“Brain fog” is something that everyone will deal with at some point.
While it’s not classified as an official medical condition, it is quite prevalent in the western world.
With the ebbs and flows of life, it’s completely normal to have days where you feel “off.”
Maybe you had a poor night of sleep, or had a few drinks the night before, or are just feeling burnt out.
We all know that feeling of waking up and just feeling “not all there.”
However, for many people, this is a more chronic condition, and it may be a sign of more serious issues.
What Are The Best Nootropics For Brain Fog - Quick Answers
|Mind Lab Pro||The Nootropic Multivitamin||Learn More|
|Magnesium||Involved in Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions in Your Body||Learn More|
|Blood Sugar Breakthrough||Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels||Learn More|
|Qualia Mind||Most advanced fully-loaded formula||Learn More|
|Chaga Mushroom||One of the most powerful antioxidants on Earth||Learn More|
|Lion's Mane||Powerful medicinal mushroom for brain health||Learn More|
|Adrafinil||A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil||Learn More|
|L-Theanine||The all-natural "chill pill"||Learn More|
|Alpha-GPC||Great source of choline that works well in nootropic stacks||Learn More|
|Huperzine A||Traditional Chinese herb for improving cognition||Learn More|
|Ginkgo Biloba||Ancient herbal cognitive enhancer and energy supplement||Learn More|
Brain Fog Symptoms
Brain fog is a type of mental fatigue characterized by:1Amanda J Ross, Marvin S Medow, Peter C Rowe, Julian M Stewart. What is brain fog? An evaluation of the symptom in postural tachycardia syndrome, Clin Auton Res. 2013
- Slow thinking
- Poor memory
- Inability to focus
- General lack of mental clarity
- Feeling cloudy
- Difficulty finding the right words and communicating
- Mind goes blank
- Easily distracted
- Easily annoyed
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Brain Fog Causes
The biggest issue with treating brain fog is that it’s a fairly broad term with many factors at play.
There can be a number of causes of brain fog which include:
- Gut health
- Heavy metal or chemical toxicity
- HPA Axis and stress
- Blood sugar
- Chronic inflammation
- Mental disorders
- Chronic Disease
It goes to show that treating brain fog may require more than just treating the symptom.
The symptom of brain fog could be your body telling you that a bigger problem needs to be addressed.
You may have to dig a few levels deeper to correct this problem truly.
Chronic Disease Associated with Brain Fog
There are also several chronic medical conditions and autoimmune diseases associated with symptoms of brain fog.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome2Anthony J Ocon. Caught in the thickness of brain fog: exploring the cognitive symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Front Physiol. 2013
- Fibromyalgia3Howard M Kravitz, Robert S Katz. Fibrofog and fibromyalgia: a narrative review and implications for clinical practice, Rheumatol Int. 2015
- Gut Disorders4Satish S C Rao, Abdul Rehman, Siegfried Yu, Nicole Martinez de Andino. Brain fogginess, gas and bloating: a link between SIBO, probiotics and metabolic acidosis, Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2018
- Lupus5Meggan Mackay. Lupus brain fog: a biologic perspective on cognitive impairment, depression, and fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus, Immunol Res. 2015
- Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)6Anthony J. Ocon. Caught in the thickness of brain fog: exploring the cognitive symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Front Physiol. 2013
- systemic mastocytosis (SM)7Meng Chen, MD, Alexander Kim, MD, Bruce Zuraw, MD, Taylor A. Doherty, MD, and Sandra Christiansen, MD. Mast Cell Disorders: Protean Manifestations and Treatment Responses, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2019
- Obesity8Theoharis C. Theoharides, Julia M. Stewart,1 Erifili Hatziagelaki,5 and Gerasimos Kolaitis6. Brain “fog,” inflammation and obesity: key aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders improved by luteolin, Front Neurosci. 2015
While each of these disorders have specific presentations they can all be traced back to chronic inflammation.9Lihua Duan, Xiaoquan Rao, and Keshav Raj Sigdel. Regulation of Inflammation in Autoimmune Disease, J Immunol Res. 2019
Brain Fog, Anxiety, and Depression
One of the major problems with brain fog having so many possible causes is that it often is diagnosed as a more severe mental condition like anxiety and depression.
