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In this episode, you will learn about limbic system retraining with The Gupta Program.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Ashok Gupta. Ashok Gupta, MA(Cantab), MSc is an internationally renowned Speaker, Filmmaker, and Health Practitioner who has dedicated his life to supporting people through chronic illness and to achieving their potential. Ashok suffered from ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, around 25 years ago when he was studying at Cambridge University. Through neurological research that he conducted, he managed to get himself 100% better. He then set up a clinic to treat others, and then published the well-known recovery program known as the Gupta Program in 2007. He has published several medical papers and is continually researching these conditions. In 2017, Ashok published a popular 4.7 star rated app called the Meaning of Life Experiment, a 30-Day program of videos and meditations to discover more happiness, meaning, and to uncover your life purpose. In 2020, he created and hosted the free, 10-day Coronavirus Challenge which is helping thousands of others taking the pledge to reduce the spread of the virus, through boosting the immune system, reducing anxiety, and saving lives.
- What are the amygdala and insula and their role in limbic system dysfunction?
- What are the triggers for limbic system dysfunction?
- What conditions might respond to the program?
- How do Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACEs) impact the later development of limbic system dysfunction?
- What is the difference between the mind and the brain?
- What is a priming event and a conditioned response?
- Can The Gupta Program help with POTS, SIBO, EHS, EDS, or autism?
- Might the program be a positive epigenetic influencer?
- Is limbic system dysfunction analogous to the Cell Danger Response?
- What is the MEND program?
- What are the 3 Rs of The Gupta Program?
- What is the experience of doing the program?
- What studies have been done?
- How might The Gupta Program help those with long-haul COVID?
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December 3, 2020
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:01] Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:14] The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:34] Scott: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Episode 133 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Ashok Gupta, and the topic of the show is The Gupta Program. Ashok Gupta is an internationally renowned speaker, filmmaker, and health practitioner who has dedicated his life to supporting people through chronic illness and to achieving their potential.
Ashok suffered from ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome around 25 years ago when he was studying at Cambridge University. Through neurological research that he conducted, he managed to get himself 100% better. He then set up a clinic to treat others and then published the well-known recovery program known as The Gupta Program in 2007. He has published several medical papers and is continually researching these conditions.
In 2017, Ashok published a popular 4.7-star rated app called The Meaning of Life Experiment, a 30-day program of videos and meditations to discover more happiness, meaning, and to uncover your life purpose. In 2020, he created and hosted the free 10-day Coronavirus Challenge, which is helping thousands of people taking the pledge to reduce the spread of the virus through boosting the immune system, reducing anxiety, and saving lives. And now, my interview with Ashok Gupta.
Through my personal journey to recover my own health from Lyme disease and mold illness, the importance of working on the limbic system and the nervous system has become increasingly clear to me. I'm excited today to have Ashok Gupta on the program to talk about his program, The Gupta Program, which launched in 2007, and has helped many to recover their lives from complex chronic illness. Thank you for being here today, Ashok.
[00:02:29] Ashok Gupta: Yes. Thank you for inviting me.
[00:02:31] Scott: I'm very excited to talk with you. You had your own journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, about 20 years ago. Talk to us a little about your journey, and how did you navigate your way back to health?
[00:02:47] Ashok Gupta: Yes, well, many people who get involved in this area often have that personal experience. And so, 25 years ago, when I was at university, I was studying at Cambridge University in the UK. And I went to India, I got some kind of stomach bug, and I then came back to finish my degree. And yet, I just could not shake off the symptoms.
And it became worse and worse, to the point at which I could, some days, couldn't even get out of bed. I was house bound or bed bound. And suddenly, you know, I'm young, and there's this brick wall in front of me. And I go to doctors and they say, “Look, there's nothing we can do about this. You might have this forever. There's no cure. There's no recovery.” And I just remember being so depressed and down with that prognosis.
And that really triggered a lifelong quest for me to try and understand, what causes these types of chronic conditions, which mainstream medicine mainstream doctors find very difficult to treat? So, I guess that was the starting point. And everything led on from there.
[00:03:48] Scott: How did you then decide to explore looking at brain neurology as a potential solution to your own condition? It's kind of an unorthodox route to thinking about recovering from what appears to be a physical illness. So, what drew you to the neurological aspect of this?
[00:04:04] Ashok Gupta: I think because that was the final hidden frontier of medicine. So, medicine has done very well mapping the rest of the body. But when it came to these illnesses they couldn't treat, it was very clear to me that these are probably in the brain. Simply because, if you look at people with ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia in a whole range of sensitivities, like mold, there's a whole cascade of symptoms throughout the body.
And therefore, it makes sense to me that the thing that binds all the cells in the body is the nervous system, the signaling, the kind of electrical signals from the nervous system. And the head would be obviously the brain as the head of the nervous system. And it just made sense that that must be where this malfunctioning is occurring.
And I then looked at some brain neurology, especially the work of Professor Joseph LeDoux, who’s a pioneer in this area, and looked at the work that he was doing on emotion. Now, emotion is something that, you know, in modern medicine, we pigeonhole everything, right? That's emotion. That's physiology. That's the immunology department. This is this department.
And it's all very separate in a hospital, which actually makes no sense because emotions are not just psychological. They are protective responses. So, the fight-or-flight responses and protective response. Every emotional response contains a physiological response. Every physiological response contains an emotional response. They're all defense responses.
So, it made sense to me that the brain was operating in that survival state. And when I researched a lot of brain neurology, it made total sense that there's a perfectly logical reason why these conditions occur.
[00:05:41] Scott: In your program, The Gupta Program, you talk about the limbic system, limbic retraining, specifically the amygdala and the insula. Tell us what these structures do in the body. And why are those the focus of your program?
[00:05:55] Ashok Gupta: Sure. So, the brain, when it's in this hyper defense mode, there's a whole cascade of different things happening from different brain structures. But we've honed in on the amygdala and the insula. We call it amygdala and insula retraining. Because in animal studies, those tend to be the two structures where the conditioning, the core conditioning has occurred. But that doesn't mean that that's necessarily the only place where it is occurring. That's a hypothesis.
And the amygdala, we have two of them, they’re two almond-shaped structures hidden behind our eyes in the center of the limbic system part of the brain. And their role is to protect us from danger and provide contextual emotional relevance to the stimuli experience, which basically means what meaning do we give to this situation?
And previously, the amygdala was just associated with psychological responses, PTSD. But modern research is showing that actually pain signals, sensitivity signals, immune signals, are often operated and contributed to by signaling in the amygdala. Okay, so it's essentially the kind of sentinel of our defense responses, how do we survive.
And the insula technically isn't in the limbic system. So, the insula sits between the limbic system (which is our kind of central part of the brain) and then the cortex. In fact, it's sometimes called the insular cortex. And its job is to take in all the incoming information from the body, interpret it in terms of what is happening in the body, and then create the appropriate response to maintain homeostasis or to maintain survival.
And both of these structures, in my view, work together to create what we call conditioning effects and learnt effects. And that then triggers the two systems, which I believe are malfunctioning in many of these conditions; so, the immune system and the nervous system.
And in animal studies (and I'm sure you'll find this fascinating), there's a lot of work done by Dr. Pacheco Lopez from Italy, where what they did is they took rats, and they fed them sweet water with an immunosuppressant, okay? So, obviously, the rats’ immune system was suppressed. They did that 4 or 5 times. And then they just gave the rats sweet water without the immunosuppressants. And guess what happened? The rats’ immune system became suppressed, yeah?
