Inflammation: The Root Cause of Brain Fog?

Have you ever felt that you just couldn't think? Your projects at work are suffering because you can't concentrate. Your personal relationships are struggling because you can't seem to remember special dates.

And you've lost your car keys and cell phone more times than you can count.

You feel mentally exhausted and no amount of coffee seems to change that.

You may even feel like you're losing your mind.

Most of us have had this happen to us at sometime in our lives and found it to be a minor inconvenience but when you find that your quality of life is suffering due to a lack of mental clarity then you may have brain fog.

Brain fog is a condition in which you lack focus, concentration, mental clarity, have difficulty remembering, and have an overall inability to think clearly and reason. You may even have trouble making important decisions.

Brain fog, while not a concrete diagnosis, can and does occur in conjunction with a host of disorders like systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE or lupus, multiple sclerosis or MS, and Alzheimer's.

Brain fog has also been linked to depression, iron deficiency anemia, and even stress.

While brain fog is certainly distressing in itself, it's actually just a symptom of an underlying condition: inflammation.

When you think of inflammation what first comes to mind?

A puffy red bee sting? An angry swollen arthritic joint? Pain?

The classic clinical signs of inflammation first defined by first century Roman physician Celsus and now drilled into all new med school students include tumor, rubor, calor, and dolor. In plain English: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.

While this process is true of local inflammation, the body's chemical reaction occurring in the surrounding tissues when injured or infected, things look a bit different when you go deeper into the body.

In fact, inflammation, when viewed from within the brain, shows itself as brain fog.

A study done using a group of 20 healthy male volunteers showed that inflammation, which was caused by injecting a salmonella typhoid vaccine, affected the brain's ability to stay alert.

Interleukin-6 or IL-6 is an inflammatory cytokine, a molecule secreted by cells of the immune system that affects how cells communicate with one another.

Research show’s that IL-6 is an important player in controlling the extent of the inflammatory response [2]. Essentially IL-6 acts as the kindling to fuel the fire of inflammation.

Since IL-6 is a chief player in creating and controlling inflammation, you would think that it was a bad thing, right?

Not quite.

IL-6 and the resulting inflammation is actually beneficial over a short period of time. Inflammation helps to resolve infection and help the immune system.

The problem with inflammation is when it becomes chronic.

How does chronic inflammation lead to brain fog?