Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating a multitude of involuntary functions in the body, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and respiration. It is divided into two branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, which have opposing effects on these bodily functions. In a healthy individual, these two branches work in perfect harmony to maintain homeostasis. However, in individuals with CFS, the ANS is often deregulated, leading to sympathetic hyperactivity.

Sympathetic hyperactivity

Sympathetic hyperactivity is characterized by an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which results in the body being in a constant state of fight-or-flight mode. This can manifest in various ways, including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and excessive sweating. It also causes a decrease in parasympathetic activity, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digest responses. This imbalance in the ANS can lead to a range of symptoms seen in CFS, such as palpitations, dizziness, and gastrointestinal issues.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS),
Orthostatic Intolerance and Impaired Baroreflex Sensitivity

The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system regulates blood volume in the body.
People with ME/CFS/SEID and/or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) tend to have low blood volume.
When low blood volume is present, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system should increase activity. But in what has been termed the renin-aldosterone paradox – both levels are decreased in ME/CFS/SEID and POTS.
High levels of Ang II can increase sympathetic nervous system activity, produce systemic vasoconstriction (narrowed blood vessels), increase the heart rate, inflammation and oxidative stress.

Renin-aldosterone-angiotensin system here fails to properly regulate a substance called bradykinin which is vasodilator. Impaired baroreflex sensitivity means that baroreflex signals don’t work as they should.
So in CFS/ME/SEID vasoconstriction and vasodilation are mess, and a result are symptoms of orthostatic hypotension (not getting enough blood to the brain when one stands (or sits)) and blood pooling in the lower body upon standing.

Limbic System Training: How It Works

Limbic system training is a form of biofeedback therapy that uses specialized computer software to measure and train brainwave activity. This therapy is based on the concept of neuroplasticity, which means that the brain can change and adapt in response to new experiences and information.
During a limbic system training session, the patient is connected to sensors that measure their brainwave activity. The software then displays this information in real-time, allowing the patient to see how their brain is responding to certain stimuli. Through a series of exercises and feedback, the patient learns to regulate their brainwave activity and bring balance to the limbic system.
One of the primary goals of limbic system training is to decrease the overactivity of the limbic system and increase activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher cognitive functions and emotional regulation. This helps to improve the brain’s ability to regulate the ANS, leading to a reduction in autonomic dysfunction symptoms.

Benefits of Limbic System Training 
Limbic system training has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for autonomic dysfunction in CFS patients. By retraining the limbic system, patients can experience a significant reduction in symptoms and an improvement in overall quality of life.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Nova Southeastern University, CFS patients who underwent limbic system training reported a 43% decrease in fatigue symptoms, a 55% improvement in cognition, and a 42% increase in daily activity levels.
In addition to reducing symptoms of autonomic dysfunction, limbic system training has also been shown to have a positive impact on mood and anxiety levels. This is because the therapy is not only targeting the physical symptoms but also the emotional and cognitive aspects of CFS.

Limbic System Programs

While limbic system training programs are relatively new, there is a growing body of evidence to support their effectiveness in treating CFS. Many people who have completed these programs have reported significant improvements in their symptoms and quality of life.
Limbic system training programs, such as the Gupta Program and the ANS Rewire Program, aim to retrain the brain and calm down the overstimulated limbic system, thus reducing symptoms of CFS.

The Gupta Program, developed by Ashok Gupta, is a comprehensive program that combines neuroplasticity techniques, meditation, and lifestyle changes to retrain the limbic system. It is based on the theory that CFS is caused by a traumatic event, which leads to a disruption in the body’s stress response. Through the use of specific techniques, the program aims to reverse this response and restore balance to the body.

The ANS Rewire Program, developed by Annie Hopper, also focuses on retraining the limbic system. It follows a similar approach to the Gupta Program, using a combination of techniques, including neuroplasticity, meditation, and lifestyle changes. However, the ANS Rewire Program also targets the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls functions such as heart rate and digestion, as it is closely connected to the limbic system.

