As a chiropractor, one of the most common complaints I hear is “My brain is foggy”, or, “I lack mental clarity”. People ask if I can help them. The answer always starts with, “I can help you help yourself, but all healing starts within.”
To understand how chiropractic can help with brain fog one must first understand that chiropractic may entail more than the traditional chiropractic adjustment. I view chiropractic as neurological rehabilitation. I use lasers, tuning forks, percussive vibration machines, mechanical impulse devices, balance pads and more in my work. There is a reason why I use all of these devices and that is because they help us stimulate the human nervous system. That stimulation is the basis of neurological rehabilitation which is nothing more than strengthening areas of energetic weakness.
The human nervous system is comprised of a brain, a brain stem, a spinal cord that feeds nerve roots coming off the spine, 12 cranial nerves in the brain stem, and a multitude of peripheral nerves running throughout the body. The first six years of life an immense amount of development happens in the human nervous system. This development sets the stage for our physical and mental development for the rest of our life. Better development of the nervous system in early life helps us to develop neurologically more fully as we grow and age.
To understand how chiropractic can help with the symptom of brain fog it is important to understand what affects neurological development throughout life. We all are the composite of every event throughout the course of our life. Some events are positive and have an anabolic effect, they build our health. Some are negative, having a catabolic effect, tearing us down. The events I refer to can be physical, chemical, or emotional. Everything fits into one of these broad categories and all of them; be they positive or negative affect our nervous system. All the events are stored in a part of the brain called the deep limbic system. This system is like a house with two rooms. One is called the hippocampus and it is where we store memories of events. It is the rational room, a wisdom bank, where we can take incoming sensory information and analyze it calmly; then use that information to decide how to proceed with the new sensory information. The other room is the amygdala which houses memories of events that caused a sympathetic nervous system response. That means the fight or flight response is triggered in the adrenal glands. Adrenal fight or flight response activates hormones that accelerate heart rate, breathing, and more. It prepares us to run from danger – or fight. Amygdala reactions are instant and automatic. They suppress the wisdom bank of experience and cause us to react in an unthinking, often irrational manner. A suppressed wisdom bank needs neurological rehabilitation.
Amygdaloid reactions are the result of tape loops running in the brain that are associated with bad memories. When we take in new sensory information that is relative to earlier fear inducing events, we often are unable to access the hippocampus. Small things can be turned into big scary events. I am sure we have all seen, both in ourselves and in others, overreaction to what we superficially know is a small thing. This is so automatic we can feel helpless. This is also the inverse of a clear head, and a contributor to brain fog. It also can be helped through neurological rehabilitation.
The amygdaloid reaction described above is just one example of how we deal with sensory input. Our whole life is the transmission of information from outside of ourselves to receptors that transmit that information to the brain; then the transmission of information back to the body where it guides our actions. The quality of our life is dependent on the quality of feedback from brain to body. If information is not transmitted clearly to the brain, then clarity will be lacking in the brain, then in the body. This lack of mental clarity is brain fog in varying degrees. If the right and left sides of the brain do not share information, then there will be a lack of clarity. The analytical left side of the brain, the “me“ side, needs balancing from the collective consciousness, the “we” side, of the brain in order for mental clarity to be fully present.
The role of chiropractic in this sequence is that chiropractic can stimulate the nervous system in all areas, and stimulate new nervous system connections, as well as strengthen old damaged connections. That is what neurological rehabilitation is. Some chiropractors do this with just the chiropractic adjustment. As noted above I use many avenues to address the parts of the nervous system.
Brain fog may be caused by physical injury, in which case the adjustment may be all that is needed. But consider one of the most prominent causes of brain fog… The chemical side of equation, food and medications. In this case an adjustment is not enough to change the nervous system in the way it needs. That is when muscle testing to detect energetic weakness can often pinpoint what needs to happen to reverse the condition. Sometimes the chemical side is a pathogen such as yeast, virus, mold, bacteria or parasites. This is another area where muscle testing can locate the energetic weakness and guide a person in the right direction for clearing their brain fog.
Then there is the usual finding of a combination of physical, chemical and emotional factors affecting a person. The body reacts to our emotions and vice versa. Our posturing becomes our posture. The same thing happens with chemical distress affecting our body, especially the spine. Perhaps the most important part of the spine is the upper cervicals – where the spinal cord meets the beginning of the brain, the brain stem. This is location of the cranial nerves. The cranial nerves are in charge of many of our senses. These include eyes ears, nose and mouth senses. As noted earlier we experience life through the sensory information we send to the brain. When the neck needs an adjustment we do not experience all that we should.
But the neck is not the only area that matters for chiropractic adjustments. Every segment of the spine has receptors that take in information that is then sent up the spinal cord to the brain. This information helps us feel the world around us; to experience heat, cold, sharp, dull, vibration and more. All this information helps us function in a way that prevents us from harming ourselves. When we do not receive the information clearly it is a degree of brain fog. An example, adjusting the tailbone may clear brain fog by stimulating better craniosacral flow.
So far we have not even touched on brain damage which is far more common than many realize. Seemingly insignificant bumps on the head and whiplash effects can decrease function in the brain. This means that even if sensory information makes it to the brain it may be interpreted incorrectly. Luckily neurology has advanced past the phase of 30 years ago. When I was in school we were taught that brain damage was irreversible, that new connections could not be formed and that damaged connections could not be strengthened. Now we know that the brain, the spinal cord and cranial nerves can be taught to work better, They are similar to the body. Exercise can improve function. Much of what I do is nervous system exercise for physical, chemical, and emotional damage; neurological rehabilitation.
What is the cause of brain fog, lack of mental clarity? Poor nervous system function. What is my job? To strengthen energetic weakness in the nervous system. It is no wonder that patients often comment that they have less brain fog and improved mental clarity after treatment.