Brain Fog: The Most Common Causes and Effective Treatments

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

― Albert Einstein

Executive Summary


Brain fog/cognitive dysfunction comes from inflammation (R) and too many free radicals (oxidative stress) (R).

The hypothalamus is what senses the oxidative stress and we experience brain fog.

Anytime you have elevated oxidative stress, your brain fog will worsen.   Such instances occur during sleep deprivation, jet lag/circadian disruption or after any event that causes inflammation.

The more complex question is why you have elevated inflammation and oxidative stress.  I’ve spent years studying this and in the past few years I’ve helped a wide range of people deal with their brain fog issues, so I’ve gained quite a bit of experience in understanding the wide variety of causes.

The most common causes of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are as follows: lectins, chronic infections, biotoxins, sleep problemsinjuries, low hormones, obesity/terrible diet, ‘gene-environment interactions’ or other causes (read the rest of the article).   Often, there is a mix of these.

In most cases, people with brain fog have lectin sensitivity and should try a lectin avoidance diet or even better an elemental diet.  You don’t have to keep to these permanently, but they help you figure out if lectins are the source of your issues.  Dr. Gundry is the leading expert on lectins and you can listen to my interview with him.

Lectin sensitivity is very likely to blame if you experience fatigue after meals, gut problems (gas, bloating, etc…),  anxiety and inability to let go of thoughts, etc….

People with lectin sensitivities develop immune imbalances.  Some people are Th1 dominant, while others are Th2 dominant. Read this post to find out which immune profile you have.  People obviously have a genetic predisposition for one immune profile or another, but dietary lectins usually exacerbate it.  Milk and various other dairy products almost always make the problem worse.

If you don’t have lectin sensitivity or an immune imbalance, then the second and third most common explanation is an infection of some kind or  sleep problems.  In these cases, brain fog isn’t influenced by particular foods.

Whether you have lectin sensitivity or not, a Ketogenic Diet is almost always helpful.  I’ve had a hard time with this in the past, so I’ve developed a protocol to get into it more easily.  However, most will find a ketogenic diet too difficult in the long term.

Otherwise, various lifestyle and environmental factors can increase inflammation and oxidative stress.  Scroll down to see which ones are most important.   These factors are sometimes the starting point of people’s health issue, but mostly they are just contributing factors.

You can check for lectin sensitivity by taking a blood test for Adiponectin, Free T3TNF and White Blood Cells.  23andme also has several markers that I’ve discovered for lectin sensitivity.  I recommend doing a blood test to check for various other cytokines. (You can’t get these test by your doctor).

The most important blood test to check for chronic inflammation are these tests: Th1/Th2/Th17 and taking an Autoimmune Screening Panel.  Unfortunately, your doctor will not order these (except maybe the autoimmune testing if you ask).

It’s critical to know if your brain fog is from an infection or biotoxin because then the protocol will differ.  To test for this, I recommend: VCS test, Th1/Th2/Th17TGFb1C3aC4aMSH, and VIP.

After dealing with a lot of people I realized everyone has somewhat different issues and symptoms.  Often issues are multifactorial.  1 issue will trigger a cascade of events and people are left dealing with downstream events that are causing chronic issues.

For myself, a device called ICES has helped me a lot when I put it on my head and gut.

If you suffer from chronic fatigue or fatigue after meals, then read my protocol to cure fatigue.

Brain fog: Finding The Cure


I’ve suffered from brain fog as long as I can remember.  Brain fog is what got me interested in health at an early age.  At 12, I endeavored to stop eating any food with sugar and ate only whole grains.

I’ve always tried to eat as healthy as possible, yet I still had brain fog… I would always read about health when I got the chance, but nothing helped that much.

After many years of experimentation and research, I finally figured out what caused brain fog and how to heal it.  After having 150 clients with brain fog (as of December 2014), I’ve identified all of the common causes of brain fog and have helped others heal their condition as well.

The Cause of Brain Fog


In a sentence, brain fog is a condition caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.  Oxidative stress is when you have too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants.

The body has a ‘sensor’ that senses inflammation and oxidative stress in order to respond accordingly.

The hypothalamus is that sensor. It’s located in the core of your brain.  If the hypothalamus senses inflammation it will respond by shutting our system down (by suppressing orexin).

Inflammation is usually the starting point, which leads to oxidative stress.   Oxidative stress (OS) in the hypothalamus is what we experience as brain fog.

Both OS and inflammation cause mitochondrial breakdown.  The mitochondria are “the power plants” of the cell and provide energy for the brain and other organs.  When your mitochondria break down, it causes even more OS and inflammation, leading to a vicious cycle. (R)  You will, therefore, feel cognitive fatigue as well as brain fog.

Interestingly,  the Vitamin D Receptor tends is most concentrated in the hypothalamus and its dysfunction will negatively affect the hypothalamus and cause more inflammation locally than other parts of our body.  (R)  However, Vitamin D supplementation likely won’t help, however.

Bottom Line:   whatever exacerbates oxidative stress or inflammation will make brain fog worse.

Read this post for more in-depth information on the causes of brain fog.

Superoxide: The Worst Free Radical


There are many types of free radicals, but the most significant free radical is ‘superoxide’ (or O2¯).

Superoxide has some useful roles in the body.  For example, Superoxide is used to damage foreign invaders such as bacteria, which is why your body produces it when you’re sick.  Any time we eat or breath we create superoxide because it’s a byproduct of the energy production process (metabolism).

However, brain fog occurs when too much of it is chronically produced and not enough is neutralized.  Just like superoxide is damaging to bacteria, it’s also damaging to us and the damage accumulates.  The accumulated damage is the most significant reason people age.

Superoxide is very damaging to our proteins and mitochondria.  Superoxide is also the starting point for all of the other main free radicals/reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damages us.

Superoxide degrades collagen and hyaluronic acid, causes cytokine release/inflammation, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage. 

Superoxide is damaging enough on its own, but it also goes on to produce other harmful free radicals/ROS including peroxynitrite (ONOO¯) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which in turn creates hydroxyl radicals (·OH).

Superoxide converts to peroxynitrite.  Peroxynitrite(ONOO¯) decreases MnSOD (antioxidant defense), decreases the cortisol receptor (causes glucocorticoid resistance),  increases COX2 and prostaglandin production, decreases glutamate transporters and glutamine synthase (both of which increase glutamate outside the cell=bad), decreases tyrosine hydroxylase and therefore norepinephrine formation.

Superoxide converts to Hydroxyl Radicals.  Hydroxyl Radicals (·OH) cause protein damage, cell membrane damage, DNA damage and mitochondrial damage.

What’s the Source of the Inflammation and Oxidative Stress?

Chronic inflammation (and oxidative stress) most commonly comes from  chronic infections, biotoxins (such as mold), lectins, autoimmune disorders, bad genes, injuries, sleep problems, low hormones, obesity/terrible diet, drugs, toxins or other causes.   Almost always, there is  a mix of these factors.

In maybe 65% of the cases I had, brain fog was caused in large part by lectin consumption, but usually that’s not the full story.

The Most Common Causes of Brain Fog

There are many other possible sources for brain fog.  However, I’ve only listed the most common ones that wouldn’t be diagnosed by your doctor.

Brain Fog and Food

The most common cause of brain fog is lectin sensitivity.

Sometimes, people only have to stay away from specific proteins or antigens and they’re fine.  Some common ones are:

  • GLUTEN (wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and oats),
  • CASEIN (all dairy products),
  • Yeast (in gluten-free breads),
  • Lectins (every food has lectins, but we can be sensitive to different lectins.)
  • Food additives like carrageenan (in rice milk, almond milk, etc..),
  • Salicylates
  • Caffeine, 

You can be allergic to any other foods as well.  Egg and fish allergies are quite common, so pay attention to them.

You should try out a lectin avoidance diet or better yet an elemental diet.

These diets are highly restrictive, but in the long term you can eat whatever you want.  I just think it’s a good idea to keep these diets until you can tell if lectins are the cause of your issues.

Follow an elemental diet for 2 weeks and then add one food at a time back in to see if your issues are from food allergies, lectin sensitivity or other.

In some cases, brain fog can simply come from a horrible diet.  High glucose levels can cause a threefold increase in ROS levels, which can damage human cells. (R)

If you’re living on a Standard American Diet, then that’ll likely be a significant contributing factor to your brain fog.  I recommend following a modified Mediterranean diet if that’s the case.

Also, if you can do it, caloric restriction is probably the best method to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. (RR2R3)

Lectin-Induced Brain Fog

Lectins are plant proteins that induce an immune response.  Most of the time, the immune response is not systemic – or if it is, it’s not too bad.

Instead, plant lectins resemble certain tissues such as the synovium in joints, the thyroid and I believe the hypothalamus.

People with lectin sensitivity will most often experience inflammation in their gut, joints, thyroid and hypothalamus.  Sometimes they’ll go on to develop an autoimmune condition of one sort or another.

But lectin sensitivity starts out without many direct markers and modern medicine does not yet know of all the types of antibodies produced against different tissues.

People with one autoimmune condition are at increased risk for another.  So if you have hashimoto’s in your family, you’ll be more likely to have a hypothalamic problem.

Sometimes, however, the autoimmune issue will be strictly in one tissue over another.

See if you have the markers for lectin sensitivity and listen to my interview with Dr. Gundry.

Brain Fog and Genetics: MTHFR, SOD2, APOE4 and Other Mutations

There’s a whole bunch of genes that don’t interact with our current environment well i.e. they are outdated.

Two significant ones are MTHFR and SOD2 mutations.  There are many others, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

Genetic mutations interact with the environment in a very significant ways.  Knowing you have a mutation can help guide you on a more focused course of action for your brain fog.

Having the MTHFR mutation seriously hampered my ability to ‘detox’ and can result in inflammation and oxidative stress.

The SOD2 mutation causes a 33% decrease of the enzyme (MnSOD) that breaks down superoxide in the mitochondria.  Superoxide production is the most significant cause of brain fog.

In 2014, two studies found that the level of genes expression of SOD2 (MnSOD) is strongly correlated with cognitive performance. (R, R2)

The main SOD2 gene rs4880 CC is more common in my brain fog clientele and there’s a lot of scientific research on it.

Three other SOD2 genes are also heavily overrepresented in my clientele and include rs2758331 (AA), rs2758339 (CC), rs10370 (AA).  Although little science has been done on these and the most important gene is rs4880 (C;C).

Another study in 2014 found that the expression of another anti-oxidative enzyme gene that breaks down H2O2 (MPO/Myeloperoxidase) was also strongly tied to cognitive performance.  Having a mutation in these genes could result in cognitive impairment.  (R)

And yet another 2014 study found that mutations in genes that code for melatonin (ASMT) -an internal antioxidant hormone – were tied to cognitive impairment. (R)

Obviously, your genes are only a part of the story.  It’s usually the case that you need to have these mutations and other factors that increase oxidative stress.

PON1 mutations, while not as significant as SOD mutations, can impair our ability to break down pesticides.  This suggests that people with this should only eat organic food.

Through my genetic data, I was able to see that I had various mutations (such as MTHFR, SOD2 and PON1).

I discovered that I had many genes for Th1 dominance in my genetic data and none for Th2 dominance.   I discovered that I had many mutations that can cause gut inflammation.

I found mutations in my ability to ‘detox’ and in antioxidant genes.  This tells me that the genetic data is accurate because I already knew I was Th1 dominant, I had elevated levels of oxidative stress and was sensitive to many chemicals.

In addition to these, I found many other genes that showed I was Th1 dominant, which I already knew, but my DNA confirmed this.  I also had many genes involved in inflammation of the gut, which I also already knew.  But it taught me a few things I didn’t know such as what the underlying driving force was for my Th1 dominance is (STAT4, IL-23, IFNa, etc…). This information allows me to make a more targeted protocol.

Is your brain fog from lectins, an infection or other?  The genetic data can help you figure that out.  It’s a significant piece of the puzzle.

Therefore, you want to check your 23andme.  You spit in a tube and send it out.  It’s as simple as pie.  If your genes come back normal, then that can be eye-opening as well because it would indicate an infection rather than genetic causes.   In my consulting service, I help people understand their genetic data.

The good news is that genes can be overcome with lifestyle and supplement choices.

Brain Fog and Sleep

Not sleeping well is one of the most common causes of brain fog.

If you have sleep apnea then that will be the cause of your brain fog. Sleep apnea causes hypoxia or a lack of oxygen at night, which increases ROS/oxidative stress (R).

Hypoxia drives psychiatric conditions by causing neurons to get over excited (glutamate excitotoxicity).  This excitation causes increased levels of free radicals and mitochondrial breakdown (R).

Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, bad sleep is still a significant cause of brain fog, but may not be the whole story.

Sleep loss increases oxidative stress in the hypothalamus, by the loss of glutathione (R).

Sleep deprivation for even one night exacerbates brain fog by increasing inflammation in the hypothalamus AND inflammation in the whole body (RR2).

People with morning brain fog should particularly watch out for this.

Adequate sleep in my book means getting the amount of sleep you’d get if you didn’t have an alarm clock.

I suggest doing a sleep study and checking how much slow wave and REM sleep you’re getting.   See my post on how to improve your sleep.

Brain Fog and Infections

Science is increasingly becoming aware of the link between various autoimmune conditions and infections – usually earlier in life.

Infections can cause chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to brain fog.


Sometimes, infections such as viruses can be latent and then be reactivated by some stressor (lack of sleep, shitty diet, etc..)

Viruses can modify the immune system to become more sensitive or malfunction, which can cause downstream problems.

People with Th2 dominance often can’t control viral infections well and experience chronic inflammation.  This is likely the case with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Epstein-Barr Virus is a common viral infection that causes harm.  Even if it’s another virus, controlling viral infections have common themes.

People with severe immunodeficiency will struggle with controlling viral infections.

Since you can’t rid yourself of a virus, you want to instead make sure your immune system always keeps it at bay.

Testing your Natural Killer Cells and their activity are some important indicators into how you handle infections – both viral and other.

If this is the cause of your issues, then you want to rebalance your immune system.


I’ve seen many cases where brain fog was caused by a bacterial infection.  

If you can identify that you have a bacterial infection then targeted drugs such as antibiotics would be a better option than herbs.

Gram-negative bacteria are also known to cause overproduction of TNF, IL-1, and IL-6 (R).    Only gram-negative bacteria have LPS, which is a significant reason why they cause inflammation.

Some common infections include Lyme, Mycoplasma Pneumoniae and H Pylori.


I’ve seen other cases where candida or fungal infections were the sources of the brain fog.

Candida comes from an immune deficiency.  Environmental triggers include refined carbs, stress, low stomach acidity (could be from antacids) and antibiotics.

Anybody with brain fog after antibiotic treatment and/or a particularly stressful period should look into candida as being the cause.

People with candida or bacterial infections will often have a chronic type of brain fog.  Candida increases TNF, IL-1, and IL-6 (RR2).

Candida and bacterial infections can usually be cured through conventional and alternative means.   The latent viral infections are the tricky ones.

Although less common in the developed world, parasitic infections can also be problematic.

When someone was healthy their whole life and suddenly comes down with brain fog after an infection, effort should be made to identify and get rid of the infection.  In the case of viral infections, you should control it.

Parasites and Protozoa

Other times, parasites or protozoa can be a problem such as Blastocystis Hominis, Tapeworm, Roundworm Antibodies, Tissue worm, and Toxoplasma.

Brain Fog and Biotoxins: The Role of Mold

People exposed to mold or other biotoxins and who go on to develop CIRS develop a certain kind of brain fog.

In people who get brain fog from mold, they have many specific characteristics such as rapid weight gain, muscle loss, and Th2 dominance.

CIRS is characterized by high C4a, ACTH/Cortisol, TGF-beta, MMP-9, VEGF and low MSH, ADH (aka vasopressin) and VIP.

I discuss mold-induced illness in a different post and what to do about it.

Any kind of toxins can stimulate the immune system and cause oxidative stress.

Brain Fog and Low Acetylcholine

People with chronic inflammation and brain fog (often from chronic infections) sometimes exhibit a mix of symptoms that almost exactly match symptoms from drugs that inhibit acetylcholine.  

People with biotoxin issues usually fit into this boat, but most people with brain fog do not experience all of these symptoms because of different issues.

Acetylcholine inhibits inflammation/cytokines and modulates the immune response (R, R2).

Cytokines can also decrease acetylcholine.

TGF-b inhibits acetylcholine formation (at least in muscle and spinal cells) (R).

IL-1 induces the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine (acetylcholinesterase) and also increases the enzyme’s activity, thus promoting a cholinergic deficit. In addition, IL-1 directly inhibits acetylcholine release from neurons (R).

In MS, there is an inverse correlation between cytokines and acetylcholine.  They have increased levels of IL-1β and IL-17 and they also have less acetylcholine (in their blood and spines) (R).

I recently had a client whose issues came about after botox injections.   Botulinum toxin A has anti-cholinergic properties (inhibits acetylcholine release) (R).

Interestingly, acetylcholine is capable of inhibiting biofilm formation from candida in Moths (R).  This is interesting because acetylcholine could be anti-fungal as well.

