The Gupta Program: Review for Chronic Conditions
I’ve dealt with chronic conditions most of my life.
Most of these stemmed from Mold Toxicity and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
I had chronic pain, daily gut symptoms, and I could only tolerate about 10 foods.
I now do everything I can to keep from getting that sick again.
Despite my best efforts, my health took an unexpected hit a few years ago.
I was dealing with Long Haul, and I discovered new mold growth in my basement.
I felt myself sliding backwards with my health.
In addition to an onset of physical symptoms, I was panicking.
I was so worried about the toll all of this was taking on my health.
But in a moment of clarity, I realized I needed to focus on calming my mast cell activation and my nervous system.
I was doing daily exercises to keep my nervous system regulated.
But I knew I needed to step it up since I was in such a bad state.
So, I started prioritizing the Gupta Program in my daily nervous system practices.
You’ll read more about the Gupta Program and how it works next.
But for now, I’ll just tell you that the Gupta Program helped me shift from panic to a deep state of calm and safety.
It helped calm my mast cells and helped with my physical symptoms and anxiety.
Keep reading to learn:
- How the Gupta Program works
- What the Gupta Program may help
- How the Gupta Program may help MCAS
- How to use the Gupta Program
- How to get the most out of the Gupta Program
But first, I want to share Ashok Gupta’s story with you. He’s the founder of the Gupta Program.
Ashok Gupta’s Story
I want to tell you just a little bit about Ashok Gupta.
I know you’ll relate. Because like you and I, he’s had his own health struggles.
In fact, it was his own health problems that led him to create the Gupta Program!
Ashok suffered as a young adult with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
When he was studying at Cambridge, he became bedridden after contracting a viral illness.
He wanted to get better and began using what little energy he had to research from his bed.
He put his research together to create his own neural retraining program.
After his own recovery, Ashok went on to do a randomized controlled trial on the Gupta Program.
He continues to research, writing multiple medical papers on neuroscience.
I would have moved forward with my health so much faster if I had the Gupta Program 20 years ago!
You can hear more of Ashok’s story in this Facebook Live:
Keep reading to learn more about the Gupta Program and how it can help you, too.
What Does the Gupta Program Help With?
At the Mast Cell 360TM clinic, one of the first and most important steps our clients take is getting stabilized.
Stabilization is about supporting the nervous system and mast cells to calm your body down.
This can help you tolerate more foods and supplements. It can also make a huge difference in tolerating Step 2, which is Gentle Detox.
The Gupta Program is an effective therapy for balancing dysregulated nervous systems.
If you have an overactive immune system or haywire mast cells, this brain retraining program may help you get stabilized.
In addition to stabilization, studies show that the Gupta Program may help support the following chronic conditions:
- Long Haul Syndrome
- Multiple Chemical Sensitives
- EMF Sensitivities
- Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
- Mold Sensitivities / Mycotoxin Symptoms
- Pain Syndromes
- Anxiety / Panic
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Food Sensitivities
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Adrenal Fatigue & Burn Out
- Lyme Disease
- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
The Gupta Program connects these chronic conditions into a syndrome group called NICS.
NICS stands for:
You’ll read more about the brain and chronic conditions in just a bit.
But first, here’s what some of the Mast Cell 360 clients have reported after working with the Gupta Program.
Nervous system support has helped so many people with nervous system dysregulation.
Clients have noticed fewer or less intense symptoms of MCAS.
And they’ve noted they handle supplements better.
They’ve also reported being able to eat more foods once their mast cells have calmed down, too.
That’s because these techniques train your brain to communicate to the mast cells that they can calm down and not be so easily triggered.
And it can calm your nervous system responses, like panic, too.
During the stabilization phase, we focus on two parts of the nervous system:
- the limbic system
- the vagal nerve system
The Gupta Program is our main tool that focuses on limbic training.
Let’s look more at the limbic system next.
The Gupta Program and the Limbic System
The limbic system is a part of the sympathetic nervous system. It controls fear and emotions.
The limbic system is always on and sending messages.
Your limbic system includes these parts of your brain:
- And others
These are important in functions like nervous system balancing, homeostasis, emotions, fight or flight response, and more.
Do you need limbic retraining to downshift your nervous system?
What Is the Gupta Program?