And when they then looked at the brain and brain mapping, they found that the core conditioning was caused by the amygdala and the insula. And this research came... came after I had published a hypothesis. So, it was a kind of vindication of the work that we were doing. And it seemed to indicate that we are survival machines, yeah? The number one priority of our brain and our body is survival, which makes sense, passing on the genes to the next generation.
And so, when we encounter threats, the brain creates shortcuts. And we do this all the time in so many different areas of our lives. The brain creates shortcuts so that, if something similar comes along, rather than needing to create a brand-new response, it’s already learnt what is the appropriate response. So, in that case, the brain knew that, “If we have sweet water, that also would cause an immunosuppressive response, which is appropriate, let's... let's do that, yeah?
And so, you can begin to see some of the clues that actually, with some of our sensitivities, the brain can learn appropriate neurological defense mechanisms in response to even small amounts of the original toxin or the original trigger.
[00:09:35] Scott: And it sounds like it can learn inappropriate responses as well, where maybe it doesn't need to respond to something, but yet it does essentially respond in the same way as if that was still a significant threat.
What are some of the symptoms that might lead you to consider that someone might potentially benefit from a program like yours? Are there specific conditions you work with? A lot of our listeners dealing with Lyme disease and mold illness and those types of conditions, is the program something that you've seen helpful in that population as well?
[00:10:09 Absolutely. We had a, for instance, a coach of ours, she had Lyme for many, many, many years, had no success with any kind of treatment, went, you know, the usual suite of tests and treatments. And she came onto our program and was able to recover using our program.
So, we treat a whole suite of different conditions. So, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, mold sensitivity, chemical sensitivities, electrical sensitivities, mast cell activation, CIRS, the chronic inflammatory responses, IBS. Essentially, those illnesses, which become chronic, and the doctor says, “Here's some painkillers,” or, “I don't have anything that I can give you.”
Those illnesses, generally, we then surmise are what we call software illnesses, not hardware illnesses. It’s where the software of the system has got stuck and keeps creating inappropriate defense responses, which are causing the very symptoms that are problematic. And those very symptoms feed back to the brain and cause these vicious cycles.
Now, someone might say, “Well, hang on, what about Lyme disease? You know, that's a diagnosable bacterial infection. You know, how can how can you say that this could help with that?” Well, we believe that Lyme and things like COVID-19, infections are triggers for this kind of over defensive response with a brain errs on the side of caution.
And once it does that, it keeps over triggering immune responses, which then means opportunistic infections like Lyme, like Mono, like Epstein... (obviously, Epstein–Barr is Mono), like COVID-19 might still be coming back in the periphery, and not being fully removed from the system, because the immune system is responding inappropriately.
And so, once we strengthen the immune system, once we stop this over-response, then the immune systems can become more efficient and deal with opportunistic infections which keep recurring.
[00:12:10] Scott: Are there specific symptoms that might lead you to thinking the program might be a good direction for a certain person? For example, if they're more reactive, when they walk down the detergent aisle at the supermarket or walking outside and they smell, you know, somebody's dryer sheets, things like that, does that tend to mean that they're more hyper vigilant and might do better with a program like this, or are there some... some clues that might lead you to looking at The Gupta Program for example?
[00:12:40] Ashok Gupta: I would say if there is a diagnosis of... of that particular condition and you've, you know, made sure it's not any other potential condition, and your doctors said, “Right, we’ll give you the all clear. There's nothing else that it could be,” then it's definitely a candidate for our program. And yes, in the case of chemical sensitivities, if someone has a reaction, an overreaction to any kind of chemicals, fragrances, if somebody is going into a moldy home and having a reaction, whether they are aware of it or not aware of it, those would be candidates for our program.
And essentially, there's... there's different types. There are illnesses where there is an external trigger, external to the body. So, that would be the chemical mold, etc. And then there are triggers within the body. So, that can be fatigue, pain, other types of immuno-symptoms in the body. Those can also be illnesses that we would treat.
And we put them under the banner of neuroimmune conditioned syndromes, mix. Neuro because they involve the neurology, immune because it's an immune response which in appropriate, conditioned because it's learnt. Not that it's in the mind (being very clear), but that it's a conditioned response that is exactly the right thing for the brain to do. And syndrome (and this speaks to your question here), syndrome, because there tends to be a unique spectrum of symptoms to each patient, based on their genetic and physiological vulnerabilities.
So, we identify no two patients are the same in terms of their symptomatology, because the illness is not defined by the collection of symptoms, the illness is defined by what's going on in the brain.
[00:14:24] Scott: I think that distinction between being in the mind and being in the brain is important, because what I often hear from people with these types of programs is they're thinking it's more that you're telling them it's more of a mental/emotional issue that they have. And that also often brings them back to the invalidation that they've had for maybe the medical community, family, friends, that their illness was all in their head. And what we're saying here is, “It's not in the mind, but it is in the brain,” correct?
[00:14:52] Ashok Gupta: Yes. And that distinction is so important, because when we are using these types of brain-retraining techniques, they are not psychological techniques. It is not CBT, yeah? And you know, what we're really saying is that, if we... someone says this in the mind, it's somehow saying that our thoughts and the way that we think and our perceptions are causing the symptoms, or we're making it up, or we're perceiving something that is not there.
But what we're saying is, all of these illnesses are obviously real, physical illnesses, real physical symptoms. There's a huge ton of data showing there's so many abnormalities in the brain and in the body. But then it's occurring unconsciously. It's beyond conscious awareness that it's happening.
And we give the analogy of let's say, driving a car. When you learn to drive a car, you don't sit there on the first lesson and think, “Right, if I'm really positive and I really believe this, I'll be able to drive the car,” right? No, we need 10 or 15 or 20 driving lessons in order to be able to condition the brain to do something new and do something different.
Just like if, you know, another example of this is when people have phantom limb pain, where war veterans have a limb that has been amputated, and yet they still feel pain from that part of the body, even though it doesn't exist. That's not a psychological response. That is an unconscious brain response. It’s trained into the nervous system. And so, they use specialized techniques to be able to train the brain to no longer perceive that limb to be there. But it's not psychological at all.
[00:16:30] Scott: What are some of the things that you see as triggers for this limbic system injury? Is that a physical insult, and that's enough to be the sole trigger? Let's say an infection, is that enough to be the sole trigger for this limbic system impairment? Or does there also need to be some aspect of stress or overwhelm that's happening at the same time?
[00:16:52] Ashok Gupta: Yes. So, we generally find that about 80 to 90% of patients can remember chronic or acute stress at the beginning of the condition. About 10% that say, “Hey, I wasn't particularly stressed at that time.” But that is one of the defining features.
So, the hypothesis says that when somebody is going through chronic or acute stress, their immune system is compromised. And suddenly, side by side, another trigger comes along. So, that could be an infection, bacterial/viral, it could be an inoculation, it could be a chemical, mold, etc., yeah, some kind of physical trigger. It could even be food poisoning. And normally, the body is able to handle those situations effectively. But if it is immunocompromised because of the stress and the chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, we can see that it takes longer for the brain... longer for the body to overcome that physical trigger. It could even be pain, let's say.
And because it takes longer to deal with that, let's say toxin, the brain goes into this abnormal mode where it then thinks, “Oh, dear, I was only just able to overcome that toxin or that chemical or that trigger or that bacterial infection. Now, anything that reminds me of that original sensitizing event, it could be an emotion or a mood or a situation or a fragrance, anything that reminds me of that, I must over stimulate the nervous system and the immune system to ensure survival.”
Because survival is more important for our nervous system than feeling good. That's the key thing we want to remember. The brain is not doing anything incorrect. It's doing what ensures survival. And so, from then on, a legacy is left. So, from that trigger, and that physical... so, that chronic illness, or combined with the chronic stress, that creates together the chronic illness, and we may have genetic vulnerabilities for that process to happen.
