Study Investigating Effectiveness of the Lightning Process Program to Treat Children with Mild or Moderate CFS or ME

Providing an additional benefit to specialist medical care.


Myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a condition that causes long-term tiredness (fatigue). An estimate suggests that at least one percent of secondary school children in the UK have developed ME/CFS.

Although, if checking for diagnosis, there is no test available to diagnose the condition until now. Still, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends three treatment approaches: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), graded exercise therapy (GET) and activity management. Even with these diagnoses, only two to third of children are expected to recover at six months.

Now, scientists at the University of Bristol testing Lightning Process program. The LP program, developed from osteopathy, life coaching and neuro-linguistic programming, teaches techniques for using the brain to make changes to the body’s level of health.

This is the first ever study to investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of LP. Scientists here involved 100 of students between the ages of 12-to 18-years who had a diagnosis of mild or moderate CFS/ME. They classified patients according to who had- specialist medical care and specialist medical care plus LP.

Participants were then asked to read information about LP, attend three group sessions and receive follow-up phone calls with an LP practitioner. They then asked to complete questionnaires at regular intervals based on physical function, fatigue, pain, anxiety and school attendance.

Scientists found that the participants allocated with LP had improved physical function at six months which improved further at 12 months. They reported reduced fatigue, anxiety, and depression at six and 12 months. School attendance had also improved at 12 months.

In other words, the Lightning Process program offered effective and cost-effective for children and young people as well.

Professor Esther Crawley said, “I was surprised that the LP provided additional benefit to specialist medical care. This is an important study as it provides another treatment approach that some children may find helpful. Ultimately, our aim is to find the most effective treatments that can help improve the debilitating symptoms of CFS or ME in children.”

“However, while these results are promising, further research is needed to establish which aspects of the LP are helpful and whether it is an effective treatment on its own and whether it could be used to help more severely affected patients. Many children and families in our service did not want to have LP and therefore, this approach is not for everybody so we must continue to investigate other treatment approaches.”

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