This leads to patients using psychiatric drugs like anti-depressants and anxiolytics to treat a problem that may be rooted in a physiological disorder.
While the psychotropic drugs may help you get over the hump initially, many of these drugs are being used long-term and have several side effects.
Can You Cure Brain Fog?
Because brain fog isn’t an actual disorder but more a symptom of a bigger problem, you can’t really cure it.
The problem with trying to cure brain fog is you end up using drugs and products that only focus on the symptom instead of treating the underlying disorder.
Not only does this not help the brain fog, but it may also lead to more problems.
Implementing a holistic protocol that targets inflammation by improving diet and lifestyle factors is the most effective approach.
This includes adding in more stuff and avoiding the bad stuff.
Good stuff includes:
- Eating more nutrient-dense, whole foods
- Regular exercise and movement
- Mindfulness practices
- Stress reduction
- Good relationships and community
- High-quality supplements and nootropics
- Deep, restful sleep
- Processed food
- Refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners
- Environmental chemicals and heavy metals
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Nootropics For Brain Fog
Using nootropic supplements as part of a holistic protocol involving the above-mentioned good stuff is a great tool.
Because there are so many different kinds of nootropics, it’s important to know what you need and why you need it.
Some nootropics are stimulating while some are sedating. Some are good for memory and learning, while others are good for stress reduction. Some do a combination of all these things.
It’s also important to honor your body’s bio-individual needs. This means being mindful of the fact that what worked for one person might not work for you.
Nootropics could be ineffective due to genetics, gut health, stress levels, among many other reasons.
You must use nootropics responsibly by constantly monitoring your progress with a journal or health tracker.
Some nootropics are great when paired together, but it’s important not to overdo it and make a targeted plan.
Always consult your physician before making any dietary changes.
Best Nootropic Supplements For Brain Fog
The Nootropic Multivitamin
- Mind Lab Pro is a top choice for improving brain fog.
- The mix of nootropic and adaptogenic ingredients lower inflammation while boosting mental energy.
- You also get the added benefit of B vitamins and phosphatidylserine for added stress support.
- The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.
- I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.
Involved in Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions in Your Body
Clouding of consciousness, also more commonly referred to as brain fog or mental fog is medically coined as a state of subsyndromal delirium and it is often characterized by a cluster of symptoms such as inattention, cognitive delays, and comprehension abnormalities.11Anna E. Kirkland, Gabrielle L. Sarlo,1 and Kathleen F. Holton, The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders, Nutrients. 2018
There is some recent data that suggest a positive effect of magnesium in the management of subsyndromal delirium, based on the clinical evidence that people with depleted levels of magnesium are more likely to experience symptoms of clouded consciousness.12Magdalena D. Cuciureanu and Robert Vink., Magnesium and stress, University of Adelaide Press. 2011
However, it is an emerging research topic and more prospective studies are required to clearly understand the use of magnesium in managing symptoms of brain fog. Magnesium Breakthrough contains an exclusive variant of magnesium, i.e., magnesium L-threonate, it has been found to have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and help manage symptoms of clouded consciousness.
Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels
Understanding the connection between brain fog and metabolism is absolutely crucial.
A hyperglycemic state induces oxidative stress on the body which is associated with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, psychomotor slowing and reduced mental flexibility.13María Muriach, Miguel Flores-Bellver, Francisco J. Romero, and Jorge M. Barcia, Diabetes and the Brain: Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Autophagy, Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014
The early stages of cognitive impairment can be manifested as clouding of consciousness, otherwise known as brain fog.14Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016, Impact of diabetes on cognitive function and brain structure, A Moheet, S Mangia, and ER Seaquist15Seth Stoykovich , Kelly Gibas, APOE ε4, the door to insulin-resistant dyslipidemia and brain fog? A case study, Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2019
Blood Sugar Breakthrough is an effective formulation for managing blood glucose levels as it includes ingredients that reduce glucose-associated oxidative stress on the body.
