Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
April 26, 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

When you’re first diagnosed with cancer, it feels like the world is crashing down around you.

You have to deal with so many new things at once—treatments, medicines, appointments—and it can be tough to keep track of everything.

But one thing that’s often overlooked is cancer brain fog. This is a condition that affects many cancer patients and can make everyday tasks much more difficult.

In this blog post, we will discuss what brain fog is, how it affects people, and ways to clear it up naturally and improve your brain health.

Let’s get started.

What exactly is cancer brain fog?

Cancer fog or mental fog also called chemo brain is a type of cognitive impairment that can be caused by cancer and cancer treatments. It is characterized by problems with memory, concentration, and thinking.

People with chemo brain may have trouble remembering things, concentrating on tasks, or solving problems. They may also feel tired all the time, have difficulty multitasking, and experience changes in their mood.

Cancer fog can be a side effect of cancer and cancer treatments, but it is not a life-threatening condition.

There are many ways to improve your brain health and clear cancer brain fog despite your cancer diagnosis. We’ll take a look at some of the most effective ones. So, keep on reading.

Common Symptoms of Mental Fog

There are many different cognitive symptoms of cancer fog, and the cancer-related cognitive impairment can vary from person to person.

Some common cognitive problems include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Changes in mood
  • Mental fatigue
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Challenges in problem-solving

It is important to note that chemo brain can vary in severity. Some people may only experience a few mild symptoms, while others may have more severe symptoms that interfere with their everyday life.

16 Ways To Clear Cancer Brain Fog Naturally and Enhance Cognitive Function

There are many things you can do to help clear cancer-induced cognitive impairment naturally and improve your overall brain function.

Here are some of the most effective ways:

1) Eat healthy and brain-friendly foods.

One of the most important things you can do for your general health, and especially your brain health, is to eat a healthy and brain-friendly diet.

Some cancer-fighting and brain-healthy foods include fatty fish, blueberries, broccoli, nuts, and seeds.

Include these foods in your diet to help improve your cognitive function and prevent cognitive problems in the future.

2) Consider taking brain-supporting dietary supplements.

There are many brain-supporting dietary supplements that can help cancer patients with chemo brain.

Some of the most effective ones include:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Gotu Kola
  • L-theanine
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

These supplements can help improve your cognitive function, memory, and focus.

However, make sure to consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplement, as they might react negatively to your medication.

3) Stop your harmful habits.

This should go without saying, but we have to reiterate the crucial value of quitting unhealthy habits, especially when you’re dealing with cancer treatments and mental fog.

If you have any harmful habits, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, now is the time to stop them. 

These habits can damage your brain cells and make your cancer fog worse. So, it is best to quit them for good and ensure that your cognitive rehabilitation is sustainable.

4) Do your best to stick to a healthy sleep routine. 

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for cancer patients and cancer survivors. It can help your body recover from cancer treatments and improve your cognitive function.

Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night or as much as you need.

You can also try some relaxation techniques before bedtime to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.

5) Get plenty of rest throughout the day.

In addition to getting enough sleep at night, cancer patients also need to get plenty of rest during the day.

Take a few breaks throughout the day to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body. You can take a nap, read your favorite book, take a stroll in nature, or do anything that relaxes you and helps clear your mind.

6) Break a sweat with some aerobic exercise. 

Exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health.

Aerobic exercise can help cancer patients and cancer survivors with chemo brain by reducing stress, improving blood circulation, increasing blood flow to the brain, and enhancing cognitive function.

So, make sure to include some aerobic exercise in your daily routine. You can go for a walk, jog, swim, or cycle.

7) Exercise your brain, too.

In addition to exercising your body, you also need to exercise your brain.

You can do this by keeping your mind active and engaged in activities that challenge you mentally.

Some good brain-training exercises include:

  • Crosswords
  • Sudoku 
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Memory games
  • Learning a new language or instrument

These exercises can help improve your memory, focus, and concentration.

8) Keep your stress levels in check.

High levels of stress can worsen cancer-related mental fog. So, it is important to find ways to keep your stress levels in check.

Some suitable stress-busting activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Aromatherapy

Find an activity that relaxes you and helps you destress.

9) Make sure to get some sun every day if your condition allows it.

Sunlight is a natural mood enhancer and can help cancer patients with mental fog by improving their sleep quality and reducing stress levels.

So, make sure to get some sun every day if your cancer treatment allows it.

You can also try using a light therapy box to get the benefits of the light without going outside.

10) Be patient and give yourself time to recover. 

Cancer brain fog can be a debilitating condition, but it is essential to be patient and give yourself time to recover.

Cancer treatments can take a toll on your body and mind, so it is important to give yourself time to adjust and heal.

11) Try not to multitask

When you are dealing with mental fog, it is best to focus on one thing at a time and not try to multitask.

Doing too many things at once can make your symptoms worse. So, take things slowly and focus on one task at a time.

Better yet, delegate some of your tasks to others.

12) Spend time in nature.

Spending time in nature can help cancer patients with mental fog by reducing stress levels, improving sleep quality, and increasing blood flow to the brain.

So, make sure to spend some time outdoors every day, if you can. A quick walk in the park or tending to your garden can be a great start.

13) Set reminders for yourself.

Since brain fog can make it difficult to remember things, it is important to set reminders for yourself.

You can use a planner, calendar, or smartphone app to remind you of important tasks or appointments.

You can also ask a family member or friend to help you out with all the things that you need to remember or make reminders for you.

14) Consider keeping a journal. 

Journaling can be a great way to help cancer patients with mental fog by reducing stress levels, making reminders, regulating emotions, and practicing gratitude.

So, make sure to spend some time journaling every day. You can write about your brain fog symptoms, thoughts, feelings, experiences, or anything else that you want.

15) Take some time for yourself.

Cancer can be a very demanding and overwhelming condition. So, it is important to take some time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate.

Do something that you enjoy doing, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time with friends and family.

You can also try some relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.

16) Practice mindfulness. 

Mindfulness can help cancer patients with brain fog by reducing stress levels, improving sleep quality, and increasing focus and concentration.

So, make sure to practice mindfulness every day. You can do this by taking some time to focus on your breath and being aware of your surroundings.

You can also try a mindfulness app or meditation class.

Risk Factors for Chemo Brain

Chemo brain is another term for the foggy-headedness that cancer patients experience during cancer treatments.

There are many risk factors for chemo brain, including:

  • cancer type
  • cancer stage
  • cancer treatment regimen
  • length of cancer treatment
  • age
  • cognitive reserve

If you are undergoing cancer treatment, it is important to be aware of these risk factors and take steps to reduce your risk of developing chemo brain.

You can do this by:

  • communicating with your cancer care team about your symptoms
  • practicing stress-reduction techniques
  • getting plenty of rest and exercise
  • eating a healthy diet
  • taking supplements

If you are at risk of developing chemo brain, it is important to take steps to reduce your risk and protect your brain health.

The Bottom Line

Cancer brain fog is a common and debilitating condition that can impact cancer patients during their treatment.

There are many risk factors for cancer-induced brain fog, including cancer type, cancer stage, cancer treatment regimen, length of cancer treatment, age, and cognitive reserve.

You can reduce your risk of developing chemo brain by communicating with your cancer care team, practicing stress-reduction techniques, getting plenty of rest and exercise, eating a healthy diet, taking supplements, and a lot more.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to clear it naturally, check out our other posts on brain health and join the online community of mental health advocates

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