The Amygdala Hyperarousal Model and Retraining Program

I was recently sent some information that I find promising on the connection of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia to microbial infection and trauma to the amygdala (the primal seat of emotion in the brain). A British therapist, Ashok Gupta theorizes that the amygdala is traumatized by psychological stress and chronic infection (including a virus called XMRV) and that it can be reprogrammed to help patients overcome this type of illness. Following are excerpts from his website:


The Amygdala Hyperarousal Model

“…ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia may be caused by a conditioned trauma in the amygdala following an acute viral, bacterial or physical insult, combined with psycho-social distress. Once the classical and operant conditioning has occurred, the amygdala in association with the insula, become hyper-sensitive to signals from both the body and external stimuli, and magnify both the extent and frequency of the incoming stimuli in the sensory thalamus and cortex.”


How Amygdala Retraining Might Reduce XMRV and other Opportunistic Pathogen Levels

“Amygdala retraining aims to reduce the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system by creating a projecting neurone from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala to control its over-zealous reactions. This in turn would reduce the sympathetic overload, allowing TH1/Th2 ratios to gradually return to normal, allowing the body’s own immune system to fight off opportunistic infections such as the suspected XMRV. Symptoms from amygdala hyperarousal (including changes in the brain), and symptoms from opportunistic infections would then subside, as well as any allergic effects of TH2 dominance.

Amygdala retraining aims to bring homeostasis back to the body after a period of imbalance, where the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems returns to normal, as does the TH1/TH2 balance.”

Read more about his theory and recovery program at


Now, I don’t know if his program is worth a toot, but I do like his hypothesis for the vicious cycle of CFS type diseases. I think he hits the nail on the head.

  1. Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors (1)
  2. Triggers: Acute Psychological Stress (2) & Viral, Bacterial, or Other Triggers (3)
  3. The combination of these precipitating factors changes the circuitry of the amygdala, making it continually over-stimulate the body (4).
  4. From then on, the amygdala continually over-stimulates the sympathetic nervous system directly (5)
  5. Hyper-arousal of the body then causes the symptoms (6) and creates Secondary Illness Cycles (7).

“Over-stimulation can cause adaptation in receptors so that systems are down-regulated, or certain systems may simply exhaust due to over-stimulation, as is the case with the adrenal glands. Nitric oxide levels may rise (as per the observations of Professor Martin Pall), which can cause a whole host of secondary effects and symptoms in the body, including mitochondria dysfunction, perpetuating the entire vicious circle. Because the immune system is responding inappropriately, opportunistic viruses such as HHV-6 have the opportunity to flourish, increasing symptoms. Finally, at 7, secondary illnesses such as allergies and chemical sensitivities can occur due to the hypersensitivity of the entire system.”

Sound familiar?

This could be a revelation for Lyme Disease sufferers! As we are learning, antibiotic treatment alone is not the answer, especially for those with chronic Lyme.  We need help to detoxify and desensitize/reprogram. Perhaps this therapy could be useful in this regard. I plan to do further research.

– Laura


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