The Gupta Program is an online guided program of conscious exercises designed to help calm the nervous system, specifically in regard to the limbic system.
NOTE: There is very little body movement required with the Gupta Program. So, if you are struggling with fatigue or pain, you can still consider this program.
It’s so easy to start using because it’s a gentle, well-organized, step-by-step process.
All you need is a soft place to sit or lay down and a device to listen.
The Gupta Program is designed to help retrain your brain to get out of flight or flight (or the sympathetic mode).
It’s a neuroplasticity program that focuses on limbic training.
Let’s break down what that means.
- neuro for brain
- plasticity for flexibility or change
In other words, it’s helping your brain be more flexible and adaptable.
Brain retraining works on the neurological part of the brain and part of the nervous system that can be shifted on a biochemical level.
Here’s more background on where this comes from.
This field of study has a really long name. It is called psychoneuroendicrinoimmunology. Or psychoneuroimmunology for short. Here’s how to break it down:
- Psycho means mind states
- Neuro means nervous system
- Endicrino means hormone system
- Immuno means immune system
- Ology means the study of these things
You see, the brain is the head of the nervous system. If the brain feels like it’s under attack or stressed out, it’s going to send alert signals through the nervous system and into the limbic system.
When this keeps happening, your brain gets trained to become over-reactive. And you can get stuck in that sympathetic state of “fight, flight, or freeze.”
The Gupta Program seeks to calm that response.
In other words, the Gupta Program trains your mind. This can do wonders to calm your nervous system as well as help balance your hormones and immune system.
Let’s look next at why those with chronic illness may get stuck in this sympathetic state.
Chronic Illness and the Brain
From his education and experience, Ashok Gupta suggests that many chronic illnesses are psychoneuroimmune-based and may be caused by dysfunction in 2 brain structures:
- Amygdala – center for fear, emotions, and memories in the limbic system
- Insula – awareness, emotion, hunger, taste, sensation, empathy, and motor control that communicates with your limbic system
The limbic link with empathy is why people with high empathy are more likely to have sensitivities and illness.
The limbic system remembers bad experiences and then creates fear and emotions to prevent you from repeating those bad experiences. But sometimes it “misremembers”.
For example, I got dysentery in India from a salad at an Italian restaurant. But the symptoms didn’t hit me until a couple days later.
I became very ill. And I was so lucky to have friends who took care of me while I was severely ill with nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.
They brought me fresh water and home cooked Indian food.
My limbic system connected the dysentery with Indian food since that’s what I was eating while I was sick. So even though I logically knew that it was the salad that made me sick, for years, just the thought of Indian food made me queasy.
This also often happens to people with various food, supplement, and medication sensitivities. It’s not that it’s in your head. It’s a neurological wiring issue!
But the good news is that your brain can be rewired!
The Gupta Program’s brain exercises focus on amygdala and insula retraining. These are the parts of the brain that identify danger and react.
Your body’s stress response gets wired together with the immune response.
So, by calming the nervous system, you can calm the immune system.
You have to persuade your brain that you aren’t in danger. That’s where neuroplasticity can change your brain.
A number of things can trigger this kind of danger or stress response. These triggers might include such things as:
- Childhood trauma
We want our brains to respond when there’s real danger. That’s why survival is the top priority of the nervous system and immune system.
But we also want our brains to calm down after the danger has passed.
What happens when it doesn’t turn off?
How Psychoneuroimmunology Explains Illness
In many chronic conditions, the brain stays in high alert mode after fighting off the invader.
And anything that reminds you of that danger leads to more over-response.
Psychoneuroimmunology helps us understand that problems in your nervous system can cause problems in your immune system, hormones, and mind state.
Mast cells are interwoven with your nervous system. They are even in your brain.
There are 2 branches of your nervous system that affect Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
These are the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS).
The Sympathetic Nervous System is the part of your brain that reacts to threat or danger.
Think about how you feel when you are in a rush or when you trip. Or if you are in an argument.
That jolt is your Sympathetic Nervous System kicking in.
When your nervous system perceives any kind of danger, it causes the “fight, flight, freeze” reaction.
The “fight, flight, freeze” reaction comes from a part of your brain that can’t think. It can only react.
