Mayo Clinic study of Gupta Amygdala Retraining


The Mayo Clinic study of Gupta Amygdala Retraining was published in April this year. There are some serious problems with the study, eg the high drop out rate, but leaving those aside, this is what the researchers wrote about Gupta Amygdala Retraining:

“Amygdala retraining serves to restore a more normal state of homeostasis through deconditioning the amygdala-mediated fear response to distressing internal sensations and thoughts. This is accomplished through several mind–body techniques that promote relaxation and attempt to reorient attention away from the distressing symptoms of the viscera or catastrophizing thoughts.”

The researchers concluded:

“The findings from this pilot randomized clinical trial of amygdala retraining provide reason for guarded optimism regarding the addition of mind–body techniques in helping patients cope with symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.”

Note that they only said, “helping patients cope with symptoms”. They did not say that it could cure these conditions. The word “cure” doesn’t appear in the article at all. Neither do the words “recovery” or “neuroplasticity”.

Toussaint LL, Whipple MO, Abboud LL, Vincent A, Wahner-Roedler DL. (2012) ‘A mind-body technique for symptoms related to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.’ Explore (NY). 8(2):92-8.

The study is available in full here:



  1. brainfan

    “Note that they only said, “helping patients cope with symptoms”. They did not say that it could cure these conditions. The word “cure” doesn’t appear in the article at all. Neither do the words “recovery” or “neuroplasticity”.”

    YES. Those who make such exalted claims are lucky that the FDA hasn’t come knocking on her door (ooh, did I just say that?).

    Another point to take away from this is what exactly these people are trying to cope with:

    “the amygdala-mediated fear response to distressing internal sensations and thoughts.”

    All psychological effects.

    This study confirms what I’ve been saying all along: those who feel intense fear about chemical exposures may be helped with this or other psychological interventions. The study points the way away from amygdala retraining having any sort of physiological impact on the condition.

    • I agree. It would be good if this study made some people realise that it doesn’t treat MCS, only psychological issues.

      • brainfan

        This report underscores the idea that “amygdala retraining” (I really wish I didn’t have to use that speculative descriptor) is yet another psychological coping strategy:

        Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to treat multiple chemical sensitivities: a randomized pilot trial
        “No significant differences in effect measures were found between the groups. However, those who completed the MBCT program generally reported benefiting in terms of improved coping strategies and sleep quality.”

  2. 20 things to avoid if doing this re-training. One is to be cut off from support groups and also avoid researching symptoms and treatments. I was so close to trying this treatment as I’m in a bad way: foods, chemicals, everything. Instead I’ve gone back to doing what has worked in the past; however, it’s not working because I’m not in clean air – yet. I think that trying this program when desperate could lead to suicide. Using NLP for illness is akin to banging one’s head against a brick wall (painted with chemicals of course!).

    • Michellina, I agree about this program. I think the people promoting it as more than just an anxiety treatment or way to help people cope with symptoms are irresponsible.

  3. Gupta is organising crowdfunding for research: I wish there was a quick fix!

    • Yes, it would be great if you could stop real MCS reactions by saying “stop, stop, stop” the way Gupta teaches!

      • brainfan

        It’s exactly as I’ve been saying for years: whatever improvement they’ve experienced has come from their own diligence in avoiding chemicals. It has raised their thresholds for reactions. This is absolutely nothing new or groundbreaking. Dr Rhea has been doing this at his clinic in Texas for years. He has been finding water by drilling for it while these other people turning on their water faucets and attributing their successes to worshiping at crop circles and using divining rods. We have all of these absurd comments about how “I put my amygdala in overdrive” without a single shred of evidence. Indeed, these people have created problems they never had based on the entirely uninformed comments and unfounded “successes” of shysters who are taking all the progress that genuine researchers have made and trashing them on the rubbish heap of snake oil. “Stop stop stop!” Good grief. It’s just another form of CBT. If you hadn’t psyched yourself into a psychotic frenzy in the first place, “stop stop stop” will do nothing for you. I repeat what I’ve said before: Ashok Gupta knows NOTHING about medicine. His “paper” is the worst of amateurish medical “reporting” at best. I cracked up when I read that Julie was using EFT. One study that found that EFT was better than placebo also found that tapping on a teddy bear has the same degree of success. These people improved their conditions through their own work and they credit liars like Gupta and Hopper. I’ve long given up trying to keep this conversation in the realm of fact. I’ve done my best to battle for MCS awareness in the world of “skeptics”, but these people were nothing compared to the Stepford Wives we’re dealing with here.

    • Thanks for letting me know. I’ll look for another link.

      • Thank you. It’s certainly worth reading!

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