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To understand the science behind EFT, one must look in many directions towards new frontiers in body/mind medicine. Recent discoveries in the fields below illustrate how the mind, body and emotions are intricately connected and can be studied from different perspectives. The areas below should offer some insight into how EFT works so well:
The Scientific Basis of Acupuncture & Acupressure
Exciting new research has begun to establish an observable scientific basis for the subtle energy system upon which EFT is based. The discovery of tiny threadlike anatomical structures called Bonghan channels has recently established a physical mechanism corresponding to the acupuncture meridians. Other studies have shown that radioactive tracers injected at known acupoints followed the meridian lines precisely whereas tracers injected at non-acupoints spread out concentrically with no lines evident. It has also been proven, in controlled studies, that acupoint stimulation, with or without needles, can produce pain relief beyond that achieved by medication. As Western Medicine acknowledges that our bodies are an energy configuration (which traditional Chinese medicine has maintained for millennia), the mechanisms by which EFT works will be further revealed.
Traditionally, science has believed that our genes are fixed and that nothing can change genetic determinism. But the new biology of epigenetics is proving that cells are responsive to their environment and that these responses reach deep into the internal structure of the cell, including the DNA. The cells of our body are dynamic: Certain genes are being turned on and turned off based on environmental factors. What is most exciting and empowering is the discovery that cells are responding to the internal environment of our thoughts, beliefs and feelings. When we change our beliefs and our emotions, this literally produces biological changes — on the cellular level. Dr. Bruce Lipton, a pioneer in the field of epigenetics and author of The Biology of Belief, says that we have an immense power to influence our health and wellbeing on the biological and physical levels by consciously turning our energy towards more positive thoughts and feelings. And what can do this better than EFT? Dr. Lipton himself is a proponent of EFT.
This new branch of science has emerged in the last 35 years. It is the study of how psychological processes (our thoughts and emotions) affect the nervous and immune systems of the human body. Dr. Candace Pert, who has made groundbreaking discoveries concerning the way the emotions act directly upon the immune system through neuropeptide-specific receptors, is another scientist who advocates EFT. A major focus of PNI has been the study of stress and how the body’s stress responses — linked to the emotions of anxiety, fear, tension, anger and sadness — weaken the immune system, interfere with healing and even cause disease. For physical health and wellbeing, we need to be able to effectively release stressful emotions from the body and cultivate a more balanced state. This is precisely what EFT accomplishes.
Brain plasticity refers to the capacity of the human brain to generate new neural pathways and change its own structure. Through most of the 20th Century it was believed that many parts of the brain become fixed during childhood. However, recent discoveries have shown that thinking, feeling, learning and acting literally change the brain’s physical structure and organization. When we say that EFT helps us change the patterns of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, make new connections or shift perspectives — this is literally true on the physical level with regard to how the brain is processing the issue at hand. EFT allows us to literally create cognitive shifts which exist observably as new neural pathways in the brain.
With more and more sophisticated means of measurement and experimentation, a new era of scientific validation is opening up. Recent discoveries in each of these fields point to scientific evidence around what we see consistently happening both during — and as a consequence of — an EFT process.
Links to EFT-Related Science Articles and Studies:
Abstract of June 2011 EMDR vs. EFT Study in the Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease
Dr. Gabor Maté on how early childhood trauma relates to addiction (video)
The Dissociation Capsule (article), by Robert Scaer, MD
Energy Psychology: Snake Oil or Designer Tool for Neural Change? Article by David Feinstein, Ph.D.
Pilot Study of Emotional Freedom Techniques (including WHEE and CBT) for Test Anxiety in University Students, Daniel J. Benor, MD, Karen Ledger, RN, BScN et al
Evaluation of a meridian-based intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for reducing specific phobias of small animals, Wells S, Polglase K, Andrews HB, Carrington P, Baker AH
New Study Supports EFT for Food Cravings, by Patricia Carrington, Ph.D.
Energy Psychology on the Frontlines, by David Feinstein, Ph.D.
Bonghan Channels in Acupuncture, by David Milbradt, LAc
Studies and Articles in Related Fields:
Healing Trauma with Our Dreams, by Ruth Buczynski
New Insights on Therapeutic Touch: A Discussion of Experimental Methodology and Design That Resulted in Significant Effects on Normal Human Cells and Osteosarcoma
Mindfulness Meditation Training Changes Brain Structure in 8 Weeks
Facts, Quotes & Resources
EFT is a simple, powerful process that can profoundly influence gene activity, health and behavior
– Bruce Lipton, PhD, biologist, pioneer of epigenetics, author of The Biology of Belief.
EFT is at the forefront of the new healing movement.
– Candace Pert, PhD, Neuropharmacologist, pioneer of psychoneuroimmunology, author of Molecules of Emotion
Neuroplasticity is one of the most extraordinary discoveries of the 20th century.
– Dr. Norman Doidge, Canadian psychologist, neuroplasticity researcher, author of The Brain That Changes Itself
If I told patients to raise their blood levels of immune globulins or killer T-cells, no one would know how. But if I can teach them to love themselves and others fully, the same change happens automatically. The truth is: Love heals.
– Dr. Bernie Siegel, MD, from Love, Medicine and Miracles
Books we find fascinating about EFT-related science include:
• In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, PhD
• Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton, PhD
• The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge, MD
• The Body Bears the Burden: Traumatic Dissociation and Disease, by Robert C. Scaer, MD
• The Promise of Energy Psychology: Revolutionary Tools for Dramatic Personal Change, by David Feinstein, Donna Eden, and Gary Craig
• Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, by James L. Oschmam
Based on what we know of the plasticity of the brain, we can think of things like happiness and compassion as skills that are no different from learning to play a musical instrument or tennis… it is possible to train our brains to be happy. – Neuroscientist Richard Davidson
Genes account for about 35% of longevity, while lifestyles, diet, and other environmental factors, including supports systems, are the major reasons people live longer. – Blair Justice, PhD, in Who Gets Sick
Several studies show that what one thinks about one’s health is one of the most accurate predictors of longevity ever discovered. – Larry Dossey, MD
Norman Doidge, MD speaks about the importance of definitive new discoveries in the field of Brain Plasticity – How our brains can and do rewire themselves based on environmental factors.