Symptoms of anticholinergic drugs are similar to symptoms experienced by bad cases of biotoxin illness (R):

  • Poor coordination
  • Dementia
  • Increased body temperature (although inflammation causes lower thyroid hormones, which should diminish this symptom for some).
  • Sensitivity to bright light (photophobia) – from pupil dilation.
  • Loss of focusing ability blurred vision
  • Double-vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tendency to be easily startled
  • Flushing
  • Dry-mouth 
  • Diminished bowel movement (decreases motility via the vagus nerve)
  • Increased intraocular pressure
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Euphoria or dysphoria
  • Respiratory depression
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Wandering thoughts; inability to sustain a train of thought
  • Irritability
  • Mental confusion (brain fog)
  • Muscle jerking/twitches
  • Unusual sensitivity to sudden sounds
  • Illogical thinking
  • Visual disturbances
  • Periodic flashes of light
  • Periodic changes in visual field
  • Visual snow
  • Restricted or “tunnel vision”
  • Visual, auditory, or other sensory hallucinations
  • Warping or waving of surfaces and edges
  • Textured surfaces
  • “Dancing” lines; “spiders”, insects; form constants
  • Lifelike objects indistinguishable from reality
  • Hallucinated presence of people not actually there
  • Orthostatic hypotension (sudden dropping of systolic blood pressure when standing up suddenly).
  • Rarely: seizures, coma, and death
  • Urinary retention, 
  • Decreased mucus production in the nose and throat; consequent dry, sore throat
  • Dry-mouth with possible acceleration of dental caries

A common mnemonic for the main features of anticholinergic syndrome is the following:

  • Blind as a bat (dilated pupils)
  • Red as a beet (vasodilation/flushing)
  • Hot as a hare (hyperthermia)
  • Dry as a bone (dry skin)
  • Mad as a hatter (hallucinations/agitation)
  • Bloated as a Toad (ileus, urinary retention)
  • And the heart runs alone (tachycardia)

Brain Fog, Insulin Resistance and Hypoglycemia

People with brain fog often get hypoglycemic because the hypothalamus is not functioning as it should.  The hypothalamus is the organ that senses blood glucose levels.

When the hypothalamus is hypersensitive to glucose because of oxidative stress, it leads to hyperinsulinism and hypoglycemia (R).

Insulin  resistance can also contribute to brain fog.  Insulin resistance is when insulin doesn’t do a good job at bringing glucose into cells.

When you are insulin resistant, you’ll experience more significant blood glucose fluctuations, which is even worse than sustained high levels of glucose (R).

These swings in blood glucose levels result in oxidative stress and inflammation and, therefore, even more, brain fog (RR2).

Every time you get hypoglycemic you damage your brain.

Hypoglycemia drives psychiatric conditions by causing neurons to get over excited (glutamate excitotoxicity). This excitation causes increased levels of free radicals and mitochondrial breakdown (R).   This is the most damaging aspect of hypoglycemia….

The pituitary and adrenal glands are particularly involved in glucose regulation, but these are controlled by the hypothalamus.

Realize that hypoglycemia contributes to brain fog, but it almost always isn’t the original cause.  Inflammation is the source, usually.

If you’re getting hypoglycemic, the most effective ways to counteract is with exercise, kombucha (for lactate), hi-maize/resistant starch and a ketogenic diet.

Read my post on how to fix insulin resistance and what causes insulin resistance to occur in the first place.

Brain Fog and Hormonal Imbalance

A deficiency of hormones such as Pregnenolone, Progesterone, Melatonin, Oxytocin, DHEA, Testosterone,  Estrogen and IGF-1 can contribute to brain fog.

Melatonin, progesterone, estrogen, DHEA, LH and oxytocin all have antioxidant effects. (R, R2)  Genes that resulted in lower melatonin, for example, was found to be associated with cognitive dysfunction. (R)

More specifically, these hormones inhibit superoxide (and other free radicals): Melatonin (R), Pregnenolone (R), Progesterone (R), DHEA (R), Testosterone (R), Estrogen (R), Androstenedione (R), DHT (R), IGF-1 (R) and Oxytocin (R).

All of these listed hormones are anti-inflammatory as well.  Pregnenolone actually converts to all of the above hormones (except IGF-1 and Oxytocin), which is part of the reason why I am such a fan.

Almost always, pregnenolone levels are also low in people with brain fog.  Pregnenolone is the most important hormone.

Thyroid hormones (R, R2), Growth Hormone (R), Prolactin (R) and Chronic Estrogen (birth control, HRT) (R)  can actually increase superoxide.  However, all of these hormones are necessary for proper brain function in normal amounts.  For this reason, these hormone should be balanced rather than too low or  too high.

With regard to thyroid hormones, low or high thyroid hormones can cause oxidative stress (R).

People with brain fog often have low levels of thyroid hormones.  However, low thyroid hormones are a result of inflammation, not the cause of it.   Actually, having a high level of thyroid hormones increases inflammation. (RR2R3)

Brain injuries from car accidents, being in the military, being a competitive athlete, fighting (professionally or not) or any kind of hit to the brain can lead to low hormones.  So if you’ve received head blows from one source or another, you must check your hormones.

I believe the most common, fundamental cause of low hormones, however, is generally chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation (and oxidative stress) most commonly comes from injuries, sleep problems, low hormones, obesity/terrible diet, chronic infections, lectins or other causes.   Often, there is a mix of these.

Brain Fog, Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis

With regard to gut health, intestinal permeability or “leaky gut” and/or an imbalance of your gut microbiota (“gut dysbiosis”) can increase inflammation, thereby contributing to brain fog.

Lectins are the most common reason for having a leaky gut, in my opinion.

To prevent microbial imbalance or dysbiosis, the gut needs the right ingredients to work well (like prebiotics), which is also why the right foods matter.

Probiotics can also be great at helping to modify inflammation.

I’ve noticed that many/most people with brain fog also have IBS (including my former self).  This is because inflammation of the gut contributes to IBS (R).

Also, Hypothalamic inflammation dysregulates the endocrine system, causing changes in motility, which also leads to IBS.

For gut health, I recommend Hi-maize/resistant starch, consuming leafy greens and taking Probiotics (6 of these pills a day).

Brain Fog, Allergies and Histamine

People with asthma and allergies commonly report brain fog, which is in part from the production of histamine.

Allergies and asthma  are as a result of Th2 dominance.

Histamine can be produced from lectins or allergic reactions as a result of an elevated Th2 immune system.

People can also consume foods with histamine -mainly fermented and cured foods and beverages.

If you don’t have enough of an enzyme to break histamine down, then this can be the cause of your brain fog.  I’ve found this to be the case for some people.

The mechanism by which histamine cause brain fog may be as a result of oxidative stress (R).

Otherwise, when mast cells activate, they release superoxide (R), which supports my central theory of brain fog (that superoxide is responsible).

If your histamine issues are as a result of high histamine foods, then you need to take the DAOsin enzyme.  Read my post on reducing histamine.  Also read my post on reducing Th2 dominance.

I also recommend getting your genetic data from 23andme.   I make most of my clients get this test and help them understand the results.

Brain Fog, Anxiety, Chronic Stress and Depression

In almost all cases of brain fog, people experience anxiety and often depression/bad moods.

This is mainly because inflammation and oxidative stress increase our stress response and causes anxiety.  This also lead to depression.  This certainly happened with me.

Indeed, that’s why cognitive dysfunction, depression, and anxiety often go together. (R)

Inflammation (TNF, IL-1) activates the stress pathway and causes us to be more anxious and depressed. Cytokines also degrade the hippocampus and other areas of the brain, which cause depression (R). Oxidative stress can also cause anxiety. (R)

Superoxide and free radicals can exacerbate your biological reaction to stress (R, R2).

Chronic stress or frequent activation of the HPA axis can cause oxidative stress. (R)

Pyschological stress increases NADPH oxidase, which results in elevated superoxide in the hypothalamus and HPA dysregulation. (R)

Chronic stress can elevate inflammation in the long run (by causing glucocorticoid resistance). (R).

Depression can be caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. (R, R2)  However, it likely contributes to oxidative stress as well.

Sometimes depression is the source of brain fog, but this isn’t usually the case.   In most cases, it’s just a contributing factor.

Chronic stress is usually  more of a problem in people who are Th2 dominant and have an immune deficiency because cortisol decreases our immune system.

Read my post on why stress is bad and my post on CRH.

I recommend you:

Brain Fog, Heavy Metals and Toxins

Heavy metals and toxins increase oxidative stress in the body.   Since heavy metals bioaccumulate, they may cause increased levels of oxidative stress in the body.

However, while heavy metals may be a contributing factor, I’ve never had a case where it was the sole cause.  Unless you have a specific reason to believe that you’ve been exposed to excess heavy metals, it’s probably best not to assume that this is the most significant factor.

Even necessary minerals can also accumulate in the body and cause oxidative stress in the long term, but again this would just be a contributory factor.

The recommendations for this type of brain fog are in part 2.

Toxins such as Pthalates, BPA, pesticides and others also cause oxidative stress .  However, these are usually contributory in a minor way, but not the main cause.

Brain Fog and Drugs

There are many drugs that can cause or contribute to brain fog.

Alcohol is a neurotoxin and increases inflammation and oxidative stress.  (RR2R3)   If you’re an alcoholic then it will most likely be the cause of your brain fog.  However, in other cases alcohol is just a contributing factor, but far from the main cause.

Many drugs can cause oxidative stress, but antibiotics are the most commonly taken ones that do.

Antibiotics, for example, produce superoxide and H2O2 and can damage you mitochondria. (R)

Three different classes of antibiotics were tested: ciprofloxacin (a fluoroquinolone), ampicillin (a β-lactam), and kanamycin (an aminoglycoside). All three bactericidal antibiotics induced a dose- and time-dependent increase in free radical production.

The fluoroquinolone antibiotics and some other antibiotics can damage the mitochondria and produce free radical leakage.

I’ve also seen brain fog induced by marijuana, LSD and ayahuasca.  The mechanism is almost certainly related to hypothalamic and limbic system dysregulation, but the exact reason why only a tiny fraction of people experience this remains a mystery.

The Most Important Factors To Combat Brain Fog


Sun is great for decreasing inflammation.  Although uncommon, I’ve had a few cases of brain fog that relieved itself simply by being outside and getting more sun.

Most of the time, however, a lack of sun is just a contributory factor to chronic inflammation and brain fog.

Sun is capable of suppressing inflammation and preventing autoimmune disease. (R, R2, R3) (sun can make some autoimmune conditions worse).

Sun also suppresses seasonal allergies, which are IgG and IgE related allergies. (R)

Besides UVB rays directly suppressing autoimmunity, vitamin D, which is a byproduct of UVB, also decreases Th1 and Th17 immune responses (R).  The sun makes sulfated vitamin D, which is better than supplemental vitamin D.

With regard to oxidative stress, UVB  increases our body’s internal antioxidant defenses (R).

People think that taking a vitamin D supplement will make up for not getting sun.  This is false.  In my opinion, most of the benefits from sun don’t involve vitamin D.

The most beneficial ingredient of the sun is probably not even the vitamin D, but the infrared that it provides.  Infrared creates structured water in our body, which is fundamental to our well-being.

I recommend an hour of sun on most of your body (don’t exceed an hour per a spot).

If you can’t get sun, then use these tools:

All of these have different effects.   I use ALL of the products that I link to AND I get an hour of sun a day.  Infrared is fundamental to your healing.

Also use this UVB light and use it for at least 15 minutes a day on various parts of you body and not more than 30 minutes per a spot.

You should also use a bright light device right in the morning to reset your circadian rhythm and take 2000-5000iu Vitamin D3 daily.

As you can see, it’s no easy task to mimic the benefits of the sun.  But UV is also a carcinogen, which is why you don’t want to go overboard.  You should still get more infrared if you do get an hour of sun daily.

Your Circadian Rhythm

The circadian rhythm is deeply connected with inflammation and both can cause the other to get out of balance.  I explore this subject a bit in my post about why we get tired even with enough sleep.

Circadian disruption increases inflammation (Th1 and Th17). (RR2)  The circadian rhythm is also tied to oxidative stress (R).

Disrupting your circadian rhythm will result in brain fog, as happens during jet lag.  Some people are more sensitive to circadian disruptions.

Researchers have shown that the 24-hour circadian clock also influences cognitive performance in a wide variety of areas, including verbal reasoning and working memory.  Researchers conclude that factors that disturb circadian rhythms can also affect cognitive performance. (R)

Circadian disruption can come about for a variety of reasons, but the most common is a lack of light in the day, too much light at night, disrupted sleep patterns and chronic inflammation.

Disrupting circadian rhythms can also lead to  heart diseases, neurodegenerative conditions, and cancer.  (R)

People with brain fog are often wired but tired at night, fatigued in the day and lack a cortisol spike in the AM. They can be hot at night and wake up to pee multiple times in the night.

These are all symptoms of circadian dysruption.  I used to have these symptoms, but getting better meant my metabolism increased in the day and slowed at night.

I now get tired at night and am awake in the day.  I feel warmer in the day and cooler at night.  I don’t get hypoglycemic at night. My vasopressin release has normalized so I don’t wake up to pee.

I am alert and awake in the day and get tired at night, and have a good amount of energy until right before bed – when I crash out.  I wake up refreshed and ready to hit the day when my circadian rhythm is working properly.

The circadian rhythm controls you adrenal glands, and flat or low cortisol is a suprachiasmatic nucleus problem, not an adrenal one.

  • Take care of your circadian rhythm by going to sleep and awakening at a similar time every day. 
  • Use Glasses (red) 2 hours before bed to produce melatonin.
  • Use a Bright light device upon awakening if you don’t get sun.
  • Don’t eat 3 hours before bed, except raw honey.

Read my post on how to take care of your circadian rhythm.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” 
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Too much or too little exercise can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress.

I’ve never had a client whose brain fog was solely related to exercise, but it can be a contributory factor.

Moderate exercise  brings down inflammation and oxidative stress.  Interval exercise is particularly good for the hypothalamus because it produces lactate, which prevents hypoglycemia.

Yoga is also particularly good because it balances the HPA axis and your thyroid as well.

However, endurance exercise increases inflammation (Th17 immune response) (R).  Don’t confuse endurance exercise with moderate aerobic exercise.

Although not as good as interval exercise or yoga, aerobic exercise can decrease inflammation as well (Th1, Th2 and Th17 immune responses). (R, R2).

Recommendations: Push-ups, Yoga, Pull-ups, Walking, Sprints – short sprints running as quick as possible for 30 seconds make me feel really good yet not worn out after 3 sets.

The Vagus Nerve

See my post on the vagus nerve and ways to stimulate it.

One common theme with people who have brain fog and chronic fatigue is lower vagal tone, which means lower vagus nerve activation.

Vagus nerve activation is important for relaxing us by decreasing norepinephrine and increasing GABA (R) and lowering inflammation (such as TNF) by stimulating acetylcholine (R).

Removal of the vagus nerve or desensitizing it with capsaicin increased brain oxidative stress and decreased glutathione following a stressor.  (R)

Overall, the vagus nerves are important in maintaining the antioxidant status of the brain. (R)

Vagus nerve stimulation decreases ROS/free radicals in response to stressors such as during an animal model of a stroke (via AMPK-PKC-Nox pathway). (R)

The bottom line is that the vagus nerve is important for optimal brain function and directly combats the underlying causes of brain fog.

Because the vagus nerve is associated with many different functions and brain regions, promising research is being done to determine its usefulness in treating other illnesses, including various anxiety disorders, Heart disease, Intestinal barrier breakdown, OCD, Alzheimer’s disease, Memory and Mood disorders in elderly, migraines, fibromyalgia, obesity, tinnitus, Alcohol addiction, Autism, Bulimia, Severe mental diseases, Multiple sclerosis and Chronic heart failure. (R)

Other diseases that it may also help: Atrial fibrillation, Burn-induced organ dysfunction, Chronic intractable hiccups, Comorbid personality disorders, Dravet syndrome, Drop-attacks, Heatstroke, heroin addiction, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Myocarditis, Peripheral arterial occlusion disease, Postoperative cognitive dysfunction in elderly patients, Rasmussen’s encephalitis, Sepsis, Spinal trigeminal neuronal, Transient focal cerebral ischemia, Trauma-hemorrhagic shock, Traumatic brain injury, Vaginal-Cervical self-stimulation in women with complete spinal cord injury, Visceral pain-related affective memory. (R)


If you don’t eat seafood often and don’t get enough DHA, it will worsen all issues related to the immune system.

DHA is critical for all functions of the body that relate to brain fog.

Biological Factors That Contribute to Brain Fog

The following are biological factors that make brain fog worse and are a contributory cause of brain fog.

Brain Fog and Low NAD+ Levels

Read this post for a background on NAD+, references and how to increase it.

When you have low NAD+ levels, your mitochondria don’t work well and you create too much superoxide.

You’re more susceptible to infections and toxins and you are more likely to have chronic inflammation.

Your general energy levels decline and you will feel more tired.

Ubiquitination increases and you lose weight.  Insulin and leptin sensitivity drop.  A bunch of negative metabolic changes takes place.

NAD+ levels decline with age and they are caused in part by oxidative stress over time (R).

Having high blood sugar levels results in higher NADH and lower NAD+ (R).  Insulin also increases the NADH/NAD+ ratio (R).

Having low oxygen in your cells also results in higher NADH and lower NAD+.

Blood sugar dose-dependently worsens (increases) your NADH/NAD+ ratio in the same way as low oxygen. When you combine excess carbs/sugar and low oxygen, you start getting fatigued and have low energy.

This is one of the most significant reasons why sugar/carbs makes people with brain fog feel worse.

In fact, you might feel worse after eating anything because eating decreases NAD+ levels and fasting increases it.  Of course, inflammation will also make you fatigued by shutting orexin down.

