From Western Health Collective

    Brain fog is an umbrella term to describe feeling sluggish, fuzzy, tired and not mentally sharp. With an increase in technology use over the past year and our ever-changing environment, brain fog has become an increasingly prevalent issue.

    Factors influencing mental clarity range from sleep, stress and physiological changes to lifestyle and worldwide factors. So, what is brain fog? And how can we address it?

    Brain Fog – TCM Perspective

    By Dr William Ly

    According to Chinese Medicine, the ability to stay focused and mentally clear relies heavily on sufficient amount of life force energy (Qi) and nutrient-rich blood to circulate within the brain. When there is an abundance of Qi and Blood in a person he or she will most likely have a clear mind and spirit. In Chinese Medicine, brain fog can be caused by several reasons but the most commonly seen conditions are due to Qi deficiency and/or an excessive build-up of phlegm and damp pathogen within the body.

    Qi can be produced from various internal systems within the body. The digestive system within the body plays a major role in the production and subsequent replenishment of Qi. If there are present problems within the digestive system these will hinder the development of our Qi which will lead to a Qi deficiency within the body. In my clinical experience, improper diet, emotional stress and lack of sleep are the main common causes of digestive problems. When Qi is depleted to a certain level a person will start to feel exhausted, irritated and unable to concentrate. Prolonged Qi deficiency or intakes of certain foods which contains excessive levels of sugar and oily food can also build up phlegm and damp pathogen within the body. This dampness and phlegm build up will further exacerbate the condition because it can further obstruct the Qi circulation to our heads and deny the capacity to perform mental and cognitive activities. Furthermore, one may start to experience mental fatigue, forgetfulness, lack of appetite, cloudy mind and decrease in cognitive skills. If properly identified, these can be symptoms of the condition known as brain fog.

    In Chinese Medicine, it is crucial to identify the underlying causes of brain fog within the individual. The treatment of Chinese Medicine focuses on the clearing and removal of phlegm and damp pathogens within the body, the strengthening of the digestive system and the redirecting of Qi circulation to the brain to help restore concentration and mental clarity.

    If you have any health concerns please always seek advice from your qualified health practitioners.

    Dr. William Ly is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist at Western Health Collective.

    Here are some suggested acupressure points you can use to help assist in your recovery if you have been diagnosed with brain fog:

    Massage the below suggested points gently in a clockwise direction. For each point, complete this process for only 5-10mins on a daily basis. All of these points if massaged will assist in the clearing of both phlegm and dampness as well as strengthening the Qi within the body.


    Yin Tang: Located between the eyebrows.

    Pericardium 5: On the palmer aspect of the forearm, the acupressure point is located 4 finger breadths from the wrist.

    Stomach 36: This acupressure point is located 4 finger breadths below your knee caps and located between the head of the fibula and tibia tuberosity (the two long bones of your lower leg).

    I have experienced and supported many brave people over the years reporting “brain fog”. It’s not fun and we all remember what it was like without it. But what if brain fog is actually our body-mind’s way of expanding our awareness? A signpost of utter chaos before necessary neurological pruning so new growth shoots can emerge? How long can our conditioned mind’s need for control (ego), hang effortlessly in the not knowing? Perhaps if we interpret brain fog as a necessary mystery, we wouldn’t cling to the polishing medium but instead allow the polish to do its work.

    Emily Macvean, Health Psychologist at Western Health Collective

    (Western Health Collective is a Community Partner providing financial support to The Westsider)


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