Like all of your systems, your brain depends on the right balance of hormones in your body to be healthy and function at its best. When you are under stress, whether physical or emotional, your hormone levels suffer.
Hormone imbalance can leave your brain inflamed and lacking in some of the chemicals it needs to thrive, which can make you feel fatigued, foggy, anxious, and unable to focus.
While conventional medicine may tell you that you need medical therapies or that you are going to have to live with how you are feeling, I am here to empower you to take control of your health and hormones to get you back to yourself. Your body wants to be well, and there are things you can do to naturally and effectively get the results you are looking for!
Here are the top hormone imbalances that lead to brain fog…
HPA-AXIS DEREGULATION AND HIGH CORTISOL
Your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is critical to your overall well-being. Any imbalance here sends your body into chaos and upsets the delicate hormonal balance you need to feel your best. When your adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress, the rest of your body’s hormone systems go into survival mode.
Unfortunately, this means things like your thyroid hormones, estrogen, and progesterone are put on hold. Not only do you have a greater emotional stress load from the raised cortisol in your body (and that alone can make you feel overwhelmed and foggy), a deregulated HPA axis will make your body’s chemical balance be geared to survival instead of the functions that you need for hormone and brain health.
Brain fog is a common complaint from women who are dealing with both hyper- and hypothyroidism because any change in the balance of hormones secreted by your thyroid will affect how your mind is able to work.
Your thyroid dictates your metabolism and ability to process the nutrients you are taking in, so any stress on your body that decreases its function makes you less efficient at getting what you need from your food.
Unfortunately, your brain is one of the first systems to be affected by these cuts, and that can leave you foggy, forgetful, and anxious. (1) Thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating your brain’s inflammatory responses and in your overall ability to think. (2) Your brain will often reflect any inflammation in other areas of your body — particularly your gut — so you want to do all you can to keep it away to help you feel your best!
ESTROGEN AND PROGESTERONE
When your body is stressed and your cortisol levels are telling your brain to go into survival mode, your sex hormone levels suffer. Estrogen and progesterone are key not only to reproductive health but also to help your mood stable and your mind sharp.
When you go into survival mode and estrogen and progesterone levels in your body are lowered, you are less able to use the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin. (3, 4, 5) Both of these chemicals are vital to stabilize your mood, help you manage your emotions, and get proper sleep. Estrogen and progesterone also help with keeping the connections in your brain sharp and prevent the buildup of free radicals in your brain that could be causing more inflammation. (6)
PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE CONCERNS
So many women reach out to me once they hit 35 or 40+ wondering where in the world their ability to focus went…
They were rocking their careers, juggling all the plates, and suddenly…BAM. Exhaustion. Mood swings. Severe PMS. Brain fog. Hot flashes… so many things that make living your normal life so much harder.
These same hormones I’ve been outlining all go haywire during perimenopause, so it’s no surprise that brain fog is one of the top concerns during this transition.
Your levels of estrogen and progesterone naturally decline, forcing your body to find a new balance. Your stress levels are probably at an all-time high, so cortisol is raging in your bloodstream. And so many women deal with thyroid dysfunction, especially after 30, because your HPA axis has told it to slow down.
Perimenopause pulls all the bad deregulations of these key hormones and tries to disguise them as “normal.”
You are in control of your health and hormones—even during perimenopause and menopause.
The tips below will help you regain your mental clarity, energy, mood stability and more.
SELF-CARE FOR HORMONE HEALTH
So, what can you do if you suspect your hormones are to blame for your constant fogginess?
Start regaining control of your hormones and your health by lowering your cortisol levels so the rest of your body has a chance to function at its best.
The first step to regaining your brain health is to make sure you are taking care of yourself. Your hormones will stay out of whack as long as you are feeling stressed, so finding the things that help you conquer the stress will be the key to you feeling your best.
Here are some other ideas for self care that can really help your hormones heal so your brain can be sharp, focused, and clear:
Your body needs time to reset each night through adequate restful sleep, so check out this post for some of my favorite easy sleep-support tips.
Lack of sleep keeps your cortisol levels elevated, which continues the stress cycle. (7) When you aren’t sleeping, your hormones will stay imbalanced, which will make you feel even foggier.
Set a consistent bedtime for yourself.
Take time to wind down each night with calming activities like reading, meditating or a bath.
Support your sleep with natural supplements designed to restore your ability to rest (without any next-day grogginess).
Some great essential oils for sleep are Lavender, Vetiver, Cedarwood, and Roman Chamomile.
Incorporating these into your routines will help calm your mind and body in preparation for rest.
While intense exercise will make cortisol levels increase, low-impact exercise actually decreases the amount of cortisol in your system. (8)
Walking, yoga, tai chi, and other similar practices are great to incorporate to help lower your stress level and improve blood flow through your whole body to help your brain get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to work at its best. (9)
#3: Supplement for Your Hormones & Your Brain
Nutrient deficiencies that drive hormone imbalance and deprive your brain of key building blocks is an easy-to-correct (and guaranteed) fix for your brain fog.
The biggest nutrient deficiencies I see in women that really take a toll on your ability to think are magnesium, B vitamins, and Vitamin D. Incorporating these daily is sure to restore energy, help you sleep better, and get your hormones back in balance while supporting clear thinking.
Other key supplements that help get your hormones back on track and alleviate brain fog (along with a whole host of other symptoms) are…
- Hormone Balance leverages key herbs and nutrients to supply exactly what your hormones need to come into balance.
- Neuro+ Support is a specially-selected combo of key nutrients your brain needs for healthy and clear thinking, mood, and memory.
- Thyroid Support is designed with key nutrients your thyroid needs to thrive.
- Adrenal Love helps manage cortisol levels and boosts your energy naturally.
- Progest-Restore can increase progesterone levels naturally to enhance your mood, sleep, focus, and so much more. This is critical, especially if you are over 40.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Dr. Mariza’s Top 11 Supplements for Hormone Health
Ready to take charge of your own health? You can get my whole list of hormone-loving supplements in this free guide! These are the key nutrients, herbs, and supplements you can use to alleviate brain fog, restore mood stability, ease symptoms like PMS and hot flashes, lose weight easily, and so much more!
Awesome article!! Really helpful and one I’ve bookmarked and will share. Thanks Dr Mariza!!