Both the Gupta Program and the ANS Rewire Program involve a guided program that provides users with structured information, exercises, and support to help them retrain their brain and reduce symptoms of CFS. These programs also emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, exercise, and stress management.
There are other programs, see more here.

One of the key principles of limbic system training programs is neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change and form new neural connections. By consistently practicing techniques that stimulate the brain, such as meditation and cognitive exercises, CFS patients can retrain their limbic system and reduce their symptoms.
Another important principle is the mind-body connection. Limbic system training programs recognize that chronic stress and negative thoughts can contribute to the overstimulation of the limbic system. By addressing these factors and incorporating relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, into the programs, patients can achieve a sense of calm and reduce the hyperactivity of their limbic system.

In addition to personalized guided programs, there is a wealth of free content available on the internet too. Many patients have experienced notable improvements by independently applying these principles and techniques. Here, you can discover links to the most noteworthy resources.

Medications to treat dysfunction of the baroreceptor reflex or rather its symptoms include Midodrine, Droxidopa, Fludrocortisone, Pyridostigmine, Beta-blockers, Desmopressin, Erythropoietin and Clonidine. However, Nebivolol, Guanfacin and clonidin (antisympathotonic drugs with moderate doses) are for patients with no tachycardia, no hypotension.
For hypotensive patients Physostigmine; nicotine patches, Antihistamines H1 and H2 with careful monitoring; Alpha1-adrenergic agonist Midrodine.

Natural alternatives to Midodrine are Butchers Broom, Hawthorn and Licorice

Compression socks and stockings help. Most experts recommend 20-30mmHg or 30-40mmHg waist-high stockings. Lower levels of compression or stockings that aren’t waist high will give you less benefit.If you find waist-high stockings uncomfortable, there’s no reason not to try the thigh-highs. Some compression is better than none. In summer when blood pooling is most prominent and blood pressure tend to lower they were of great help to my daughter. Find breathable comfortable fabric and for sandals or slippers you cam choose open-toe. They come in great colors and prints now, or light and sheers that look like regular pantyhose.
You can try abdominal binder, which is large belt you wrap tightly around your belly, to raise blood pressure as well.

Standing and sitting crossed legs
Tighten and relax leg muscles. Pumping your legs muscles or tightening the muscles in your legs about 10 times before you stand or while you stand can help circulation and raise blood pressure.

Ad more salt to your diet and drink plenty of water (2-2,5l a day).
Don’t forget electrolytes, and isotonic drinks for hydration.
Eat small and frequent balanced meals do avoid blood glucose spikes and lessen POTS symptoms.

Diet recommendation
If you eat lot of dairy products, consider to cut them for a month or so to see if you feel any better. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are high in calcium, potassium, and other nutrients that can help Lower blood pressure by reducing the amount of calcium that enters the bloodstream, promoting vascular relaxation. This could be great for some, but not as great for hypotension.
Food intolerance activates histamines and lowers blood pressure. Check for food intolerance or simply stop taking gluten and dairy for two months and see if you feel better.

(Refined sugars and oils, processed food and additives are considered out already, and it is basic care for CFS/ME/SEID and other conditions, as well as for healthy people.)

Elevate the head of the bed by four to ten inches.

Exercise. At first you may not feel like working out, but keep in mind that research has shown the exercise can improve POTS symptoms better than beta blockers. Start slowly. Every couple of days add a minute or two. Swimming is great too. Introduce some isometric exercises to your routine: These exercises involve contracting your muscles and you can do them lying in bed or seated. Do these in bed before getting up to prepare your body for sitting and standing.

Reduce stress by daily relaxation techniques such as breathing, meditation, and mindfulness practices.

ANS-Imbalance Treatments Summary

Impaired ANS Symptoms:

  • Orthostatic imbalance
  • POTS
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blood pooling
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpations
  • Excessive or insufficient sweating
  • Pure eye accommodation
  • Dry eyes

ANS Support:

  • Q10
  • Glutamine
  • Butchers Broom
  • Hawthorne
  • Hydration
  • Exercise
  • Compression 
  • Low-Histamine Diet
  • Limbic System Training Programs