Fasting, calorie restriction and exercise help brain fog sufferers because they all raise NAD+ levels (R).

On the other hand, some people do worse in the short term because skipping meals cause hypoglycemia and when I was in a bad state, I’d feel like crap if I skipped meals.  And then I’d eat a meal and crash because there wasn’t enough energy-related molecules (ATP levels) in my lateral hypothalamus from fasting, which results in the shutting down of orexin down.

Brain fog people also do very poorly with alcohol, since alcohol decreases NAD+ (R, R2).

Alcohol has a host of other negative effects, but they don’t explain the rapidity by which people feel worse from it. NAD+ explains the almost instant effects in people with brain fog.

This is also why a lot of my clients claim to do better with niacin/nicotinamide in the short term: because it increases NAD+ (R).

People often claim to do better with amphetamine usage as well.  Amphetamines use up energy, ATP and also deplete dopamine in certain parts of the brain (striatum in rats) (R).

When rats were given Niacinamide to increase NAD+ levels, the negative changes caused by amphetamines were reduced (R).

So we see that lower levels of NAD+ will decrease brain energy and dopamine, and people will start to need amphetamines to keep up.

Saunas are also considered a panacea and have been a part of every historical culture.  We think it’s because we’re sweating out toxins, and that might have something to do with it, but saunas and heat shocks also increase NAD+ levels (R). Since infrared also increases SIRT1 (R), infrared Saunas are ideal (the one I have).

Fermented foods and beverages such as kombucha contain NAD+, which is one reason why it energizes me.  Fermentation uses NADH to produce lactate, and the byproduct is NAD+ (R).

However, some fermented byproducts cause problems in mold/histamine intolerance and Th2 dominant people.

To increase NAD+, try Nicotinamide Riboside/Niagen NAD+ (AMZN) or Nicotinamide Riboside – Niagen NAD (IHERB).

Brain Fog and Low Oxygen

People with brain fog often have hypoxia.

When you have low oxygen (hypoxia), your mitochondria don’t work as well and for good reason.  Oxygen needs to be there to accept electrons in the mitochondria.  When you have low oxygen, it can’t accept electrons, so your body wants to slow mitochondrial function down.

When you have low oxygen, your body responds by slowing the conversion of NADH to NAD+ (less oxidation).  Therefore, you have a buildup of NADH and a relative reduction of NAD+.

We need superoxide/free radicals to defend against infections and oxygen is needed to create superoxide.

Hypoxia also causes less activation of MHC II, which lowers our ability to clear pathogens.

Read this post for reasons why you may have hypoxia and how to check for it.

Use an Oxygen Concentrator and breathing exercises with this Breathing Exerciser to increase oxygen levels.

ICES increases oxygen in cells.

Brain Fog and Low Cyclic AMP

Low cyclic AMP is a root cause of brain fog and this is caused by poor mitochondrial function (lower ATP production).

When cyclic AMP is low, most of your hormones are lower, inflammation increases and you can’t deal well with infections, toxins or other cellular stressors.

Forskolin (AMZN) (95%) or Forskolin (IHERB) will increase cyclic AMP, but you also need to make sure your mitochondria are working, or it will just use your ATP stores up.

Conditions That Increase the Odds of Brain fog

Some conditions like Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and Thalassemia increase the risk of brain fog for somewhat different reasons.

G6PD deficiency results in higher levels of oxidative stress because of less reduced glutathione.

Thalassemia results in lower red blood cells and hemoglobin, which means less transport of oxygen.  This increases the risk of hypoxia in various tissues.

Anemia will also increase the risk of brain fog for the same reason: increased risk of hypoxia in various tissues.

Gilbert’s Syndrome is associated with brain fog possibly because it’s often caused by low glucuronidation, high Beta-Glucuronidase, and not enough light.

Euler’s Danlos Syndrome is associated with brain fog because of its effects on collagen formation, which affects many systems in the body.

Common Side Effects of Hypothalamic Disruption and Brain Fog

When I used to experience brain fog, I had a host of other symptoms that at the time I didn’t realize were related.

The hypothalamus plays a critical role in  the following:

  • Thermal regulation
  • Sweating
  • Wakefulness/Fatigue
  • Circadian Rhythm (Regulates Sleep-Wake Cycle)
  • Thirst
  • Hunger, Satiety
  • Blood pressure, heart rate
  • GI stimulation
  • Emotions
  • Sex drive and hormones
  • Antidiuretic hormone
  • Glucose regulation
  • Vision (R)

I’ve noticed with myself and my clients that people with brain fog are more likely to have:

  • Fatigue in the day. The hypothalamus controls wakefulness with orexin.  Inflammation  (TNF) suppresses orexin neurons 
  • Anxiety. Inflammation can activate your stress response and lower neurotransmitters.
  • Low motivation.  Orexin is a significant factor in motivation and it’s suppressed by inflammation.
  • GI problems.   The hypothalamus controls vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and CRH, which influence gut function as well.  
  • Cold hands and feet.  The hypothalamus controls temperature regulation. Low orexin causes lower body temperature (R) and therefore you’ll feel cold.
  • Decreased/increased appetite. Low hypothalamic serotonin leads to increased carb cravings.   The hypothalamus is also the base of Orexin, T3, insulin, ghrelin, MCH, FGF21, and NPY, all of which increase appetite, while leptin, insulin, norepinephrine, serotonin, GLP-1 and FGF19 are appetite suppressants.
  • Decreased sex drive from low hypothalamic dopamine.
  • Increased thirst from low ADH, which is secreted by the hypothalamus.
  • Increased urination (Low ADH)
  • Low blood pressure (Low ADH)
  • Insomnia from stress response activation, which can come from inflammation.
  • Hormonal issues.  The hypothalamus is the center for hormonal control…It controls male and female hormonal production, the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands.
  • Blood sugar swings and hypoglycemia.  The hypothalamus controls glucose homeostasis (R)
  • Attention problems – through orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone (R), low levels of dopamine (R) and acetylcholine (R).  Orexin increases acetylcholine (R) and so inflammation will lead to lower levels of this neurotransmitter.
  • Visual problems.  The hypothalamus is connected to your visual system (R).  For example, when you get tired you notice an effect on your eyes – they get heavy.

As you can see, the symptoms that people commonly experience with brain fog are directly tied to hypothalamic function.

I had GAD/OCD/anxiety issues, GI problems (IBS), cold hands and feet, decreased blood pressure, insomnia at night and fatigue in the day, decreased appetite (relative to others), thirsty all the time and I’d pee all the time.

I couldn’t figure out why I was so thirsty.  The more my brain fog improved, the more the other symptoms improved in lockstep.

I also would get hypoglycemic and feel very weak when I ate any food with a high glycemic index.

Brain Fog and Adrenal Fatigue

The hypothalamus directs the adrenal glands.  Adrenal fatigue is a misconception and the root cause of fatigue has to do with the hypothalamus, not your adrenals.

Brain Fog and Derealization/Depersonalization

People who have strong levels of depersonalization and derealization have a bit of a different category of brain fog.  See my post on the biology of depersonalization and its potential solutions.

Conditions Associated With Brain Fog and Caused by Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Brain fog is much more likely to be experienced with other conditions.  This is the case with conditions that are heavily associated with oxidative stress and inflammation.

There’s evidence that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia are caused by oxidative stress and inflammation (Chronic fatigue=R, R2, R3, R4, R5….Fibromyalgia=R, R2, R3, R4, R5).

Inflammation hits the brain stem as well in CFS (R).

It’s no wonder why brain fog is commonly cited in people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia – the same processes are driving all three.

Brain fog can be exacerbated by mood disorders such Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Alcoholism because it is widely believed that oxidative stress plays a role in these disorders (RR2R3).

Actually, science is discovering now that many antidepressants work by combating oxidative stress (R).

I’ve noticed a strong correlation with these disorders – especially OCD, anxiety and depression- and brain fog in my clients.  I had all three when I used to have brain fog.

It’s not surprising that all of these conditions also have a connection with inflammation. (R)

In Multiple Sclerosis, Sjogren’s and Lupus, brain fog is the common feature.  In all of these disorders, inflammation, and oxidative stress are increased.

Women with menopause sometimes develop brain fog.

Female hormones such as estrogen and estradiol tend to display antioxidant activities and lower oxidative stress (R).

When a woman goes through menopause a reduction of these hormones shifts the balance in favor of oxidants to antioxidants (R).

Other Relevant Posts

Disclaimer and Caveats


  1. Hey Joe! Just came across your blog mate, really impressed with the level of indepth info on Brain fog here. It’s been a real b##tch for me too the past 18 months, and I’m kind of in the same boat as you, it’s really motivated me to improve my health, do my own research etc, and also to start a blog about it (see my details if you are interested).

    Anyway, really inspiring to see both the fact you’ve overcome this stuff, and also that you’ve turned it into a successful outcome.

    Great work dude, keep it up!

  2. m

    I developed social anxiety when I was 13. Since then, I’ve been on high alert constantly with extreme anxiety almost all the time and now my brain fog is so bad I can’t think. But I didn’t see that as a cause in the article, rather as a consequence. ?

  3. kasey

    is it recommended to supplement with superoxidase supplement? is wobenzym good for inflammation and the immune system, and what does leptin resistance have to do with this? i haven’t tried the lectin diet yet, and i was found to have multiple infections which i am treating for now. did not start an anti candida diet yet either. i know all these issues can cause inflammation and oxidative stress, but what are some things that can be tried to help symptoms while trying to fix underlying causes

  4. Renae

    I can’t recall how many times I’ve read this article. I’ve been constantly dissecting it. I have brain fog that started after trying a synthetic hormone. I stopped taking it and everything has gone downhill since. The brain fog has rapidly gotten worse along with my vision that started to diminish. Tests showed low progesterone (synthetic suppresses the natural) and low normal estradiol, but now I’m experiencing gut issues (along with other symptoms). I’ve never had gut issues but seeing where everything is connected here in this article to the same causes, it explains why things are getting worse. I really want to get rid of this brain fog and blurred vision and pray that everything else falls into place. Those are my worst symptoms in whatever this is. I will continue to read this article and eliminate possibilities. What could this be?

    • Edward

      When it gets too bad I use baking soda(bicarbonate of sodium ). Half a teaspoon diluted in a glass of water and i get a lot better. You can get it at a supermarket. Try not to use it for more than two weeks else you won’t like the consequences.

  5. Dylan

    Hey Joe,

    While I agree there is a combination of factors that cause brain fog, I think many people have hidden infections like HHV6/CMV/EBV reactivations and or mycoplasma, or even lyme. They are immunocompromised, but not enough to be sick, just enough to have fatigue and brain fog

  6. This documentation has finally given me the opportunity to take a profoundly gargantuan step forward in helping myself to understand, and possibly even self-treat the living obstacle that is my mind.

    You’re providing something here that should benefit many of those suffering, who are diligent enough to forge their very own understandings of this material that you’ve been good enough to hand them.

    Joe, thank you for enlightening us with the gift of an organic understanding. I honestly feel that you’re what all doctors should strive to be.

    You’re my hero, you beautiful bastard!

    Now to await my <10 word response!

  7. Dmitry

    What’s about ammonia and other endotoxins possible not properly wiping out by liver and kidney?

  8. Marie

    I’ve had brain fog for as long as I can remember and it seems to be getting worse. A few days ago I was driving with my daughter on a scooter and took both hands off the steering wheel to adjust her helmet. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

  9. SSR

    Surprised to see no mention of chronic ejaculation here. There are many cases of brain fog after a prolonged masturbation habit. Many normative reports on no fab boards on the net. Any thoughts Joe?

  10. Interesting. In the case of oxiditive stress, most of the symptoms are linked to vegetable oils and margarines. Omega 6 (65% of the oil of unmodified sunflower, newer strains have less) is associated with depression and bipolar (see Wikipedia on Omega 6), inflammation (some kind of immuno screw up, you mentioned lupus etc which might be connected), ADHD (and anecdotally with OCD, also to eating disorders which may be a particular species of OCD). I’ve seen info that supports both immuno confusion and immuno suppression linked to veg oils. Veg oils are in an awful lot of food these days, although often now palm or other oils with only 10% Omega 6. Omega 3’s substitutive role in the brain plus reducing Omega 6 may help; people often feel less depressed after eating salmon, for instance. But recent research of retail Omega 3 supplements in NZ (or australia, can’t remember) had almost 90% as severely oxidised. Probably best to eat salmon if it has enough DHA which is the Omega 3 that actually does something in the brain apparently (haven’t checked it out). Lack of Omega 3 is also associated with post partum depression.

  11. groentjes

    Do you have any information/studies on CBD oil ? Not for brain fog per se but for brain health in general ? I get find so many studies but I’ve read that it is great for inflammation and they are going to give it to autistic children.

    • Joseph M. Cohen

      I don’t work with people in person and I don’t offer cures. I offer information that can help you help yourself.

      Look on the right side of the page for phone or skype consults. Email Dhowell at selfhacked dot com.

  12. Jane Parry

    Joe, I wanted to thank you sincerely for your advice about brain fog. What with that controlling my routine and other long term symptoms I was at my wits end. Even with regular internet research on health and nutrition I had never heard of lectin sensitivity here in the UK. 37 days later on a strict low lectin diet I am a different girl. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Jane.

  13. Nate

    Hey Joe, great post.

    I just recently graduated from college and am dealing with constant brain fog. I’ve noticed it getting progressively worse each year… definitely due to a little too much binge drinking lol. I exercise pretty regularly and try to avoid high glycemic index foods and saturated fats in my diet.

    Currently I take various supplements including:
    Fish oil
    Vitamin E
    Turmeric Curcumin
    Alpha-lipoic acid

    Can you offer any other advice or suggestions to speed up the process?


  14. G.Hav

    Hello Joe . Thank you for your article! It really helps to put things into context. I believe I have started having what everyone is calling Brain Fog since I was 11 years old . I am now 25. These occur suddenly (maybe over night) and last for a couple of weeks. When I was younger it used to last longer than it does now. During the 4-5 years it has been occuring every almost 2 years and last for a couple of weeks. I have allergies (Th2 dominance) but I can not always relate it to my allergies as my IgE levels are normal sometimes and I still get it. I would say I am a moderately stressful person and I like to work hard and ‘think a lot’.

    Would you say it is stress related or diet related?

  15. Jon

    It has been 2 1/2 weeks before my brain fog started and it hampered my scheduled job interview yesterday. I am really happy that I found this site but to what doctor would you suggest me going to? (I am a working student right now and as such do not have that enough money owing to debts that my family and I still try to pay off)

    Main things that affect me:
    •lack of cognitive response (while remembering things, also attentiveness to respond when hearing a word/names,etc.)/ lack of mental clarity- “that grasp of reality”
    •lack of emotion (I used to be very cheerful)
    •lack of motivation to start working on things
    •difficulty digging up from my memory
    + other brain fog feelings

    Days before that too, I had a diarrhea (owing to lactose indigestion; stomach easily upsets even just by drinking coffee). But 3-4~ days after that, I was not experiencing nothing else, everything was the “normal” me. a day after, I drank maybe around 8-10~ cups of coffee to finish some work. I was also fine after that (just feeling too awake) and still could say that I didn’t have brain fog symptoms. Two days after that, I woke up feeling sickly (idk but i felt i had viral fever too and resorted to just take fever and pain relievers- I really dont have money lol), my head (maybe around the rear right portion, also sometimes that lightheaded feeling for the whole brain, i.e. airy feeling in brain) was hurting so bad that I had a panic attack. I dont know too but, my vision feels like it is less lively to see colors just like when feeling sick- up to now,i.e. less vibrant?).

    After that day up to now, the common feelings I had felt (see above) started and is not ending. I’ve consulted a neurologist saying that I have normal and could still process normally (and have normal reflex) but I know that I am processing things real slower than before (it is really hard explaining this kind of feeling. it is like things naturally comes processed when I hear a word before but now I need to pay really really really attentive to grasp the sentence. its like i think fast but the natural hearing-encoding-grasping of a word or sentence I need or need to beforehand think was fucked up by this brain fog)

    It’s at its worst when I wake up and lessens (a bit only) maybe after 5-6 hours~ when I try to realign myself to doing written work and checking my email.

    I normally eat but not that I eat very many. I somewhat was used to being easily satiated after eating just a normal rice meal (e.g. chicken/beef + rice is the usual for me. and some of those instant foods too and snacks). With this brain fog, then, I became more easily satiated by taking only a small amount of a meal’s portion

    I am a student architect (22,M). I usually work on with my neck bent over the drafting table. (Is this a contributor? e.g. not enough oxygen going to brain?)

    I became more detached and less motivated to socialize after this feeling (usually I would visit my university organization a week.) but now, I am just here at home, really feeling dull.

    I feel that somewhat my hypothalamus isn’t working correctly- low mood, lack of motivation, flat emotion- compared to a very cheery version of me before.

    just recently (3 days~ now) too there is like a minty feeling around my throat maybe around the tonsils and oropharynx?

    Those are some of just what I think I could salvage from my brain right now.

    What do you think happened? Did I just suddenly catch a viral disease that affected my brain? Candida? Lyme (we have dogs too)?
    What doctor would you suggest me going to? I really don’t have enough money so I don’t want wasting them seeing a wrong doctor. What tests?

    I really feel paronoid by having these symptoms; I want this to clear up so badly 🙁

    Sorry for this long post and I hope you could help me with this, Joe. Thanks and hoping that you could help more with your selfhack.