So, your nervous system will often react the same way to a minor stressor or a major stressor. It will be the same if you get stressed while driving in traffic or if a bear is chasing you.
Any stressor causes the nervous system to be in that sympathetic state. Which in turn keeps activating your mast cells.
And when the mast cells are activated, they keep producing inflammation and histamine release. That inflammation makes your nervous system have even more of a Sympathetic response. It’s a big loop that happens.
When you’re stressed, your body makes stress hormones. Stress hormones trigger mast cells.
The mast cells start to release inflammatory chemicals in your brain and throughout your body. The inflammatory mast cell chemicals then cause the release of more stress hormones.
This activating and re-activating of your mast cells by stress continues in a feedback loop.
To stop the feedback loop that is activating your Sympathetic Nervous System and the Mast Cells, you have to get your Parasympathetic Nervous System involved.
Next, let’s look at what may be happening in your brain if your nervous system is haywire.
What Happens in the Brain
In the brain, the amygdala learns to be hyper-reactive to any symptoms in the body. Then, the insula can no longer handle incoming signals. It overstimulates the brain and body.
This will keep the body in “fight, flight, freeze”, stimulating the body to stay in the sympathetic nervous system.
And your body won’t go into the rest and digest mode (parasympathetic).
This overstimulation can make it hard for the body to respond to stress appropriately. Another word for this is hyperarousal.
And this hyperarousal also triggers the immune system. This may be why so many NICS (Neuro Immune Condition Syndromes) are linked to inflammation. The over reactions are part of the same loop above.
This extra inflammation can compromise the immune system. When the immune system is hyperactive, it may contribute to many chronic conditions.
Thankfully, the amygdala and insula constantly communicate with other parts of the brain. So, they can be retrained.
The reactivity can be calmed down with the right exercises.
This is how the Gupta Program may be getting to the root cause of complex physical conditions. It’s supporting the Parasympathetic Nervous System balance – this is the rest, heal, digest, and restore system.
The combination of insula and amygdala retraining helps the brain (and therefore the immune system) return to baseline. It calms the nervous system so it can get back to balance (homeostasis).
Here’s how it may address some of the root causes of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).
The Gupta Program for MCAS
When the defensive areas of the brain are over stimulated, it affects the immune system.
That’s when you may start to see increased sensitivities to foods, supplements, and more. Your mast cells start to see all these things as invaders.
The good news is that this type of brain retraining may also help calm the mast cells in the brain and throughout the body. It takes them out of attack mode.
You need your Parasympathetic System working well to be able to heal your mast cells.
When your Parasympathetic Nervous System kicks in, your brain stops flooding the body with stress hormones once these things are slowed down. And then the mast cells stop firing.
This type of nervous system work was one of the big missing puzzle pieces of reclaiming my health.
And it’s been a game changer for so many of my clients, too.
Here’s more on what you can expect when you start the Gupta Program.
How to Use the Gupta Program
There is an online membership area with 15 training sessions and 20 brain retraining techniques.
Slightly different than meditation, it gives you conscious awake exercises.
You still want to close your eyes and relax.
We’ve seen over and over again in the Mast Cell 360 clinic that the Gupta Program is much more effective than regular meditation and breathing. This is because of how it focuses on amygdala and insula retraining.
We encourage people to do all the modules and exercises in order.
There is a free trial with the first 3 videos. I don’t recommend this though. The first 3 steps typically aren’t enough to move the needle for most people.
You need the whole process.
I’ve seen remarkable results with the Gupta Program with the sensitive population.
Here’s how to get the most out of it.
How to Get the Most of the Gupta Program
If you feel jittery during the program, do not push through. Honor your body.
You may only get through the first 10 minutes of an exercise. That’s ok. It took me a long time to be able to sit still during the exercises.
But as your limbic system calms down, you’ll be able to complete the 20 minute exercises.
We have clients focus on Session 5, which is the main limbic work. I recommend doing 2-4 rounds 2x/day of the brain retraining exercise for at least 6 months. Each round only takes 5 minutes.
In part of the brain retraining in session 5, you are encouraged to think about a positive memory.
I like to use printed photographs of special times when I felt deeply connected, safe, and relaxed. This helps me to connect better with the positive memories.
