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McMaster University: observational study shows significant improvement in health outcomes 

“Neuroplasticity-based treatment for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and multiple chemical sensitivity: feasibility and outcomes” Guenter D, et al. (2019)

In 2016, researchers at McMaster University did a one-year study of 102 people with complex chronic illnesses who attended a Dynamic Neural Retraining System instructional seminar. Participants completed standardized health surveys prior to implementing the program, with follow-up surveys to track changes in symptoms at months three, six, and twelve.

People who implemented the program reported suffering from numerous— and often overlapping— conditions. Among these were:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Food allergies / sensitivities
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lyme disease
  • Migraines / headaches
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)
  • Neurological disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The surveys measured the following:

  • Quality of life (SF36)
  • Fatigue severity scale (FSS)
  • Symptom impact questionnaire (SIQR)
  • Quick environmental exposure and sensitivity inventory (QEESI)
  • Anxiety (GAD-7)
  • Depression (PHQ-9)

Research question: does the DNRS program make a difference in people’s lives?

To answer this question, researchers used the quality of life survey (SF36), with baseline measurements and follow-up measurements at three, six, and twelve months post implementation of the DNRS program.

According to this study, quality of life and function improved dramatically while implementing the DNRS program over a period of twelve months.

Each of the eight components are listed on the graph above; each with its own color and acronym.

  1. Blue represents physical function (or PF)
  2. Brown represents mental health (or MH)
  3. Green represents social function (or SF)
  4. Gray represents bodily pain (or BP)
  5. Yellow represents general health (or GH)
  6. Dark blue represents emotional function (or RE)
  7. Light blue represents vitality (or VT)
  8. Orange represents physical activities at work or home (or RP)

In this survey, the average healthy Canadian comparison scores ranged between 70-90%.

You can see that all eight quality of life and function measures increased over a 12-month time span, approaching and / or meeting the healthy Canadian average.

Research question: does DNRS have an effect on people’s symptoms?

To answer this question, we will want to look at the rest of the surveys used to assess these areas:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Multiple chemical intolerance

You will notice that each pair of bars represents one of the specific surveys. Each survey measures whether a person meets the criteria for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression and multiple chemical sensitivities (or chemical intolerance).

The first bar represents the percentage of people meeting the criteria for the condition before participating in DNRS.

The second bar represents the percentage of people meeting the criteria for the condition 12 months after participating in DNRS.

Percent of participants with score above diagnostic cutoff at 0 and 12 months

Fibromyalgia

SIQR Score

76.9 Before DNRS
26.7 After DNRS

Chronic Fatigue

FSS Score

71.7 Before DNRS
28.6 After DNRS

Anxiety

GAD-7 Score

48.4 Before DNRS
6.5 After DNRS

Depression

PHQ-9 Score

48.4 Before DNRS
12.9 After DNRS

MCS

QEESI

38.9 Before DNRS
6.3 After DNRS
Fibromyalgia
76.9 before DNRS
26.7 after DNRS
Chronic Fatigue
71.7 before DNRS
28.6 after DNRS
Anxiety
48.4 before DNRS
6.5 after DNRS
Depression
47.3 before DNRS
12.9 after DNRS
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
38.9 before DNRS
6.3 after DNRS

Let’s look at the high-level summary of findings…

  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue were the most common conditions among participants
  • A significant improvement was seen in the first three months following DNRS
  • After 12 months on average all categories improved
  • Statistically, there is less than 1 in 1000 likelihood that these changes happened by chance

This study has been submitted for publication but not yet published.

Appendix for McMaster Research

  1. Yunus MB. Fibromyalgia and overlapping disorders: the unifying concept of central sensitivity syndromes. InSeminars in arthritis and rheumatism 2007 Jun 1 (Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 339-356). WB Saunders.
  2. Kindler LL, Bennett RM, Jones KD. Central sensitivity syndromes: mounting pathophysiologic evidence to link fibromyalgia with other common chronic pain disorders. Pain management nursing. 2011 Mar 1;12(1):15-24.
  3. Hauge CR, Rasmussen A, Piet J, Bonde JP, Jensen C, Sumbundu A, Skovbjerg S. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS): Results from a randomized controlled trial with 1 year follow-up. Journal of psychosomatic research. 2015 Dec 1;79(6):628-34.
  4. Tran MT, Skovbjerg S, Arendt-Nielsen L, Christensen KB, Elberling J. A randomised, placebo-controlled trial of transcranial pulsed electromagnetic fields in patients with multiple chemical sensitivity. Acta neuropsychiatrica. 2017 Oct;29(5):267-77.
  5. Theoharides TC, Tsilioni I, Arbetman L, Panagiotidou S, Stewart JM, Gleason RM, Russell IJ. Fibromyalgia syndrome in need of effective treatments. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2015 Nov 1;355(2):255-63.
  6. Nüesch E, Häuser W, Bernardy K, Barth J, Jüni P. Comparative efficacy of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions in fibromyalgia syndrome: network meta-analysis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013 Jun 1;72(6):955-62.
  7. Theadom A, Cropley M, Smith HE, Feigin VL, McPherson K. Mind and body therapy for fibromyalgia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015(4)

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