    • Jon, I’ve been thinking about your post since I read it yesterday. Your thorough explanation is helpful in unlocking the mystery! The biggest thing I noticed is that we as humans rarely recognize our unhealthy patterns; we think we’re taking good care of our bodies, we think we are invincible, and forget to do the basics! 🙂 When I was in high school and having Fibromyalgia symptoms, the doctor asked me how many times I was having a bowel movement. I flippantly answered that there wasn’t a problem there, only to realize years later that OH YES there was a problem there! 🙂 Until you experience health (and the solution) you don’t always know what the problem is!

      Start here:

      1a: Stop drinking coffee
      1b: Or, drink 10 cups of water before AND after each cup of coffee (I’m not joking. It’s not “just” coffee. Coffee is acidic and HORRIBLE for our bodies. You can also dilute the effects by drinking water with baking soda before and after each cup of coffee. Of course, that’s not fun, so you may just want to eliminate it! Switch to green tea!

      2: Detox : Your symptoms sound like you’re full of toxins. Drink a gallon of water a day. Add fresh lemon (from an actual lemon) to the water–that will make it taste better, and it will help balance your pH. If you suspect candida, go ahead and add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to your water. This will also give you a boost of energy.

      3: De-flame: You also sound like you’re suffering from Inflammation. Cut out gluten and sugar. Try taking Ibuprofen; see if you feel better. If you do, you’ve got Inflammation (pretty much all Americans do!).

      4: Exercise: No really. Exercise. Walking doesn’t do anything for those of us with this condition. STRENGTH training does! There’s something about lifting weights that gets the inflammation-causing-toxins moving out of the system. I just moved to a new house, and after a week of moving heavy items–I FEEL AMAZING, and can’t believe all my excuses for not going to the gym! LOL. I’m seriously wondering if I can work for a moving company a few times a week, just for the exercise!! Look for Youtube videos that walk you through at-home body sculpting or strength training, using every day household items. Or just grab something that’s 10-20 pounds and run up and down a flight of stairs 3 times each day.

      5: Fruits and Vegetables all blended up: This will help you detox and replenish your system, and vegetables are SUPER CHEAP. Your body may be malnourished to the point of not being able to digest vegetables (they’ve got a think cell wall). Blending them will make the digestion easy so your body can just focus on sending you GOODness. If you have a blender, do Green Smoothies for a week. If you can, JUST eat green smoothies: plain yogurt/milk, green pepper, green apple, spinach leaves, kale, banana. You can also throw in a clove of garlic and a chunk of fresh ginger (for energy and candida). If you’re starving, add a raw egg (buy organic eggs). [You should be able to pull this off for less than $50/week]

      I have tried all of the above, but I tend to fall short at some point. It’s so overwhelming. So much work, with such slow results. I mean, sure I could do all of that if I was in a GREAT mood! But if you need the above, you’re not. You’re suffering and feel like life is impossible! Am I right?! I invested in my health with the following:

      1: Organo Gold Black coffee (on eBay for about $15-20/box. That’s 30 packets, or a month’s worth of coffee (one a day, please!)).
      I LOVE coffee and kind of depend on it for getting a creative rush of energy to do my work (web design). This coffee is laced with Ganoderma mushroom extract. I have no clue what that’s all about; all I know is I don’t suffer when I drink it. I get the great coffee high, without the acidic after-effects or emotional downer.

      2: Univera products:
      -Aloe Gold ($20/month)
      -xTra ($50/month)
      -Regenifree ($60/month)
      These are sold through a multi-level marketing program (which I struggle with). But the products are so good I can look past the annoying cheerleading of the company. I take a serving of each of the above each day. I take them around 3pm, right when I normally have a dip in the day–I want to go for another cup of coffee, but shoot, it’s getting late in the day…–UNIVERA TIME! In about 7 days, you’ll feel a dramatic shift in your moods and your health. If you’re overweight, you’ll start losing pounds. You’ll never have a problem with bowel movements (detoxing) ever again. You’ll feel like exercising!!! You’ll feel like cleaning your house and getting that overdue project done. OMG! You’ll feel like playing with your kids (if you have kids)! And thinking!!

      I had such severe brain fog that I had to outsource my thinking projects (blogging, web content, answering the phone, replying to emails). Now I’m able to do all that work on my own again!!! And more!!! Yesterday I carried my 5 year old daughter on my back, on our walk home from school–in 100 degree weather!!! WOW!

      3: Exercise:
      The Univera products work great on their own, but you’ll get 10 times the results if you throw in 5-10 minutes a day of exercise. Work it into your schedule, but like I said–you’ll WANT TO when you’re on Univera.

      I was on a candida diet and was totally off gluten. I HAD to stay away from sugar and gluten just to get through the day. On Univera, I can eat almost whatever I want!!!!! 🙂 Life is good!

      1: Seek out someone like Joe (on this site) and do a consultation. Get some one-on-one coaching and accountability. This stuff is hard; but can be done with a friend!

      Since you’re low on funds, you gotta make every dollar count. You have many of the answers already–try them, stick to them!

      The brain fog community is here to help!!!


      • Thank you very much Angela (and Joseph) for your insights. They are both informative and comforting for people like me with the fog to inspire hope in a ever-persisting foggy realm. All of what you have said was in line with what I had already thought, so this info helped solidify my decisions to make the right steps now. I am evermore optimistic. Cheers.

  16. Todd

    I have brain fog from what I think is sleep fragmentation. The fog started suddenly one morning over 4 yrs ago and I’ve had it since. I was diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA last year. I started using a cpap last year and in 2 months the fog lessened some. But lately after trying Zoloft it has increased. It usually decreases some right after a nap. I do toss and turn alot at night so I feel I’m not getting solid sleep and as a result have daytime fatigue. I’m in the process of getting a newer firmer mattress to see if that helps. Was sleeping on a memory foam mattress before.I started taking melatonin before bed. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

  17. Londoner

    Hi Joe, are Th1 and Th2 levels supposed to be somewhar equal ?

    I think i am Th1 Dominant…. but how do you treat that? ie: is it dominant because the Th1 level is too high, or dominant because Th2 is too low…. to separate conditions, needing two separate paths of treatment…..

  18. Sibin

    I have been suffering from brain fog from past 3 years.I was doing very well in my engineering course but suddenly I don’t know something happened and I could not concentrate or even try to keep things in mind . This happened all of a sudden  .Due to this problem I could not study well and thus I came across depression.I consulted a phsychirtist and he gave antidepression pills and thus my depression was gone. But now since iam into a new firm it takes me a lot of time to understand things, this has made me so sad . please help me out what might be the reason. First I thought it was due to mood swing. But now I realize that since I had this stange feeling in my brain where I cannot concentrate or study iam not been able to do task which I used to do easily. So please tell me what to do and ur suggestions.

  19. Josh

    Hi Joe great article, do you have a page of meal examples using the clean ingredients that you recommend? if so could you direct me to it?

  20. Londoner

    Hi Joe, great article. I appreciate the effort.
    is there a test that can be done to measure Th1 and Th2 ? is yes, from where ?

    thanks !

  21. So I went to see the acupuncturist. She did a saliva test to see what was going on with my adrenal system. Still waiting on the test results, but based on what she could see, my adrenal system is a mess. She gave me a variety of elixirs, which I have been taking. Not sure if I’m seeing an improvement yet.

    I’ve been off of my Univera supplements for a week (so that we can see if the Acu prescription is working), and have dipped back into somewhat of a sporadic depression, and really feeling awful when it’s about to rain.

    I think the Univera stuff really helps with the inflammation. Which helps with EVERYTHING.

    Now I’m not sure if I keep doing the Acu stuff, or go back to what was working… It takes a good 10 days for the Univera supps to kick in, so I feel like I’m losing time!!!

    • Joe

      What’s universa?

      Your acupuncturist has no clue what brain fog comes from if she’s looking into your adrenals. It’s a red herring. Save yourself time and money and stop going.

      • dang, i was afraid you’d say that. Univera is one of those fancy multi-level marketing products; that’s why you’ve never heard of it. the concept: univera has applied the same concepts that pharmaceutical companies apply to chemicals, to PLANTS. they’ve poured millions into researching the benefits of herbs and natural things, and then they’ve super-charged them by mixing them in new ways. i take AloeGold, RegeniFREE, and Xtra. they all help with inflammation.

        i took these years ago and felt AMAZING. had a bad experience with the whole multi-level approach, and stopped taking them. big mistake. i was feeling so good that i was going to the GYM and doing a nice, gentle strength-building routine. i had muscles! and ENERGY! i could finally wake up before my daughter! and the biggest thing–i wasn’t hurting every time it rained. in fact, i left my car windows down over night when it RAINED; first time my body didn’t alert me that it was going to downpour. lol.

        the thing is: i had to take them regularly. once i stopped, it took a few weeks for the effects to fade. and then when i was back to feeling awful, i couldn’t figure out if it was Univera or the Gym that was making me feel good. and i was broke, and depressed again, so i just gave up.

        now i’m determined again. and kicking myself for not ditching the Acu right there in the middle of the appointment. my INTUITION was saying, “she’s not hearing you; she’s listening more than an MD, but she’s still not getting the whole picture.”

        what they don’t understand: i’m on borrowed time as it is. i can’t afford to spend any more time on EXPERIMENTATION. i need a SOLUTION!

        thank you again for all that you’re doing to bring awareness to this topic!

  22. Ryan

    I’d be curious to hear more about the effects of alcohol on brain fog. I seem to get brain fog 2-3 days after drinking (even if its only 2-3 drinks).

  23. Cody

    You wrote somewhere that it is best to eat inflammatory foods (if TH1 dominant ) in the evening.

    For the same reason, is it not better to exercise in the evening? (some research points that it may be healthier to raise exercise- induced inflammation in the evening)

  24. Joshua Brown

    Hello I have a question. When i first started eating green bananas I very quickly felt a noticeable boost in both energy and cognitive function, however, since then the boost has decreased to a non noticeable level any thoughts on this? I have been consuming 3 a day almost everyday.

  25. Mike


    Have you checked Dr Coca Pulse Test?

    He discovered that when you eat a good you are allergic to your heart rate increases noticeably.
    If this works, it could be a very nice way to measure food allergies and could be a nice companion to the Elimination Diet

    His work is a bit old ..from the 60s… but is a very easy read. It is freely available to read in here:

    I have occasional brain fog, I am doing an elimination diet and I have started to check the pulse rate as an experiment.
    I have noticed an increase in my pulse rate after certain foods (+25 bpm) . More experiments planned

    The part I didn’t fully grasp is whether in the delayed response case you will get an increase of the pulse both immediately after eating the food and also in a delayed date…
    or just in a delayed instant..


      • Mike

        Thanks Joe. It sounds quite promising to me.
        All the food that I had identified with the elimination diet as suspicious had increased my pulse rate when I experimented with the pulse tests.
        If this works, it will make the whole food allergy investigation much more accessible

        You know your food allergies very well. If there is a person that can rigorously confirm whether this method works or not that is probably you Joe 🙂

        To get the pulse rate, I use an app called azumio. You get it in 10s by placing your finger on the camera lens.
        I found it quite accurate in the tests i did but i wonder if everybody thinks the same


  26. Ethan

    Hi Joe, thanks for all the time you’ve put in to make these articles. They’re super helpful and detailed. I’m so brain-fogged, so to say, though, that I’m unsure of how to implement your strategies, or what to do first… Pretty much I’m having a harder time comprehending this, which you have written well, than I normally would, if I wasn’t in this state. (Which seems to be getting slowly worse over the past 3 years or so.)

    So.. Should I start with a diet, and if so, do I start with the elimination diet or the RS? Or should I just eliminate gluten? Should I buy the pull-up bar first? And should I get thyroid or other tests done? A couple months back, I got an EBV test and it came back with high titer count, but I forget what the count was. The only thing I appear to be doing right on your checklist is getting enough sleep…

    If this helps – I appear to be Th1 dominant (based on your article), I’m “relatively skinny”, I consume lots of caffeine and gluten, and I feel really confused a lot. My reaction time has slowed, and I definitely feel tired after meals. I never really know how to talk to people anymore. I don’t have many thoughts, and if I do, they always short out or disappear. I have considerable anxiety, but I swear, it’s from not being able to understand things, and not wanting to present this less-coherent version of myself to people, knowing I used to be so quick-responsive and sharp-witted in the past! (It took me an hour to write this comment.) Now I struggle to finish a thought out loud. >_> Oh, and I don’t exactly have the largest budget to get everything in the diets.

    So, can you write a short step-by-step guide to what things I should try first, then second, etc? If you don’t mind. I’ve taken in a lot of your writings but haven’t been able to connect the dots, haha. I’m almost done with high school and I really don’t want this to affect my life forever. Again, thanks for your awesome devotion to this stuff. Sorry if what I wrote was scattered.

  27. Angela

    Wow! I was diagnosed with FMS 15 years ago (in high school). I was living in Minnesota and under a lot of physical and mental stress. I changed up my lifestyle (de-stressed, got more sleep, took naps), and things calmed down. I also moved to Nevada which gave me major relief. I was no longer a victim of the changing weather.

    I have relocated again, to a humid climate, and all my old stuff is back: fatigue, depression, anxiety.

    I’ve made tremendous dietary changes in the past 15 years: no gluten, minimal processed foods (and only the somewhat healthy ones), very low-sugar diet. I’ve done a variety of cleanses/detoxes, as well.

    Negative: I added coffee. I drink Organo Gold coffee like it’s going out of style. 🙁

    I get severe brain fog/depression from noon to 3, and later depending on the weather. If it’s on the brink of rain, I’m miserable. Once the downpour hits, life is golden again.

    Thank you for getting the conversation going and for your help to the foggy masses!

  28. Jean

    CBS C699T (homozygous) mutation was what caused my fatigue, brain fog and joint pain.

    These supplements/foods made me sick:
    ALA, NAC, Glutathione, MSM, Glycine, Gelatine, Chondroitin&Glucosamine, Broccoli, Taurine, Eggs, Onions, Garlic, etc. One has to eat molybdenum when eating these foods if this mutation is present.

    Cysteine is damaging for people with this mutation. So they have to avoid high sulfur/sulphur foods and mercury distribution due to high cysteine levels from raised thiols.

    One person’s medicine is another person‘s poison.

  29. Jim

    I don’t know if this matters, but I reached the state of fogginess after I had a traumatic experience with marijuana, of which I don’t usually dabble. I’m thinking that the morning after the ordeal, the amount of stress experienced the night before had led to brain fog and anxiety (or vice versa, I don’t quite know how it all works).
    I’m 22 years old and this has been going on for about two months now. So far, the anxiety has almost been eliminated (for at first I feared I was going crazy), but the brain fog remains and is the only thing that is sustaining whatever is left of my anxiety. I’ve always been naturally healthy (other than a bit of prehypertension).
    What I want to know is whether or not I need to begin changing my diet or if it is more of a psychological issue, in which letting go of being anxious about the brain fog would actually lift the curtains rather than taking a physiological approach. I recently read elsewhere that brain fog can lead to dementia, which makes me anxious, seeing as how this can be very time-sensitive. I just want to move on from this as soon as possible, as I am transferring to university this fall and would like to take care of this before I make the switch.

    • Katie

      Hi Jim. My name is Katie. I have gone through the same exact same experience. (Crazy brain fog after bad experience with marijuana.) please contact me if you’d like to discuss.

    • Gemma

      Hi Jim, it was really interesting to read your story as the exact same thing that happened with me. Ongoing brain fog from a traumatic first time trail with marujuana in Amsterdam. 6 months on the brain fog remains however anxiety is much less than it initially was.

      I would love to hear how you are going and if you sought any treatment?


    • hi jim can we discuss about this im having the same problem right now, Im almost 1 month with brain fog for just one night of smoking weed it was my first one pretty much thank you my mail is sixto696@hotmail. anyone that wanna talk about this is welcome

      • Joseph M. Cohen

        Brain fog from weed is either a result of SCN malfunction and/or toxin-laced weed. I’d need a comprehensive history…i.e. I’d recommend a consult.

  30. Rachel Zarate

    Oh and not to mention I got diagnosed with PCOS and I have insane testosterone levels for a women. Your article is putting my peices to the puzzle. amazing!

  31. Rachel Zarate

    People like you, Joe, are who help people like me save their lives! This is an excellent article! I recently was on the i.u.d. birth control and after 3 days i had it taken out due to infections it gave me and extreme brain fog. I’ve had it out for almost 5 months and I am slowly getting better. The first 3 months I was screwed, Extreme anxiety and depression. I started the Paleo diet and it did me wonders. I wasnt very on it though, as I would slip up sometimes. Now I’m following a low G.I. diet and i’m day 1 and feel moderatley better! I will continue to follow your pointers thank you!!!!!!

  32. pj

    hi all,

    I am doing an elimination diet to try to find out what is going on with my brain fog.
    I cannot make sense of the food -> Brain fog symptoms

    After 2 weeks of elimination diet (no gluten, sugar, alcohol and dairy), I felt great and I started to reintroduce wine and eggs.
    – day 1: i had 3 glasses of wine: felt great
    – day 2: I woke up great, and I had 2 eggs. 4h later i did a 20m Yoga session, and right after it I felt foggy
    – day 3: more eggs. No fog this time
    – day 4: wine. No fog
    – day 5: had chill con carne. Felt foggy
    – day 6: had watermelon. Felt foggy

    I just cannot make sense of all this. I would not think that Yoga could trigger the fog? Only 20m…
    I cannot find any correlation with the wine and eggs consumption
    The watermelon part buffles me

    does this make any sense to anyone?


