… The Lightning Process!
Simply a flash of lightning or a real ME cure?
THOUGH I was pleased to hear another chronic fatigue sufferer hasbeen cured by the Lightning Process, I must point out that this illness isn't as severe as ME.
My daughter has suffered severely for 13 years. Zena Gibson mentioned that her social life declined to almost nothing (Letters). Peoplewith ME have no social life at all; it's a huge struggle just to get through a day.
Like many others, my daughter has applied to take part in the Lightning Process but was refused treatment because she was told she wouldn't be able to cope with it. So I'm afraid it isn't a cure for everyone, and the battle with this terrible illness goes on.
JEAN SMITH, Huntley, Glos
ZENA GIBSON believes ME is caused by raised levels of the stress hormone adrenaline (Letters) and can be cured by a three-day programme known as the Lightning Process — discoveries worthy of a Nobel prize.
What we do know about ME is that there are numerous abnormalities involving the brain, muscles, immune and endocrine (hormonal) systems. But there is no firm scientific evidence of raised adrenaline, and no results from clinical trials to show that the Lightning Process actually works.
The ME Association has been monitoring a succession of miracle cures' from the alternative health sector for the past 20 years. They are expensive, nearly always based on unproven or highly speculative scientific theories, and are seldom subjected to objective clinical assessment.
So, no Nobel prizes so far.
We prefer to campaign and raise funds for research into the real physical cause of this illness, rather than giving false hope about unproven cures to desperate and vulnerable people.
Dr CHARLES SHEPHERD,
Honorary medical adviser,
ME Association, Gawcott, Bucks.
Yes it works
CONGRATULATIONS to Zena Gibson for overcoming her illness. ME is a seriously debilitating condition which renders life almost unbearable for the sufferer.
As the designer of the Lightning Process, I'm pleased to report it has delivered a consistent success rate with ME recovery over the past nine years — 4,000 people having undertaken the training programme in the past two years and regained their health.
There is, however, some misunderstanding when trying to simplify description of the process, and this has led to misinformation and some prejudice from certain quarters in the ME community.
The Lightning Process accepts the Ramsay definition of ME (as used by the ME Association). I agree it is physical in nature, and I addressits neurological, hormonal, muscular and immune system issues in a three-day training programme combining elements of osteopathy, neuro- linguistic programming (NLP) and coaching.
Adrenaline is often mentioned in conjunction with the Lightning Process, but this is an oversimplification of a complex interactionof many body systems, including an unusual pattern of adrenalineproduction (as corroborated in Dr Bruun Wyller's recent research in Norway).
Many former sufferers have received short shrift from the ME Association and have been told they didn't have ‘proper ME'.Maybe it is time for the ME Association to accept the possibility that there finally is some good news for sufferers.
PHIL PARKER, London ECI.
Just a pyramid-selling scam'
IF THE Lightning Process worked for Ms Gibson, she never had ME in the first place. Her understanding isn't congruent with 60 years of biomedical research into what the World Health Organisation defines as a neurological disease.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is the unscientific moniker ascribed to a heterogeneous group of illnesses and excludes the crucial aspects of the infectiousness of ME, as well as the brain injury from which symptoms find their origins. There is no correlation between psychiatric disease and ME, unlike the bogus category of chronic fatigue syndrome — so much for the yuppie flu vs couch potato theory.
Adrenaline metabolism is involved, but is only one, relatively minor, aspect.
How could a three-day ‘process' cure anyone of the catastrophic effects of ME on the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, brain injury, mitochondria) dysfunction and multiple co-infections? The Lightning Process is little more than a pyramid-selling style money scam with many of the hallmarks of a cult.
AYLWIN CATCHPOLE, British Columbia.
ZENA GIBSON is wrong to refer to chronic fatigue syndrome as the medical term for ME.
She claims she was cured by the Lightning Process and adrenaline was the cause of her illness.
Research into the biochemistry of ME has shown adrenaline isn't the cause, and bizarrely no one involved in the Lightning Process has shown it actually does reduce adrenaline levels.
Chronic fatigue can be caused and cured by many things, and I'm glad Zena is better, but for sufferers with the serious abnormalitiesfound in ME, a cure will depend on biomedical research, not on unproven and scientifically unsound therapies.
25 per cent ME Group,
Lesson in positivity
I'M PLEASED people are getting better by using the Lightning Process, but, having done the course, I should point out it is a psychological process, not a physical one.
Zena Gibson describes feeling stressed and the Lightning Process can help depression. It is, in effect, a lesson in positivity. It can't cure physical illness, only physical symptoms which come from a psychological condition. The real problem is that there is nodiagnostic test for ME, leading to wrong diagnoses.
