Trouble Concentrating: How Detox Can Help

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


When an Individual has Trouble Concentrating

When you have trouble concentrating, your brain may be tired, and this often reflects the state of the body.If you have trouble concentrating on a regular basis, it can be a very frustrating problem to have. Concentration is a pivotal part of being an adult, as it is imperative to relationships, work, school, and most human activities. When you can’t concentrate, you will find that your mind wanders and you cannot steady your thoughts for a long period of time on whatever task is at hand.

There are many different reasons an individual may be experiencing certain cognitive function problems, including difficulty concentrating. This singular symptom can be the result of various emotional, mental, or physical issues. Of course, this may make it challenging to determine what the exact problem is. It can be done, however, when all other aspects are taken into consideration. It may take a little digging in order to come up with the answer, but it can certainly be found.

Subtle signs and symptoms can include:

  • Forgetting where you place your keys or cell phone
  • Forgetting to turn off the kitchen stove
  • Inability to recall people’s names
  • Difficulty concentrating on detailed tasks
  • Not remembering telephone numbers

Blood Flow and Cognitive Function

When cognitive function declines, for whatever reason, one of the signs is an trouble concentrating, and forgetfulness is an early sign.

When there is a large quantity of blood flowing through the brain it generally functions quite normally. In the case that this blood flow gets reduced or compromised, the brain cells lack the proper amount of oxygen they need. Of course, if the blood flow becomes too severely compromised, it can result in a stroke. But this is not the case with Adrenal Fatigue. Oxygen and air itself is something you often take for granted. Breathing is such an automatic response and function that you often forget how vital it is to your well-being. Not only the act of breathing, but what you are breathing is of vital importance. Oxygen powers every cell in your body, including your brain cells.

When the brain is thoroughly saturated in oxygen, mental clarity is at its peak. This creates a sharp mind. By the same logic, when a body lacks oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain, the mind slows down and even becomes sluggish and impaired. This can be clearly seen if you have ever been in an environment where you were trapped in close quarters with heavy smoke.

In addition to smoke being bad for the lungs, it can also cause you to have a lack in mental clarity. In order to think straight you may need to get away from the smoky environment and get some fresh air. This allows your brain to function better. Smoke carries toxic metabolites and an insufficiency of oxygen, so the body and especially the brain are crying out to get to cleaner more pure air that is abundant in oxygen. This replenishes the oxygen in the blood and cleanses it of the toxic metabolites. Toxic metabolites cause inflammation, which is a primary mechanism whereby your brain cells are damaged. Chronic inflammation is undesirable and can lead to cognitive decline.

The Adrenal Glands

Every organ has an important purpose in regulating different aspects of the body and enabling it to function as effectively as possible. Many of these organs are overlooked, but without them the body can suffer substantially and health problems can ensue. The adrenal glands are in that category and they are sometimes forgotten.

The adrenal glands are primarily responsible for regulating and producing hormones. Hormones are an essential element to a healthy body and they affect a wide range of different physical functions. Hormones are responsible for controlling glucose production, protein breakdown, blood pressure, fluid retention, and more.

When stress wears down the adrenal glands, trouble concentrating is common.Stress is one of the foremost enemies of the human body, and this applies to the adrenal glands especially. This is because adrenal glands are also responsible for producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When an individual becomes excessively stressed for a long period of time this often leads to Adrenal Fatigue, a state where because the adrenal glands may have depleted their normal reserve of cortisol and output is reduced. Because cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone, its depletion means a body will be in an undesirable inflammatory state. It should not come as any surprise that those with advanced Adrenal Fatigue also have cognitive issues, including memory loss, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and brain fog.

In addition to the toxic inflammatory state that can contribute to the cognitive decline, adrenal weakness also causes the body to slow down metabolically. Slow metabolism means unwanted toxin accumulation as well as slowed blood circulation. Blood flow to the brain is compromised, and thus oxygen delivery to the brain is diminished as well. Over time, this can affect mental clarity, leading to cognitive decline, mental impairment, and brain fog. All of these symptoms are extremely common among those who are experiencing Adrenal Fatigue.

