Fibromyalgia fog, most commonly referred to as fibro fog, has become
an epidemic these days for more people. Brain fog can be a challenging symptom for those living with fibromyalgia, and its primary co-conditions.
From short term memory loss and the lack of concentration to the inability to stay within a structured lifestyle, all are evidence of fibro-fog. Living with chronic pain and symptoms is challenging to the brain due to the total load of symptoms already present in the body.
The myriad of symptoms within fibromyalgia creates a cascade of real challenges to the brain and to the balance of neuro chemicals. If you are living with fibromyalgia and its related conditions, you are not alone if you experience fibro fog on a regular basis.
Did you know that the TRP's (trigger points) in the back of neck, head and scapula along the upper back area can contribute to fibro fog and "cloudy brain"? Do you ever feel as if there is a dark cloud surrounding you? There could also be contributing inflammation around the trigeminal nerve which occurs around the head and into the face.
Toxic environments are one of the biggest offenders and contributors to brain fog.
Those of us with any environmental illness know this all too well. From toxic laundry detergent fumes to body care products to petro chemicals. Traveling can also cause major fibro fog issues due to the exposure to many different environments and various toxins.
Lack of sleep within the parameters of the body clock is also a major contributor to fibro fog. Falling asleep and getting REM sleep can be more challenging, and there-in starts the vicious cycle.
Multi-tasking and exposure to constant media outlets can exacerbate stress and fibro fog and even create a lack of motivation within a healthy lifestyle.
Wireless computers and cell phones emit levels of
radiation that are best limited in duration and frequency for those with
any brain and fibro fog issues. The tremendous increase in
radiation and EMF pollution in our environment today has affected brain function and also increases the level of constant stress
on the body.
Also, we want to avoid looking at negative images regarding fibromyalgia. Avoid 24/7 symptom talk, because everything we talk about and focus on becomes bigger.
And, what about social interactions? Ever find yourself stammering or stuttering or with uncomfortable gaps in what would otherwise be a normal conversation? Do you ever lose your words, forget what you were going to say or even worse, lose concentration when others are speaking to you?
That is fibro fog at its worst because it can decrease self-esteem and confidence.
If you also have the primary co-condition to fibromyalgia, CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) you can read more here regarding inflammation that can occur around the brain. This can exacerbate symptoms of brain fog and memory issues.
Neuroinflammation in CFS/ME
All of the lifestyle habits, tools and intake of essential nutrients need to be evaluated to increase brain health. Lifestyle, diet, exercise and relaxation or bio-feedback techniques.
What we continue to know about effective exercise and fibromyalgia is that fibro responds well to an exercise regimen tailored to each individual. A plan that includes light or moderate aerobic exercise, range of motion exercises, strength work and light flexibility exercises for increased agility.
A 2003 Harvard review of 43 studies found that regular moderate exercise improves executive function (the ability to plan and carry out tasks efficiently); blood circulation and neural activity were both enhanced.
When we stay active, we are able
to think more clearly. The more we do, the more we are able to do. Everything is a
progression in life, so we determine which way to direct our thinking. Our
brain health really is an essential component when living with fibromyalgia and
any chronic illness.
Follow on the Fibro Fit People page for a variety of exercises on many different levels. Check out the video section of that page. From standing exercises, to range of motion, gentle flexibility to treating the fascia, there are many options that I continue to convey for everyday movement and strength.
Refer to the best
diet for fibromyalgia because this is also the best diet for optimal brain
health. When treating fibro, we are treating the body as a whole; this means the best diet, the best fitness plan, etc. Read more here about the importance of whole foods, raw fats (excellent brain food) and the best way to ingest and assimilate proteins.
Sugar, preservatives, and excito-toxins found in many grains, grain flours and additives are a great detriment to healthy brain function and clarity of mind. Working as a colon therapist for many years, I do believe the "gut brain" can become inflamed due to improper diet and this can easily increase the propensity to brain fog. But again, this is not about perfection, keep it realistic.
The gut is often referred to as the 'second brain' and therefore, it is essential to have a healthy terrain within the digestive tract and small intestine. Avoidance of individual food allergens and quite often the proteins in wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein) will prove to lessen irritation within the gut lining and systemic inflammation throughout the body and the brain as well (Refer to article on leaky gut). Dairy fats however, can be beneficial and helpful for gut issues.
