Forgetfulness, memory problems, and brain fog can be scary for women entering menopause. What important thing will you forget today? We all worry about the big stuff, like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and ADHD. But the truth is fuzzy thinking in menopause and perimenopause is extremely common, and more often than not this alarming symptom is not connected to a larger diagnosis.
Estrogen levels are integral to your brain function, and as this hormone jumps up and down during perimenopause and menopause, your mental clarity, memory and thinking can suffer. Scientists have also recently learned that progesterone, another hormone that fluctuates in menopause, may protect the brain against free radical damage and promote the repair of damaged nerve cells.
Though it may seem like taking prescription estrogen and progesterone is the answer, taking prescription hormones likely won’t help your brain function, according to the results of the Women’s Health Initiative Study. So what should you do to protect and boost brain function during menopause? Science shows that there are several key steps to take — on your own at home — to clear your brain fog and memory problems in menopause.
1. Balance your hormones without a prescription. The fluctuation of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone during this time of hormonal instability can lead to all kinds of symptoms like brain fog and memory issues. But herbs like black cohosh, red clover and kudzu can minimize the shock of plunging estrogen levels by helping your body make more of its own hormones or by binding to empty estrogen receptors. Passionflower and chasteberry are believed to mimic the actions of progesterone, soothing anxiety, irritability and insomnia. Find an herbal menopause combination with these ingredients in the proper amounts or try ours.
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2. Be real about stress. This is the time in life when all the stress we’ve been carrying for years comes to the surface — sometimes like a volcano erupting in the form of angry outbursts, health problems, insomnia and more. Cortisol is the stress hormone that gives us the energy to plow through stressful situations, but over the long-term cortisol can influence cellular changes in the part of your brain that manages attention, short-term memory, word-finding, and learning. If your thinking is fuzzy, take this as a warning sign from your body that it’s time to slow down. Whatever that may mean for you in your life, it usually involves finding ways to unplug, connect with those you love, restore and have fun.
3. Boost brain-healthy nutrients. B-vitamins like B1, B2, B6, and folic acid are essential to our ability to reason, verbalize and remember. That’s why you feel more alert after you take them. Research is also showing us that antioxidants (like vitamin E) and omega-3 fatty acids are protective for the brain. In people with ADHD, blood levels of omega-3’s are much lower than normal. Omega-3’s are thought to reduce inflammation in the brain and decrease plaque production along nerve endings. Many studies show behavioral and cognitive improvement with supplemental omega-3’s and vitamin E. Find a high-quality multivitamin and omega-3 supplement or check out ours, formulated especially for women.
4. Sleep! We can’t say enough about the benefits of sleep for clearer thinking. Getting a good night’s sleep on a day-to-day basis is one of the best ways to stay sharp, youthful and healthy. Anxiety and night sweats are common symptoms that keep women awake during the menopause transition. Yet, if you can support your hormones with herbs, these symptoms often resolve allowing you to get the rest you need. Some of the best herbs for sleep are passionflower, chamomile, and valerian. We developed our Serinisol with passionflower and phosphatidylserine, an important natural chemical that can protect brain cells against the harmful effects of cortisol and promote healthy communication between the brain and adrenal glands (our stress responders).
5. Investigate food sensitivities. Here’s one that most women don’t think of when it comes to fuzzy thinking or brain fog. But food sensitivities can definitely create mental challenges — even if you don’t notice any digestive symptoms at all. One of the biggest culprits is gluten. We recommend removing gluten from your diet for two weeks and seeing how you feel. The other common food offenders include: dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, corn and citrus fruits. We developed an elimination diet with supplement support to reset your digestion and clear your mind and body.
Don’t let fuzzy thinking scare you — do something about it instead. Brain chemistry is not a fixed state and will react for better or worse to the way we treat ourselves and our bodies. Though you should always check in with your doctor if you have major concerns, there are many contributing factors to mental fogginess in menopause and chances are good that you can clear the cobwebs and get back to your life. We offer a Hormonal Health Program that includes our Herbal Equilibrium, women’s multivitamin, omega-3’s and suggested dietary changes. In addition, you have full phone support from our Wellness Coaches located right here in Maine. If the Program isn’t right for you, we offer individual products in our SHOP as well. Take care of your brain and your body today — you’ve got a long life ahead of you!