[00:18:53] Scott: And if I'm understanding correctly, let's say the initial trigger was a virus, it could be the case that that virus is completely cleared from the system, and yet the brain continues to act as though there is an ongoing threat, that it's essentially not reset itself or reboot itself, so to speak. Is that correct?
[00:19:12] Ashok Gupta: Absolutely. And the analogy is, it's like a physiological traumatic response. So, PTSD is fully established in the literature where war veterans go through very dangerous events and situations, and they come back to civilian life, and they still react to a balloon popping as if they're in the war zone, yeah? But these responses are different to PTSD, but have... are analogous in the brain, where the brain learns that, from that physiological insult or experience, we could be in danger if even 5% of that original experience comes back. Yes.
So, it's, it's a learned response. It's a protective response. And that's what... why many of your people here will probably experience that they started off with one sensitivity, but then there was another sensitivity and another one, and it generalizes. Because the brain is a generalizing machine. It wants to... it rather just things quick and dirty than accurate. And so, that's why the sensitivities spread.
[00:20:16] Scott: One of the things that I've observed to your point there is that, over time, people often continue to lose more and more foods where they're down to, you know, 5 foods they can eat. I actually had worked with 1 person that was down to one food, and that 1 food was alligator.
[00:20:32] Ashok Gupta: Wow.
[00:20:33] Scott: So, in scenarios like that, that... that, to me, seems to suggest a limbic system component. Because what I've seen is using various tools in this realm is that people can fairly quickly get back their foods when they're doing this type of work. And so, to me, that suggests it was not necessarily a food allergy per se, but that there was some limbic system component in terms of the perception of threat for those particular foods. Is that... is that a reasonable understanding?
[00:21:00] Ashok Gupta: Yes, 100%, that's what we believe is happening. And people may say, “Well, hang on, you know, that's happening at the periphery. You know, the food is being digested, and it's my stomach. You know, at the peripheral level, my stomach is deciding that this isn't the right food for me.” And I would say there is a huge amount of communication between the stomach and the brain. In fact, they call the stomach the second brain, or the nerves around there.
And so, there is a huge amount... there's a huge amount of intelligence here that has been coordinated by the brain. And the more that we avoid those foods, the more that we train our nervous system that that is dangerous. Because the unconscious brain, the limbic system, take cues from behavioral things that we put into practice.
So, if... we have certain people say, “Alright, the only way I can survive MCAS is going live in a trailer out in the middle of Arizona.” The moment that you do that, you reinforce to your system that anything outside of a trailer in the middle of Arizona is highly dangerous, and is life threatening, which reinforces those responses. And that's what you see with foods.
So, when people have food sensitivities, it takes a number of weeks for people to be able to use our tools and techniques, train the brain that those foods aren’t dangerous. So, start with 1 food at a time, try a bit of it, use the tools, try another bit of it, try to use the tools. And gradually, people are able to get to 5 foods, 10 foods. And then once you get past 5 or 10 foods, the brain gets the message that there's no need to be afraid of these types of foods.
[00:22:34] Scott: When someone develops a significant chronic illness, where does the condition actually start? Would you say that it starts as a physical condition and then becomes a brain or limbic system condition? Or does it start in the brain and limbic system?
[00:22:51] Ashok Gupta: Any chronic illness is a coordinated response. So, it's imp... for me, it's impossible to separate the 2. So, let's say, what’s very much in the news now is COVID-19. Right? So, let's take that example. Someone contracts COVID-19, there is a peripheral effect in terms of the blood detecting the virus and triggering the macrophages and, you know, white blood cells to... to fight off the virus. But that information is constantly being fed back to the brain. So, the brain can also understand the situation. Okay, so we know that immune responses are coordinated by the brain.
Later down... but that is the way that the physical illness works. It's more... perhaps more actions happen in the peripheral level. But once the peripheral level is calmed down and reset itself, yes, the legacy has been left in the brain. And now the brain thinks that it needs to keep overprotecting and then will trigger peripheral responses.
[00:23:46] Scott: Where does trauma fit into the discussion? So, let's say you have these adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, can those be triggers for later limbic system dysfunction? What about maybe the mother's emotional state during a pregnancy, do these types of things increase the potential for limbic system dysfunction later in life?
[00:24:06] Ashok Gupta: Yes, there's a huge amount of really wonderful research. And when I was going through this, it really was like putting pieces of the jigsaw together. We know that people are more likely to get these conditions when they've had the ACEs, adverse experiences. And we have a hypothesis for that.
So, generally, if someone... a mother has challenges in pregnancy or childbirth, we know that the reactivity of the amygdala specifically in that child, they will have a more reactive amygdala. So, they're more prone to anxiety. They're more sensitive types in that sense. They'll be more sensitive mentally, physically, emotionally.
What that means is, as they grow up, they'll be more sensitive to this perception of not being loved or not being nurtured, which makes them even more prone to adverse childhood experiences. So, they may or may... may not have experienced abuse or bullying, but whatever they experience it will be magnified in the brain in terms of the threat levels.
And that then means that the amygdala becomes even more reactive. It actually shrinks, but becomes more reactive. And when they become an adult, their brains are more prone to these conditioning affects, because the setup has been the brain saying, “I am in a dangerous environment. The world is not safe. Ah, if I experienced such and such chemical, that is a reinforcement that the world is not safe. Therefore, I must create hyper responses to keep me safe,” which is why there is a certain crossover with some patients with anxiety, and then these types of neuroimmune conditions syndromes. So, there's a logical step-by-step process of pregnancy, child rearing, leaving a person more prone to these kinds of illnesses during adult life.
[00:25:56] Scott: I've often thought about the bucket analogy in chronic illness, where symptoms are the result of the bucket overflowing from either too much coming into the bucket, or maybe not having a big enough or large enough number of drains from the bucket. So, when the bucket overflows, we develop symptoms. How might that analogy apply to limbic system dysfunction? And how do we open the drains?
[00:26:19] Ashok Gupta: Right. Yes, a great analogy. It's also one that we use sometimes. It's a great analogy where, actually what we're putting into the bucket is obviously different layers of stress, the mental, physical, emotional stress, as well as an overall response from the body itself. So, over triggering of the immune system and nervous system, that's what's flowing in.
What's flowing out, are the 3 aspects of The Gupta Program. So, first of all, the retraining of the brain, secondly, relaxing the nervous system, and thirdly, re-engaging with joy. So, when we relax the body and the brain, we open up some holes at the bottom of the bucket, because we attempt to retrigger our vagus nerve and our parasympathetic responses, and reduce overall inflammation. So, meditation and breathing are ways to punch holes in there.
Secondly, the brain retraining. So, when we're brain retraining, we are attempting to switch off those over responses of the immune system and nervous system, as well as calm, once again, the overall brain down, so that punches holes in it.
And then the lifestyle factor, so getting good sleep, drinking lots of water, the activity levels appropriate to our health levels, and obviously a good diet, all of those things can help punch holes in to aid detoxification, when those detox systems are not working effectively.
And that final one which is often missing is that reengaging with joy, the emotional aspect. If somebody is depressed, if someone's anxious, that whole nervous system tightens up and, once again, reinforces the amount of stress coming into the buckets. So, something we do quite uniquely, I think as a program is encouraging people to laugh and smile and reengage with the things that bring them joy in life. And just that can actually have a massive physiological effect, and bring us back to wholeness and health.
