Michael Van Elzakker of the Vagus Nerve Hypothesis for ME/CFS Talks to Llewellyn King


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Check out a thoughtful interview with a young (obviously very smart) researcher digging into ME/CFS. Van Elzakker talks about two studies he's working on including an exercise study which tracks the brain functioning before and after exercise and why he thinks vagus nerve, branstem problems and inflammation are core to ME/CFS.



Active Member
Thank you Cort. Very interesting video. Nice to get a glimpse of non-mainstream, for sake of a better word, research being conducted. It was sad but confirming to hear Van Elzakker said they surveyed 3rd year medical students at Harvard and they do not learn about this condition (he did say possibly 4th year students do). How can we go about at least getting this condition presented in medical schools, even just a mention that it is not a psychological mediated illness? I don't think we can expect medical graduates to solve the ME/CFS question but hopefully just to acknowledge it is a real illness and not label so many patients with psychological disorders. Seems like that is a huge hurdle that could benefit so many patients in the future.


New Member
Totally agree with you on this one. It seems like showing “Unrest” as a “Continuing Education Course” is at least one small way to penetrate the medical establishment and show them, with what happens to be a riveting and extremely well produced film, a glimpse of what this illness is and I think proof, without having to say so explicitly, that this disease is absolutely biological nature and helps rid the narrative of that tainted school of thought that “unhealthy thoughts about the body” play any role into this disease. But besides that, we need to reach the “establishment” earlier than once they’ve already become doctors and our goal is to change their mind from believing it’s psychological to understanding that it’s clearly not. They need to be taught in med school early on about it, and they probably need to spend more than one day, one small chapter on it.
There must be a way, perhaps via letter, that can be sent out en masse to all medical schools which asks for this disease to be introduced into the curriculum at an appropriate time and using up-to-date, helpful studies in order to portray and teach it properly. I have no idea about the domain of academia and introducing material into text books that currently doesn’t exist, but my guess is that a person who DOES know these things can’t be far away in this community, and there is probably some doable problem solving that we could start to tackle in terms of at least reaching out to the right people and introducing this information to them. Anybody have ideas on that front? Anybody who might know someone who knows someone that could help get this action started?
P.S. If this action already DID start and I sound like a total dunce for not knowing, well that makes total sense. I’ve been out of the advocacy loop in 2019 since I’ve been crashed since Christmas. I’m trying to get back on the horse slowly, but if I can somehow help get the ball rolling on this action, I’d be happy to do it. This is one of those efforts that would make such a huge difference in the way that MECFS patients are treated in almost every clinical setting, it’s long past due we get involved in changing that unfortunate truth, though I doubt there haven’t been major attempts from people in this community for a long time. The question is always HOW to really penetrate through the bureaucracy and red tape, but I find in the impressively diverse Mecfs community there is almost always a nearby WHO that has the answer.
Do I need to write a petition about introducing this into textbooks? That seems to be where my strength lies, so if we need some help in that department, I’m happy to volunteer :)
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