  33. @Selfhacked: Thank you very much for your detailed article. I’m really looking foreward to consulting you. In my journey I also discovered that individuality is necessary. I also came across the mentioned Dr. Wilson. I have never tried the nutritional balancing program, but I think he offers more than the article about brain fog would let you expect. His approach is based on mineral amounts in the unwashed hair, but his technique allows him to use them as markers for the metabolism in general (hormones, blood sugar). Except for TCM I’ve never seen anything like this:
    – highly individualized, should cure the individuum as whole
    – realizes the important role of the hormonal balance (adrenals, thyroid)
    – takes blood shugar balance and pre-diabetes stages into account
    – many vegetables, also a lot of starchy vegetables
    – grains to a certain amount
    – minor protein, but important
    – minot fat, but also very important
    I know he has special political views, but please give his website another look. I’m really interessted in your further optionon.

  34. Molly Mathews

    How do you feel about treating brain fog/chronic fatigue, etc with LDN, antidepressants, or nutritional iv’s?

  35. Bogdan

    Hi Joe.I suffer from brain fog for 5 years i am a pharmacist student and i find it difficult to live and study with this.i used to weight train like a horse 5 years ago when after a stresfull period in my life i developed fatigue after meals and silent gerd.

    I must tell u that i use to follow a strict diet rice and chiken breast whey protein and bb suplements but hell breake loose.

    Now 5 years after i gained a lot of fat,i am tired after meals i tried every suplement under the sun u named it even diets othng worked.i still weight train 2 times per week 45 min sesions.

    i feel nausea after protein meals with fatigue and i do not understand WHY.i asked a lot of doctors forums u named it i basicly am tired,even now as i write to u is hopeless..i crave a lot of sugar and bread

    Mornings are the badest.i get brain fog first thing in the morning especially if i had a late night meal.

    If i take some dextrose with whey protein the fog dissapears for a short time.

    I get very hungry at night and no hungry at all in the morning until 2 pm.

    i tried fasting,inttermitent fasting it made thigs worse.after i eat protein meal especially meat i get fatigue tired bloating brain fog social anxiety.

    my life is a ruin i do not know what to eat..i never tried elimination diet because i dont know what to eat on this diet..i get fatigue from meat with veggies,eggs fish is a no no.

    WHAT please help me with some hints,that’s the phrase i use for 5 years now with no results…

    The only thing that is goo is plain sugar dextrose white sugar but i get FAT from this so i try to keep it to a minumum.

    My energy levels suck and i get worse when is hot outside like summer.

    in the gym i am verry lazy fatigued sometimes and i force myself because i want to look like 5 years ago.

    protein protein protein whyy,all diets recommed low carb high protein well it;s not working on me..small meals are ok for me but i get verry hungry at night i could eat a cow so i do it…and aging the morning comes with brain fog tiredness fatigue.

    i never tried honey before bedtime..i will start today after reading you re posts.
    SO maybe if u can help me with something,anything small plese !!

  36. Fritz.Harber

    Question – I have time to exercise only once a day (whether sprints or 3set pull/push ups), what would be the best time to exercise intensely (in regards to circadian rhythms) – morning or evening?

  37. M Malik

    Hi, I am experiencing a strange condition but can’t say it is brain fog or any other ailment. Usually I wake up fresh in the morning but after morning bowel movement I feel sleepy and tired with foggy mind. Then I had to take half to 1 hr rest or sleep and this symptom vanishes but only for some hours and after 3~4 hrs I again experience this sleepy and brain fatigue condition especially after lunch and again take a nap/rest of approx 1 hr. If I avoid eating my non-fatigue duration increases.
    So I have to take these intermediate rests 3~4 times a day from the past 10 years. I consulted many doctors from gastroenterologist, psychiatrists, neurologists and homeopathic but no cure. They tried a lot of medicines from tricyclic antidepressants, SSRI, IBS medicines and much more. I had undergone numerous tests from complete blood picture, thyroid test, blood sugar and pressure tests, EEG to colonoscopy but nothing come unusual in tests.
    What u think, am i suffering from brain fog? any guess about my illness which may help me.

    • Thomas Notting

      Exactly the same happens to me! One theory is that gas/fecal content pressures a nerve in the intestine and causes neurotransmitters in the brain to fire. This is an energy consuming process.

      One thing that tends to help me sometimes (I also get pain in intestine sometimes followed by exhaustion) is the use of GABA and or Glutamine. GABA – Gamma Amino-butryic acid is a neurotransmitter inhibitor.

      Try apple cider vinegar diluted with water also to help digest some types of foods.

      The root cause could be a candida yeast overgrowth in your intestine resulting in IBS.

  38. Fredoz

    Hi! I am an athlete and slightly overweight, are there any ways to cut 40 percent calories from my diet without losing significant amounts of muscle (in your picture it appears that you maintain a nice amount of muscles)

    • Joe

      People have different effects to cutting calories. I mention UP TO 40%, but you can cut your calories by 10%.

  39. Mike

    Hi Joe

    I suffer from brain fog and this is the first time I see it explained in way that I relate to

    Commonly, my brain fog triggers after the 1 PM lunch. After approx 4-5 hours the fog levels decrease.
    When it happens, I also feel pressure on the right hand side of my head. More or less 15 cm above the right ear

    I want to get to the bottom of this:
    – I have started an elimination diet 4 days ago
    – Tomorrow, I am gonna get blood tests to test the thyroid function

    If I don’t see any improvement after the elimination diet, I would not mind at all to have a skype consultation Joe. I think it would be very useful

    I am writing down any daily symptoms and food i am eating, but it there is any other data you think it is important to record for a future consultation let me know.

    Also, is feeling pressure on the head in a localized area a common braig fog symptom ?


      • Mike

        Thanks Joe, I will check if I can get an MRI

        6 days into the elimination diet, I still get foggy after the 1PM lunch.
        Could the food consumed before the diet still have an impact on my post-eating brain fog?


          • Mike

            basically, i got rid of sugar, diary, eggs, gluten and alcohol for the last 6 days

            my 1PM lunches, which are the ones that are causing more brain fog, have been mainly protein + veg

            I have just checked my notes and I have used a different protein every single day: hake,salmon, haddock, pork, chicken and beef

  40. Kenny

    Great site and articles! I have experienced varying levels of brain fog consistently for the last several years. I am intrigued by your theories and have two questions for you…

    1) Yesterday I had a really bad bout of BF that persisted all day, I decided to take 400mg of Ibuprofen to test if it it would help with possible inflammation, but ended up with much worse fatigue and fog about an hour afterwards. Should this have helped if my brain fog was due to inflammation?

    2) I can never find a correlation with the foods I eat and the resulting brain fog or lack thereof; ie: a plate of fresh veggies can make me feel much worse or have no effect at all depending on the day. Does this still sound like food sensitivities?

    Thank you for such an informative site.

      • Kenny

        Thanks for the response! Is there anything specifically you would recommend as a test to see if inflammation is causing your brain fog? Sorry if this makes it sound too elementary; there are just so many angles and directions to choose from when addressing something like this.

  41. Arnon

    What was the longest period of time you restricted your calories by 40 percent? How did you know when to stop?

    Also – you write “eating before bed” as the most important meal together with breakfast. But I feel bloated if I eat before bed. I prefer to eat my last meal around 6:00PM and then just have some honey before sleep. Is that recommended?

    • Joe

      Yes, that it recommended. I meant to say in the night time or honey before bed. I DON’T advocate eating less than 3 hours before bed, unless it’s honey.

      I’ve only done short stints bec I’m testing other stuff and I’m already thin. SOmething I want to do more of in the future..

  42. MattSade

    You recommend drinking glucose everytime you need to focus intensely when CR? How do you take it?

    Is honey fine alternative to glucose ?

  43. Mixy

    Hi Joe,

    Your site is quite spectacular on describing such a difficult thing to describe as brain fog. What a great job!
    Thanks for sharing all this info and, I am sure, helping lots of people as a result of it

    I have a couple of quick questions:
    – You mentioned that Hypoglycemia and Thyroiditis can be a cause of brain fog. In that is the case, should the treatment of a brain fog sufferer start by getting specific blood tests determine the levels of thyroid function and blood glucose?

    – When a person gets sudden brain fog, does it go after a few hours or can it stay for days? Does it gradually go?


  44. Joshua Brown

    Hi, I have dealt with varying degrees of brain fog for around 4 years now ( im 21 now) and I have found this article very interesting, although I am inexperienced with this sort of dietary regulation. Recently I tried removing gluten and felt only marginal improvements, how long does it take? Upon waking I feel farely clear headed but after breakfast lethargy and brain fog quickly set in whether I eat cereal, rice, egg etc. I also exercise daily (cycling), interestingly I don’t put on weight easily at all. I’m just wondering if you have any suggestions?

    Great article


    • Joe

      You’re clearly getting inflammation from food. The eggs and cereal can do it, and white rice too. Rice is a high GI food and if you’re getting inflammation in your hypothalamus, you’ll get tired from high glycemic index carbs.

      You will notice marginal differences because you still have food that gives you inflammation. Only when you get EVERYTHING out will you notice big improvements. This is why I have an elimination diet.

      See the Lectin Avoidance Diet

      • Joshua Brown

        Thank you for the quick reply, If i was successful in clearing up my diet would that reduce my lethargy as well as the cognitive issues?

  45. turnstile

    first off, this site is awesome and refreshing, thank you for taking the time to put it together. i have been battling brain fog and the usual laundry list of vague symptoms (flu-like symptoms, fatigue, weakness, moodiness) for 6 years. my most pertinent symptom is very specific cravings and thirst which i have zeroed in on through years of trial and error. the brain fog and other symptoms seem to be very closely related to my gut; the better my peristalsis, the better i feel.

    i have seen lots of doctors and had lots of tests done with little useful results. the only things of note were very high cholesterol (290) and low pregnenolone and vitamin d. i have tried different diets; elimination diet for 4 months under the direction of a physician; gluten free for 6 months. i may have noticed some minor improvements from the 4-month elimination diet, but not substantial enough for me to continue. i never reached a baseline state where i could even tell if a food caused a reaction when reintroduced.

    the cravings remain constant and sharp. the nutrients i have nailed down include: calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, glycine, and glutamine. they also come in cycles. for instance, a common pattern is: calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium repeated. another pattern that happens is calcium, glycine, glutamine, magnesium. i take the citrate versions of the electrolytes other than sodium. i usually go through 6 or 7 cycles per day, each time i will have gains and start to feel the fog lifting and the energy returning. sometimes the potassium or the sodium will drop out of the pattern. if i take the wrong thing at the wrong time, it either has no noticeable effect or things get worse (energy levels drop, stomach gnawing grows). i have to take the right things at the right time in order to get through a day on the clearer side and with adequate energy.

    i have searched high and low for clues as to what is going on. most specifically, what system of my body could be causing such sharp and continuous cravings so that i know where to focus my energy. any thoughts would be much appreciated!

    other than the electrolytes and amino acids i mentioned above, i am taking several other supplements regularly. the only one that is clearly helping some issues is 50mg of pregnenolone every morning.

    i’m sorry for the long post, i tried to keep it short, but it doesn’t lend itself to a quick explanation 🙂

  46. doro

    hello, i am dealing with anxiety since 3 years. just before it started i had a yeast infection and got antibiotica. after i started googling yeast and went to a naturopath. she did a lifeblood analyse and i had full off candida and other parasites in my blood, also leaky gut. she said my adrenals where low, missed magnesium and B12. thats know 2 years ago, since then i take vitamins and minerals every day, also went on a candida diet and had no more candida in my blood. my anxiety is under control, i did hypnotherapy and that helped me a lot. my problem is now the brainfog. i had that since maybe 2-3 years, but know it got worse. i would say since beginning of the year. but also i pay way more attention to it know, so i am not sure if i kind of make it worse with that and my anxiety gets worse know too….because of the constant brainfog, feeling of detachement, light dizziness. i also experience sometimes a extra heartbeat or palpitations and have since maybe 2 months a spasm in my left hand….my indexfinger starts moving and i have a stiff feeling in my finger. i went to 2 doctors. waiting to get a holtermonitor for my heart. for the spasm in my finger, they dont know as also for the brainfog. have another appointment with my family doc end of may and will try to get more test done. i have days where my brainfog is better, yesterday i had a bed day. as long as i sit or lay on the couch i am better. but walking makes it worse. i went to a shoppingmall the other day and felt totaly detached and weird, it scares me and botthers. over a week ago i went to another naturopath. she said my thyroid is a little low, low iron. i am taking supplements for that now. also i am to acid and have high cortisol levels…..for sure when you stressed. i am 44 female, live in canada. i am really tired of dealing with that. i dont enjoy seeing my friends, because of the way i feel and its so hard to explain how you feel. i really appriciate if i could get some tips.

  47. Claude


    You write “short bouts of exercise as a method to improve BF problems.

    I found that if I exercise twice a week (4×30 sec sprints),I get really good improvement. If i exercise more than twice a week everything gets worse.

    From your experience, what is the best way to exercise to get the full improvement but at the same time not suffer from the accompanying inflammation. How frequently do you exercise?

          • Claude

            Isn’t it too much? you wrote before that too much exercise is inflammatory. You used to exercise less.Is it not better to make two longer workouts per week? What about weight lifting?

          • Joe

            No, I always exercised like this. If anything, I view this as a minimum. Too much means like 2 hours a day, which a lot of people do…..You can do it that way, as long as you also moderately exercise the other days (like walking)…

            Weight lifting=good

          • Joe

            1) I don’t see what concerns you.
            “Both HF and MF training of high-intensity aerobic exercise improves VO2max. The cardiovascular adaptation following a HF programme of high-intensity exercise is however delayed compared to MF training.”

            2) This protocol has little resemblance to what I do. As general advice, I’m more in line with the MF group, but I exercise less for myself bec I’m lazy.

            HF group= 8 sessions a week 40min at a time.
            MF group= 3 sessions a week 40min at a time.

            “Each training session consisted of 10 minutes warm-up followed by 4×4-minute intervals at 90–95% of HRmax, alternating with 3-minute of active recovery at 70% of HRmax, ending with a 5-minute cool-down, giving a total exercise time of 40 minutes per session.”

          • Claude

            Joe, how would you compare your WO to the study’s MF WO? Are you exercising to failure or just a preset rep/time?
            do you include resting in your 5-10 minutes workout?

            Nice redesign to the site by the way, looks good.

          • Joe


            Mine is at random times I do a set of pull-ups or push-ups throughout the day for 1 minute a piece.

            I support the MF WO, however, even if I don’t do it myself.

      • Elle

        Hi joe I’ve been getting brain fog for 5 years now it all started with anxiety disorder caused by stress it never really affected me that much I all ways exercise and eat healthy till now I’ve had a baby she has been un we’ll causing me a lot of worry and stress and no sleep and not taking care of my self .the last week I’ve felt like I’m in a bubble and can’t function probably and don’t no what I’m doing. I’ve been to a private doctor he thinks that it’s not brain fog just anxiety and depression he’s giveing me 50g of lyrica and 5g of cipralex I took the lyrica it made me feel worse I’ve been and got some antioxidant supplement and p5p extra and a fish oil by cytoplan they seem to work a bit I live in the uk can u tell me what other supplements that can help that I can get here.ive been doing 20mins of exercise a day and healthy u have an email address to get in contacted with you Elle .

        • Joe

          Hi Elle,
          Depression and anxiety can contribute to brain fog as I describe above, but those are physiological abnormalities that can be fixed. I’ve fixed my own panic attacks. But even when I fixed anxiety and mood issues, I didn’t completely get rid of brain fog. Could be other contributory factors.

  48. I seem to have developed brain fog after using the hair loss drug finasteride (propecia), which reduces the level of the hormone DHT. I quit the drug about two weeks ago after two months of use after noticing some symptoms of exhaustion and very clear symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Now the worst symptom of all is the brain fog, which peaks early morning and seemingly recedes slightly throughout the day. Some things that seem to help are sunshine and moderate exercise, although anything else is too early to say.

    Before all of this, I would never have complained about my mental or physical health, let alone chronic fatigue and brain fog. Whatever happened came quickly and seems to have been onset by the drug. I also have low temperature (97.3 tonight, measured orally). Any thoughts on this are appreciated~


  49. Paul

    No longer intolerant to gluten?

    I went on a period of 4-5 weeks with strictly no gluten and casein. I didn’t really feel any improvement at all with brain fog or with energy. I decided to test out gluten to see its effects on me, and well, nothing happened. I didn’t even bloat like i usually did. Even with milk I didn’t get any GI problems like I usually would. I started licorice one week ago, and I have noticed no more hypoglycemia, severely reduced appetite but brain fog has not changed. Is it that the increase in cortisol can deal with the inflammation caused by gluten and dairy?

    I also feel as if the supplements I am taking are starting to have more of an effect on me. I.e. fish oil never usually had an effect but now it makes me feel calmer and less depressed.

