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Brain Fog

Brain Fog
November 6, 2016 Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

brain_fog_blogDo you occasionally have “brain fog”?  There are ways to reverse it without medication.

Brain fog is a term used to describe times when someone’s brain does not function correctly.  Like a fog rolling in from the sea, something changes the way their brain functions.

They notice an inability to focus on what they need to be doing, become forgetful, or cannot concentrate.

Brain fog can be momentary, last all day, or persist for years.  If it continues long enough, people worry they are developing dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.  But unlike dementia, brain fog will lift and they can think clearly again.  This is a diagnostic clue because dementias do not lift.

Brain fog may be caused by prescription medications, anemia, low thyroid function, sleep apnea, or depression.  But many of the brain fog patients I see do not have those problems.  Their damaged nervous system is preventing normal amounts of oxygen and blood pressure from reaching their brains upwards against gravity.

Pay attention to your brain fog to see if it improves during exercise when lying flat, or after drinking or eating food (salt, carbs, or sugar in particular).  These activities temporarily boost pressure upwards or eliminate the challenges of gravity.

The most common cause of brain fog is an inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain from damage to the Autonomic Nervous System.  The Autonomic Nervous System is the main communications network between the brain and the heart, the organs, the digestive tract, and both the immune system and hormone systems.

The Autonomics may be damaged as a result of a variety of physical, emotional, or inflammatory injuries to the brain.  These injuries do not have to be severe, they just need to cause a small amount of damage that does not get fully repaired.

We are 20 years or more into an epidemic of unrepaired brain injuries from physical traumas known as concussions.  In addition, a growing number of studies tell us that brain injury can also occur from emotional trauma, abdominal surgeries, severe infections, and excessive vaccine reactions.

If we function correctly, minor brain damage should repair within three months.  But without full repair other symptoms of Autonomic dysfunction like headaches, migraines, heartburn, constipation, bloating, lightheaded or dizzy sensations, or anxiety may occur.

Start repairing brain fog by consuming the nutrients your brain needs to fight inflammation and by avoiding pro-inflammatory chemicals that hinder recovery.  We need to consume both DHA (in fish oil) and ALA (nuts, flax) omega-3 fatty acids to suppress inflammation, and oleic acid (U.S. sourced extra virgin olive oil) omega-9 fatty acids to improve cellular function.

Next, eliminate linoleic acid (an omega-6) vegetable oils in food.  Common ones are soybean oil, soy oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, margarine, and shortening.

Studies show that if omega-3 and 9 are increased, and omega-6 is decreased, we have less inflammation and we produce more stem cells which repair the damage.

If these dietary changes do not eliminate your brain fog, Autonomic Nervous System testing may give you additional information, validation of your injury, and treatment options.  Autonomic Dysfunction (also called “Dysautonomia”) is too subtle to appear on an MRI or CT Scan, it does not show up on lab work, but it can be detected a variety of ways including Autonomic spectral analysis testing and/or heart rate variability.

The common symptoms of Autonomic dysfunction include being lightheaded or dizzy, headaches, chronic fatigue, heartburn, intestinal distress (cramping/constipation/frequent urination), chronic pain, chronic hunger, insomnia/sleep disturbances/non-restorative sleep cycles, depression/anxiety/panic attacks, temperature regulation problems, tingling and numbness (feet, legs, hands, arms, face, neck), passing out, cognitive difficulties, memory problems, erratic heart rates or blood pressure, nausea, brain fog, varicose veins (men and women), and erectile dysfunction.

Because the symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction are presented in so many different ways, many providers never put together all of the pieces, they overmedicate to mask the symptoms, or even worse they dismiss the patient’s complaints.

Patients from all over the country find me after they have been passed around from doctor to doctor.  Many feel like their providers do not fully believe them.  Some feel abandoned, blamed for their health issues, or isolated from others who do not understand how bad they feel.  Most have never been given hope and a plan for recovery.

If your Autonomics are damaged you will feel sick, tired, hungry, foggy, and old – and I believe you.

The first step is to find the underlying problem.  In my office that begins with Autonomic testing which measures heart rate variability (HRV) and traces the intervals between heart beats to within hundreds of a second.

