– no endorsement for Lightning Process for ME
The Associated New Zealand Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Society (ANZMES) supports the new position paper on the Lightning Process by the World ME Alliance and does not endorse the Lightning Process for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).
The Lightning Process is a programme loosely based on concepts of neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) that is set up commercially and currently marketed as a cure for ME/CFS. This claim is not backed by scientific evidence and ANZMES shares the view of the World ME Alliance that the promotion of this programme is likely to do harm.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), in the UK, revised their guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ME/CFS stating that the lightning process should not be used as a treatment and they no longer recommend CBT. These changes reflect a shift from an outdated perspective that ME/CFS was a psychological condition and follows evidence from over 200 studies showing poor efficacy for this treatment approach.
ANZMES President, Fiona Charlton says, “there is a growing body of evidence that shows that ME is driven by physiological changes not psychological ones and telling people that they can talk themselves out of this condition, within three days, could be very harmful.
“We know that if people with ME ignore their symptoms and push themselves this can make things worse, sometimes to the point of needing hospital care.”
ANZMES agrees with the World ME Alliance who highlight in their statement that people with ME/CFS are vulnerable to exploitation due to a lack of effective treatment where programmes like the Lightning Process are just filling this void.
People living with Long COVID are also being drawn into this treatment as this is now an extension of their claims to cure ME/CFS.
Other concerns with the Lightning Process include a bias in efficacy studies, including conflicts of interest, a reported secrecy where participants are told not to speak about the programme or their symptoms and a level of shame and guilt for those who do not recover within the three days of treatment.
Charlton says, “we want to ensure that if we are endorsing a treatment for ME that robust evidence supports efficacy and this is just not the case with LP.
“What we do know is that a treatment approach that is focussed around symptom management is shown to help with the relapsing nature of ME.”
ANZMES acknowledges that neurological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety can be a part of ME/CFS and may benefit from supportive therapies but people have the right to unbiased, impartial information when being offered these treatments.
The Lightning Process was developed and trademarked by British osteopath and hypnotherapist Phil Parker.
ANZMES has been providing information, building awareness, funding research, and advocating for people with ME/CFS for the past 42 years (since 1980). As the national advisory body for ME/CFS in New Zealand, ANZMES disseminates evidence-based information nationally, and represents the ME/CFS voice, globally as a founding member of the World ME Alliance. ANZMES acts as the voice of all people living with this disabling disease through advocacy and leadership.
Contact ANZMES for more information