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Many people complain of “brain fog”. Some define it as an inability to concentrate or easily getting distracted, while others say they go about feeling like their head is stuffed with cotton and they feel sleepy. To eliminate it, many resort to coffee to try to focus, or on sweets to stay awake. Both just make the problem worse.


As always, looking for the underlying culprit goes far in remedying it. Since there are many causes for brain fog, we need to do some investigative work. Blood work is rarely helpful in identifying a cause for two reasons: First, brain fog isn’t considered a medical condition, therefore, there is no medical protocol for discovering a cause, much less a treatment for it. Secondly, blood work mostly identifies diseases, and unless the disease is drastic enough that follow-up testing reveals an underlying pathology, the protocol will be based on a disease model at that point, not a health model. So, where do we start?


I prefer to look at what an individual is doing or not doing first. Diet is first. We need minerals, protein and fat in our diet, in sufficient amounts to run our varied and complex systems responsible for brain and body energy. A diet lacking in nutrient density is bound to have an adverse effect on our brain (and everything else!). The more an individual eats processed foods, restaurant foods, fast foods and junk foods, the more likely they will not be feeding the brain and energy systems. Pure and simple.


Some experts in the nutrition field recommend “Intermittent Fasting” as a way to give the digestive system a break. Helping the digestive system helps to ensure more nutrient absorption and a break for the energy systems. Intermittent fasting varies with the practitioner recommending it, but in a nutshell, breakfast is held off until later in the day, perhaps 11 am, lunch following about 2 hours later, then an early dinner at about 5:00. This means, you are eating all your food – 2 or 3 meals per day - within a 6-hour period. Before and after that chunk of time is no food, not even a snack. While I am a proponent of that in certain cases, it isn’t a good idea for everyone. Expert help is recommended.


There are some pretty good cleanses (aka detox or detoxification) programs out there, but not all ensure that both Phase I and Phase II detoxification pathways are engaged, and that is vital. If not, your brain fog could get worse during the cleanse. Here again, it is not for everyone and should be expertly guided. Certain health conditions would be contraindicated.


There are many other reasons for brain fog that we have control over and that will be discussed in next week’s article.


© 2019 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.




Foggy Days: Reasons for Brain Fog

Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Licensed Acupuncturist

Doctor of Naturopathy

Clinical Nutritionist

Master Herbologist



Dr. Holly A. Carling

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Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience.  Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.  Visit Dr. Carling’s website at to learn more about Dr. Carling, join our e-mail list and read other informative articles.  Dr. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 or and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.