It’s tree pollen season. Maple, Oak, and Elm are the big offenders here in Maryland, and I am allergic to them all. I didn’t have allergies growing up in coastal Maine, but when I came down here to live I learned all about the wide variety of symptoms that can be caused by seasonal allergies. The hardest one for me, and the reason you’re reading this post rather than the second installation of “Digestion and the Immune System”, is Brain Fog.
Brain Fog is a secondary symptom of a number of disorders, particularly chronic pain and fatigue disorders, as well as hormonal imbalances such as PMS, but it’s also very common in allergy sufferers, and it can be incredibly frustrating if you don’t know what’s happening.
We know about sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing, and headache caused by pollen and mold, and most of you know the basic remedies for allergies: Nettles, Quercitin, Eyebright, Turmeric, Goldenrod, and many more. But what about the Brain Fog that can plague so many of us during the Spring and Fall allergy seasons?
I have found four major things to be helpful:
- Getting extra sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Eating a light, easy-to-digest diet
- Restorative and adaptogenic herbs
I harp on this quite a bit, but if you’re not getting 7-9 hours sleep every day, at around the same time of day, you’re not getting good sleep. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may need an extra hour or two on top of that. Our bodies, and brains, need those hours to detox and repair tissue. Did you know that there is a lymphatic system in the brain itself? That system needs serious downtime to drain toxins and rejuvenate the brain. If you’re not getting that time, brain fog can result, tree pollen or no tree pollen.
It can be difficult to drink enough water. I do okay, but some days I get caught up in work or some fun project and I forget to drink enough. That can lead to sluggishness and sleepiness. If you’re dealing with the excess mucus that can come with allergies, getting dehydrated, even a little bit, can make that mucus thicker and more unpleasant. Make sure you’re drinking a generous amount of water, enough that your urine is lemonade-pale. Your body needs those fluids to deal with invaders like allergens, bacteria, and viruses.
A Light Diet:
I tend to want to eat a little lighter in the Spring anyway, so this one is easy for me. It doesn’t have to be a major change in your diet. Try to avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy, nut butters, fried foods, processed sugar, and excessively salty or processed foods. Eat more leafy greens, lean proteins, and astringent fruits. I tend to eat lots of slow-cooked beans, white meat chicken, steamed kale, grilled zucchini, and fresh young greens of all kinds. Eating a light, gently cleansing diet reduces stress on the digestion and immune systems and helps your body concentrate its energy on dealing with that darn tree pollen!
Adaptogenic Herbs for the Mind:
Here’s where we get really specific for brain fog. I take large quantities of Stinging Nettle, Shatavari, and Turmeric for my main allergy symptoms, but for brain fog there are two herbs that really shine. Tulsi, or Holy Basil, and Bacopa, are both Adaptogens native to India that are used to support memory, concentration, and general mental clarity. I find them hugely helpful, especially this time of year.
Tulsi, one of my all-time favorite herbs, is considered sacred in India. It is used to treat coughs and colds, is a mosquito repellent, balances blood sugar, reduces stress hormones, and helps to focus the mind. Adding Tulsi to your allergy remedies can really help get you back in the ball game. If you’re prone to sinus infections, Tulsi can help protect your sinuses. You can buy the capsules here.
Bacopa is another Indian herbs specific to the mind. It is a true adaptogen, meaning simply it helps the body adapt to stress in a healthy way. I find it actually helps me feel more patient with others, and improves my decision making skills. It’s a truly lovely herb, and I can’t recommend it enough! I take mine in a blend called Mental Clarity, which you can purchase here.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. I think I’m going to have a nice big glass of water with fresh lemon, and then maybe a nap. The trees will ease off soon enough and I’ll feel like myself again. I’m sure you will too.
In good health!