Yount G, Church D, Rachlin K, Blickheuser K, Cardonna I. Do Noncoding RNAs Mediate the Efficacy of Energy Psychology? (2019). Glob Adv Health Med. 2019;8:2164956119832500. Published 2019 Feb 25. doi:10.1177/2164956119832500
There are over 100 published studies of a therapy called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). This popular form of energy psychology combines elements of established methods like cognitive therapy with acupressure. Our group reported the first evidence of its mechanisms of action at the molecular level, showing that it can influence levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Given recent advances in molecular genomics that have identified noncoding ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules as important regulators of gene expression, the aim of this study is to explore the possibility that microRNAs play a role in mediating the effects of EFT.
We measured microRNA levels in stored blood samples from our previous study in which veterans were randomized into an EFT group receiving EFT and treatment as usual throughout a 10-week intervention period, and a control group receiving only treatment as usual during the intervention period and then receiving EFT. A broad panel of 800 microRNAs was probed using a multiplexed, direct hybridization, and detection system.
All of the microRNA targets were expressed at low levels and most were below thresholds established by negative control probes. Baseline variability was determined using samples collected from the control group at the start and end of the intervention period, and used to filter out targets that were too noisy under control conditions to be able to distinguish a response to treatment. Analysis of the remaining viable targets found a general trend of reduced expression following EFT, compared to expression levels in samples from the control group during the intervention period. The most notable decreases in expression levels were found for 2 microRNAs: let-7b and let-7c, although no significance was found after adjusting for multiple comparisons.
These preliminary data support the feasibility of measuring microRNA expression level changes that correlate with effective EFT therapy.