    • Dave F

      This is quite common. When you eliminate gluten and other foods that you are intolerant to, your gut heals i.e. permeability is improved and the built up gunk in the villi on the stomach lining clear and repair so they can start properly absorbing nutrients etc. With these things improved all of a sudden your gut can deal with this stuff better. Careful that it doesn’t go down hill again though.
      Joseph can probably provide a better explanation…

  50. Chris

    Hi Joe,

    Thank you very much for all the information you have provided. It is obvious you have worked very hard on it through vast amounts of research and experimentation. I am considering a consultation but I am a student and just spent an obscene amount of money on a neuropsychologist to rule out any linkage between my brain fog and past concussions. So I need to take some time before doling out more $.

    I will not go into my personal journey of brain fog but like many people on this board, I have suffered from it for a number of years with zero help from a wide array of doctors and specialists. I have also tried different diets and regimens (GF, full Candida diet, exercise etc.).

    While I have had difficulty linking it to specific foods (sometimes I feel very fatigued, foggy and lethargic after meals, other times I do not after eating the same thing), the one consistency I have noticed is a reaction to alcohol. The day after drinking alcohol (perhaps 5 pints at a pub), the brain fog is UNBEARABLE, not to mention anxiety and mild depression. I can’t hold a conversation about anything more than, lets say my favourite sports team the day after drinking as the brain fog is so bad.

    I was just wondering, with your understanding of the mechanisms that cause brain fog, does this make sense or tell you about the cause of the brain fog? For the record, it is the same with wine or other types of alcohol. I do realize that drinking more than a glass of beer/wine per day is not ideal for health but why is it so bad for brain fog and what does that mean?

    Thank you,

  51. Hi, I resonate with much of this blog (in particular Sara & Shawn’s post). I have suffered psychotic symptoms & debilitating depression since being a teenager (now 27). After an emotionally traumatic experience in 2012, I suffered such a severe bout of brain fog / disassociation, I could barely remember my way to the toilet from my bedroom, or my way home from work, or what my name was! I could barely even coordinate my legs underneath me! I was living interstate from my family so was pretty much all alone (bar the assistance of my psychiatrist). Initially I had no idea what was wrong with me, I just felt like I was surrounded by a huge cloud of fog & I felt nauseous as if I was about to throw up. I felt like I was in a bad dream & I was the most terrified I had ever been in my life. I was embarrassed to tell anyone & didn’t know how to act around the people at work or my friends. I felt like a dementia patient & I felt dumb/stupid. As I was reluctant to go on anti-depressants, my psychiatrist put me on a small dose of epilim (depakote) which made my mind sharp & clear in an instant (making my memory the best it had been in years). I felt like I had put on a pair of glasses & could think clearly again. I instantly felt happy & back to my old self. After a month or so however, it returned again, so we increased my dose from 100mg to 200mg. This helped for another month until we had to further increase it to 300mg. Soon the cloud returned & we tried adding Seroquel 25mg to the medley (to help clear the psychotic symptoms & ease my distress). Whilst these medications have improved other symptoms, I believe they were largely a ‘placebo’ effect on the brain fog. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the fogginess that I spiralled into a suicidal depression & gave up all hope.

    I spent over a year experimenting with different lifestyle changes; i.e. diet, fitness & relaxation techniques; i.e. yoga. Nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to even make a dent. At times, the fogginess would come on during a yoga class, or when I would increase my intake of vegetable juices & vitamins. I had also a very limited alcohol intake & at the time, was rarely drinking coffee. Naturally, I am a healthy & fairly well balanced person, so I didn’t feel that my diet was contributing to my brain fog. The fog in fact just seemed to be getting heavier & heavier. It would get so bad, I would feel burning sensations in my skin & aching in my bones…. it was excruciating. On one occasion I drove myself to the emergency department in a hospital because I felt so disorientated & in so much pain for some reason…. I just wanted someone to ‘put me out’.

    It has been one of my greatest sources of pain over the past few years & probably the most destructive on my life. it has effected me at work, my communication with my family & my willingness to open up to a relationship. I can confidently say it is present more than it is not (as in Im lucky to have a good day without fog). The only times it has ever completely disappeared, is when being spending time with someone I am intimate with, or spending time with family / old friends. This contributes to the theory it is anxiety related; in that whilst the fog comes on regardless, but the anxiety that comes with it magnifies it.

    Anyway I have now been experiencing debilitating brain fog for the most part of 2 years. It has been hard, as I am such a driven person, a deep thinker & I find it hard to sit still. I have a university degree & am trying to run my own business in freelance graphic design (& blog about my experiences with mental illness). I am also into modelling, & this brain fog seems to rob me of anything I can achieve & turn me into a blubbering mess. I take care of my body & feel I have always done the right things. I feel like Im being punished. This fogginess overpowers me & makes me lose hope. I feel like I am losing my spirit & soul. My new psychiatrist seems to write me a new script every week (which I fail to get filled as I don’t want to turn into a guinea pig / vegetable), but I feel like I am living life behind bars also. I just feel like I am just existing for no reason. There has to be a way……

    • Selfhacked

      Hi Tamara,
      Thanks for writing your experience and sorry to hear.

      -your brain fog isn’t likely an autoimmune disease, but likely is rather caused by oxidative stress, among other factors. Depression and OS go to together, but science doesn’t understand exactly what causes what. I think both states can increase the other. The fact that you have brain fog indicate increased OS levels.

      -Depression is a multifactoral disease that can be massively improved with the right treatments.

      DON’T GIVE UP. This is an area where I did heavy experimentation and I’m telling you there are effective solutions. I plan on writing about depression in the future.


  52. John Turbo

    Been on a roughly followed RS diet, completely removed all dairy and gluten from diet, and been taking the following supplements: NAC, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Vitamin B12, Fish Oil. Also been drinking 16 oz Kombucha daily. Been on the entirety of preceding diet for a month or two now.

    Yet, Brain Fog is still there, though perhaps to a lesser extent. It’s hard to quantify it for me, but I would surely know when I’m back to normal I think.

    Though I am really skinny yet fit, I noticed I practically have a beer belly going on, and I don’t even drink alcohol. I’m guessing it’s bloating, though I don’t really feel ‘bloated’.

    Joe, I’m ready to add another supplement/addition to my diet to further help my recovery. What would you recommend in my case, given my current bloating, supplements taken, diet.?

  53. Daskal

    I noticed that whenever I do not eat eggs for more than 1-2 weeks my head starts to fail me.

    When I eat eggs -at least once or twice a week- my brain returns tor remains in its optimal state.

    The problem is that I have sensitivity to eggs which expresses itself as a fatigue following the hours after their consumption.

    Now, so far what I did was to “sacrifice” two days or few hours every few days and be fatigued in order to get the benefits of the eggs.

    After reading one of your posts, I tried to “replace’ eggs with their brain-building nutrients – mainly, choline and cholesterol which I took as citicoline (250mg daily) and pregnenolone (10mg daily).

    Unlike your experience, I found that these semi-nutrients are not standing out as a good replacement as I was still getting the same decline in cognition that I would get from not eating eggs.

    Is there any missing nutrient in eggs? What else would you recommend to use for a proper replacement?

  54. Oretz

    The brain fog I am dealing with is mostly post meals but can last for a very long time. I also get brain fog after a meal that doesn’t contain glucose.

  55. Oretz

    The of the things I tried with various dosages.

    The supplements that worked the best (in decreasing order): Curcumin, PQQ, Jasmine tea, Pregnenolone, ACV, Berberine, Creatine, Selenium, iodine, zinc, Inositol.

    Additional great changes: CR (most important), many small meals throughout the day,honey before bed.

    Mixed results: Kombucha (If take too much too early in the day get brain fog – probably because of histamine intolerance), Astragulus (great supplements but if too much – acne. probably because of IGF-1 (+)), Green bananas (more than 1.5 bananas or if really green made me more not less brain fogged). push ups before meal sometimes made me sleepier afterwards.Chyawanprash.

    No or little effect: Fish oil, Citicoline, Garlic, Licorice, calcium, mag, chromium.

    Made things worse: NAC (had high hopes for this one but got disappointed – most likely made brain fog worse) Melatonin + K2 (caused anhedonia in the morning), Gynostemma (made brain fog a bit worse or had little effect otherwise), Licorice (?). Cinnamon (?)

    I would appreciate any help (especially in regards to NAC) as I STILL experience brain fog.

    • Selfhacked

      How much has your brain fog declined by implementing these measures?

      Are you following the RS diet? Gluten and casein free?

      • Oretz

        Well, today, for example, I ate the following breakfast as soon as I woke up:

        1/2c buckwheat +1/2c green lentils+ chia, sesame, flax (40g total)+chicken (3.5oz).

        Upon waking I felt a relatively good energy (although not great and was a bit brain foggish). Took NAC + 200ml kombucha + 2 ACV pills.

        Jasmine tea immediately upon finishing the meal.

        Now, 40 minutes upon completing the meal, I have a brain fog.

        What could I be sensitive to? I did feel a bit brain fogged even before the meal but now it is much stronger.

        Most of the ingredients in my meals – buckwheat, lentils, chicken and seeds- are hypoallergenic. Flax seeds and buckwheat in particular are known to reduce histamine levels.

        Why then do I still fell sluggish?

        • Selfhacked

          Could be environmental or 20 other things. Hard to say without a comprehensive Q&A. Knowing your history and a bunch of other things matter. This is why I offer consults.

  56. Shawn

    Hi. I feel much like the post made above by Brian except I have a good idea of the trigger. I am now 31 and my onset of Brain fog came about almost 9 years ago. Everything was good in my life. I was active, I had a great summer with friends and family and was ready to start some fall college classes. About a week before classes were to start, I started getting a weird feeling in my chest. It almost felt good, like adrenaline just isolating itself mainly in the chest but also down my legs and arms sometimes. I could even push on my chest and my body would react more and release and nice wave of something. At this point I had a clear head and wasn’t feeling anxious or panicked until it didn’t go away after a day or two. The good feeling was still there but I was starting to have major anxiety and panic attack symptoms. I had never experienced anything like that. I really did not like going to the doctor’s but I decided I couldn’t really function without getting this taken care of. After talking with me, the doctor decided to do an ekg, and do a 48 hour urine test to check for any adrenal tumor or something like that.(or that’s what he told me) In the mean time he told me that I sounded like I was experiencing panic attacks, to which I replied that I have no reason to be panicked or have anxiety at all. I told him life was great but he convinced me to try xanax. He ended up prescribing me .25mg xanax, which was the lowest prescription they had. At the time I didn’t want to take any pills so at the doctors advice I broke the .25 tablet into half and took it. This was the last time my head was “clear”. I did however get relief from the weird feeling in my chest as well as a relaxed sense of well being. After about half a month I decided to quit taking xanax and after seeing my doctor, in which I told him that I had this weird head fog ,he thought it was possibly a depression issue. He then prescribed me paxil and what do you know, this stuff brought that weird feeling back in my chest. I tried to use it, hoping my head would clear of the fog but it didn’t work and I quit taking it after a few weeks. I can’t remember if I used the xanax to get rid of the paxil feeling but I don’t remember having any anxiety/panic issues much after that. When I followed up with the doctor, he told me it couldn’t have been the xanax that caused the brain fog(he thought depression) because it didn’t stay in your system very long. At that point I was done with the doctor and decided to try to wait it out and see if it would go away. Fast forward to now, and I’m more foggier than ever. It’s kind of funny because I couldn’t describe what I was feeling years ago and just decided to call it brain fog and low and behold that’s what others have been calling it as well. I know 8 years ago I couldn’t find any information about what I was experiencing but I also didn’t really dig deep. I honestly don’t know how I’ve stayed in good spirits for all this time. I have dug a little bit into my symptoms and thought it might be adrenal burnout out one time as well as leaky gut. I have tried a few different supplements and eating habits, but no great results in clearing the fog. If I’m trying to explain the fogginess feeling to people I always mention that my body reacts in the way it should, based off certain actions, but I don’t feel deeply. For example, If I go running or play tennis I feel relatively energized but it doesn’t seem to give me an endorphin/reward response in my head. Or someone will say a joke and I find it funny but it doesn’t translate into a reward/endorphin type response in my head. I stay foggy pretty much no matter what. My memory is definitely getting worse and I zone out a bunch. I recently found some information on magnesium and iodine and just ordered some from amazon. I have read a few reports of iodine really helping those with brain fog and I’m hoping for the best. I am really hoping I get a positive response out of the iodine. I really don’t even remember what it feels like to live without the fog, and for the first time in a long time, I have a little hope.

  57. Craig Kent


    I see that you added Melatonin to the regimen as your research on Circadian Rhythms progressed – How do you recommend to cycle melatonin to reduce physical dependency and reduced effectiveness? How do you/did you cycle it? every two days? once a week?

  58. Vivek

    Hi! How critical would you say NAC is for people with post-meal BF? The reason I am asking is that I have heard that it could be dangerous for people with some heavy metal problems.

    What difference did you feel upon adding NAC to your regimen?

  59. Stuart Lynn

    Hi! I have been following your protocol for 3 weeks and have achieved really good results. I track (via my working memory, reaction time, executive function twice every day. Throughout my experiment with your protocol I saw ~50 percent improvement on all parameters.

    I know that my brain fog was caused by my diet but I am not sure whether IR or some specific sensitivity solved by your diet; after many meals and at different times I would feel a very distinctive feeling of mixture of fatigue, demotivation, heaviness, inability to hold a thought in my head, forgetfulness and really really strong irritation from everything. All of these symptoms went completely away. My relationship with my friends and wife improved from one end to another. I lost weight.

    I believe that CR, Curcumin , tea and kombucha had the strongest effect.

    Two days ago I “cheated” on my protocol when I visited my parents; I mostly ate tons of hot potatoes with ghee + bowel of fried rice with vegetables and chicken. I ate around 4000 calories probably that day.

    About 30 minutes after the meal my brain fog returned in full strength. Now, two days later and my test scores are as low as they were three weeks ago. I can not remember where I put stuff a second after I touched them. I am irritated and fatigued.

    Can one cheat really cause so much “brain” damage ? Did I really return to square 1?

    In the future, if despite my best efforts I cheat again, any recommended supplements I should take after to reduce the damage?

    • Selfhacked

      Thank you for that review! Yes, it can esp if you haven’t been following the recs for long.

      I’ve broken new ground with an even more cutting edge brain fog protocol based on much research and a better understanding. There will be a lag time to get it out – maybe 3 months, but my breakthrough’s are exciting. More to learn, but great things lie ahead.

      FYI, the longer and more thoroughly you keep the protocol the better.

  60. Aaron Berlov

    Hi! I wanted to report on my experiences from your proposed diet so you could get more data about how to help your clients.

    I started the diet about two months ago with the prime goal of getting rid of my brain fog. This is what I did every day:

    Set of push ups
    20mg PQQ + 250 mg Curcumin +5g glutamine + 1g creatine every other day
    ACV pills (two)
    Breakfast (consumed around 10:00):
    60 grams of sesame, hemp and flax (fat)
    3 large boiled carrots (starch)
    Beef/cod – 4 oz (the only proteins that I feel good after eating)
    one cucumber

    Supplements after meal:
    Jasmine/Matcha or Oolong tea.

    A set of pulls ups
    Next meal at 3:00PM

    Before meal 1/2 GT’s original kombucha
    1.5 serving lentils
    1 serving brown rice (cold)
    Cod/ beef – 4oz
    Occasionally olives + yellow squash

    Drinking another 1/2 of Kombucha + 200mg Berberine every three days

    Selenium +vit E
    2 Kelp for iodine
    Citicoline + pregnenolone every 3 days or if no cholesterol
    Fish oil (when no cod)
    Mag+ Cal
    NO vitamin d3 (seems to worsen my Brain fog)

    6:30PM – two green bananas

    around 7:00PM – three sprints uphill 50 sec each

    8:00PM – eating 2oz broccoli sprouts + drinking 5 large spoons of chammomile + tulsi/peppermint/Roobios

    If no sprouts or banana in the evening than Orange or two + lettuce and 2 tbls ghee + beef gelatin

    Before bed: 2g Inositol + 3g Astragulus + 4g Eleuthero + 5g Glycine

    Before bed at 1:00PM one to two tbls of raw honey

    overall calories: 1500-1750

    Great Results:

    Fantastic sleep
    No brain fog for most day (only for about 30 minutes between breakfast and lunch)
    Great mood
    STRONG increase in motivation
    Feeling the healthiest I have been in the past 2 years.

    Ok Results :

    Weight (not the best diet for weight loss)

    Negative Results:

    INCREASE ACNE – especially nose area and lower cheeks (no forehead acne)
    INCREASE DANDRUFF (or some kind of fungi that I have for months on my scalp and face) – large chunks of skin come down from around the ears area, some times even bloody.

    Now, I do not know what in the diet is responsible for the change but I know that something had an amazingly strong effect that might have accounted for the whole thing.


    1. CR
    2. Sprints in THE EVENING
    3. Standing all day/ walking – at least 8 hours
    4 Push ups AFTER meal
    5. Jasmine tea
    6. Kombucha
    7. Not eating protein in the evening (and generally eating less in the evening)
    8. Cholesterol
    9. eating starch COLD

    Other than these 6 things I can not really say that I know for a fact that the rest helped.

    In the past month I decreased all supplements that are not basic nutrients -curcumin , pqq, etc0 to almost once or twice a week and effect still strong.


    1. Kombucha in the morning – more brain fog. In the afternoon – clears it up and does only good.

    2. Beef gelatin – Significantly lowered blood sugar if consumed in the MORNING.

    3. to avoid post breakfast fog – Drink Jasmine tea the following way: 1/2 a cup WITH breakfast and half a cup IMMEDIATELY AFTER. Then, wait 1 hour and drink another cup or less of jasmine tea.

