Clarity; The ability to think and express ourselves clearly. Fresh mountain air and spring water have clarity. Clarity is also represented by the old saying, to be clear as a bell. Unfortunately, in the 21st century, it is hard for bells to be heard and difficult to find clear air and water, even in Far North Queensland. We too struggle with clarity for many reasons. From a naturopathic perspective, there are often physical factors that negatively impact our sense of clarity. I would like to discuss the most common causes I see in my practice, and the herbs I use to address these causative factors, herbs you can add to your diet.
Naturopathic Causes of Decreased Mental Clarity
Blood deficiency and decreased mental clarity
Blood deficiency is a Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM term that describes a Pattern of Disharmony whereby blood is deficient. In TCM philosophy there is Yin (Water) and Yang (Fire). In TCM blood is Yin, moistening and nourishing.
Blood is said to nourish the mind and spirit (Shen) and is considered the material basis for mental activity. Strong Blood ensures good sleep and helps us wake feeling refreshed. When our mind is nourished we remember things easily and feel more grounded in our thoughts. When we have strong Blood we can hold it together, have strength and vitality to take on the world and have a clear mind. Our reactions, focus and memory are sharp.
In TCM the Spleen makes Blood. Worry, anxiety and excessive consumption of cold, raw foods weakens the Spleen Qi and negatively affects its' ability to make Blood. Foods that tonify the Blood include red meat (3 x week during reproductive years is recommended), red foods such as beetroot, tomatoes, Dragon fruit, Goji berries, Chinese red dates, red lentils, kidney beans and green foods such as parsley, spinach and sea vegetables. Other blood tonics are Dang Gui, black beans longans and quinoa. To tonify the Blood I use Carahealth Blood Tonic which contains Alfalfa, Nettle leaf, Curled dock, Dang gui, Peony, Ginger and Astragalus, herbs traditionally used to tonify blood.
Candida albicans overgrowth and decreased mental clarity
Candida, a fungal infection, is unfortunately often overdiagnosed, with people being put on restrictive diets that result in excess stress and even emaciation. On saying that however, candida overgrowth can exist and certainly decreases mental clarity when it does. In Japan where it was first discovered, candida overgrowth is called "drunk disease". This is because candida albicans turns acetaldehyde (which is the chemical created by sugar and yeast fermentation) into ethanol (alcohol) resulting in a rise in alcohol in the blood stream even when no alcohol has been consumed. We all know the effects of alcohol on brain activity and mental clarity!
To eradicate candida, one must first starve it, then kill it. Starving candida involves (very basically) eliminating processed, sugary and yheast containing foods. I prefer not to use words like "regime" when it comes to any diet as this itself is unhealthy. Instead I prefer to focus more on the "kill it" rather than "starve it" as in my opinion, one should always be able to enjoy an antioxidant rich tropical fruit platter and a glass of mango wine.
To kill candida I use Carahealth Anticandida which contains Golden Rod, Burdock, Barberry and Pau d'Arco, a blend of natural antifungals shown to be effective in eradicating candida. These herbs contain saponins and compounds called bereberine, that are antifungal and specifically kill candida. Citricidal extract from grapefruit is also a potent antifungal.
Heavy metal toxicity and decreased mental clarity
All heavy metals are neurotoxins, or in other words, kill brain cells. Heavy metal toxicity is characterised by symptoms including poor memory and difficulty concentrating, to delays in the development and difficulty socialising and communicating. The latter symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of autism, Aspergers, & ADD/ ADHD, and from a naturopathic perspective these conditions certainly have heavy metal toxicity as a causative factor.
Heavy metals are unfortunately ubiquitous, methyl mercury is used to spray sugar cane and bananas, ethyl mercury is used in cosmetics and fabric softeners. Some of us unknowingly inject heavy metals by vaccinating. Mercury is still in the flu vaccine, aluminium is in all vaccines. Unfortunately our "drinking water" is the main source of heavy metals. To avoid heavy metals, buy organic, don't vaccinate and filter your water using an activated charcoal gravity fed water filter. These do not remove fluoride however, and as fluoride contains mercury, arsenic, aluminium and lead, we can be thankful that the council has discontinued mass medicating us.
To chelate heavy metals I prescribe Carahealth Heavy Metal Detox, which contains Burdock, Horsetail, Milk Thistle and Alfalfa, herbs high in minerals which oppose heavy metals, combined with liver herbs, as the liver and the bowel eliminate heavy metals. I combine this tincture with Alpha Lipoic Acid, an effective chelating agent and powerful antioxidant.
Blood sugar imbalance
Our brains need glucose to function properly. Not enough glucose for the neurons (brain cells) results in fatigue and brain fag. Blood sugar imbalance or functional hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) may be due to insulin resistance (IR) a condition whereby cells no longer respond to insulin properly. Excess low GI carbohydrate consumption in the form of processed foods results in excess insulin. This causes the cells to become lazy and not respond to insulin anymore. When insulin does not work, glucose does not enter the cell to make energy in the form of ATP. This results is the cell remaining starving, signalling the body to eat more carbohydrates, producing even more insulin, resulting in even greater IR. The answer is to eat low GI foods like oats, whole grains, legumes and protein rich nuts and seeds that release glucose slowly into the blood stream for energy.
To improve insulin sensitivity I prescribe Carahealth Blood Sugar, which contains Cinnamon, Gymnema, Globe artichoke, Nettle, Fenugreek and Milk thistle, herbs specifically formulated to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity to reverse IR resulting in more fuel for the neurons!
Naturopathic Approaches to Enhance Mental Clarity
Cerebral circulatory stimulant herbs
A cerebral circulatory stimulant is a herb that increases blood flow to the brain, thus improving brain function. To enhance mental clarity I prescribe Carahealth Memory, which contains Rosemary, Siberian ginseng, Gotu cola, Withania and Ginkgo. These herbs are known as adaptogens which tonify the adrenal glands (from a TCM perspective, the kidneys and brain are very connected), combined with cerebral circulatory stimulants. Clinical trials support the use of these herbs for anxiety, cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's and dementia and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Multiple sclerosis. Cerebral circulatory stimulants and adaptogens are ideal for students, the elderly and anyone needing to increase cognitive performance and enhance mental clarity.
Please consult a naturopath before taking natural remedies if you are on medication, or your doctor if symptoms persist.
Carahealth Acupuncture, Natural Parenting and Fertility, Homeopathic Prophylaxis