An imbalance in the thyroid can also affect the brain. Thyroid disease or under active thyroid can exacerbate issues with short term memory loss or the ability to think clearly. When we address the underlying causes of thyroid issues, this can have a positive impact on brain health.
I believe we must treat this endocrine gland as safely and effectively as possible. In our thyroid health article, I give many suggestions for effectively treating both adrenal and thyroid glands effectively. Read more here about Fibromyalgia and Thyroid Health.
Mind body techniques are helpful in decreasing stress and
stress hormones which exacerbate memory loss and the inability to concentrate.
Refer to the mind body connection page for in depth information and resources to aid in
mind body work. Be sure to click on the "Dealing With Stress" link at the bottom when you're finished reading "mind body connection".
Ongoing brain fog can lead to increased anxiety and depression. Many studies continue to prove the effectiveness of meditation on balancing brain chemistry and producing feelings of calm and relaxation.
Madhav Goyal, MD. of John Hopkins University, says.. " In our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from anxiety and depression symptoms as other studies found from anti-depressants".
I can’t say enough about creativity and how this aids in healthy brain function. Have you stopped doing a creative activity due to the illness?
Note: It was always thought the right side of the brain was the creative side; however, researchers have found that when performing a creative task, the left side of the brain lights up in brain imaging to ‘help out’ the right side of the brain, interesting that each side really supports the other.
Supplements can aid in fighting fibro fog but not every supplement is right for every person. What follows are a basic list of the more essential brain nutrients.
Always check with your doctor before taking new supplements and as we say on the supplement page, "more is not always better"
Are you taking any of the following nutrients?
I am supplying this list just as a reference so that you can be better armed in the fight against fibro fog. For your convenience each supplement name is also a link to that item on Amazon.com. Consider the following verified effective remedies if you suffer with fibro fog on a daily basis (if not already utilizing them).
Remember also that nutrients are not magic bullets. They can however, support the mind and body to create a stronger foundation and resilience. Experiment and find what helps but always work to prioritize and take the lowest effective dose. Yes, even with supplements, we need only take what our body needs and this also helps our supplements to be more cost effective as well.
ALC easily crosses the blood-brain barrier to support memory function and mitochondria (cell energy). A neuro-protective nutrient.
(PS) is a crucial building block in brain tissue. Modulates cortisol levels and supports relaxation. It increases memory and concentration.
A form of MAGNESIUM that is better absorbed and specifically targets the brain and nervous system.
Ashwagandha for fibromyalgia helps to reduce cortisol, counters some of the oxidative stress on the body and supports regeneration of axons and nerve cell components that support brain and nervous system function. Helpful for thyroid and adrenal stress as well.
(Note: I have used and recommended ashwagandha for many years, and it is essential to look on the label for at least 5% "withanolides"; this is the active component necessary to be effective.)
Simply taking ashwagandha in generic herbal form is not effective here and a waste of money and effort.
Provides Neuro protection and brain circulation. Promotes healthy blood flow, as well as oxygen and glucose metabolism in the brain.
(Note: The Health Regulatory Agency that regulates ginkgo purity in Germany, mandates that ginkgo supplements not contain more than 5 ppm of ginkgolic acid. You should follow this recommendation.)
This fatty acid, DHA, accounts for 40% (PUFA’s) fats in the brain. It promotes healthy cell signaling within the brain.
Research has found vegetarian body tissue to be much lower in DHA, essential for both brain and heart health.
The active form of B-12 in the CNS (Central Nervous System)
Enhanced methylation provides neuro protection, especially for those who may not adequately convert cyanocobalamin.
Note: We are currently studying and utilizing additional brain health supplements and will confirm their effectiveness as we get more information and completed studies.
Another page that offers significant support for brain health, depression and anxiety in particular is the "Treatment for Fibromyalgia with Serotonin"
For the effects of hormones on fibro fog see my menopause essentials article.
Protecting and preserving brain health is essential as we age and especially with fibromyalgia and any chronic illness. Fibromyalgia is a multi system illness wherein each system is simply striving for balance.
Therefore, when living with daily symptoms, it's not mind over matter. It IS mind and body working together.