HRV is a function of continuous Sympathetic and Parasympathetic activity, and both of these signals are embedded within the EKG communication between the brain and the heart.  HRV and Autonomic functioning are biomarkers for how well your brain is controlling your body.

In basic primary care terms, Autonomic Nervous System monitoring helps me identify the early changes in brain function often present in non-symptomatic patients.  This is an amazing way to identify pre-clinical changes in my patients whose brains are silently signaling an upcoming disease state but who do not yet feel a change in their health.

There are five stages in Autonomic Dysfunction and the first two stages do not have noticeable symptoms.  It is only in the third stage of Autonomic Dysfunction that people start to experience symptoms that affect their daily life like GI trouble, sleep trouble, headaches, temperature regulation problems, brain fog, or dizziness. 

Early Autonomic Dysfunction detection gives my patients the opportunity to reverse the brain damage and to prevent future complications such as headaches, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression.

In patients already experiencing symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction or who have already been diagnosed with a chronic disease, Autonomic monitoring guides the development of individualized treatment plans that will ultimately reverse the brain injuries, halt their symptoms, lower their risk of premature death, improve their response to therapies, and help them get off of their medications that mask their symptoms but do nothing to improve their problems.

There are two main branches of the Autonomic Nervous System, one is the Sympathetic and the other is the Parasympathetic.  The brain communicates and coordinates the metabolic state of all of the cells in the human body through those two branches via the complex Vagus Nerve.

In simple terms, the Sympathetic branch is responsible for energy expenditure (“fight or flight”) and the Parasympathetic branch is responsible for energy conservation and restoration (“rest and digest”).

These two opposite Autonomic branches should work together simultaneously and in balance, which is called sympathovagal balance.  When the two Autonomic branches are in balance the body works automatically and a person feels no symptoms. When the branches are no longer working automatically, a person may feel symptoms that range from mild (feeling dizzy or a head rush when standing up from a chair) to completely debilitating (falling/passing out). 

The balance between the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branches is not just important for feeling better in the short term, balance is necessary for a long and healthy life.  My goal as a doctor is to improve and restore Autonomic functioning because it is critical to life expectancy.

Improved Autonomic function improves heart rate variability (HRV), which is a reflection of Vagal function.  People with elevated HRV have an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation or heart flutter.  People with low HRV have an increased risk of widespread organ and metabolic dysfunction.

When the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branches are not in balance, and if left untreated, the imbalance will result in a loss of heart rate variability (HRV) which is associated with increased mortality from all causes.  Autonomic dysfunction also fuels the systemic metabolic inflammation that triggers cellular changes and ignites someone’s disposition for disease (cancer, diabetes, hypertension, etc.).

Groundbreaking bioelectrical work is now being done on inflammation and disease through the stimulation of the Vagus Nerve that I believe will completely transform modern medicine and make many prescriptions obsolete in our lifetime.

I use Vagal Nerve stimulation in my medical practice and I have discovered a multifaceted formula for Autonomic restoration that is so unique and effective that I filed a patent application for the Nemechek Protocol for Autonomic Recovery (Patent Pending).

I am a classically trained internal medicine physician (D.O.) from UCLA and my private office is located in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

My research background has been focused on the Autonomic Nervous System, brain metabolism, and metabolic inflammation.

I am a scientist physician who uses all available scientific and medical tools to induce the nervous system and organs to actually repair themselves by normalizing inflammation control mechanisms, inducing natural stem cell production, and re-activating innate restorative mechanisms.

Changing the brain, in order to change the body, takes persistent effort by the patient but I have seen Autonomic injuries recover years or decades after the person’s trauma or event.  This is where hope can be found because it is never too late to improve your health.

For more information, you may call my office at 623-208-4226.

READ MORE: Your Brain’s Favorite Food

© 2016. Dr. Patrick M. Nemechek and Jean R. Nemechek. All Rights Reserved. Patent Pending.

36 Comments

  1. Jordan 1 month ago

    Dr. Nemechek,

    I have been on your protocol for about 3 months now with great success. My father-in-law was just diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). It’s A “disorder that affects movement, control of walking (gait) and balance, speech, swallowing, vision, mood and behavior, and thinking. The disease results from damage to nerve cells in the brain.”