Note: It won’t be as effective if you use a digital screen photo like looking on your phone. The emotional part of our limbic systems connect better to a printed photo than a digital photo.
We perceive printed photos as more realistic than photos seen on a digital device, which helps us experience the safety and peacefulness of these photos.
If you need to print these, it’s easy to get nice print through Amazon photos. It’s also pretty cheap at less than 20 cents per picture, depending on what size you order.
I go back to photographs of when I was swimming with whale sharks. Now you might think whale sharks are dangerous. But it was a positive experience for me.
I felt safe. There wasn’t a lot of adrenaline. They are beautiful animals.
I also use a photo of my dog snuggled up to me.
Or I use photos from when I was in the redwoods and black mountains. These were safe healing places for me.
The program suggests pulling from positive childhood memories. But if you don’t have those positive memories, it’s okay to use positive memories from your adulthood.
Some of my clients use photos of their children or grandchildren.
Once you learn the process, you can listen to the audio version to walk you through it.
They’ll send you a floor map to use with it. But while you’re waiting for it to arrive from the UK, you can make the steps on pieces of paper so you can get started on the video lessons.
There is also a short version of this exercise to do in your mind. It’s great to use during the day when in conversations or working, etc.
How to Get the Gupta Program
At Mast Cell 360, the Gupta Program is a part of a core part of stabilization for those with complex, chronic Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Histamine Intolerance, Mold Toxicity, and related conditions.
It was such a game-changer for our clients, we made it one of the first steps for anyone starting at the Mast Cell 360 clinic.
For those who are unable to stand or walk for the brain retraining in session 5, some people do it by sitting and using a cane to point at the steps. Others who can’t sit up make flash cards and use the flash cards for the steps while lying in bed.
Some of my favorite exercises are:
- Mindfulness and Pacing
- Re-engaging with Joy
- New Groove Technique
- The Gupta Program Accelerator
When I was dealing with mold exposure in my own basement, I did the full Brain Retraining Exercise 4-5 rounds per day. Then, I used the accelerator when I was in a stressful situation.
You can use the accelerator in moments you’re having a reaction like chemical and mold sensitivities too.
To get the most out of the Gupta Program, you need to set aside time for it daily.
Prioritize the Session 5 Brain Retraining doing 2-4 rounds 1-2x/day. As you have time, you can add some of the other exercises that you prefer.
You can also use it to decompress after work and there are some wonderful exercises to do before bed.
There’s even a getting back to sleep exercise for when you are struggling with insomnia!
There’s also a regular webinar series that Gupta Program members have access to.
If you notice no improvement after using the program for 6 months, you can return it for a refund, no questions asked. It’s a money-back guarantee.
You have nothing to lose and health to gain!
Brain Retraining Doesn’t Mean Your Illness Is “All in Your Head”
Now here’s something very important that I want you to know.
Needing to rewire your brain doesn’t mean “it’s all in your head.”
I know how crushing it can be to hear those words. I was often told my issues were all in my head because my labs were normal, and I didn’t “look sick”.
I’ve had doctors flat out tell me that I must want to be sick.
Of course, that wasn’t true.
Your illness isn’t “all in your head.”
But you can retrain your brain and support your nervous system.
I’d been alternating nervous system practices like:
I use the Gupta Program alongside all of these. It’s one of my favorite supports.
Have you tried the Gupta Program yet? Which exercise is your favorite?
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Gupta A. (2002). Unconscious amygdalar fear conditioning in a subset of chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Medical hypotheses, 59(6), 727–735. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0306-9877(02)00321-3
Roxo, M. R., Franceschini, P. R., Zubaran, C., Kleber, F. D., & Sander, J. W. (2011). The limbic system conception and its historical evolution. TheScientificWorldJournal, 11, 2428–2441. https://doi.org/10.1100/2011/157150
Sanabria-Mazo, J. P., Montero-Marin, J., Feliu-Soler, A., Gasión, V., Navarro-Gil, M., Morillo-Sarto, H., Colomer-Carbonell, A., Borràs, X., Tops, M., Luciano, J. V., & García-Campayo, J. (2020). Mindfulness-Based Program Plus Amygdala and Insula Retraining (MAIR) for the Treatment of Women with Fibromyalgia: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of clinical medicine, 9(10), 3246. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9103246