How to Stop Suffering from Chemo Brain

Even years after chemotherapy is over, many people report suffering from memory issues, cognitive impairment and other effects often called “chemo brain.” It is well known that chemotherapy can cause brain effects for those who have undergone treatment with the chemicals used in this cancer treatment.

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine in California published research in the medical journal Cell and found that the commonly-used chemotherapy drug known as methotrexate affects cells in the brain’s white matter. While it may be hard to completely undo all of the damaging effects of chemotherapy, it is possible to maximize your brain health protection and improve memory using foods, herbs and lifestyle interventions, which include:

Eat More Blueberries

These delicious miniature fruits are brain-healing powerhouses that work to protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain. They contain a group of plant nutrients called flavonoids that protect the brain against free radical damage, making them ideal to help restore brain health after chemotherapy.

Snack on Walnuts

Walnuts offer numerous brain health benefits. They are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids that help protect the fatty portion of the brain and quell brain inflammation, too. Additionally, research in The Journal of Nutrition found that walnuts are high in antioxidants that destroy free radicals that damage the brain. Omega 3s also reduce brain inflammation, improve signals between brain cells, and increase the generation of brain and nerve cells. Choose raw, unsalted walnuts found in the refrigerator section of their health food store.

Walk More than 4000 Steps Daily

According to researchers at the University of California, people who walk more than 4000 steps daily had thicker hippocampi than those who walked less, as well as better attention, speedier information processing and better working memory to help make spontaneous decisions. Their research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showcases the brain- and memory-boosting effects of pounding the pavement, going for a long hike or hitting the treadmill on a daily basis.

Cut Back on Salt

Research shows that excessive sodium consumption can be damaging to your brain and memory. A study published in Nature Neuroscience found excessive salt consumption affects healthy blood flow to the brain and causes an increased risk of cognitive impairment, dementia and cerebrovascular diseases, including stroke.​ Season your food with herbs, lemon juice and other sodium-free seasonings.

Supplement with Curcumin

The yellow-colored compound found in the curry ingredient turmeric, known as curcumin, offers more than delicious taste. It is a well-established brain-healer and memory booster. In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology researchers found that in just one hour after taking curcumin supplements, study participants showed significant performance improvement on memory and attention tasks compared to the placebo group. Ideally choose a standardized extract of curcumin. I usually recommend 400 mg of curcumin three times daily for people suffering from brain disorders. Consult your physician prior to taking any supplements if you’re suffering from any health condition or undergoing chemotherapy.

Load Up on Beans

Eating more fiber can actually slow the rate at which the brain ages, reduce the risk of brain disease, and therefore help protect your memory. A study published in the medical journal Frontiers in Immunology found that eating more fiber can alleviate brain inflammation. Inflammation in the brain has been linked with memory impairment, aging and brain diseases. Beans are excellent sources of fiber. They vary in exact amounts but 1 cup of cooked chickpeas has about 12 grams, black beans have 15 grams, kidney beans and lentils have 16 grams, adzuki beans have 17 grams, and navy beans come out on top with a whopping 19 grams of fiber per cup of cooked beans. Strive for 35 grams of fiber daily. You may need to build up to that amount to avoid abdominal discomfort or gas.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds:  The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.


Patricia A
Patricia A2 days ago

thank you

Sarah A
Sarah A10 days ago


Hannah A
Hannah A14 days ago

Thank you for posting

Vincent T
Vincent T14 days ago

Thanks for posting

Angelo Morella
Angelo Morella27 days ago

Great information but one should note that taking 400mg of curcumin does not necessarily mean one absorbs the 400mg curcumin. It fits into a class of compounds that are very insoluble, like brick dust, as well as being highly metablised. It has a solubility of some 0.6ug per mL in water eg some 66L required to dissolve 400mg. Given it is commonly administered with a glass of water eg 250mL or less one can calculate how much will dissolve and be available for absorption.
So it either needs to be dissolved in food eg oils, or be dissolved in the body by bile salts or be taken in a dosage form in which it is soluble eg as the reference above.
Next problem is that it is highly metabolised, perhaps that is why curries are a mixture of ingredients. Pepper or the compound in pepper piperine reduces the metabolism of curcumin so more is available unmetablised to the body.
So one needs to check out what product one is taking because if it does not contain curcumin in an appropriate form one might absorb less than 1.5 mg of curcumin from a 400mg dose eg absorbing brick dust.

heather g
heather g2 months ago

I read a terrific recipe using chickpeas and crushed walnuts with all the necessary healthy spices as the main meal.

Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim2 months ago


Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio2 months ago

thank you Michelle...

Caitlin L
Past Member 2 months ago

thanks for sharing

Shae L
Shae Lee2 months ago

Thanks for sharing