Cort Johnson of the Phoenix Rising forums recently interviewed Ashok Gupta, a presenter at the IACFS/ME Conference this year. Gupta recovered himself from CFS almost ten years ago using brain retraining techniques focused on the amygdala—the fight or flight center of the brain that controls our unconscious fear response to perceived threats. He then developed a theory for the mechanism behind CFS and related illnesses, and opened a clinic in London where he treats patients. He also created a 12-session DVD program* for others to use at home.
Gupta’s theory is based on the concept that with illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, the amygdala becomes stuck in a hyperaroused state after some sort of trauma—whether physical, viral, chemical or other. This causes the brain to stay in an emergency mode, simultaneously downregulating many other body systems such as the detoxification and immune systems which then results in a cascade of debilitating symptoms.
The cognitive behavoral therapy studies presented at the IACFS/ME Conference did not have good results. Ashok Gupta’s – admittedly using quite primitive statistics – did. Are therapies utilizing neurolinguistic programming (NLP) the next step in the mind/body efforts to tame this disease? Ashok Gupta thinks so and he was busy trying to get funding for a study that he believes will show that the program can make a difference in this disease.
I’ve used the Amygdala Retraining techniques and found them over time to be very helpful and so was glad to sit down with Ashok at the IACFS/ME Conference to ask him more about it. Happily he came across in person as the same relaxed and grounded person (with the same tie!) I’d seen on his DVD’s.
How did you get started on this?
‘I had gone to two CFS units that formally diagnosed what I had as CFS. I went through all the blood tests, etc., etc. I could feel that my body was full of adrenaline or whatever you want to call it – that I was on edge. I was sitting at home I could feel that some response was going on in my body – some stress response – and when I was speaking to somebody or put into a mildly stressful environment I could feel my heart start pumping but it wasn’t anxiety per se – the feeling was distinct to anxiety. I’d always had some anxiety in my life but nothing had been comparable to this complete exhaustion. There was something unique happening. So I started looking into the stress response and anxiety disorders.
I looked into the latest research on what causes severe anxiety – the answer was the amygdala. I read Joseph Ledoux’s work and said to myself you know this stuff is exactly what’s going on in my body and I looked at all the CFS literature and put all that together as well and said there is a really obvious mechanism.
I challenge anyone to read Joseph Ledoux’s work and not see parallels with CFS. He looks at the HPA axis and says the HPA axis is simply a response unit of the Amygdala.'”
*As of January 25, 2010, Planet Thrive is participating in an affiliate program for the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Programme™ after observing over 30 members of the Planet Thrive Gupta Support Group, who reported many benefits over several months time.