This is especially important for neural cells, blood vessels and endocrine islets.
Most advanced fully-loaded formula
- Breaking through brain fog is one of the top features of Qualia Mind's comprehensive formula.
- The included 28 ingredients, including nootropic compounds, neuro-vitamins, amino acids, choline donors, and herbal adaptogens, give your brain a jolt and increase mental clarity.
- You can even choose between a caffeinated or decaffeinated version.
- This stack is great for more experienced biohackers or anyone who needs a significant boost in brainpower.
One of the most powerful antioxidants on Earth
Chaga mushroom is highly recommended as a natural remedy to brain fog.16Honghai Hu Zhenya Zhang Zhongfang Lei Yingnan Yang Norio Sugiura, Comparative study of antioxidant activity and antiproliferative effect of hot water and ethanol extracts from the mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering. 2009
This therapeutic mushroom has been found to be beneficial for optimizing the mind-body connection, by stabilizing innate immunity, which when left unchecked lead to the physical inflammation that causes brain fog..17Yoo Kyoung Park , Hyang Burm Lee, Eun-Jae Jeon, Hack Sung Jung, Myung-Hee Kang, Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in human lymphocytes as assessed by comet assay, Biofactors. 2004
Chaga also supports mental health by improving blood sugar metabolism.18Zhiguo Li, Junjie Mei, Liping Jiang, Chengyan Geng , Qiujuan Li, Xiaofeng Yao , Jun Cao , Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Agaricomycetes) Polysaccharides Suppress Tacrine-induced Apoptosis by ROS-scavenging and Mitochondrial Pathway in HepG2 Cells, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019
Improving your metabolism can help lower oxidative stress that causes cognitive impairment, psychomotor slackening and reduced mental flexibility.19You-Min Ying , Lin-Yan Zhang , Xia Zhang , Hai-Bo Bai , Dong-E Liang , Lie-Feng Ma , Wei-Guang Shan , Zha-Jun Zhan, Terpenoids with alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity from the submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus, Phytochemistry. 2014
By boosting immunity and blood glucose metabolism, Chaga acts as a potent combatant against brain fog.20You-Min Ying , Lin-Yan Zhang , Xia Zhang , Hai-Bo Bai , Dong-E Liang , Lie-Feng Ma , Wei-Guang Shan , Zha-Jun Zhan, Terpenoids with alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity from the submerged culture of Inonotus obliquus, Phytochemistry. 2014
Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Chaga.
Powerful medicinal mushroom for brain health
Lion's Mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a therapeutic mushroom which has been found to benefit all primary components of your central nervous system including the brain, nerve cells and also the immune system.21Vikineswary Sabaratnam , Wong Kah-Hui , Murali Naidu , Pamela Rosie David, Neuronal health - can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help?, J Tradit Complement Med. 2013
This mushroom also prevents nerve cell impairment and stimulates production of enzymes that release Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).22Pit Shan Chong , Man-Lung Fung , Kah Hui Wong, Lee Wei Lim, Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder, Int J Mol Sci. 2019
This growth factor helps with neuronal regeneration and hence, memory retention.
Addition of this medicinal mushroom into your routine diet will not only help you to restore and recall old memories but it will also help you to promote mental alertness, improve focus, and eliminate brain fog.23Kah-Hui Wong , Gowri Kanagasabapathy , Murali Naidu , Pamela David , Vikineswary Sabaratnam, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers., a medicinal mushroom, activates peripheral nerve regeneration, Chin J Integr Med. 2016
Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Lion's Mane.
A legal over-the-counter version on Modafinil
Adrafinil is a prodrug for the legendary smart drug modafinil. What this means is that your body naturally turns adrafinil into modafinil, and you do not need a prescription to buy it.
When adrafinil metabolizes into modafinil in your body and starts to kick in, it has a mildly stimulating effect.
Although researchers are not totally sure how it works yet, we do know that it modulates several brain systems, such as dopamine, GABA, and histamines, to achieve its effects.