[00:28:18] Scott: I absolutely believe that's true. How does being invalidated by our friends, our families, our doctors when we have an illness like this, being told that our condition is not real, how does that potentially create brain injury that can be addressed with a program like yours? Does the trauma that impairs the brains proper functioning need to come before the physical trigger, or can the illness itself result in a trauma that then needs a system like this to retrain the limbic system?
[00:28:48] Ashok Gupta: Both and. So, there's the original trigger, and the ongoing process of this condition can worsen the trauma in the brain. There is no doubt. And you've probably seen the research on the inflammation in the brain. So, there's a huge amount of inflammation in the amygdala, the anterior cingulate, the thalamus, all of these brain structures within the limbic system become inflamed. And when they become inflamed, that impairs their functionality, in addition to the original conditioning events.
And so, it's very important that, when we think about our friends, our family who don't understand, how can we be at peace with that and accept that? If we spend our lives trying to convince doctors, convince our friends that it's real, it's a thankless task, it's not going to work. And on top of that, you expend a huge amount of energy, and you're going to be dependent on it. But if you say, “I accept that other people are not going to understand this, and that's okay,” yeah, and I'm not saying it's easy, but it's the only way forward, because otherwise, it's just unnecessary amounts of stress and angst that will result from that.
[00:29:59] Scott: In conditions like Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, we think of this hyper vigilance where the immune system is overreacting, hyperactive, often to a threat that does not require that level of a response. And so, is that hyper vigilance concept when we think about mast cell activation, for example, is that the same thing that's happening with the body's alarm system or safety center in limbic system injury?
[00:30:27] Ashok Gupta: It’s exactly the same. I would say that is the core of it. So, as I said, what's really fascinating is the latest neurology is showing how much the immune system is coordinated by the insula and the amygdala and other brain structures. They really are actively involved.
And that makes sense, because where does the intelligence of that immune system sit? Yeah? We've got this blood flowing through us, and we've got these white blood cells and red blood cells and all these, you know, different parts of the body that release immune cells, where is the intelligence in coordination? It, of course, must be deep within the brain to be able to coordinate such a response throughout the body. So, in the same way, I think there's been too much emphasis on the peripheral effects, and not enough on the centralized system, which is the underlying cause. And so, I believe that MCAS, yes, in the same way, is a unique response from the brain... from the insula.
[00:31:27] Scott: But it sounds like it may not even be just an analogy. And it may actually be that there is a more direct connection that that impairment in the limbic system could itself then be leading to communication with the immune system that then is triggering the mast cells. Am I understanding that correctly, that it's not just an analogy, but there could be a connection between those two that's more direct?
[00:31:50] Ashok Gupta: Yes, yes. And more research is required to really kind of understand that. So, we know there's a number of different things going on in the brain. There’s shrinkage or enlargement of the amygdala. There is hyperactivity in the insula. There is, as we said, in neuro... a huge amount of neuro inflammation. There's a swelling in the cerebellum, which is our sensory processing centers, so there’s actually swelling in the lobes.
So, there's a lot of things going on, and trying to unpick it and seeing what is causing what eventually, it just becomes its own perpetuating cycle.
[00:32:23] Scott: If we continue on for a moment with this Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, because it's such a big topic in the community of people that listen to this show, there can be many triggers for mast cell activation, parasites, mold exposure, EMF, many of the same things that we've been talking about. They're often down to a handful of foods.
Talk to us about how The Gupta Program might be helpful in mast cell activation, but also one of the listeners asked, “Is there anything unique that's done as part of your program, if mast cell activation is a significant issue for a particular person? And how soon after starting the program might they notice some of their mast-cell-associated symptoms calming down?”
[00:33:04] Ashok Gupta: Right. There's nothing specific for necessarily MCAS. So, we treat that in a very similar way to other conditions where there's an external trigger, like multiple chemical sensitivities, and mold sensitivity. So, treating in a very similar way. And there's obviously many crossovers between those conditions as well.
So, the retraining involves recognizing the signals from our limbic system, from our unconscious, and retraining those signals to a place of safety. So, really deeply associated with into safety, safety signals. And we know that that often involves neurons from the prefrontal cortex, down to the amygdala, down to the insula, to control this hyperactivity to rebalance the system.
And generally, very difficult to say, but within weeks and months, people should notice the differences. And if you go to our website, there are people on there who’ve recovered from MCAS. And what happens is the... it's... well, people want a linear path of recovery, yeah? And yet, it's not like that. And we always encourage people to keep going no matter what. That they will see some improvements, then the brain will lapse back into its defensive responses, depending on a whole suite of different criteria, or reasons. And then you use it again, then it learns a bit more, then it learns a bit more, and so on and so on. And over time, the brain can be reconditioned.
The brain is our servant. The brain is not here to annoy us or do something that we don't want it to do. It is a learning machine that does what it thinks is best. It just needs constantly updating. And that's what we do in that situation.
[00:34:47] Scott: Yeah, that's interesting. One of my mentors, Neil Nathan, talks about the fact that when we have chronic illness for a long period of time, that that really does become the new normal, and attempts to shift that are often then met with resistance by the body, that it likes to go back to what it considers is normal, which is the illness, and that moving towards health can be uncomfortable, which I think is similar to what you were saying there as well.
What about dysautonomia is like POTS or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome? That's a fairly common thing in the community of people listening to this show as well. Have you seen benefit using The Gupta Program in POTS, for example?
[00:35:25] Ashok Gupta: Yes. And once again, there's lots of stories on our sites. POTS, to us, is a downstream symptom that has many crossovers with Fibro, with ME/CFS, and with the MCAS. There's many people who have POTS, but not everybody. And that's because it's a downstream symptom where the autonomic nervous system, the signaling is incorrect.
So, blood pressure, temperature, all of these things are often out of whack, out of kilter with many patients, simply because their autonomic nervous system is getting... it's getting over triggered, it's sometimes getting under triggered, and therefore it's completely out of balance. So, the package of symptoms each person gets will be very unique.
But with POTS, once you rebalance, once again, the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic, the appropriate level of response, gradually, the kind of dizziness, the lightheadedness begins to reduce and people are able to reduce that symptom.
[00:36:25] Scott: Is there an aspect of your program that has an effect on the vagus nerve? And taking that a step further, many people are dealing with SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. They think of that as a condition where they need to kill a bug, but most commonly, there's an underlying neurological problem where the vagus nerve can be playing a role in migrating motor complex and being able to have peristalsis and moving things through the digestive tract. Have you seen benefits with your program in people with SIBO, for example?
[00:36:59] Ashok Gupta: Yes. And in fact, I presented recently at the SIBO conference with Dr. Allison Siebecker, and she's a... you know, won’t say an advocate, but she certainly respects our program. And what we've... I think, if I just take a step back, what we really need to be careful of in the complementary and alternative medicine community, is that we don't make the same mistakes as mainstream medicine.
And I don't mean that in a patronizing way, I just want to emphasize my viewpoint here, which is that we start treating the body in a very reductionist capacity, you know, with a whole suite of tests saying, “Right, we've tested for SIBO, we've tested for this, that and the other. And what we found is this is low, this is high, this is low, this is high, right? We need to correct that at the micro level.”
Now, I'm sure there are many things that can support and can help. But the question, we are always asking, what is causing that imbalance in the first place? We need to go to the root causes, rather than the peripheral things. And then what happens is we create a huge amount of anxiety amongst clients and patients because they believe that they can't get better until that is corrected. Or, you know, “Why is my body responding in this particular way?” creating more anxiety.
