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There is no evidence for the existence of meridians, acupoints, or chi. There is no evidence that physical or mental health conditions are related in any way to these things. Even if these things were true, we have no evidence to suggest that tapping at these points can change the flow of chi.

And what can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. However, one study from published in the journal The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, sought to assess these claims and test the importance of the tapping aspect of EFT. Can you guess what the results were? Every experimental group had a similar reduction in fear, suggesting it does not matter where you tap or if you tap at all. This study demolishes the basic premise of EFT, and it should be clear that whatever is happening during an EFT treatment has nothing to do with tapping, meridians, acupoints, or chi.

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On the theory behind EFT, one author writes,. On the plausibility of EFT treatment, I see two possibilities:. We have to believe some unsubstantiated claims: everything we know about biology, anatomy, psychology, and medicine is wrong; there is some undiscovered force that has some influence on every aspect of health; and we can manipulate it to our benefit by saying a few words and tapping on locations on the body. Someone with genuine or suspect motives created a pseudoscientific medical treatment and the success people see with it is due to the features it has in common with every other psychological treatment.

I think the answer is clear, but either way, much time and money has been devoted to studying EFT and its supposed effects.

What does the research actually say? Stress, anxiety, and depression have been the subject of the majority of EFT research by far. A study of 83 healthy people from found that the group that underwent a single EFT session had improvements in cortisol levels and psychological distress symptoms, as compared to a supportive interview group and inactive control group. A small pilot study of people diagnosed with depression found that after eight sessions of EFT or cognitive behavioral therapy, the cognitive behavioral therapy group had improvements in depression symptoms, but the EFT group did not.

There were no significant changes in anxiety symptoms for either group 3. The researchers found that both treatments helped to reduce anxiety, but EFT was only slightly more effective than CBT A study of 37 nursing students found four sessions of EFT helped to reduce anxiety and stress by small amounts, but there were no comparison groups that received a placebo treatment or a similar treatment I was able to find three reviews that looked at EFT on various psychological conditions, but all three suffered from significant issues in the way they were performed.

They read as hopeful endorsements of a treatment rather than an in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness of it.

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The reviews and analyses were performed sloppily:. All three reviews reported that EFT can have beneficial effects, but they did not compare EFT to treatments that already exist or placebo controls 9 , 11 , A fourth meta-analysis was sent in to us by a reader and looked at 18 papers on using EFT for various disorders. Five studies compared EFT to treatments that have not demonstrated efficacy of their own, and only one study compared it to a treatment with an evidence base Furthermore the improvement could be due to other so-called general factors such as the therapeutic alliance.

Small, biased studies without comparison groups have shown that EFT treatments are associated with improvements in stress, anxiety, and depression. When compared to CBT, there is little or no difference in effectiveness. Research on the effects of EFT on post traumatic stress disorder has been spearheaded by one researcher, Dawson Church, the head of the National Institute of Integrative Health, and his colleagues.

A series of four studies by this group has been purported to show that EFT can help improve symptoms associated with PTSD 8 , 7 , 4 , However, all four studies suffered from two fatal flaws: they had a small number of participants, and EFT was compared to waitlist controls that did nothing. These studies really tell us nothing about the effectiveness of EFT and they do not validate the theory behind it.

However, the authors saw one study comparing EFT to CBT, and saw that there were no statistical differences at all Small, biased studies without comparison groups from one group of researchers with a financial interest in EFT have shown the treatment is associated with improved PTSD symptoms. However, when it has been compared to CBT, there are no differences between the approaches.

A research study from on 35 patients with tension-type headaches revealed that compared to a control group that received standard care, the group that received EFT treatments had fewer and less intense headaches 2. Despite some positive results, there was no blinding of the patients or the researchers, introducing an element of bias. Blinding a patient consists of keeping it secret as to whether they receive a real treatment or a placebo treatment.

Both of these things are necessary to prevent positive or negative expectations of patients and researchers alike from potentially influencing the results. Most importantly, EFT was only compared to no treatment, instead of an existing treatment that may be more effective like meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy or neck massage. One pair of studies from and looked at the effects of EFT treatments versus waitlist control on food cravings and weight for 96 patients with elevated BMIs.

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Unsurprisingly, those that had a series of EFT treatments reported improvements in food cravings, psychological stress, and weight 17 , However, there was no proper comparison group, and the authors failed to declare a conflict of interest. A pair of biased studies without any comparison group showed EFT techniques are associated with improvements in food cravings and weight loss. One study of 26 basketball players found that the group that had daily sessions of EFT had improved free throw performance, but no changes in vertical jump height, as compared to a control group that had no intervention 5.

A study without a valid comparison group showed improvements in free throw performance. An EFT treatment involves saying phrases and tapping different body parts, and is without any significant safety risks. The majority of the studies I read did not report any adverse events or injuries following treatment. However, like many alternative medicine practices, choosing to utilize EFT may delay getting true effective medical care and thus puts yourself at increased risk of injury, disability, or emotional stress.

Almost all of the studies that we looked at reported positive results in favor of EFT. However, there is an invisible asterisk on these studies that really taints the results and leaves room for reasonable doubt. Many of the researchers have financial interests in promoting EFT, and not everyone disclosed this conflict of interest.

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Chasing down authors and references of the majority of these studies led me back to the same core group, led by Dawson Church, the head of the NIIH. Now, either consciously or subconsciously, this introduces an element of bias into these studies that has to be taken into account. While I am not alleging outright misconduct, it remains a possibility and we have to consider that someone selling a course on a treatment will not produce any negative research. While it is important to dive into these studies on their own merits, we need to keep in mind that the authors and editors have a clear bias and an agenda to bolster their own viewpoints.