Advertising Standards Uphold Complaint Against Gupta Programme for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia | 11 April 2018

April 11, 2018


By Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.

A wide range of speculative and unsubstantiated investigations and treatments for ME/CFS are available in the alternative and private medical sectors, and the MEA receives very mixed feedback on these approach to both assessment and management

In the case of advertising and promotional material, we have major concerns about the way in which some of these costly investigations and treatments are being promoted to people with ME/CFS.

We do therefore, where appropriate, report our concerns to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and other regulatory authorities.

In relation to the Gupta Programme, this is not a form of treatment that we recommend, and we welcome the fact that the ASA has taken this action in relation to the way it is being advertised to the general public.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Ruling

Harley Street Solutions Ltd t/a Gupta Amygdala Retraining

11th April 2018


Summary of council decision: Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.

Ad description

A website for the Gupta Programme,, seen on 27 September 2017, advertised a treatment programme developed by Ashok Gupta for a range of conditions, through a “FREE Video Course on how to Recover”, followed by attending “In-Person Weekend Workshops” training, a “Home Study DVD Course”, and/or group “Coaching Webinars”.

The website included text stating the programme was “a powerful revolutionary new treatment” with “incredible healing effects” for illnesses such as “Fibromyalgia”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME” and “Electrical Sensitivities”.

It also said, “… these conditions are caused by abnormalities in the brain, especially a brain structure called the ‘Insula’ & the ‘Amygdala’” and the programme “is a way of re-wiring the brain’s responses to bring back health and vitality”.

The website included various “Success Stories”, offered “a one-year money back guarantee” and included a “Disclaimer” stating “this website is purely for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or advice”.


The complainant challenged whether the claims that the Gupta Programme could treat the following conditions were misleading and could be substantiated:

  1. “Fibromyalgia”;
  2. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME”; and
  3. “Electrical Sensitivities”


  1. & 2. Harley Street Solutions Ltd t/a Gupta Amygdala Retraining (Harley Street Solutions) said that they had conducted clinical trials on their treatment protocol and believed they could substantiate that it could be used to support people with fibromyalgia, CFS or ME. They provided two published studies and a draft manuscript for a third study in support of those claims. With regard to the draft manuscript study, Harley Street Solutions said their treatment programmes included mindfulness tools and techniques as a standard part of their amygdala and insula retraining.
  2. Harley Street Solutions said that ‘electrical sensitivities’ was not a recognized medical condition and therefore their claim to be able to treat it could not be in breach of any rules.


  1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claims in the ad that the Gupta Programme could treat “Fibromyalgia”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME”.

The ad made reference to both attending workshops and a “Home Study DVD Course” and consumers would therefore understand the claims to relate to both methods of treatment.

Harley Street Solutions had provided two published studies and a draft manuscript relating to a third study. We therefore considered whether the body of evidence submitted was sufficient to substantiate claims to treat those medical conditions.

The draft manuscript was of a Spanish randomised controlled trial examining the efficacy of mindfulness alongside amygdala and insula retraining in the treatment of fibromyalgia. We noted Harley Street Solutions stated that their amygdala and insula retraining included mindfulness techniques; however, the descriptions of the programmes on the website did not state that mindfulness training was a core part of that treatment.

We also noted the study had not been published or subject to peer review. Additionally, the study appeared to involve weekly two-hour group sessions with a therapist and daily homework assignments, followed by three monthly sessions. The treatment delivery did not replicate exactly the advertised method of treatment in the ad of a two-day workshop with three follow-up webinars with Ashok Gupta (1.5 hours), or a home study DVD course followed by 12 weekly webinars.

There were 64 participants in total and 22 in the relevant group, of whom 19 completed the study. The study noted the limitations of the fairly small sample size and that this meant they were not able to control for the possible influences of the individual therapist in each group. For those reasons, we did not consider the trial substantiated that the advertised therapy could treat fibromyalgia.

The second study related to both fibromyalgia and CFS. It had been published in a peer reviewed journal which focused primarily on complementary medicine.

The single-blinded study compared the efficacy of amygdala retraining alongside ‘standard care’ with ‘standard care’ alone, and so the results would not be able to show the efficacy of amygdala retraining alone.

‘Standard care’ consisted of a 1.5-day course involving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET). Over half of participants did not complete the study – of the original 44 participants, 21 completed it, and only seven from the amygdala retraining group did so.

This meant that the outcomes for the participants who did not complete it were not accounted for in the results, which was a significant limitation. Although the study reported statistically significant effects in some of the 16 different outcome measures used, given its limitations we did not consider that the study substantiated that the advertised therapy could treat fibromyalgia or CFS.