And what I'd like to really encourage people to do is to say, “Absolutely, we still continue with those treatments with complementary alternative practitioners,” absolutely. But what we... what we don't want to do is drown too much into the detail of, “I can only get better if I correct this or I correct that at the micro level.” Instead, let's treat the person holistically. And let's incorporate all those key aspects of lifestyle that support healing.
So, in SIBO, once again, in my opinion, that is a downstream symptom of a nervous system, which is responding inappropriately. And we know that there is a direct impact of sympathetic responses on the balance of good and bad bacteria on peristalsis within... and movement within the gut, all of this is directly impacted by nervous system responses.
[00:39:02] Scott: Electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome or EHS is becoming such a common thing that people are dealing with, they can't sit in front of a computer, they can't be near their cell phone. Talk to us a little bit about how people might benefit from the program that are dealing with electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome.
[00:39:20] Ashok Gupta: Yes. In the same... in exactly the same way, because people say, “Well, we can't detect these electrical fields,” I say our bodies are hypersensitive machines that can in fact detect a Wi-Fi band, you know, electrical field, especially we’re close to overhead cables. And if that system, once again, gets stuck in this process of hyper vigilance, hyper reactivity, because it's learned that these environments are dangerous, it will trigger that defensive response, which is essentially a signal from the brain to say, “Move away from this situation,” right?
So, the allergic response has to aspects. One aspect is the streaming of the eyes, streaming of the nose to remove the toxin from those detection points. But secondly, that racing heart, that uncomfortable feeling of anxiety, it's almost like a vulnerability, that is a signal from the brain to say, “Move away from this dangerous environment.” So, then you move away from the chemical, or you move away from the electrical field.
And that's what we're retraining is to tell the brain, “This is an appropriate place,” that although we don't want to fill our lives with toxins and electrical fields, but it's appropriate to have a normal response rather than a hyper... hyper response.
And I hope your... you know, your listeners can really connect with this idea that, yes, we live in a more toxic world, and we want to avoid chemicals as much as possible. But what we're experiencing is an overreaction to that environment. And so, those two things are very separate and different. Because many people say, “Oh, but that means I have to avoid all chemicals and avoid all those situations because of the toxins.”
If that was the case, then every single human being would respond in the same way. But these are learnt reactions that can be brought to normal, and we can still live a detox life or low-tox life whilst also living normally and not having these reactions.
[00:41:22] Scott: I want to talk a little bit about those conditions that have structural integrity components. So, looking at hypermobility, looking at Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, CCI or Craniocervical Instability, people that have issues with the atlas for example, can the limbic system impairment and nervous system impact our structural integrity?
[00:41:45] Ashok Gupta: Yes, and vice versa. The two are integral. As an example, I have hypermobility syndrome, right? So, I can do all kinds of crazy things. And, you know, what... there is this hypothesis that when we have hypermobility syndrome (and that's one I know quite a bit about), there is more activation of the limbic system to protect us from dangers, yeah? And there can be a potential connection with that. So, we have more of that vulnerability.
So, in the similar way, with a number of these kind of physiological structural issues, there is probably some interaction between the limbic system and those structural issues to provide a sense of safety, that there's this sense of emotional sensitivity, physiological sensitivity to our environment to ensure survival. So, I definitely think there could be a link there working both ways.
[00:42:35] Scott: In autism, there is over stimulation of the amygdala. Talk to us about autism, can your program be used in some way and children? Can the parents do the program, and thus via a surrogate, for example, have some impact on the child's condition?
[00:42:54] Ashok Gupta: We'd love to tailor our program for autism. At the moment, we don't have an autism program as such. We know that many people with these conditions do have either diagnosed autism or undiagnosed autism, in fact. What we say when working with children is, yes, the parents can learn the tools and techniques, and then adapt them for the child and the child's experiences.
So, certainly, certain relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, obviously, each... each child is different, and they may not respond in the right way, those can be beneficial for people who have... who are on that spectrum. And of course, the brain retraining techniques themselves.
And we know with autism, very similar to ME/CFS, that because of the stimulation of the amygdala, autistic people have very high levels of inflammation in the body, and a lot of opportunistic viruses and bacterial infections. And they have similar levels to the blood work of people with ME/CFS, which is... which is very fascinating, very interesting.
So, for people with autism, the more that they can do to decrease inflammation overall will be very beneficial. So, those might be physiological things to reduce inflammation, like turmeric and whatever, but also, once again, reducing stress and emotional triggers as much as possible to reduce that inflammation.
[00:44:19] Scott: We know that epigenetics are more important than genetics themselves in determining health outcomes. Do we know if your program might serve as a positive influencer of gene expression via epigenetics?
[00:44:32] Ashok Gupta: We haven't got any proof yet, but what we do know is that meditation, as an example, switches and turns off and on about 30 genes in terms of gene expression. And a lot of them are around inflammation. So, you know, it makes total sense that any activity that we experience, any reaction that we have is constantly impacting on gene expression. And therefore, it is likely that brain retraining (which is the most powerful part of our program) is impacting in some way on that gene expression, although we haven't had that measured as such.
[00:45:08] Scott: There is a concept called the Cell Danger Response where the body goes into a protective survival mode using extracellular ATP as that danger signal. I think of that as living in Florida, being told the hurricane is coming, closing the hurricane shutters, bunkering down, and then being too afraid to ever look outside again. Is the idea of the body prioritizing survival from a limbic system perspective, is that similar to the idea of the Cell Danger Response?
[00:45:39] Ashok Gupta: Yes, and now I'll share a controversial idea. I don't believe that the Cell Danger Response is purely peripheral, in the sense that, of course, each individual cell has a certain level of intelligence, but the coordinated response, I still believe, is via the nervous system, okay? And in a similar way with the mitochondria as well. And therefore, the two are not separate, the two are interlinked.
So, the nervous system can sound a signal to the cells to operate in a certain way to ensure survival, and as you say, batten down the hatches, that battening down the hatches at a peripheral level send signals back to the brain that this is what the body is now doing. And the insula’s job is to monitor the physiological response to the body, make decisions as to what's appropriate and inappropriate, and reconfigure those responses. But if the system gets stuck in that Cell Danger Response, the insula is no longer able to moderate that defensive response, and therefore we get stuck in that state of being.
[00:46:49] Scott: Let's take mold for just a moment in a water-damaged building, let's say living in your house. You've already said that we should still reduce chemicals and so on. And so, I'm assuming that you're not suggesting that The Gupta Program would be a replacement for remediating your home, for example. So, I want you to talk about that a little bit. And then I also want to understand when the timing of a program like yours would make sense relative to an actual threat.
So, I think of it as a rebooting to recalibrate the system to say, “Okay, you're overreacting to a particular threat.” What if the threat is still there? Should I address the threat first and then do your program? Or can I do the program at any time in my recovery?
[00:47:32] Ashok Gupta: I would suggest remedi... remediating the issue as much as possible. We know that it's... it's almost impossible to have 100% clean space, yeah? We live in, you know, environments where there is plenty of rain and plenty of dampness that is always going to be occurring because of... unless you live in the middle of hot Arizona or the Sahara Desert, there's always going to be water vapor around and the potential for mold. So, we will remediate as much as is possible, as much as is practical.
Once we have done that, then we begin with the program, if there are any reactions which are still occurring. And what we'd say is to people, we get that confidence and that strength, and then very slowly and gently, we may expose ourselves to environments where we know there may be some mold or more... more than in our own homes. But it's just for, you know, literally seconds at a time, see if there's a reaction, and then there are tools to deal with that reaction and calm it down. Then we re-expose again, tools to then calm down at reaction, teaching the brain that actually it's okay to be in these environments.