    Do you think your protocol would be able to help PSP? Thank you,

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 1 month ago

      Yes but only with the addition of the vagus nerve stimulator. He’d need to be seen in AZ for that.

  2. Anonymous 3 months ago

    I have a 15.5 year old on the NP. He is taking 5 NOW FO capsules, 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil and just finished a round of rifaximin two weeks ago. His major challenges are brain fog, language processing, can not sit still and has minor tics that are related to stress. He has been on the NP since 3/18, we are seeing little progress. Is it to soon to see gains or should we be adjusting the dose? I was also thinking of adding flax seed oil, would you recommend this or is there something else you recommend.

    Thank you!

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 3 months ago

      2 weeks after rifaximin is too soon to expect changes. The older the child, the less intense the awakening so you might of missed that or the inulin you were on previously had already eliminated that.

      Remember, recovery is slow. Your doses are fine, just remember to strip away unnecessary supplements. Hang in there, be patient and the improvements will come.

  3. Anonymous 4 months ago

    Hello Dr, I will see you in Sept. I am following your protocol. Can you please provide relief from brainfog, dizzy,fatigue within 1-2 hours of waking. All my labs show normal I do have hypothyroid and gallstones. Anything would be helpful. I am suffering. Thanks Pam

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 4 months ago

      Read my blog about chicken stock

  4. Sinhal R 5 months ago

    Dr Doctor, I have been having recurring yeast infections. Will Inulin help kill the yeast? Or will it aggrevate the situation? also, in such case will EVOO and DHA help, and how?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 5 months ago

      In adults, inulin is not effective enough to reverse the intestinal issues.

  5. shoshana lang 6 months ago

    i’m wondering if your protocol can address p.a.n.d.a.s

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 6 months ago

      Yes

  6. Anonymous 7 months ago

    I have all the above symptoms of autonomic dysfunction and had an appt scheduled this past December to see you, but had to postpone because of some health issues my husband has (I am unable to fly alone because flying triggers my vertigo/nausea, and migraines). I tried starting on the protocol and it made me extremely depressed and emotional to the point where I had a breakdown and was inconsolable at work. It also caused changes in my monthly cycle. Is this normal, and if so- how long does it usually last.

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 7 months ago

      The protocol generally doesn’t make these kind of symptoms worse.

  7. Petrina 7 months ago

    Great! I’ve treated the overgrowth with rifaximin already. I’m just working on preventing a relapse. How long might autonomic recovery take with DHA and EVOO?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 7 months ago

      You should start noticing improvements within 4-6 weeks.

  8. Petrina 7 months ago

    I am recovering from SIBO and still suffer from brain fog. Since I am in Australia, vagus nerve stimulation at your clinic is not an option. Can my autonomic function be restored just by taking 3000mg DHA per day and olive oil? Or is it not possible without vagus nerve stimulation? If it can be restored with supplementation, how long does it take? Do you have to supplement forever, or just until you recover?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 7 months ago

      A great deal of recovery can be had with just DHA, EVOO and rebalancing of the intestinal bacteria with rifaximin

  9. Sam 7 months ago

    Do you think the protocol could benefit a condition like lupus which is partly caused from inflammation?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 7 months ago

      Yes

  10. Andrew 12 months ago

    I’ve recently been researching vagus nerve stimulation and come across your site. I have a strong interest in ADHD (Im medically qualified, but have had to cease work for a while for health reasons. Myself and my adult children both have ADHD.
    Now the material on this You Tube Clip is plain fascinating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxjSYRWrJB8
    Ive known of the ADHD/ postural hpotension/dysautonomia for several years but it seems none of my colleagues see it, or are prepared to attend to it.

    I see supposedly healthy young men and women white as a ghost when sitting up, and they have a rapid return of facial colour when lying down. They usually have a borderline tachycardia and an abnormal stand up test. Almost all improve with stimulants, and when we check we find that their heart rate regresses towards the mean when taking meds. However these results are usually limited by tolerance – long term results are ok- but not as good.

    Your association of some of the ADHD symptoms with cerebral perfusion is clear, and undoubtedly accurate. There are other symptoms such as cerebellar and oculomotor problems which may relate to the original insult to the nervous system (which in many cases may be birth trauma0.

    Anyhow- thankyou for putting up your opinion- it is very validating to see someone else notice it!
    I am working with ta VNS on my health issues, and am sure it has a role in this population too.

    Your o

  11. anonymous 12 months ago

    Dr. nemechek,

    I’m having all the symptoms of autonomic dysfunction. lightheadedness when standing, chronic fatigue, brain fog, body not digesting food etc. My blood work from my primary physician has all come back clear including my Sed Rate which was a 2 which means I have virtually no inflammation in my body. Could I still have damage to the autonomic nervous system for unknown reasons?

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 12 months ago

      The Sed Rate can only say if you have a particular form of inflammation. A negative test does not equal no inflammation.

      In other words, you can still have autonomic dysfunction. Take the test on our web site

  12. Anonymous 1 year ago

    Thank you Dr Nemecheck

  13. marwa 1 year ago

    Thank you Dr Patrick

  14. marwa 1 year ago

    I stated this protocol for my 6 y old son
    It eliminates the brain fog and increase the cognition
    and for some extent at first increase the sentences

    But it increase stimming and autistic behaviors and aggression which decreased when using antifungal

    But my son is facing problems now like erection his penis which I dont know why we make urine analysis and found that there is increase in calcium phosphate in urine

    Is inulin increase salt with urine?
    Penis erection may be due to parasympathetic stimulation?
    Hiw this protocol works is this stimulate parasympathetic ?

    I want to understand and apply this protocol safety for my son
    because it really increase cognition and decrease brain fog

    And thank you

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 1 year ago

      The autonomics control all organ function and sometimes strange symptoms can occur during recovery. These symptoms tend to take care of their self with a little more time.

  15. Ben 2 years ago

    Dr. Nemecheck*, sorry haha

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      No problem.

      Many people call me Dr Buckeye.

  16. Ben 2 years ago

    Thank you Dr. Buckeye. I appreciate the response and direction!

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      My pleasure.

  17. Ben 2 years ago

    Dr. Nemechek

    Thank you for responding to me. Is there any research articles, or rather information, that you could lead me to about these microglia cells? I would like to know how we know that these cells are responsible for halting the progression of recovery. This is all extremely interesting to me.

    How to you clinically stimulate the vagus nerve? I’ve seen transdermal vagus nerve stimulators that achieve this by acting on the branches on the ear lobe.

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Search the terms “microglia review pubmed” and you’ll have plenty to read.

      Go to DrBUckeye.com and watch my screencast on vagus nerve stimulation.

  18. Ben 2 years ago

    Dr. Nemechek,

    So in order to correct the autonomic nervous system, how long does one have to undergo vagus stimulation? Further, where is the research to back up that this intervention contributes to improving these symptoms? The research I have done so far only shows that the most recent research deals with utilizing transdermal vagus nerve stimulation for refractory epilepsy.

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Patients progressively improve with the majority have substantial clinical improvement in 6 months. Depending on the age of the patients, some will need to continue therapy until we learn how to turn off the hyperstimulated M1-microglia within the CNS. These white blood cells are one of the major reasons that prevent recover.

      Animal studies are demonstrating the ability of VNS to shift the microglial phenotype from M1 -> M2. This results in recovery on chronic brain injury from TBI. We will be presenting our data at the Neuromodulation conference in Scotland in May 2017.

      More info on this and examples of recovery can be seen at http://www.autonomicrecovery.com/common-reversal-of-a-traumatic-brain-injury/.

      Dr. N

  19. Cameron Ackerson 2 years ago

    Dear Doctor,

    Hello my name is Cameron Ackerson, I am a Research Scientist at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. In our lab we conduct research regarding low carb-ketogenic diets. Together my colleagues and I are in the process of writing a book, in it we are compiling a list of doctors like yourself who advocate and support the implementation of low carb-ketogenic diet.

    With your permission we would like to list you as medical professional for patients to be able to contact in regards to their health and implementing a ketogenic diet.

    If you are on board with this would you be willing to provide a phone number or emailing for patients to reach out to you?

    Thank you very much and have a nice day!

    • Author
      Patrick Nemechek, D.O. 2 years ago

      Yes. You may contact me via dr@autonomicmed.com and phone 623-208-4226

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