I was given the Gupta Program as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this Gupta Program review are my own, and I was in no way influenced by the company. This post contains affiliate links.
Update as of 2/23/21: The Gupta Program has been updated since I wrote this review in 2017. All information in this review is still accurate as of today unless otherwise noted. The biggest change is that the DVDs included with the previous version of the program have been eliminated, and all video content is now accessible through an online portal on the Gupta Program’s website.
According to the latest research, an overactive nervous system may be an underlying trigger for fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. Based on my own symptoms, I definitely agree with that theory. I feel like my nervous system is always in overdrive. I’m hyperaware of pretty much everything – sounds, smells, lights, temperatures, visual stimuli, certain foods and of course, pain! I’ve felt keyed up and stressed out for years, and I didn’t understand why I felt this way until I started the Gupta Program.
The Gupta Program is a brain retraining program developed by Ashok Gupta. Ashok suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (aka ME/CFS) while attending college and later created the Gupta Program to share the techniques he used in his own recovery from ME/CFS. (Yes, I still believe it’s possible to recover!)
Here’s a very rudimentary explanation of the theory behind the program: Most of us with fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS had a trigger for the onset of our symptoms. For me, it was the death of my mom and an extremely stressful job. In fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, the brain, particularly the amygdala and the insula, becomes stuck in a hyperreactive stress response, which causes an overstimulation of the nervous system and immune system. This defensive response ultimately leads to the symptoms we know all too well: pain, fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbance, digestive issues and others.
Ashok does a more thorough job of explaining the entire theory in this introductory video.
You can read the research behind the Gupta Program here. During a clinical audit of the program, two-thirds of participants who committed to using the program achieved an 80-100 percent recovery.
A 2020 study confirmed the Gupta Program as an effective treatment for fibromyalgia. Patients who participated in that study reported the following improvements:
- 37% reduction in scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire compared to 0% in the control group
- 47% increase in perceived health compared to 16% in the control group
- 46% reduction in pain catastrophizing versus 9% in the control group
- 45% reduction in anxiety versus 15% in the control group
- 41% reduction in depression compared to 6% in the control group
(Read: Gupta Program success stories)
The goal of the Gupta Program is to calm the brain and nervous system, which in turn will lead to a reduction in symptoms. The Gupta Program has been used to aid in recovery from fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic Lyme disease, mold illness, unexplained pain syndromes and similar conditions.
My Gupta Program review…
For the past few months, I’ve been slowly working my way through the Gupta Program, and I wanted to share my experience.
The main components of the program are:
- A daily meditation and breathing practice – Ashok recommends meditating in the morning upon waking and right before dinner. There is an app that can be used for this, which I’ll talk more about later in this review.
- Brain retraining – It’s recommended to practice the brain retraining technique several times in the morning after meditating and to use it throughout the day whenever negative thoughts or anxiety arise.
- Online weekly webinars – A three-month series of webinars covers how to do the brain retraining technique, pacing, diet and other topics helpful to recovery.
- A workbook and DVD series – The material in these supplements the information shared within the webinars.
Note: The Gupta Program has been updated since I wrote this review in 2017. The DVDs mentioned above have been replaced with videos that are now accessible through an online portal on the Gupta Program website.
I just love Ashok! My favorite part of the program was watching his webinars. I find his personality to be very calming, and I regularly watch his Facebook Live events. He’s very wise for his years, and I suspect that he might one day become the next Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer. He’s a gifted and natural teacher.
Several years ago, I was a daily meditator, but then fell off the wagon while moving to a new home. I’d been looking for a program to help reestablish a meditation routine because I know it’s beneficial in reducing my overall symptoms of fibromyalgia and Lyme. The Gupta Program gave me that structure. Having a regular meditation practice definitely helps me to feel calmer and less stressed out in my daily life.
Ashok has developed a free smartphone app called the Meaning of Life Experiment. (Anyone can download it; you don’t have to be a Gupta Program student.) I really love the app. It contains 30 days of meditations, along with videos about – you guessed it – the meaning of life. The video cinematography is gorgeous, and again, it’s incredibly calming to listen to Ashok’s narration.
And the challenging…
I struggled with completing all of the components of the program. Throughout the webinar series, Ashok continually reminded everyone to “do your best and leave the rest.” Despite Ashok’s reminder to not be so hard on myself, there were times when my perfectionist personality kicked in, and I felt overwhelmed by the amount of weekly homework that was assigned. In addition to the daily meditation and retraining exercises, there were worksheets to fill out, journaling to do and weekly webinars to watch.
I understood the purpose of all of these activities, but I found it difficult to get all of my assignments done each week, and I ended up falling behind early on in the program. I think the program would be more manageable for someone who isn’t employed and has more free time to devote to the exercises. I ended up starting and stopping the program several times, and that has affected my overall outcome because consistency is required for the brain retraining to work.
The final outcome …
I do think the theory behind the Gupta Program makes sense, and I’ve found meditation and the brain retraining technique to be helpful tools in calming my overactive nervous system. I’m far from recovered at this point, but I feel like the Gupta Program is a positive step in that direction.
The Gupta Program is not an easy fix. It requires discipline and a commitment to using the retraining technique to feel better. It’s definitely one of those situations where you get out of it what you put into it.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Gupta Program, you can sign up for a free trial here (see link at the top of the page).
How to discuss the Gupta Program with your doctor
The Gupta Program team has created a special page with the results of the 2020 study, which you can forward to your physician for his/her review.
There is also a 3-page PDF about the program and study results that you can print off and take to your next doctor’s appointment.
Now, it’s your turn… Have you used the Gupta Program or another brain retraining program? Did it help? Please share your experiences in the comments section below!