IONS scientist Dr. Garret Yount, along with collaborator Dr. Dawson Church, is doing a series of exciting experiments on the effects of Emotion Freedom Techniques (EFT) on biochemistry and gene expression.
EFT is a noninvasive technique that uses elements of cognitive therapy and exposure therapy, and combines them with acupressure. It is one of several modalities that are considered “energy healing” techniques.
In their first study, Drs. Yount and Church looked at the effect of EFT on stress biochemistry, comparing cortisol levels in subjects who received either talk therapy, EFT, or rest. The results showed that anxiety and depression declined significantly more in the EFT group, while cortisol (a hormone indicating stress levels) also dropped significantly. This gave them the impetus to take their research to the next level and explore whether EFT can affect the expression of a panel of genes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a paper published last month Yount and Church share the the first evidence supporting this notion.
The results showed that PTSD symptoms declined significantly in the group treated with EFT, and after just 10 sessions of EFT all the veterans were free from clinically diagnosable PTSD.
Additionally, when comparing gene expression levels (when a particular gene is activated or inhibited) before and after the intervention period, Drs. Yount and Church found significant differential expression of six genes, including activating immunity genes and inhibiting inflammation genes.
The next phase of this research will focus on exploring the mechanisms underlying these effects of EFT by analyzing molecules that control gene activation and inhibition in blood samples from veterans after EFT sessions. The ultimate goal is to understand how gene regulation is occurring and what links EFT to this regulation.
Church, D., Yount, G., & Brooks, A. J. (2012). The effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 200(10), 891-896. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31826b9fc1.
Church, D., Yount, G., Rachlin, K., Fox, L., & Nelms, J. (2015). Epigenetic effects of PTSD remediation in veterans using Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Health Promotion.