It was developed initially as an anti-narcolepsy drug and can keep you focused and engaged under adverse conditions. Militaries around the world use this drug during extended, stressful operations.
We think that adrafinil is one of the best bets for improving mental clarity, especially if your brain fog is due to lack of sleep, overwork, and stress. Although it’s not a long term substitute for getting proper rest, it can help you stay sharp short term during crunch time.
Many users report improved mood, more energy, and better ability to concentrate, even in less-than-ideal conditions. And there is significant clinical evidence it can improve performance while fatigued.24Ping Sheng, et al. Efficacy of Modafinil on Fatigue and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Associated with Neurological Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, PLoS One. 2013
The all-natural "chill pill"
L-theanine is an amino acid that comes from tea leaves. It’s largely responsible for tea’s relaxed-but-focused energy. And, you can buy it on its own as a supplement.
It stacks extremely well with caffeine, and this combo is one of the classic nootropic stacks for fighting brain fog.
There are clinical studies that show this nootropic can improve focus and concentration, as well as reduce stress.
It seems to work by promoting GABA production, which is considered a “calming” neurotransmitter.
It does this without causing sleepiness or grogginess, which you do not want if you are already suffering from brain fog.25Anna C Nobre, eta al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008 26Kenta Kimura, et al. l-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses, Biological Psychology, 2007 L-theanine and caffeine together are some of the go-to’s for cutting through mental fatigue.
Great source of choline that works well in nootropic stacks
This nootropic is a concentrated form of the nutrient choline, and it has proven benefits for brain fog.
Choline is the precursor to acetylcholine (ACh), which is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain.
By increasing ACh levels, you can improve the speed that your nervous system communicates.
This process can have big benefits for your mental performance. In both human and animal trials, the subjects that took Alpha GPC scored better on cognitive tests.27Schettini G, et al. Molecular mechanisms mediating the effects of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, a new cognition-enhancing drug, on behavioral and biochemical parameters in young and aged rats, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1992 28Parnetti L1, Amenta F, Gallai V. Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data, Mech Ageing Dev. 2001 29Canal N, et al. Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine, Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol. 1991
It also has virtually zero side-effects and is not a stimulant. If you are having trouble with memory or fuzzy thinking, Alpha GPC could help get you back in the game.
Traditional Chinese herb for improving cognition
Huperzine A is an all-natural herbal remedy for brain fog that works similarly to Alpha GPC.
It inhibits acetylcholinesterase, which is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.
So, it indirectly increases ACh levels in the brain, which can improve overall cognition.
This process can help clear up your brain, as well as improve your memory.
Many people report a boost in energy after taking this nootropic, but without the crash associated with stimulants.30Sun Quing-qui, et al. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students, Acta Pharma Sun. 1999 31Wang BS, et al. Efficacy and safety of natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitor huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: an updated meta-analysis, J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009
Ancient herbal cognitive enhancer and energy supplement
Ginkgo Biloba is one of the most popular all-natural nootropics out there.
In use for millennia in some cultures, there is clinical evidence that it is effective for improving cognition. 32R. B. Silberstein, et al. Examining Brain-Cognition Effects of Ginkgo Biloba Extract: Brain Activation in the Left Temporal and Left Prefrontal Cortex in an Object Working Memory Task, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011
Ginkgo can improve blood flow, increase oxygen levels in the blood, and fight inflammation.
All of these benefits can have a rejuvenating effect if you are suffering from brain fog.
It can also prevent the breakdown of dopamine, which can improve mood and motivation.33Wu WR, Zhu XZ. Involvement of monoamine oxidase inhibition in neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects of Ginkgo biloba extract against MPTP-induced nigrostriatal dopaminergic toxicity in C57 mice, Life Sci. 1999
All-in-all, ginkgo biloba is one of the best natural remedies if you are trying to cut through the “noise” in your head and focus on the task at hand.
While nootropics and supplements can help eliminate brain fog, we always recommend seeking professional help if your symptoms persist.
Do you experience brain fog? Let us know how you are coping in the comments below.