ANZMES backs World ME Alliance position

– 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 These changes reflect a shift from an outdated perspective that ME/CFS was a psychological condition and follows evidence from over 200 studies showing poor efficacy for this treatment approach.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.

Position Statement World ME Alliance

NICE Guidelines

Contact ANZMES for more information


There are some therapies which are commercially based, and they come under many names. Lightning Process is one that has been widely known. This is a psychological approach based on neurolinguistic programming, a technique that may have benefits for those who are experiencing depression or anxiety.

Claims have been made that the Lightning Process is a cure and some have said it did cure or significantly help them, but as yet no scientific trials have been done with a group selected from stringent ME/CFS or Long COVID research guidelines. It is possible responders may have conditions other than ME/CFS or Long COVID.

We are concerned by its promotion of it as a ‘cure’ for ME/CFS and Long COVID. At present this is not scientifically proven. We have received reports from those who have spent a great deal of money to try this or similar treatments who have made no improvement, have not been cured or have relapsed severely. The guilt experienced by those who are not cured can be devastating.

On 27 September 2017, the ME Association in the UK published this article on their website:

The following is a quote from Dr Charles Shepherd, medical advisor to the ME Association:
“‘The Lightning Process’ is not a treatment that we endorse or recommend for people with ME/CFS. “Patient evidence, gathered from our members over many years, indicates that some people who have gone through the LP try to make rapid and unrealistic improvements in their physical and mental activity levels. However, this is followed by a relapse or significant worsening of symptoms. Others who have gone through the LP programme report that they have spent huge amounts of money with no obvious benefit. It may well be that there are some people with a general fatigue state, resulting from stress, emotional or psychological problems who could benefit from a ‘mind over matter’ entity and not to be confused with ME/CFS. There has been a very significant growth in biomedical research globally into M.E. in the past decade. This over-simplistic and largely psychological model of ME/CFS causation that is being put forward to patients is totally out of step with emerging scientific evidence as to the cause of ME/CFS.”

Since Dr Shepherd wrote this statement, there has been even more robust scientific research into ME/CFS as a neuro-inflammatory disease. One might do well to remember that multiple sclerosis was once seen as a kind of ‘hysteria,’ until MRI machines were able to identify the lesions associated with this disease on the myelin sheath. Research into the biomedical causes and potential treatments of ME/CFS and Long COVID is proceeding at a rapid rate and new therapies are being developed, including the possibility of treatment through using existing medications.

Along with providing support, it is the aim of ANZMES to provide sufferers of ME/CFS and Long COVID with accurate and up-to-date medical information. We encourage all patients, medical practitioners, family members or the general public to contact us with any questions you may have.

Associated Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Update – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK) published revised guidelines on October 29, 2021. In this revision, NICE stated that the Lightning Process should not be offered as a treatment for people with ME/CFS (point 1.12.27 of the recommendations) as it could potentially cause harm. For more information visit: 

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