[00:48:44] Scott: One of the challenges that I see with some practitioners trying to start treatment in people with chronic illnesses, that the patient is so ultra-sensitive that they can't tolerate one tablet or one capsule of anything because they're just so hyper reactive. And so, have you seen people use your program to then expand the toolbox of things that their functional medicine practitioner can use so that they can tolerate those things better?
[00:49:11] Ashok Gupta: Yes. And in fact, I've... I've had a chat to Dr. Nathan, Dr. Neil Nathan, and he sometimes recommends our program. You know, there is this idea of, you know, using the program in combination with other things, and which one comes first depends on each individual patient. So, each integrative... integrative doctor will decide what is the correct process to follow, depending on the patient.
But generally, by starting off with a program, that enables the body to not be so hypersensitive, which then can enable more of the supplementation or medication which can support healing, and so on and so forth.
Now, some... in some cases, just the brain retraining is enough to be able to move towards healing. But we aren't dogmatic like that in the sense, “Only, use our program.” For us, it's just getting people better. So, whatever helps people get better from this, you know, we're happy to work with that.
[00:50:13] Scott: You have a couple of different programs, as I understand, and feel free to correct me if my understanding is wrong. But I want to talk first about the MEND program, which may not be the program for people with a significant chronic illness, as I understand. But talk to us about the MEND Program, who the audience is for that program. And is it something that can be used simultaneously with The Gupta Program? Talk to us about your Meaning of Life Experience app and how that fits into the MEND Program.
[00:50:41] Ashok Gupta: Okay. So, the MEND Program is essentially a program, which is for people who generally want to feel healthier, have more energy, have a stronger immune system, yeah? So, it's not really for people with chronic illness. And MEND stands for mind, exercise, nighttime routine (so, sleep), and D is for diet. So, those are the 4 cornerstones of our general health.
But for people with underlying health conditions, chronic health conditions, the main program is The Gupta Program. Because that is where we dive much deeper into the specifics of what's going to help someone with chronic illness.
The Meaning of Life Experiment is an app. It's a 30-day self-development app, which is more about discovering happiness, meaning, and purpose in your life. So, that's for anybody who perhaps wants to understand deeper the science of happiness, and thinks, “You know what? I really don't understand what the meaning of my life is. Why am I here on this planet?” or, “I want to discover more about my life purpose. What am I here...? What's the gift I'm here to give to the planet?” So, that's a 30-day free not-for-profit app that people can take. And it has videos and meditations and exercises to help people discover that deeper meaning.
[00:51:53] Scott: So, then, for our audience, The Gupta Program is probably the one that makes the most sense. You talked about the 3 R's earlier, retraining the brain, relaxing the nervous system using meditation, and reengaging with joy.
Can you help listeners understand what is the experience of doing the program? How much time per day do they need to allocate? What are they doing during that time? Are they listening to something, watching something? I know there's a floor mat. I think listeners would appreciate getting a picture of what the daily experience of doing The Gupta Program looks like.
[00:52:30] Ashok Gupta: Yes. We like to hold people's hands as they go through this experience. Because when you have chronic illness, there's a lot of confusion, there can be brain fog, and so we want it to be very simple for people.
So, it's an online program with 15 interactive video sessions. And each video session has a number of modules. And you receive a manual in the post, which has all of the text written out of all the video (so, you can refer to that if you like), and a flowchart for retraining the brain. So, there's materials that you receive, and you can use all of those on your phone or tablet as well.
And then each day, there are some... there is a morning routine that we encourage people to do, but they can do it through any other time during the day, which involves, you know, morning exposure to daylight, specific breathing and meditation techniques. And then some rounds or some processes, some brain processes to what we call pre-train the brain. So, even before you get into your day, you've pre-trained your brain not to react.
Then throughout the day, whenever there are reactions that people can detect unconsciously, then we have specific long processes and short processes that they can go through to retrain that limbic over response. And then in the evening, there are processes to help get deeper sleep at night. Because as many people know, when you have a really good night's sleep, often you feel so much better with... you know, for a range of different conditions. So, sleep is really key here as well.
So, that is a flavor of... it is a very small flavor of it, because there's actually many other tools and techniques that can be dotted out through the day, depending on the experience that somebody is having. So, some of the tools are specific at a specific time, and some are reactive to what you're experiencing.
[00:54:17] Scott: What is the daily time commitment on average to do the program?
[00:54:23] Ashok Gupta: I would say the minimum commitment would be half an hour a day with then short 10 or 20-second techniques scattered throughout the day when they are required. We also have webinars with myself. So, when people buy the program, they have 12 weeks of webinars, which means they are keeping up momentum with the program, they can ask me questions, and it's part of a healing, loving community. So, when you join the community, you have thousands of others who are also going through a similar process, and you can get that health and support. So, it's we really want people to feel it's a loving community. It's a special that they come to and we walk them through it step by step.
[00:55:03] Scott: What if someone is cognitively impaired as a result of their illness, can they do the program? How much of it is active mental participation? And would you say that the program is more active or more passive? Am I primarily watching/listening, or am I using my brain to do something that's a more active process?
[00:55:25] Ashok Gupta: It's both. So, there's a lot of passive processes where we're understanding and listening and thinking through things. And then there are active processes, which are the brain exercises. But the good news is that we narrate a lot of those. So, we ask people to simply close their eyes, get relaxed, and then we do some of the retraining just with in that relaxed state. So, it doesn't have to be cognitively challenging.
And of course, a lot of our patients have ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, where there's a lot of brain fog, fog, fog, a lot of brain fog, a lot of impairments. And therefore, it's designed to be gentle. These processes have to be gentle. If there's too much like a bootcamp where you're coming in, “Right, do this, do this,” it can actually retrigger a lot of these responses and make someone even more anxious or have a relapse. So, everything is done with compassion and in a very gentle approach.
[00:56:21] Scott: Some people suggest that it's important not to focus on the illness, not to focus on negative emotions while you're going through the process of limbic system retraining, is that true in your program? Or do you need to go back to the negative emotion or event in order to do the retraining?
[00:56:39] Ashok Gupta: I would say, there's a mixture of both. So, a person has to recognize what the signals are. So, there's a full awareness of, “What is it that my unconscious brain believes? What are some of the emotions and thoughts that come up as a result of that?” So, being aware of that is important. But at the same time, we don't want to be in environments where we are reinforcing the negativity.
So, some of these forums online, the support groups can be highly negative, saying, “There's no way of getting better, but we just have to wait for a cure,” or, “You need to avoid every single chemical or home around you in order to not have symptoms.” Or worse than that when somebody does get well and does improve, “Oh, you never had the condition in the first place,” you know, which is demoralizing for that person, but demoralizing for the rest of the people in that support group.
So, we encourage people to let go of some of the negative support groups or negative messages they might be getting from even friends in their mold communities, and just come to our community and focus on the positive and having that sense of faith and belief that we can heal.
And that is an important component of any healing. We know that when people take certain medications, if they don't know that they're taking that medication or they don't believe it's going to work (that's the nocebo effect), it has a far lower chance of actually working. And obviously parallel, the placebo effect. If we have that strong belief something will help us, that self-healing ability of the body... of the body and the brain kick in, and we actually feel better.
So, faith and trust that something's going to work for you really helps that. So, if other people are telling you, “It's not going to work,” or, “You know, you this is what you need to do,” then that's going to be sending you conflicting messages.
[00:58:29] Scott: Yeah, I've never been against the placebo effect. If it works, I'm happy to provide my credit card.
Have you observed...? This question actually came from a listener. Have you observed any patterns of who improves with the program and who does not, if someone let's say, has more joint pain versus neurological symptoms? And can someone implement the program but still have another roadblock to healing that they really should address before the program is positioned to be successful for them?
