Even when it seems like everything is going great, when my Meniere’s symptoms are in check and life is good, I still end up dealing with brain fog. It can be so frustrating. In the last several months, since publishing part 1 and part 2 of this series, I have stumbled across three new powerful tools for dealing with brain fog. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Recently I came across a website offering activated charcoal capsules made from coconut shells, sold as a supplement to remove toxins in the gut from low-quality foods and environmental pollution.
Activated charcoal is an incredibly absorbent, porous material that can remove over 100 times its weight in toxins from the body. It has been used for thousands of years in both Western and Eastern medicine and is completely harmless to the body.
This got me thinking. Brain fog is often thought to be the consequence of inflammation in the brain. Also recently, a strong correlation has been found between inflammation in the gut and inflammation in the brain. It occurred to me that if activated charcoal could quickly remove toxins from my gut, then maybe it would reduce my brain fog as well. I decided to give it a try.
The charcoal capsules arrived about a week later and coincidentally, I had the perfect opportunity to test it out. My dad was in town for the weekend, and he took me and my fiancée Megan out to breakfast. I had a large omelet with rye toast that pushed the limits of my acceptable sodium intake. This alone would have been fine, but we had a cake tasting for our wedding scheduled thirty minutes later. After trying three different cakes, I suddenly felt horrible. My brain fog kicked into high gear, and I started getting dizzy.
As soon as we got home, I took two capsules and hoped for the best. Miraculously, about twenty minutes later, I felt so much better. I wasn’t 100%, but a lot of the fog had cleared. I couldn’t believe the difference. Any time Megan and I go out to dinner, I’m always hesitant to drive. Way too often, after a large meal, I get terrible brain fog and feel too impaired to drive home. Keeping charcoal capsules with me has completely erased my fear and has helped me reduce my brain fog drastically, without any side effects. I’ve struggled with brain fog for so long. I wish I had figured this out sooner.
One word of caution: Activated charcoal can reduce the effectiveness of other medications. If you take any medication or supplements, make sure to talk to your doctor first. At the very least, don’t take any medication or supplements within several hours before or after consuming activated charcoal.
Brainwave Entrainment for Powerful Focus:
In my last post on improving your sleep, I covered binaural beats as a safe and effective way to induce sleep. What I didn’t mention, however, is that binaural beats are also a powerful tool to increase your focus and concentration, allowing you to sidestep the effects of brain fog.
Here’s a quick refresher: Binaural beats are a sound technology that can quickly and reliably produce changes in your brain state. By listening to a single tone in one ear, say 500Hz and a slightly different tone in the other ear, say 514Hz, the difference of 14Hz happens to be the same frequency as Beta brain waves. Through a process called entrainment, your brain will start producing more Beta brainwaves simply by listening to the binaural beat through headphones. (If you have lost your hearing in one or both ears, it will unfortunately not work)
There are countless binaural beat apps for both Android and IOS; a quick search in either app store brings up thousands of results. For the last several weeks, however, I have been using a powerful service called Focus@Will that combines music streaming with binaural beats optimized to increase your focus and productivity.
They have apps for Android and IOS, as well as a Web App. It isn’t a free service, but you can try it for 30 days without giving your credit card information. If you want to give it a try, click here: FOCUS@WILL. If you decide to sign up, you’ll get 10% off. (I am not affiliated with Focus@Will in any capacity.)
I find the music streaming feature sets it apart from other apps and makes for an incredible experience. The instrumental songs are subtle and help to keep you relaxed while the binaural beats keep you focused. It has become one of my top tools for dealing with brain fog.
UPDATE: I have created a powerful Brainwave Entrainment Album designed specifically for people with Meniere’s disease! It’s called the Meniere’s Symptom Relief Project and it features tracks to improve focus, sleep, vertigo, brain fog, fatigue and more! And best of all, it’s available with pay-what-you-want-pricing. Click here for more!
One of the most insidious aspects of brain fog is its ability to impact your memory. But in recent years, new research has shown that by practicing a simple exercise called the “N-Back Task”, you can not only increase your working memory but raise your IQ points as well.
The N-Back Task was originally developed as a way to test a person’s short-term working memory. But when turned into a game, it can be used as a training tool to improve working memory and IQ as well. There are several variations, but the version of the game called Dual-N-Back is the one I recommend.
I won’t mince words; it’s incredibly challenging and not what I would exactly call fun. At times, it can be endlessly frustrating. But it works, and if you keep at it, your memory will improve significantly.
The Dual-N-Back game is hard to describe. You start with a tic-tac-toe board and watch as a square appears in one of the 8 locations (the middle spot isn’t used), while at the same time a letter of the alphabet is spoken aloud. After a few seconds, the square vanishes and reappears in a new randomized location on the tic-tac-toe board with a new letter being spoken aloud. Each time this happens, you have to identify if either the new location or the new letter (or both) matches the previous location or spoken letter. The ‘dual’ in Dual-N-Back represents the number of stimuli you are keeping track of; the position of the square and the spoken letter.
(If you have lost some or all of your hearing, you can change the second stimuli from a spoken letter to the color of the square. Now you will be tracking color and position.)
Starting out at level 1, it’s not that hard because you only have to remember the position and spoken letter from one move backward. However, as you progress through the levels, it becomes increasingly more challenging. At level 2 you are comparing the current location and spoken letter to the location and spoken letter from 2 moves back. Then 3 moves back, then 4 moves and so on. There are times when it feels like it’s impossible, but don’t give up. It may take a couple of days, but your brain will adapt and make the new connections necessary to break through and advance to the next level. It’s like power lifting with your brain. You’ll improve, slowly but surely.
If you can practice for 20 minutes a day, for 30 days, you will achieve a significant boost in your working memory and an increase in IQ points. It’s tedious work, but the payoff is huge.
You can download a free, open source copy of the Dual-N-Back game here: Brain Workshop.
Brain fog will always be an unfortunate side effect of Meniere’s disease and other vestibular disorders. But by now, you have a powerful arsenal of tools at your disposal to reduce its power. Brain fog will never get the best of you. I hope you find these new tools as helpful as I have. In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for new strategies and in the end, we will win the battle against brain fog.