Doesn’t it feel like Chemo Brain will never go away? While it may feel like dealing with Chemo Brain is helpless, these are the top 7 ways which may help to recover from Chemo Brain and help to alleviate some of these symptoms.
The Top 7 Ways to Recover from Chemo Brain
Forgetfulness. Cognition issues. Memory loss. Chemo Brain is the gift that keeps on giving. It may or may not ever go away, but these are the top 7 ways you can help to combat and recover and hopefully minimize the effects.
- Weight management and nutrition
- Reduce Stress
- Reduce/Eliminate tobacco and alcohol use
- Exercise your brain
It’s common knowledge that exercise is good for you, and lowers your risk of certain diseases, including cancer. Specifically, exercise may help to: (3)
- Lower hormone levels, and the subsequent growth factors that have been associated with cancer development
- Prevent weight gain and obesity
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve immune system function
- Improve overall quality of life including self-esteem, stress, and anxiety
- Prevent cancer recurrence.
Many studies provide evidence that physical activity is linked to lowering your risk of several cancers. A recent study from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute of over one million participants “links exercise with a lower risk of 13 specific types of cancer.” (3)
Cancer survivors who exercise may experience: (1)
- Increased strength and endurance
- Fewer signs and symptoms of depression
- Less anxiety
- Reduced fatigue
- Improved mood
- Higher self-esteem
- Less pain
- Improved sleep
- Lower risk of cancer recurring.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “getting enough sleep is an important part of your recovery. Sleeping gives your mind and body time to rejuvenate and refresh to help you function at your best while you’re awake. Getting good sleep can boost cognitive skills, improve hormone function and lower blood pressure. It can also just make you feel better in general.” (1)
Various ways to optimize your sleep include:
- Avoid caffeine after noon
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Minimize blue light (TV, computer, smartphone) before bedtime
- Keep your bedroom dark
- Minimize alcohol before bedtime.
The Gerson Diet became popular for eating and drinking 13 servings of vegetables a day. While that is virtually impossible for the average person, the research is clear that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is one of the key factors in cancer prevention. (3)
One study found that vegetarians have about half the risk of cancer as traditional meat eaters. Plant-based diets have been known to reduce the occurrence of breast, skin, lung, stomach, liver, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. (3)
Aim for nine servings of fruit and vegetables to your diet. A plant-based diet provides fiber, bioflavonoids (from berries), phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other enzymes that fight cancer cell growth.
Nootropic supplements affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, boost brain chemicals, balance hormones, and aid in the growth and regrowth of neurons, but they are not a miracle pill. (4) These types of supplements may help to: (5)
- Banish brain fog
- Sharpen memory
- Heighten attention
- Increase focus
- Boost energy
- Provide mental clarity
- Speed up mental processing.
One of the top brain-boosting supplements is Alpha & Omega. According to Evan DeMarco, CMO of Omax Health, “Cancer and its treatments represent a daily battle, both physically and mentally. That battle can take its toll on the brain leading to what many call Chemo Brain. The ingredients in Alpha & Omega have been used to treat cognitive decline for decades and can help those suffering from chemo brain replenish vital brain nutrients lost in that daily battle.”
The British journal Psychology and Psychotherapy published a 10-year-long study in which “emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease than from smoking.” (3)
We, as a society, are stressed out to the max. Stress is both psychological and physical. Chronic stress increases cortisol and decreases immune function. Both of these are linked to cancer formulation.
When a thought triggers an emotion, neuropeptides transmit those feelings and connect with cellular receptors. According to Candace Pert, one of the pioneers of PNI, “the chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion.” (3)
There are many methods to help alleviate stress:
- Pray and/or meditate
- Deep breathing exercises
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Forgive yourself and others
- Emotional Frequency Technique (EFT) tapping
- Tai Chi
Reduce/Eliminate Tobacco Use
We all know that smoking not only causes cancer but other health conditions and diseases. Yet, there are still plenty of individuals who still light up. It’s not too late and stopping now can possibly reduce your risk of developing cancer and cancer recurrence.
While drinking certain alcohols in moderation may reduce your risk of heart disease, drinking alcohol may also increase your risk of certain cancers. (1) According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), “between 5-6% of new cancers and cancer deaths globally are attributed to alcohol. Alcohol use – whether light, moderate, or heavy – is linked with increased risk of several cancers.” (3)
Exercise Your Brain
Chemo Brain is not going to disappear overnight, but with a few brain hacks, your condition may improve. Neuroplasticity is the malleability of neural circuits, otherwise known as reorganizing of your brain. By engaging the brain, introducing new stimuli, and keeping it alert, you can help to rebuild those connections once lost. (2)
Just like everything in life, there are going to be apps that jive with your vibe, and apps that don’t. Don’t force yourself to conform to an app that doesn’t fit with your mojo. Check out a few and see what works best for you. These two apps MAY actually help to build neuroplasticity in the brain. (2)
Do you remember the original Memory game? The one you played as a kid with the cards you turn over to find the match? The Memory Match app is designed for the preschool crowd. Don’t laugh. Don’t judge. This app is one of my favorite games. It’s so simple. And it has the nostalgic value of the old school game. I use the free version and the animals are my favorites. (2)
The Luminosity app is a “comprehensive brain training program with 30+ brain games.” Used by “over 85 million people worldwide,” it has daily workouts to challenge 5 core cognitive abilities. I like Luminosity. But you actually really have to think! Which… I guess that’s the point, right? (2)
How Can I Recover More?
This article hit on the basics of chemo brain. But please don’t stop there. We have several articles which will help to take you to the next steps and help begin the healing and recovery process.
More Cancer Resources
Cancer is a rough train to be on, and the long-term effects can be devastating. Chemo Brain is one of the most frustrating side effects to manage and often gets pushed down on the list when more critical health conditions are pressing. By implementing some of the suggestions offered in this article, you might very well be on the road to recovery.
Also, be sure to check out our Cancer Resources page for more articles, books, and resources on cancer prevention and survival.
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