    4. Matcha too strong and makes me fatigued if more than 1g.

    5. REALLY BAD effect: exercising before breakfast; made me more fatigued.

    GREAT EFFECT : exercising 20 minutes after breakfast + sipping jasmine tea all throughout the 2 pull up sets.

    5. Most important + weird discovery: When waking up I tried to not move at all for 75 minutes. really not moving anything (not even opening your eyes or moving your cheeks or your finger tips). I found that if you do not move for such a long time after 45 minutes you find yourself in a stage of half lucid dream half thinking and you feel a burning energy and you intuitively start making really long breaths as this is the only way to “express” this energy. After the 75 minutes you wake up with TONS of energy and focus.

    6. intense focus 20 minutes before bed makes you wake up more focused.

    BAD EFFECT: vitamin d3 (2500IU) + Gynostemma + chicken + ginger . NO EFFECT – amla

    I would greatly appreciate if you could give me suggestion how to deal with the “negative effects” of the diet, especially the fungii or whatever I have on my scalp and skin,

        • Aaron Berlov

          Before I used to get a brain fog 30-40 minutes after breakfast. I would become fatigued and lose all my motivation and all I would want to do be to sit down and waste time on the computer.

          I would not be able to concentrate and forget what I was thinking about or working on every 5 minutes.

          This was a very distinctive state that was characterized by all of these parameter. Usually there was not a “degree” of brain fog – I would either have it or not.

          After following the above protocol for awhile I managed to reduce my brain fog to only around 30 minutes to 1.5 hours daily (after breakfast). After this time I usually work with full concentration and motivation.

          I tried to reduce these 30 minutes of brain fog by exercising more or doing a more intense exercises or alternatively having a strong tea but nothing really helped. I do not really care about it as it is really not that long but I am simply afraid that even these 30 minutes may create some sustain stress on the brain that is not really healthy.

        • Aaron Berlov

          There are two categories of supplements that I do not take – 1) supplements that I tried and did not work. 2) supplements that I tried and got negative results 3) Supplements that I did not have a chance to take yet and might be beneficial.

          Also in the third category are supplements that you did not recommend in the first few versions of the protocol and that you added just in the past few weeks.

          All of the following are supplements, changes or devices that I am NOT using:

          In the first category – Vitamin D3 (bad reaction for some reason), Garlic, Cinnamon, Eggs, Gotu Kola.

          In the second category – Fish oil, Melatonin, Colostrum, Fenugreek

          In the third category – NAC, R-lipoic acid, Calcium Carbonate, Lithium, Nucleotides, Luteolin, Bitter melon, Licorice, Reversatrol, Milk thistle

          Also, I did not have a chance yet to use the LLLT device.

          Also, I notice that you increased the dosage for iodine (I am taking 225mg daily)

          Which of the above are the most detrimental from your experience and may explain my ~hour BG gap?

          • Aaron Berlov

            I just realized that the reason for my short brain fog is probably due to uncontrolled oxidative stress as my protocol is filled up with mitachondrial enhancers but does not have any anti oxidative stress as I did not take any garlic, NAC or ALA…

          • Selfhacked

            I have a bright light device in my toolkit that I use. I can only recommend what I’ve tried and tested.

  61. Kasra Mohammadi

    Amazing post. You really seem to have done well with the research, as others have reported. I will thank you in a BIG way if your advise, which I am currently on a strict regiment to follow, cures my brain fog finally, but at this point, I still want to thank you for making many of us think proactively and on our feet about our healths. You’ve personally inspired me to replace Googling medical information with reading through exhaustive yet jam-packed-with-information research articles. Thanks.

    Now I do have a question pertaining to my current regiment of supplements, namely of having added Magnesium to my diet. You recommend a rather large dosage, 3g at night. Most vitamin shops seem to sell a maximum pill dosage of 300 mg, thus that would mean 10 pills of magnesium at night???? Why such a large dose. I know you mentioned that gut permeability might make absorption less effective, but nearly 10X recommended dose??? Any risks associated with that?

  62. Pavel listomov

    There are many studies (such as the ones that you posted today) that indicate that altered gut microbiome may be the root cause for many brain diseases (OCD, brain-fog, etc).

    Yet, in your recommendations above you do not recommend any strains of probiotic as a substance to combat brain fog (besides kombucha). Why?

  63. Dave F

    I discovered this post when I was searching for information on brain fog. After working closely with Joseph for the last few months I can strongly vouch for everything covered in this blog. I’ve been battling morning brain fog for as long as I can remember and have tried everything under the sun, seen various doctors, specialists, naturopaths, taken a myriad of expensive tests, etc and spent many many hours researching but nothing has worked. Brain fog is difficult to diagnose and treat as there are so many potential causes and these are very poorly understood by conventional medicine practice and most naturopaths. This post captures the underlying essence of brain fog and his story of curing his own brain fog condition really resonates given it is nearly identical to my own. I ended up paying Joe for consulting services to dig deeper into this and boy what an incredible and valuable investment. After following his advice, my brain fog is practically cured now. The rate was cheap for the level of service and expertise and the value and time that Joe has invested in my condition has been disproportional (in my favor) to the money paid.

    I was also diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the bone marrow) last year at only 34 and Joe has been instrumental in putting together an effective and well-researched strategy and protocol that deals with the MM, Brain Fog, and IBS symptoms I also suffer (it’s highly probable these are all connected). I’ve been able to treat and reduce the level of MM without chemo or conventional treatments. I have had the latter however my cancer markers have been dropping while I’ve been taking nothing but natural alternative treatments.

    I can email Joe with questions any time and he is constantly sending me useful information relevant to my conditions. I’m forever indebted to him for giving me a new lease of life. I feel confident that I can deal with any health challenges that are thrown my way through Joe’s expert guidance and diligence in determining what is best for those that seek his help.

  64. Dubz

    When I was 22 I was experimenting with MDMA and Cannabis one night and woke up the next morning in a completely cloudy consciousness and brain fog that has never left me. I am now 37. My symptoms are memory loss, loss of concentration, social anxiety, clumsiness, feeling of being off balanced, fatigue, lack of awareness and slow cognitive functioning. I also have IBS. This is a great article however, it’s so much to choose from. I’m looking for a simple diet to be put on. Can you recommend something simple that I can go by for the next 6 months?

  65. Kira

    A number of years ago I had severe brain fog. It came to the point that I was forgetting words and had problems thinking. A couple years ago I had endometrial cancer, possibly as a result of estrogen overload. I read that high estrogen levels can cause memory problems and brain fog. I suspect that my liver function wasn’t good and I wasn’t able excrete estrogen properly. I was drinking a lot of black tea at the time, trying to deal with the fatigue. I am sure that didn’t help. I am still not where I would like to be. I have hypoglycemic tendencies and likely leaky gut. I am already doing a number of things in your protocol. I look forward to experimenting with the rest!

    You might consider adding a section on hormonal causes of brain fog for your female readers. Of course, the roots of those problems might simply be high gut permeability affecting the liver’s ability to detoxify.

    Is there a reason you chose R-lipoic acid and not ALA?

  66. Nate

    I have some depression and brain fog issues, although mine seem to come more from chronic stress, sleep problems, and major lifestyle changes. Eating just low glycemic index foods didn’t seem to help me much over a period of about two months. If anything it just caused an unhealthy amount of weight loss contributing to more depression. (6 ft. gone from 143 lbs to 130 lbs).and MAYBE helped with my mild acne problem.

  67. Bob

    Hello Joe,

    I did a little research on NAC and this is an article I stumbled across. I was hoping you could reflect on this and determine what it means to you and if you still feel it is safe to supplement with this substance.

    “N-acetylcysteine (NAC): This Common Antioxidant Supplement Could Cause You Loads of Trouble”- “NAC can form a red blood cell-derived molecule called nitrosothiol that fools your body into thinking there’s an oxygen shortage, which can lead to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).”

    “PAH is a serious condition, where the arteries in the lungs narrow, increasing the blood pressure in your lungs, causing the right side of your heart to swell.”


    • Selfhacked

      That’s only a risk with MUCH HIGHER dosages than what I recommend-500-600mg. Based on my recollection the “risk’ only starts when you go above 1800mg. 500mg is completely safe.

  68. Nastiavandongen

    Hi! I have three questions:

    1. Honey – I started taking honey before bed and am feeling much more refreshed in the morning. Two days ago I started taking honey also in the morning upon waking (you recommend chaya in the morning which has some honey in it) but for some reason it makes me more fatigue in the morning. Why do you think?

    2. I started taking curcumin + pqq + gynostemma on an empty stomach every 2 or three days to combat neauro-inflammation. It helped alot! I also started eating more starch and seeds. For some reason I am having some involuntary muscular twitching my eyelids/cheeks – could it be somehow related to the supplementation/diet?

    • Selfhacked

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      If you look at my toolkit I had already changed the recommendation to have chaya before bed.

      Not enough potassium…

  69. Vivek

    Hi! I noticed that you recommend white teas (as opposed to black+ green with high caffeine) + really limited amount of mathca (2.5g).

    Is it because caffeine is depleting acetylcholine levels???

    • Vivek

      Please answer because when I stopped eating eggs several months ago and started drinking 6 cups of green tea many bad + good things happened and I wonder if it has anything to do with the caffeine and acetylcholine.

      • Selfhacked

        No. If you’re getting reactions it’s from the caffeine. If you’re having cognitive problems from not eating eggs take pregnenolone.

    • Selfhacked

      No and where did you read it depletes acetylcholine. If anything it increases acetylcholine.

      White tea has the same level of caffeine as others. It has less fluoride.

  70. Brian

    Brain-fog: The week of March 17th, 2013 changed my life to this day…I’m including some information leading up to the onset of “brain-fog” to see if there is anything that stands out as a potential marker or trigger that may have helped contribute to the problem (and hopefully therefore remedy it)…Let me start out by saying I am a male, 28 (just shy of 29) years of age.

    *March 4-8th: Started a 14-day total body cleanse (using an herbal 3-part system, including: detoxification blend, fiber blend and colon cleanse). I did not finish the cleanse – it was stopped on Day 6 in part due to laziness and forgetfulness to take the 9 pills per day.
    *March 11th – 17th – vacation to Tucson
    *March 17th AM – landed on a flight from Tucson to Buffalo (my home town)
    *March 17th PM – Ate homemade hummus with carrots and some chips.
    *March 18th – Constipated (did not go to the bathroom entire day)
    *March 19th – Finally went to the bathroom
    *March 20th – Felt fine. On March 20th and every day prior I’ve never had a single occurrence of brain fog and my health was in generally good shape.
    *March 21st – Begin brain-fog…

    The morning of March 21st I woke up with a hazy/cloudy feeling, an inability to effectively concentrate, difficulty recalling thoughts, mental confusion, short-term memory issues, accompanied by what felt like a slight pressure covering my head and eyes. Over the days and weeks I developed anxieties and have gone through spurts of depression. These symptoms are generally remain static and constant, from the time i close my eyes to the time i wake up.

    The onset of what I consider to be brain-fog was immediate (no “ramp-up”) and has persisted 24-hours per day and 7 days per week since that date and still to this day. I have not been able to pin-point an exact food, situation, etc.. that triggers brain-fog due to the fact that it has been constant. I have recently noticed a slight improvement with a few days of strict dieting – eggs and lettuce.

    NOTE #1: Since the onset date there were two days in August where the brain fog went away. These two days were filled with 12+ hours of physical exertion (building a 400 sq/ft deck). I have exercised since then thinking that I could rid myself of what I consider brain-fog by excessive sweating and working out, with no effect. (if Bikram Yoga does not make you sweat enough i’m not sure what would!)

    NOTE #2: My entire life I’ve been a health conscious outdoor enthusiast, hiker, biker, runner and weightlifting workout nut (I never used extreme supplements or steroids). “Damages” to my body definitely stayed in the alcohol category.

    NOTE #3: I’ve taken Inositol powder – 1.5tsp 3x a day coupled with two pills of RNA 3x’s daily. There was a positive effect on all my symptoms using this combination but it did not resolve my issue and over time started having a less and less effect. I am currently taking no supplements of any kind at this time.

    Its comforting to know there are other people out there with these symptoms that have been able to, through natural remedies, eliminate the problem from the root of the issue. Any suggestions or recommended courses of action are greatly appreciated – please help!.

    Thank you,

  71. Glenn Matii

    I have one more completely theoretical question:

    There are some people who mega-dose on some nutrients and semi nutrients in order to increase restoration of one or other deteriorated system.

    for example, to heal gut permeability some take amazing doses of glutamine + glycine (~80 grams of each a day) for a short period of time.

    This is also the same way people supplement when they have a certain deficiency in some nutrient.

    Do you think that other issues – like restoration of cell membranes in the brain – could be solved similarly (for example, taking mega doses of choline, cholesterol, omega 3, inositol for a short period of time)?

    • Selfhacked

      I don’t support any instance of mega dosing, including the instances you’ve mentioned. I’d rather attack issues from more than one angle than mega dose.

  72. Glenn Matii

    You write:” Citicoline, Inositol, Fish oil and Pregnenolone are critical for restoring the cell membranes… ”

    Other than inositol, if I eat fish and eggs several times a week, can I avoid supplementation of all of the other nutrients?

    Also- could you please fill a hole in my education; when you write pregnenolone do you mean cholesterol?

    I get stupider when I do not eat eggs (checked it out with Initially I thought that this was because of the choline but when I started supplementing instead of eating eggs I stayed stupid.

    When I started eating ground beef together with taking choline I felt fine again. Is it really the cholesterol? Do eggs have better/different cholesterol than beef?

    • Selfhacked

      It’s because of cholesterol, not choline. Cholesterol converts to pregnenolone. You might still need pregnenolone.

  73. Jader

    And also, how did you personally decrease the amount and dosage volume of the above supplements ? how did you know when to decrease the amount and how much? I assume that you do not take 500mg curcumin a day, right?

  74. Jader

    I tried taking be berberine last week, 400mg a day, and became quite constipated + anxious. Is it really the amount you recommend taking daily? If not, will you write how to cycle each of the recommended supplements (what is the point of writing the amount in g or mg if no time frame is indicated? 🙂 ).Other that that, I really like and enjoy your blog! keep up the good work!

    • Selfhacked

      I don’t recommend berberine to many clients with BF as a first line approach. If they have BF and blood sugar issues then I consider it.

  75. Sara

    This is my life now lay in bed practically 24 hours a day.i have to prepare myself mentally just to get up for a few seconds . This is how a walking dead feels it effects your entire being and your soul .When I’m not I’m in the bathroom then I lay back in bed. I just cannot believe how my Life has hit the brakes. I remember before all of this I was under a huge amount of stress. I couldn’t handle it .perhaps that made my body malfunction. Whatever this is I’m only 28 years young female with all my life ahead of me and and to live like a 90 year old on there death bed is not a way to live. I just keep telling myself you will make it . It seems like whatever is the cause it effects every cell and process if the body to go haywire. I believe I had my thyroid tested. I just literally felt exhausted and spaced out 2 1/2 months ago and it has manifested into being bed ridden and so bad mental fog I can barley think. I do notice whenever I eat anything my brain gets ‘lit on fire’ have lost the ability to drive and im practicality living like a ‘lizard ‘ with sloth movements. My quality of life has been reduced to 10 percent of what it was. I lay in bed starring out the window most of the day and reading online or getting non refreshing sleep.
    Every test so far has comes back normal .who can help ? just taking a shower is traumatizing the water seems to hurt and i feel faint when standing up but I wonder what’s going on in my system .
    Why was I a healthy normal person a little while ago and now this practically overnight? It’s so frustrating. I want my health back. How can anyone be alive and feel so unhuman at the same time? I’m afraid I will die my sleep so I keep the light on. Everyday I feel so weak and its a constant struggle to stay alive. As depressing as it may sound i told everyone if i dont find a cure goodbye . I even stayed in the hospital for a week ran every test imaginable. With no avail. They just sent me home with a prescription to an anti anxiety med . The dr said its all in my head. And to get up and start running around .that was the biggest joke of my life. I told him if I could would I be here ? wonder where these drs. Get there education. ??? I also notice how reality is distorted now and everything looks as though I’m on something even though I never did acid I can imagine it would look like this. Nothing seems real. It’s so bizarre .light is so bright and sounds. The brain fog is the absolute worst. I cannot comprehend as much as I use to. For an example when I open up a cabinet to get food out of it I know there is a cabinet there but I cannot tell what I am looking at. It’s the most scary thing in the world to have my cognitive impairment get this severely affected for unknown reasons that wont show up on labs .my memory is horrible. I won’t be able to remember what happens 2 seconds ago. And I use to be able to comprehend the television and I just stare blankly at it. Nothing goes in. I wish I would watch movies still but if I watch them and you ask me what’s going on. . I have no clue. And even worse Not being able to connect to people places or animals .it feels like all my “feel good” brain chemicals shorted out. I use to love nature and people and pets now I feel nothing or flat when someone hugs me or I see my dog . I want to care but it seems I am unable for some reason. I don’t even sleep anymore I pass out in pain and wake up in pain 24/7 not being able to use my mind. I feel like I am in prison in my own mind and body. This is not a poor mans disease . I am disabled and I cannot afford a holistic treatment center that I know could probably cure this or provide some sort of relieve . I just want some hope. My body keeps going on and wants to live its taking me for a ride and its such a mind game waking up everyday being bed ridden . I had to temporally move back home to live with my parents for help but I don’t think they know how much pain I am in mentally and physically toture every second of the day . Since coming here I’ve seem to have gotten worse . i am out of options and not sure what to do. I’ve been to so many drs. My mom takes me . i am thankful for her .Just getting in a car almost does me in like I feel I am going to pass out in pain when sitting up in the car ride. All I can think about is getting back home to lay down in the bed . I don’t want to be bed bound but too weak to function anymore. I don’t want to give up. I want to fight this every second of the day I feel like such a zombie and half way in a coma. How did this happen from being normal? And no one can find an answer or cure ? Am I supposed to live like this for the rest of my life ? I get so low and wonder . It’s a nightmare reality .my vision is blurry and my body screams for help. I haven’t found anything to help. I tried magnesium ,vitamins,b12 ,vitamin d ,iron tabs.tylenol These things seem to make me feel worse .i am EXTREMELY SENSITIVE to everything. It’s odd I cannot even use little things like deodorant .
    I’ve spent hours looking up drs. To go do. . You would be surprise how much mental energy goes into just googling dr.s and making an appointment . It’s like the life is sucked out of me and when I finally do get an appointment it’s about 2 months from now. And I know I will have to have a painful car ride there blood drawn for them to say everything is alright. But just laying in bed is accepting defeat. I’ve seen a neurologist , rhemotologist , regular dr.s natural dr.s .
    If I am alive now there must be a cure right?