Three primary factors therefore contribute to cognitive decline in advanced stages of Adrenal Fatigue:

  • Insufficient cortisol
  • Reduced blood flow
  • Toxic metabolite buildup

Toxic Metabolite buildup

Many times, you will experience great difficulty whenever you are around specific chemicals or fluids. The most problematic tend to be petroleum byproducts and gasoline. Hair products like hairspray or shampoo could also trigger these issues. These products enter your bloodstream, through the skin and air, and toxify your blood. Even certain foods can make your blood more toxic. When the toxic blood makes its way to the brain, trouble concentrating may arise. This can be very frustrating and confusing especially if the core problem is not identified. Something as simple as walking into a salon or filling the car up with gasoline could trigger thought problems.

If you have already been to the doctor for these issues but found nothing wrong physically, and you have a normal brain, then Adrenal Fatigue could possibly be responsible. This is especially true if you have also experienced a great amount of physical or mental stress over the course of a long period. It would appear that Adrenal Fatigue is at least a possibility. It isn’t a certainty until an individual gets tested but all of these symptoms align with the clinical image of Adrenal Fatigue.

Resolving Poor Concentration

Decreasing pollution and increasing circulation can help with trouble concentrating.Since trouble concentrating results from a decreased level of oxygen in your bloodstream as well as a buildup of toxins, the resolution is then simple. Increase oxygen and decrease toxins.

Increasing oxygen levels in your blood means not only bettering the quality of air you breathe, but also learning proper breathing technique and maximizing each breath. Sit up and stand straight to maximize each breath that you take. Exercise to increase your lung capacity for oxygen and improve your blood flow.

Decreasing toxins is a little trickier, especially in those with Adrenal Fatigue. A normal person can go through a detoxifying protocol and feel cleaner, lighter, and better afterwards. This cannot be the same for Adrenal Fatigue sufferers. Detoxification can be stressful on the body, and in the setting of Adrenal Fatigue, any increase in stress on the body has the potential to cause it to crash. One must then be cautious when detoxifying and should only do so under the proper guidance of a professional. Improper detoxification is one of the most common causes of retarded adrenal recovery and recurrent crashes. Gentle ways to start detoxifying your body include vegetable juicing and supplementation with nutrients and herbs such as glutathione, milk thistle, and dandelion root.


© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Trouble concentrating




4 Comments

  • Ben says:

    Hello Dr Lam,

    For months I have had a hard time with feeling sleepy minded/spacy/not alert or feeling fully awake, very poor concentration, even my head feels tight/fuzzy inside. I often need to massage it. I also jump up in the middle of the night often for no reason, but luckily I can go right back to sleep, and do not have trouble falling asleep quickly. Mind just doesn’t feel clear and as if nothing is powering it “on” all the way.

    This all happened shortly after the loss of family members, and alot of things happening at one time. In general my nerves got belted and lost some weight and trying to put it back on now.

    Before this I was in decent health, walked alot, vibrant, sharp, other than maybe some mild fatigue needing some coffee in morn to get going… but I no longer can even tolerate that or any sugar as my system has become sensitive.

    It seems almost impossible that anything like adrenal fatigue could cause such things / but you mentioned to have doc rule out physical things and if fine – to focus solely on adrenals.

    Well a few months back had a CT scan, lots of blood work. Thyroid TSH was 1.6. Everything normal except low end B12 (220)

    What would you additionally consider reasonably sufficient blood work/or tests to rule out anything physical, so I can feel confident to start with adrenal program. Thank you.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      There are no shortage of test and if you look hard enough, especially with esoteric functional test like stools, neurotransmitter, metals etc, you will find something off easily. But not every “abnormality” needs to be attended to, and sometimes the effort can make things worse. At the end it comes down to the doctor on whether they know what they are doing is the key.
      Click Laboratory Testing for more information.

      Dr Lam

  • Lolita says:

    When is the best time or situation to use dandelion root?