Have you had a great idea, only for it to disappear into thin air? Welcome to menopause! Brain fog is just one of the many wonderful symptoms that women experience as they go through ‘the change’.
Menopause occurs when your ovaries no longer have eggs to release and your reproductive hormones decline. Some women breeze through menopause. Others struggle with a whole range of symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and brain-related symptoms like loss of concentration, insomnia, forgetfulness, anxiousness, lost libido and mood swings.
These symptoms aren’t just confined to menopause. In fact, they often begin in the months or years leading up to your final period — a time called perimenopause. During this time, your ovaries still make oestrogen and progesterone, but the amount fluctuates, sending you into hormone spikes and crashes.
What is brain fog?
One of the most common symptoms of menopause is brain fog — but this can mean many different things to different people. Often it’s described as difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness or a general ‘hazy’ feeling.
What causes brain fog?
There are many factors at play, but there are several possible causes of brain fog:
- Fluctuating hormones — hormones play an important role in our brain function, and any changes in hormones are likely to have implications for how we think and feel.
- Hot flashes — so many symptoms have a cause and effect, and it’s likely that hot flashes and sweats can disturb sleep and have a negative impact on brain function.
- Insomnia — once again, it’s difficult to say which is the cause and which is the effect. It’s well known that sleep is important for consolidating memory, so it’s likely that having difficulty sleeping will also have an impact on brain function.
Natural medicines for brain fog
- Magnesium — plays a key role in regulating your body’s stress response, while encouraging relaxation and sleep. It’s also excellent for helping with brain fog, boosting memory function, attention and focus.
- Phytoestrogens — these naturally occurring plant compounds mimic oestrogen, often without side effects. A herbal mix containing phytoestrogens can be a powerful tool in balancing your body and helping restore your hormonal balance and brain function.
- N Acetyl Carnitine — a more bioavailable form of L-Carnitine, this plays an important role in energy production, including energy to power your thinking.
Other natural remedies for brain fog
While herbal medicines are a powerful tool to battle brain fog, it’s also important to keep active — both physically and mentally.
Regular exercise normalises cortisol, insulin, blood glucose, growth hormone and thyroid levels, as well as giving your brain more oxygen. This helps reduce the effect of menopause symptoms and boosts your mood while you’re at it. BUT no matter what you do, it should be enjoyable. We recommend:
- Yoga or tai-chi — both are great exercises for menopause. They help to balance energy centres as well as massage your internal organs and help with relaxation.
- Walk for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes, 5 days a week. If you are walking of a morning, it is important to walk without your sunglasses to allow early morning sunlight to stimulate your brain to produce positive endorphins — your feel-good brain chemicals.
- Regular weight-bearing and aerobic exercise supports fat burning, muscle strength and bone mineral density.
It’s also important to keep your brain stimulated, but not over-stressed. When you are feeling the pressure, remember to lean on your support network — the people you can rely on to talk to about what you’re going through.
It’s also a good idea to practice meditation or mindfulness. Feeling worried and anxious all the time can actually exacerbate or trigger menopause symptoms like brain fog and hot flashes.
Learning to be relaxed and calm in your everyday life — especially stressful situations — will help make this transitional period much smoother. This is often easier said than done though, so keep trying until you find a style that resonates with you and to practice until it becomes part of your everyday life. We’ve found a couple of great resources from ABC to get you started if you’re new to the idea of meditation or mindfulness.
Remember, brain fog is a temporary condition that many women experience in the lead-up to and during menopause. There are many ways that your Naturopath can help you to reduce the symptoms you’re experiencing so that you can get on with your life and feel well again.
If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause and you would like some free advice from our qualified Naturopaths, drop in to the Herb Bar anytime Monday through Friday from 8am – 1pm or Saturday 9am – 1pm. No appointment necessary and a qualified Naturopath will be on hand ready to assist you with free advice, practitioner grade natural supplements and herbal medicines. The Herb Bar is located in reception at Mullen Natural Health Centre, 16 Murray Street Hamilton NSW 2303.