[00:59:01] Ashok Gupta: I’ll go to the first question. The critical success factor as to whether this works (and we treated thousands of patients) is this. Generally (and we see this in pain conditions as well), when we go into the program, if there's an expectation and an attachment to results, “Come on, I need this program to work.” Now, it's been a month. Has it worked?” if there's too much of that going on, what can happen is that creates even more anxiety and even more pressure. So, doing the program in a happy-go-lucky way without expectations is the best way to approach it. So, that's one thing. And we see that in pain syndromes as well. People do better when there isn't an expectation that the pain should go away. Ironically, the pain is more likely to go away.
And secondly, is persistence. Because if you imagine, we are retraining a neurological process, which is a survival instinct that the brain has learned. So, it's almost like putting your hand on a hot plate and training your... your hands not to remove itself from the hot plate, because in fact, the plate isn't hot. That's going to take persistence and repetition, repetition.
And many people use our program, they improve, or they heal somewhat, and then they have a dip, they go back to where they were before, they think, “Oh, that didn't work.” But we say, “No, you have to keep going through the dips, because the dips are just when the brain’s got extra excitable.” But it doesn't mean that the retraining hasn't worked, it's just the context of that particular day or that particular moment. So, keeping going, keeping going is the critical success factor that we see.
Secondly, in terms of what people need to put in place, as we said, making sure that you disclude any other potential physiological illness that could be causing this. And then secondly, we can't avoid stress in life. Stress is inherent in our relationships, in our families, whatever it may be. Obviously, if somebody is in a real traumatic space, whether it be at work or in a traumatic relationship, they could be retraining but not being able to calm the nervous system because of an extreme fight-or-flight process. So, an abusive relationship, for instance, mentally physically, emotionally abusive relationship, they would need to navigate that or remove themselves for a long period of time from that kind of relationship in order for healing to occur.
At the same time, if somebody can't remove themselves from that environment, they can still use our program, because our program is designed to help us deal with our environments and our relationships and, and calm the over stimulation.
[01:01:38] Scott: Yeah, one of my observations has been that living in 2020 is a trigger for our limbic system impairment. I don't know if you've seen that as well. But it seems to me that the... the number of people who have limbic system impairment has significantly increased this year, because of all the societal stress and trauma and whatnot. Do you agree with that?
[01:01:59] Ashok Gupta: Yes, I see it all around. And the levels of anxiety have shot through the roof.
[01:02:04] Scott: You have done some studies on The Gupta Program that I'd like for you to share with us. Tell us about the research that you're doing.
[01:02:10] Ashok Gupta: Yes. Well, we're very excited to share that we had a research study just published in the Journal of Clinical medicine, which is very prestigious journal. And we did a study on The Gupta Program in Spain on Fibromyalgia. So, we took two groups. So, one group did our program. So, 20 patients in each group, and one group took relaxation techniques, and we followed them up. It was a simple 8-week intervention. So, our program is actually 6-month intervention, but this was a short 8-week intervention. And both groups had a similar amount of practitioner time.
And after those 8 weeks, we found there was close to a 40% reduction in Fibromyalgia scores in The Gupta Program group, but 0 effect in the relaxation group, yeah, which is a groundbreaking result. There was a halving of anxiety and depression, which in itself was amazing, and a halving of pain catastrophizing... catastrophizing, and a 50% increase in functional ability, functional capacity, but very low effects in the relaxation group.
So, that's been published, and it's a... we believe it's the first randomized control trial ever published on a limbic retraining or neuroplasticity program in the world. So, it's a kind of world first. And we hope that that will spur further large-scale trials on The Gupta Program, you know, to show how effective this can be for the different conditions.
And we've done other small-scale studies in the past, which generally show around 80 to 90% of patients improve, and about 2/3 of patients reach a good recovery; so, 80 to 100% recovery. And that was a published clinical audit back in 2010.
[01:03:47] Scott: Have you looked at brain mapping like qEEG or MRIs like the NeuroQuant or maybe specific blood markers of inflammation like transforming growth factor beta 1, C4a, MMP9 to see if the program leads to shifts in those parameters? And if not, do you speculate that the program might have a positive impact on those?
[01:04:11] Ashok Gupta: In this study that we did in Spain, they actually monitored various biomarkers as well. So, they monitored certain cytokines and also BDNF. Now, what they found was that there was a reduction in certain levels of cytokines and inflammatory markers, but it wasn't... it wasn't statistically significant, but there was a reduction compared to the relaxation group.
Now, in terms of BDNF, there was a marked decrease in BDNF, which is brain derived neurotrophic factor. Now, that particular brain chemical is often increased in fibromyalgia, and in... through our treatment that was reduced and brought back to... towards normalize levels in the population. So, that once again, that was the first biomarker that has been shown to normalize using this type of treatment.
Now, in terms of the other inflammatory markers, we have to be aware that none of these have necessarily become validated as an absolute representation of these illnesses. Because depending on the day or the time or the week, these inflammatory markers can be, you know, very different. And they can be different from patient to patient.
So, it's not... it's interesting information, but it's definitely not absolute proof that either something has had a physiological effect or hasn't had a physiological effect. But in the future, we would love to do further research, which incorporated those things.
Now, in terms of NeuroQuant and neuroinflammation, for sure, I think that those things would be impacted by this type of treatment, and we'd love to incorporate that into future studies.
[01:05:53] Scott: You know, the BDNF thing is interesting. In some conditions like Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment, for example, the goal is actually to increase BDNF. So, I'm assuming that using a program like yours, when we're suggesting that it's lowering it, that it's really more modulating it and it's not lowering it to a degree that it then has some detriment if you're dealing with one of those conditions where it's already low, for example.
[01:06:18] Ashok Gupta: Oh, absolutely. It was moder... moderating and modulating it back to normalized levels.
[01:06:22] Scott: Got it. Yeah. So, let's talk, and we've touched on this a little bit, the whole COVID viral pandemic, you've had results with those that are long haulers or post-COVID syndrome. What do you think is happening in those people that are not recovering from COVID after months of being unwell? Do you think that they still have an active viral component? Do you think that it's entirely needing to reboot the limbic system, for example? Tell us your thoughts about COVID and your coronavirus challenge.
[01:06:53] Ashok Gupta: Right. I love the way you're asking some great challenging questions, Scott. So, I'm really... keeping me on my toes here.
[01:07:01] Scott: You're doing fantastic.
[01:07:03] Ashok Gupta: Now, like we believe that COVID-19 because of the excess anxiety people are experiencing, it fits in with the hypothesis that is accessing anxiety, especially if you get COVID-19 and you get it chronically, knowing that there's a higher mortality rate than... than flu, combined with the virus itself could be altering the brain’s response, creating this limbic system response or this over response.
And we now know that between 2 to 5% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 still have symptoms 3 to 6 months later, depending on the survey that you... you look at. And if you look at Mono, Epstein–Barr, we know that between 5 to 15% of people go on to having chronic effects for at least 6 months going on to contract ME/CFS.
So, from that perspective, yes, people have COVID-19, we believe they follow the same trajectory as many other intense viruses. And they go on to contract ME/CFS as a post-viral syndrome, there's one category there.
Another category may be that there could be recurring infection. But too early to say, not enough research has actually been done. What I've read so far is that there hasn't been evidence in long haulers, as they're called, of recurring infection. But once again, is it the correct test? You know, is there enough antibody to actually be able to warrant that active infection? So, it's very difficult to test for those types of things.
There could be a third category of people who actually have continual lung scarring. But we know in long haulers, when they do the scans, there's only a small percentage of them, of the long haulers, who actually indeed continue to have scarring in the lung. So, that may or may not play a part.
And finally, there could be a conditioned respiratory response. So, what could be happening is, when someone went through that traumatic experience of COVID-19 and had breathing difficulties, even though the virus is gone, the body has come back to a normal, there could be conditioned response in the lungs, where there could be remembrance of pain, there could be breathing difficulties. Just like in asthma, where the lungs themselves are responding in a traumatic... a traumatized way and went through a conditioned response, therefore, inhibiting breathing and causing some of the symptoms.
So, we can see it's a very mixed picture, but my gut feel is that, regardless of which category people sit in, actually doing our program would improve the outcomes for anyone along that spectrum. And as you've probably seen, we've already healed one person, a lady called Sandrine from Paris, who had COVID-19 in the first week of March and was bed bound for 4 months ‘til July. She then did our program, within 6 weeks of working was walking 5 kilometers a day, and is still improving and getting back to normal life. And we have other people who are using our program for post COVID. And it's... we'd love to do a study. So, we're actively recruiting now, to do a large-scale study to show that our program could help with this condition.
[01:10:18] Scott: I did see that video, in fact. And that's one of the things I like is you have a tremendous number of videos on your YouTube channel where people can go and learn more and... and connect with and see people who have had similar conditions and journeys and recovery. So, that's a powerful resource for people.
You have a special offer for listeners of our conversation today. And one thing that you do that I think is amazing is you also offer a guarantee that your program works, or you give people their money back. I think that's actually fairly rare. So, tell us a little about the offer and your money back guarantee.
[01:10:52] Ashok Gupta: Yes, so we have a special code for your listeners. And our program comes with a 1-year money back guarantee, which is very rare in this in this kind of work. And the reason we do that is because we know people have low funds, they don't have a lot of money, often been out of work for many years. And until we get the large-scale independent phase 3 trials, which is the final definitive proof that this program is effective, until we get that, we offer this 1-year money back guarantee so people can get the program. We say use it for a minimum of 6 months.
After 6 months, if you notice no improvement, you can return your program from... for up to a year, no questions asked. So, we don't ask you, “Did you use it? Did you not use it?” You can get your money back and you can use that money for something else. So, people have got nothing to lose by really going for this?
[01:11:41] Scott: Yeah, thank you for doing that. That's... that's an impressive opportunity that you give people to get their money back if it doesn't work. So, I appreciate that you do that. To me, that says a lot about your belief in the program's potential to help people.
[01:11:55] Ashok Gupta: Yes, thank you. And, you know, it's also about us recognizing that, actually, the biggest thing here is not the monetary investment, it's the time and commitment. And that's what we ask people is, “Please come to our program.” When you get to that stage where you recognize that, “Actually, I've been trying so many different things. Maybe they've helped here and there, but they haven't really got to the core of this. I'm now ready to let go and trust in this program, and that program to help guide me through it.”
Because if you still have that skeptical voice in the back of your head saying, “Oh, I don't know if this is going to work. And I don't think this is the right approach,” that is still... you're still blocking yourself from fully investing your time energies into it.
[01:12:38] Scott: I think that's a really good point. I hear people a lot of times saying, “Oh, I'm exploring XYZ, but I don't believe it will work. What are your thoughts?” And my thoughts generally are, “Then you shouldn't do XYZ. Because even if XYZ might be helpful for you, if you go into it with the idea that it's not going to work, it very possibly may not work,” right? And so, I think that, you know that that belief in what we're doing is important.
[01:13:05] Ashok Gupta: Yes. And in many different areas of medicine, that's... that's been shown and it's been proven. At the same time, what we do say is we don't expect people to have 100% belief, but what we say is suspend your skepticism.
So, if a doctor says to you, right, “Take this 6-month course of pills, and then you'll feel better,” you would trust in the doctor, you would take the pills, and you would get better. So, in the same way we say, surrender to the program. Let go for a minimum of 6 months, and only judge this program after 6 months. Because you may be using our program for a few weeks, and you may get better. For some people, it takes a number of months.
Why is that? Because you can retrain your brain, but you may need a sustained period of time where you require your vagus nerve to be triggered, the parasympathetic nervous system to be actively detoxifying your system, healing and repairing, and then the energy comes back. And we don't know how long those timescales are. So, commitment and keeping going until you fully recover is important.
And for those people who’ve used our program or other programs, what I'd encourage you to do is let's say you've had a dip and thought, “Oh, I thought the program would work, but now I have a dip,” these programs do work, they will work, but they require that consistency. Even if you have to do it for the rest of your life, they can get you well and keep you well if you understand that this, this is an ongoing process.
So, even once our patients get better, we don't just leave them and say, “Right, you're finished. That's it. You're done. Done The Gupta Program,” it is about investing time every day for the rest of your life to stay healthy. You may not have to do the brain retraining, but at least health... eating a healthy diet, meditating, breathing, lowering stress levels for the rest of your life is very important. Because this illness is a wakeup call. It's almost like a spiritual accelerator to say, “You can't go on living your life the way you were before you got the condition.”
So, like the caterpillar turning into the butterfly, the Illness is the cocoon that feels hard and it's... you know, when there's wings are sprouting from you, it feels painful. But being in the cocoon is the best thing that could happen to the caterpillar, because then you go through that transformation into a butterfly and life would never be the same.
[01:15:18] Scott: I love that. And I totally agree with you. That was such a great way to start to wrap up our conversation. My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:15:32] Ashok Gupta: So, I get up in the morning and make sure that you have exposing to daylight straightaway. So, I open the curtains and look out the window, and then I go jogging. So, I do high-intensity interval training of about 20 to 30 minutes, so really kind of, you know, training intensely. And then I have a shower, I do breathing techniques that are provided by the art of living foundation called the seduction career. So, art of living, they provide these amazing breathing techniques, you can find that at artofliving.org. And there, that's about 15 minutes of breathing techniques, followed by 30 to 40 minutes of meditation, sometimes 20... 20 to 30 minutes of meditation.
After that, I have a nice healthy breakfast. So, for me, that's porridge with some stevia and some fruit inside it. And then I get into my day. But I make sure, as much as they possibly can (I don't do this every day) not to switch on media until I've had my breakfast. It's so tempting to get onto our phones and start answering emails. But what you haven't done in that moment then is bring your mind to balance.
Because when we wake up in the morning, the nervous system can be a little jangly, a little raw. So, getting it into a healthy state before you start stimulating it first thing in the morning, it's incredibly important. Meditate again in the evening before dinner. And then in the evenings, I attempt to relax. I don't like going on to my laptop or phone after 8, 9 o'clock in the evening, which helps sleep. And yeah, then there's that wind down in the evenings, those last few hours not having close screens.
[01:17:10] Scott: Beautiful. This has been such a fun conversation. I appreciate the detail that we were able to get into. I just want to thank you for your time, but also to honor you for making your life's purpose, putting together tools that have the potential to minimize the suffering of others. I think that's such a powerful and purposeful thing that you do. And so, thank you so much for being here today. And thank you for all the work you do in support of those of us that are dealing with chronic health challenges.
[01:17:38] Ashok Gupta: Thank you so much, Scott. That's very kind of you. And yeah, thank you for having me.
[01:17:43] Scott: To learn more about today's guests visit GuptaProgram.com, that's GuptaProgram.com, GuptaProgram.com.
[01:17:52] Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review, which will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can find me there as Better Health Guy. To support the show, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/donate. And to be added to my newsletter, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/newsletters. This and other shows can be found on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.
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The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.