I found the Lightning Process no help whatsoever. Indeed, after the first day, I was exhausted — but the practitioner, who was supposed to have had ME, had no real understanding of this.
KAREN RIPPON, Cardigan.
Life after ME
FOR 15 long years, I lived in a dead zone, struggling with an illness that left my family, friends and GP confused, and me bereft, housebound and in a wheelchair.
As a child, I was active, enjoying skiing, windsurfing, sailing and fell-walking. My teenage years went by in a flurry of drama, music, bands, general craziness, boys and beer.
By the time I arrived as a student at Goldsmiths' College in 1991, I was adept at burning the candle at both ends.
So I was shocked to be struck down by a mysterious virus which left me stumbling about, slurring, unable to lift myself from the back seat of the cab, and even forgetting my name and address.
I tried everything, but nothing worked. I tried the medical route — and tried my GP's patience. My boyfriend simply couldn't cope with the endless visits to quacks and homeopaths, the thousands of pounds spent on remedies and potions.
Nothing helped the crushing fatigue, muscle pain, pins and needles, sickness, diarrhoea, sweating, nausea, migraine and mental confusion.
While my friends built careers and families, I was stuck in my flat and stuck in time — dragging myself from the kitchen to the bathroom, not having the energy to wash my hair or talk on the phone.
In 1997, I made it out of my front door just twice — to go to But dating was doing me in. My energy was see-sawing all over the place. Then I heard about the Lightning Process.
It helped me to lift myself out of the ‘adrenal loop' I'd been stuck in for years. In just three days, it felt as though my immune system had come back to life. My cheeks filled with colour, I feltwonderful, and I was able to walk two miles. The other people on the programme resolved their ME, too.
It's been the most amazing ten months of my life. I had my firstholiday abroad in 18 years, where I walked the length of Manhattan and snorkelled and swam in the Bahamas. I'm so alive! However, I've received hate mail from weird activists who say that if you get better, you didn't have ME in the first place.
VIKKI RIMMER, Address supplied.
No scientific proof
THERE are remarkable similarities among the stories told by advocates of the Lightning Process, such as Zena Gibson. They'd been desperately ill for years, often housebound or bedridden;they had given up hope of getting better; they read about, or a friend told them of, the Lightning Process; they were sceptical, but felt they had nothing to lose; they tried it and were surprised and delighted that it worked.
We have to accept the diagnosis is truly myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and not any other illness, such as chronic fatigue, stress and/or depression, and that the Lightning Process — not any other treatment or just the passage of time for the body to heal itself — brought about a ‘cure'.
The Lightning Process has no scientific evidence to support it; isn't authorised by any medical authority; is a secretive organisation run by a heterogeneous group of people, with no recognised qualifications; and it is expensive — beyond the reach of most people with ME, who are in receipt of disability benefits.
If it were successful, we should be seeing a significant reduction in the numbers of people ill with ME. I fear that such stories raise in chronically ill people hopes which are rarely realised.
Dr JOHN H. GREENSMITH, www.mefreeforall.org, Bristol.
If only positive thinking was all it took to recover from this disease
IT'S simply not possible to recover from the serious neurological illness myalgic encephalomyelitis by positive thinking, any more than it's possible to recover from other neurological illnesses, for instance Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, in this way.
There is no diagnostic test for ME and this leads to widespread misdiagnosis of other fatigue conditions, including mental disorders, as ME. The Lightning Process has the potential to do enormous, perhaps permanent, harm to genuine ME sufferers as it encourages increased activity without addressing the underlying viral, bacterial
and/or parasitic infection that is always present and that adversely affects the heart. ME has been responsible for a number of deaths, and I worry that one day there will be a death caused by a sufferer undertaking this questionable procedure.
H. PATTEN, Frome, Somerset.
I SUFFERED from ME/chronic fatigue syndrome for six years until I found that a teaspoon of cod liver oil in orange syrup, taken every eight hours, will cure chronic fatigue in three to six weeks. I was cured in a short space of time. A friend in Sweden had the illness so badly that he had to be admitted to hospital. I gave him a bottle of
my mixture, and it cured him in three weeks.
JOHN W. ROBINSON, Portadown, Co. Armagh.
IF ONLY it were that easy to be cured' of ME by the Lightning Process. Having researched ME for many years, I've never yet found evidence that ME is related to adrenaline. Should we really return to calling the illness ‘yuppie flu' because Zena Gibson maintains that all we have to do is be ‘laid back and miss work' and no one will ever get ME?
Researchers working tirelessly with very little funding have concrete evidence that this severely debilitating
illness is a neurological problem. Ms Gibson's attitude plays into the hands of those who are holding back desperately needed funds to continue the research.
PAULA GILFEDDER, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim.