese herbs can nourish your spleen and support mental focus.

  • Huang Qi (Astragalus) strengthens spleen qi, increases energy, improves digestion, and can lift prolapsed organic.
  • Fu Ling (Poria) can strengthen the spleen, resolve dampness, and warm and transform phlegm.
  • Ren Shen (Ginseng) strongly supports the spleen, clears the mind, and regulates digestion.

Acupunctue for brain fog

Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat various conditions and improve whole-body and cognitive wellness. During the practice, thin needles are inserted into the skin at acupoints, stimulating the central nervous system and triggering 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 wellbeing.

Specific acupuncture points can also help with mental clarity specifically.
• DU 20 (Bai Hui) can raise qi and yang, clear the mind, calm the spirit, and benefit the brain and sensory organs.
• Si Shen Cong can clear the mind, improve memory, and calm the spirit.
• ST40 (Stomach 40) is the main point used to clear pathogenic Dampness and water metabolism blockages and helps clear the mind and beat brain fog.
• GB 14 (Gallbladder 14) is a when you’re struggling to recall information

If you’re dealing with brain fog due to COVID, parenthood, or general stressors from our modern lives, taking a Chinese medicine approach can help you find balance and improve your health as a whole.

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