The third study related to CFS only and was an internal clinical audit published in a peer reviewed journal with a focus on complementary medicine. As a clinical audit it was therefore not controlled, randomised or blinded.

The paper was authored by the Director of Harley Street Solutions and described the outcomes of 33 patients who had been recruited onto a one-year programme, 27 of whom completed it. Whilst 93% participants reported improvement we considered that the limitations of such an internal clinical audit meant it did not substantiate that the advertised therapy could treat CFS.

Taking account of the evidence as a whole, we did not consider that it was sufficient to substantiate that the Gupta Programme could treat “Fibromyalgia”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME” and we therefore concluded that the claims were misleading.

On these points the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1  (Misleading advertising),  3.7  (Substantiation) and 12.1  (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

  1. Upheld

We acknowledged that “Electrical Sensitivities” was not a generally recognised medical diagnosis. However, we also understood that some people did suffer from real symptoms which they attributed to electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), and we considered that the reference to “Electrical Sensitivities” in the ad implied that the Gupta Programme could treat those symptoms.

Because we were not provided with any evidence to substantiate that claim we concluded that it was misleading.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1  (Misleading advertising),  3.7  (Substantiation) and 12.1  (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).


The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Harley Street Solutions Ltd not to state or imply that the Gupta Programme could treat “Fibromyalgia”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME” or “Electrical Sensitivities”. We told them to ensure that they held substantiation for any similar claims relating to medical conditions or symptoms.


You can also read the ruling, on the ASA website.


5 thoughts on “Advertising Standards Uphold Complaint Against Gupta Programme for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia | 11 April 2018”

  1. Some years ago, in the early days of this ‘programme’, I was sent a complementary copy of the home course to evaluate for the local support group. There was a glossy book, several very well produced DVDs, and a large piece of plastic to spread on the floor like a parlour game.
    There was no content which could have had any bearing on any illness.
    To be blunt, it had all the hallmarks of a confidence trick – impressive language which said nothing.

  2. I could not disagree more with Soloman.

    After months of confusion and fear caused by CFS, and a medical service (in Germany) which only met my cries for help with skeptical looks, and queries into my mental health – The Gupta Programme has proven to be a light in the darkness.

    It’s created by a qualified medical practitioner who has had CFS himself, and used his medical knowledge, intellect and intuition to reflect on the dynamics happening in his body, and took the time and dedication to create a programme which offers the millions of people around the world a chance at recovery, where the rest of the worlds medical experts have failed.

    His understanding of the disease, I believe, is spot on, 100% accurate. He describes all of the subtleties and intricacies of the illness perfectly, and that can only come from someone who has had it themselves.
    His therapeutic approach is innovative, inspirational, and IT WORKS!

    I was bed bound until a few months ago, after I began using the programme. It has provided me with the tools I needed to nourish and replenish my damaged nervous system, and is giving me a practical approach to coping with my illness, which I believe will lead to me becoming 100% better. Although I am not yet back to work, I now have the energy get my day to day tasks around my home completed.

    We are too used to being ploughed with pills as solutions to our medical problems. The Gupta Programme requires that the person suffering from the illness, uses their own imagination, drive, and sustained effort as a means to stimulating their bodies to produce ‘feel good’ hormones into their body. It’s not just ‘positive thinking’. It’s a method of creatively stimulating ourselves, in order to create a real chemical reaction in our brains, as a means of retraining a part of the brain (the amygdala) to stop it’s automated secretion of adrenalin, which is at the heart of the problem in CFS and ME.

    When I got sick, I could feel this constant adrenalin cycle happening in my body. During the day, and when I slept. It’s scary, and I felt like my body was broken from deep inside. The Gupta Programme is giving me the tools I need to believe in my future again, and lead the healthy and happy life I want to live.

    I honestly feel that anyone who feels that The Gupta Programme is ‘a confidence trick’, is like a spoilt child, who wants to be better now, and is giving a knee jerk reaction to a recovery programme which doesn’t offer the instant ‘one pill’ solution.

    So say that I am dismayed at the decision of The Gupta Programme’s advertising being upheld, is more than an understatement. It makes me incredibly sad at the short sightedness of the Advertising Standards, who are censoring the only real help out there for sufferers of an awful and deliberating illness.

    Jack Sewell

    1. Hi Jack,
      The ASA decision relates to the claim made on the Gupta website of being able to ‘treat’ based on certain research. It was found that this research did not support the claims being made and the complaint was upheld. The ME Association did not make the complaint, but we do support the decision to remove such claims from the website and from any other advertisements.

  3. Thanks MEA. Be a great if you could also do similar with Alex Howard and the Optimum Health Clinic?

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart