The #1 cause of brain fog symptoms is inflammation, specifically neuroinflammation. Using psilocybin for brain fog takes advantage of its unique and powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Sadly, medical science does not have a good solution for neuroinflammation available commercially yet. Maybe we will get solutions soon with the renewed pressure from so many people ill with lingering covid symptoms. Many other difficult to treat conditions are related to similar inflammation, including Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
More Than Just “Brain Fog”
Brain fog is usually more than just a stand-alone sense of confusion and sluggish thoughts. It is often accompanied by anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and/or derealization. It can accompany headaches or other pain. Overall, it is incredibly distressing.
Are Psychedelics Bad For Your Brain?
If you grew up during the war on drugs like I did, you probably grew up learning that psychedelic drugs “fry your brain”. I specifically remember seeing a commercial, with a pan and some eggs illustrating something to this effect. You probably do too. Not only do psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms not “fry your brain”, they actually have profound benefits for brain health.
TNFa- The Culprit
TNFa is a cytokine, a small protein important in cell inflammation signaling. When tissue is damaged or otherwise in distress, the cells excrete cytokines like TNFa to signal inflammation. This is generally a good thing, because inflammation can be what helps our immune system work correctly. But when it gets out of hand, we have a case of an autoimmune disorder. The inflammation is no longer helpful, it is dysfunctional.
But what about TNF blockers? They are commonly used to treat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. However, they do not cross the blood/brain barrier. This barrier is very selective, and it protects your brain from circulating toxins and infections. These meds may be great at lowering TNF levels in other tissues, but they will not address neuroinflammation.
What Causes Elevated TNFa And How To Test for it.
A variety of things can cause inflammation. Physical trauma, infection, and stress are some possible causes. Covid-19 and other infections are known to leave individuals with lingering autoimmune symptoms even after the infection has resolved.
How to test for elevated TNFa in the brain? The short answer is that you do not. This is something that can’t really be confirmed while you are alive and kicking, and even testing for it in your cerebrospinal fluid is not really conclusive, not to mention painful and invasive.
Knowing that you have elevated TNFa is not the obstacle standing between you and getting it treated. There are no commercially available medications available to address this. The advice to rest, eat well, and hope for the best is probably the best your doctor could do even for themselves if they were in your shoes. That is, unless they are also aware of the benefits of psychedelics for inflammation. After exhausting all options, I have seen medical professionals seek for themselves what they could not legally bring up as an option for their patients.
Psilocybin and TNFa
Psilocybin is in a category known as serotonergic psychedelics. It works mainly on a specific serotonin receptor, 5ht2a, and this receptor regulates TNFa. We do not have much data on exactly how long this effect lasts, but this article on the subject shows that some of the anti-inflammatory effects lasted over a week after administration in their study. These receptors are also extremely sensitive, so even small amounts that would not have a significant psychoactive effect may be sufficient to maintain.
Psilocybin And Mental Health
Psilocybin is making splashes in the mental health space for its lasting antidepressant properties. This may be due to its lasting effect on neuroinflammation as well. The deep, almost mystical experiences people have with psilocybin have a profound effect on an individual’s outlook.
My Experience With Psilocybin And Brain Fog
I had serious brain fog and panic attacks with my headache condition. The only advice my neurologist could give regarding brain fog is that he expected it to clear when or if the headache ever resolved. I was lucky that I discovered psilocybin as an option as it cleared up both the headache and the brain fog. With a maintenance dosing schedule, I keep my thoughts clear and stay anxiety free.
I know that choosing to use psilocybin in this context may seem a bit extreme, but my situation was extreme. There was constant pain and I was suffering from multiple panic attacks per day. Without the ability to think straight, it greatly contributed to the accompanying anxiety and depression. Psilocybin provided a level of peace and comfort I did not think I would ever get back. Having the clear head to enjoy life again was a unexpected lovely bonus.
I sincerely hope that reading this will help some reader struggling with brain fog understand the mechanisms of neuroinflammation. Maybe it will save them some time navigating through the medical system. It may provide some clarity in determining their best course of treatment, regardless of whether they choose the psilocybin route.