    • Selfhacked

      I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune. I hope you get better. Never stop looking, because a cure is out there.
      One more point. A doctor telling you your test results are fine isn’t worth anything. All that USUALLY means is that you won’t die in the next couple months, as in nothing is so bad it will kill you soon. There’s also many more tests that can determine if something is wrong in the body that they don’t test for. You need to be proactive and analyze the results yourself or find someone that can analyze them.

    • April

      Have you considered that you might have, P.O.T.S? Which stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. The only reason i considered this might be the problem. Due to the fainting and you mentioned you have brain fog. And pain. Exhaustion. Light and sound sensitive. POTS is a nervous system problem, that most doctors know nothing about, and yet it is a very common disorder. Tilt tests are the diagnosis methods. Look it up, there are medications that can help pots but not cure. I hope you find the answer to your illness.

      • Renae

        Thank you for your response. No, I haven’t been tested for Lyme disease. I have dived into more research and believe it is Myasthenia Gravis. It’s also an immune condition. It is linked to leaky gut as well. My acetlycholine receptors are damaged (brain fog). My blurred vision has turned into double vision and my eyelid has started to droop. This has led me to believe it is Myasthenia Gravis. I tested deficient on a previous test for choline. I don’t know if healing the leaky gut will help this. I appreciate any input. Thank you!!!

  76. Kaiti

    I like your blog so far. I have pretty bad brain fog as well as anhedonia, and you mentioned mitochondrial dysfunction causing anhedonia and depression. I didn’t see treatments for specifically anhedonia (& I have both types to some degree, anticipatory and consummatory) and wondered if you could give me someplace to start.

    • Selfhacked


      Anhedonia and depression are more than mitochondrial function. They also have to do with neurotransmitters (especially acetylcholine), nerve growth factors and hormones. There are other causes but those are the most significant ones that come to mind off-hand.

      Look around the blog for now and eventually I will get to a depression protocol.

    • Kaiti

      A depression protocol would be much appreciated. Your blog has given me hope that I might recover to my previous level of functioning. I might be interested in a consultation one day…

  77. Gill sasover

    Hi! I tried some of your top recommendations – started drinking 32oz kombucha + 2.5 matcha after meals with carb and limited carbs after daily work out. Tulsi+ Astragulus + raw honey before bed.

    Every other day I started supplementing with 20mg PQQ + 250 mg Longvida Curcumin.


    only one question – is it really safe to take 20mg PQQ every second time? should I take down the dose with time? I really feel like PQQ made the biggest difference.

  78. Ashley

    I have been suffering from a heavy headed brain fog for six weeks now, it never goes away. It can be made worse by lack of sleep or stress but it never dissipates. It hit me suddenly ten minutes after a workout and hasn’t gone away since. My doctor thinks it is a virus, I don’t know if I agree. Other symptoms include tiredness, headache on left side when very tired, cold hand and foot on left side. Background information: starting jan 2013 I became vegetarian, I turned pale suddenly in march 2013 so I started taking iron. Summer of 2013 I started eating only raw fruits and vegetables. Mold was found in home recently. I have since moved out and am eating meat items again. I jut want this to go away as it makes work and life really difficult, even just socializing is difficult. Also, not sure if this is pertinent but I had a massage recently which made the condition so much worse ad turned my face bright red for an hour after. Also I seem to suffer from anxiety. Any thoughts would be so helpful! I am only 28 year old female, otherwise healthy and just want to live my life like before, thank you!

    • Selfhacked

      Hmmm, I’m honestly not sure. Your doc might be right about it being an infection, given the sudden onset. If it is a result of an infection this protocol would likely help, but you’d need to kill the infection first to have a serious impact on the BF.

      If you’re eating normally now, I don’t see it being a nutritional cause.

      Hope you feel better!

  79. Eric


    I see that you updates this post and included doses + recommended brands, thank you!

    Should I assumed that each of the doses (e.g. 20mg of PQQ) are daily doses?

    If not, could you please recommend how can I know how to cycle each of the supplements?

    Thanks again

    • Selfhacked


      Yes, keep in mind that I only take a fraction of these on any given day. Dosing would depend on what issues you have and other factors.

  80. Diana

    Hi Joe!

    What exactly does “time- restricted-eating” means?

    Also, I have experimented with different types of Kombucha – some giving me acid reflux while others do not seem to make any difference. Which brand do you recommend?

  81. Denver

    Also – I am taking collagen 1&3 every day before bed for gut. I am planning to switch collagen with beef gelatin. I have heard that taking Glycine together with beef gelatin is not a good idea – why?

    • Joe

      Gelatin is ~20% glycine, so it’s more redundant than harmful. I prefer gelatin because it also has proline and hydroxyproline, though I take glycine sometimes. One or the other, though.

  82. Gene

    I love all of the recommendations but I have one concern about flax and sesame; both are very estrogenic. I found a research by Dr. Anderson via pubmed that says that drop in testosterone becomes statistically significant only above 30g of flax/sesame consumed. You recommend 60 g total of both. Should I worry about T levels?

    • Joe

      30g is a good recommendation for flax and sesame in a day. That’s about what I get. I also use some chia and hemp. Are you referring to the drink? I mentioned that I didn’t find it optimal to only consume that. That drink is supposed to last 3 days or so, which equals 20g of both of them a day. Either way, the drink needs fixing and I am working on it. There’s some ingredients that are not working so well.

      So in summary, 30g of both flax and sesame is a fair recommendation, but I also don’t think going over it will be harmful.

  83. Randy

    I want to try each of these supplements but I have never taken anything outside of a packaged multi-vitamin. Can I walk into a whole foods and pick up each of the items you list in those specific amounts? Or do I need a chemistry set to carefully measure each supplement. Also, it is unclear when to take each, some say before bed, but the rest do you just sit there and take all of the supplements at once?


      I try to specify when to take each – look at the spreadsheet. Buy them online. Email for a consult if you need specific advice that isn’t listed.

  84. Yoav

    I have serious case OCD and cyclic brain-fog. I am a university professor and my week usually looks like this:

    On Monday I would come to work with a terrible brain fog, unable to do anything. The only thing I would do would be worrying about different small details and try to play with some random ideas for my research. I would be get panic attacks if something did not appear to be perfect.

    Then, either on Thursday or Friday I would get something right and work non stop for 16 straight hours in a complete flow and usually get the entire weeks’s work done.

    I would not worry about anything and I would get my most creative ideas written down. I would be in a complete euphoric flow and happiness.

    Two weeks ago, following your recommendations and other recommendations for brain fog and OCD I started taking 4g/day of inositol (2g in the morning and 2g before bed). I did not take any other supplements and did not change my diet and lifestyle in anyway.

    The effect was immediate. The morning after taking inositol I felt as calm as a sleeping baby. I never felt so calm. Everything seemed pleasant, I did not worry about anything and was not concerned at small details or imperfections.

    Inositol kept very balanced the entire week; I did not have any shifts in mood. My anxiety was completely gone.

    The problem is that inositol took my two important days of flow. Now on Friday or Thursday I am as calm as I am on Monday, I feel good and peaceful but I do not get this burst of crazy fire, enthusiasm and lucidity that I used to get. My ideas for the past two weeks have not been as creative as they used to be.

    I am afraid that I needed my OCD for my work and am afraid that it is now gone.

    On OCD forums many people share a similar experience from taking inositol – they get this peaceful mind which also, unfortunately sedates some of their passion; they no longer care about small things that used to bother them but they also no longer care from big things – they simply care and worry less.

    any suggestions ?


      I went through a similar process and unfortunately the side effect of treating anxiety and OCD is that you care less. There are quite a few things to do, but overall an adjustment period will come about. At some point your OCD and brain fog will work its way around inositol’s effectiveness and come back to a degree. Read the “about” section regarding treatment resistance. The endgame is that there is enough solutions to tackle treatment resistance and relax you and put you in a state of happiness and bliss. This state will cause you to accomplish less in the beginning because you’re no longer relying on cortisol to get sh*t done. Over time you will get used to your new state and figure out ways to accomplish more without stress. I get more done than ever before and experience no stress at all. I can’t remember the last time I had a rush of cortisol. So some of the problem will iron itself out, some will be negated by treatment resistance if that’s the only thing you’re doing and some will require other nutritional and supplemental approaches. You have to understand your mitochondria has been wrecked by OCD, which is part of the reason why people have anhedonia. Self-treatment requires finesse because unfortunately I can’t convey everything in writing and different dosing applies for different people. See what you can get from the blog, otherwise email me for a consult. If you decide to go it alone, this blog will be the best resource available, but you will still need to self-experiment. This is because I can’t advise every step along the way. For me to figure out what I know now required so much self-experimentation and wasted days because of bad stacks. Be prepared.

  85. Thank you for this extremely well explained article. I have been rummaging around the forums. Recently- as in a couple of days ago -I had a moment of pure lucidity ie less or no brain fog and I actually forgot just how different it is not to have the usual bf. I felt like a different person and my focus was laser sharp honestly! Then the next day the same old me. At first I put it down to things like, lack of neg ions in the air, low atmospheric pressure, and I even bought an ORP tester to find out which liquids had the highest level of ‘donor’ electrons. Discovering that vitamin c had the most compared to a bunch of other stuff, I started to take high doses of ascorbic acid mixed with bicarbonate to buffer the acidity. And I also have been taking high doses of 3% Lugols iodine as I read recently that most people are chronically deficient in iodine. One of these or both are having an positive effect on my brain fog. This morning was particularly bad so I took a high dose of ascorbic acid and an hour later there was a marked improvement. Was it psychological? won’t know for sure until I repeat the experiment. I found selfhacked by googling: “vitamin c and brain fog.” Ironically vitamin c is not one of the supplements recommended here.

    After googling brain fog today, I had put the problem down to leaky gut, or histamine issues, but not hypoglycaemia. I am metaphorically and perhaps even physiologically thin skinned and therefore get stressed very easily. Could this be a pointer that the brain fog comes from gut permeability (thin skinned) or adrenal burnout from regular stress?

    Happy to have found others like me it is truly a crippling condition. With brain fog I always felt I had an inferior brain because my thinking or word processing is usually limited. On a good day though which is once a year I can surprise myself. This is the first time in 4 decades that I have googled brain fog for serious answers, as I was convinced ( a decade ago) that it was due to a birth trauma (lack of oxygen at birth) and environmental toxins including excess emf exposure which affects all of us. I get instant brain fog when on the mobile phone. So many ideas I am bouncing around here I hope this gives an insight into what brain fog actually does to me. Thank you for your support.



      Thank you. Gut issues may play a large role in your case. It’s a shame that solutions to BF are nowhere to be found. Trying these solutions and letting others know how well they work is important, so pls do write your experiences if you can.

    • joe

      Bro your not alone I get brain fog being on my mobile phone as well but not wright away it takes a little while but it set’s in but anyway dont give up the fight off a cure for this sh****t. once
      The government see how many more people are complaining about brain fog. and they have a moment of clarity and start seeing how much money they can get off of making a drug or whatever to clear it up then maybe they’ll take it serious and start doing something about it as well. Just to let you know your not alone in this. Beyond annoying may god be with us all who has this disorder.

  86. C.j

    I’ve had this since my teen years (I’m now 27). I am so frustrated. It affects your whole life, ability to study, ability to remember things, ability to have a conversation.. I’ve been diagnosed with depression in the past, and put on antidepressants, but that is NOT the problem. I’ve been for tests, only to be told there’s nothing wrong. I don’t know what causes it, but I am sick of it. :/

    • C.j

      Is there a possibility that it could be linked with loneliness, fatigue as well as sleep problems? I’m starting to think these are linked with it. And it’s usually worse in the mornings and midday, but gets better towards night. There doesn’t seem to be any doctor who takes this seriously anyway. But thanks for your reply.

      • Sid

        Hi c.J I am facing exactly the same problems as you it seems. Insomnia, Fatigue/Lethargy, Brain fog, Depression, Anxiety, ADD (v. poor concentration), inability to digest stuff, weight loss, poor immunity, breathlessness etc. Spent 2200 hours of my life researching how to better my situation. I’ve found stuff that really reduce the symptoms but nothing that made them go away entirely. Really want to get in touch with someone on the same boat to exchange some tips. if you want to talk brah

  87. Denis

    I love the idea of having a natural remedy instead of having to take drugs. How successful is this solution for brain fog treatment? I know for sure that Procera AVH works, but it’s nice to have natural alternatives available. Let me know. Thanks.

    • Dave F

      After working closely with Joseph (SELFHACKED) for the last few months I can strongly vouch for everything covered in this blog. Similarly to Joe I have suffered from brain fog as long as I can remember and have tried everything under sun and spent many many hours researching and many dollars with specialists and got no where.

      My morning brain fog is practically cured now and it’s by following everything described in this post.

      Joseph really knows his stuff and I’m forever indebted to him for his help.

      Oh, and I almost forgot to mention he’s also helped me develop an _effective_ natural protocol for treating my Multiple Myeloma that I was diagnosed with last year. That’s right – say no to chemo!

  88. Tomas

    Hello there,

    Thanks for your article. I have a question though. You list low-carb diets as one of the causes for insulin resistance. Why is that? Doesn’t that run exactly counter to the usual belief/opinion, whether among low-carb diet followers or others?




      It does and it doesn’t. There is some acknowledgement that insulin resistance is more common in low carb diets, but the the low carbers will argue that it’s not an issue because they’re not eating carbs anyway. The reason insulin resistance occurs is because low carbers will have to make up calories by eating more fat. A high fat diet causes insulin resistance if those fatty acids aren’t burnt for fuel efficiently. Some people can burn fatty acids efficiently while others can’t. Strictly kept low carb diets in my opinion are not optimally healthy in the long run and those kept not so strictly will feel the negative effects of insulin resistance. If you read the forums, you’ll see lots of cases of insulin resistance, high fasting glucose levels, adrenal insufficiency and lots of health problems from people who are on these diets long term. In the short term you’ll feel better, though, so it’s tricky. But it’s like plugging a leak in the ceiling with scotch tape. It might stop the dripping but it won’t fix the underlying issue of insulin resistance. It seems, based on my observations, that people who have northern European ancestry tend to do better on these low carb diets, maybe because their ancestor’s diets were less starch based and they ate more fat and protein(really cold climates aren’t conducive for agriculture). These people are also less adapted to grains. The vast majority of traditional cultures, though, had starches as a staple of their diet.

  89. Chris

    I was given Levaquin (an antibiotic). Aside from ongoing pain, it has caused various degrees of brain fog. Would this diet be effective in helping with this type of induced reaction?

  90. ablad

    Hi everyone , I am also suffering from brain fog since so long ago , I dont know how to get rid of this discusting disease . Please guide me someone I dont know what to eventually do . Things ever
    eryone has posted here are so far from my understanding . Please guide me with a concise practice experiment someone has gone through

  91. Dave F

    Great, thanks. My brain fog is in the mornings and usually clears by midday. I’m taking a good portion of the things you mention for my cancer and actually my brain fog has been significantly better since (most mornings it’s now clear 30-45 mins after waking!). The problem is that it will reoccur unpredictably. Interestingly, I had a large amount of coconut oil yesterday and my brain fog was shocking this morning so discovering this post helped me explain that – very timely 🙂

    I will email you about a paid consultation.

  92. Dave F

    Hi, great post about brain fog – it’s certainly in line with my research and personal experiences that inflammation of the gut is to blame.

    I was recently diagnosed with Cancer and so are very diligently minimizing carbs in my diet, particularly those that have a high Glycemic Index as Glucose is the devil child when it comes to cancer. Now potatoes have an extremely high GI (90) and raise blood sugar greater than sugar itself. Rice is also a problem (to a lesser extent) as well as bananas. So I guess I’m a little lost now. I’ve recently been consuming a reasonable amount of fat through Olive & Coconut oils. Every thing I read eliminates a bunch more foods from my available repertoire – I’m running out of food I can eat.

    Are there any other ways you know of to address Gut Permeability and insulin resistance (and thus brain fog) aside from the highly starchy foods? Or any other comments to my above predicament?

    Thanks in advance – you have a great blog and I appreciate the guidance.

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