Science & Research

New Research: Tapping Alters Brain Networks Involved in Pain

Written by: Nick Ortner

Now, it’s no secret that I’m a big proponent of Tapping for pain relief. And it’s no secret that I also love learning about the science behind Tapping. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that I’m bursting at the seams to share some of the latest science and research on Tapping for pain relief!

What excites me so much is that because the research has been building and growing in this area for some time now, it’s pretty clear at this point that Tapping is effective for pain relief. We’re no longer just asking if Tapping works; we now get to ask how it works as well!

And that brings me to one of the newest studies on the block.

The study was just published in 2022 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, and it investigated the ways in which Tapping might actually alter the brain and how it processes and responds to pain.[1]

Intriguing, don’t you think? Hang tight and stay with me; I’m going to break it all down for you below.

Why the study?

Dr. Peta Stapleton and her team of researchers were interested in learning more about how Tapping might be able to help relieve people’s pain.

They knew from a long list of previous studies that Tapping can be quite effective in reducing pain levels and helping people cope with pain. And they also knew that Tapping may have the potential to alter neural activity in the brain (as was seen before with a study on food cravings).

So, they decided to do an experiment to see if it’s possible that EFT Tapping might affect certain pathways in the brain related to pain – thus helping people find relief from pain. And with that, this study was born.

How did the study work?

This was a small study, involving just 24 participants. All participants had chronic pain that negatively impacted their lives.

Each of the participants went through a six-week online group EFT treatment.

Before and after the Tapping treatment, each participant had a type of brain scan called an fMRI done (fMRI stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging). They also filled out questionnaires that measured their pain levels, anxiety levels, quality of life, and more.[1] 

What were the results?

As other studies have found before, the data from this experiment also showed that pain levels decreased after people did Tapping. Pain severity went down by 21% after the Tapping intervention, and the amount the pain interfered with people’s lives went down by 26%.[1] The numbers are pretty impressive so far, aren’t they?

On top of that, anxiety levels also decreased (by 37%), happiness increased (by 17%), quality of life increased (by 7%), and depression decreased (by 13%).[1]

We see this over and over again in the research and in the stories people share about their experience with Tapping; Tapping can be extremely helpful at reducing pain and improving quality of life.

Now, here’s the really cool part. This study also gave us some exciting NEW information that we’ve never seen before. It didn’t just show that Tapping works to relieve pain… It also offered some insights into how it works to relieve pain!

When the researchers compared the before and after fMRI images, they found something interesting. After EFT Tapping treatment, there was decreased connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex and grey matter areas in the posterior cingulate cortex and thalamus.[1] These areas of the brain are related to pain modulation and to catastrophizing of pain.

In simple terms, this means that after people Tapped, there was decreased action in areas of the brain that are known to be involved in how we process and respond to pain. So, it seems that Tapping actually alters neural activity in the brain, particular in parts of the brain that manage pain!

Pretty cool, right?

There’s so much more to learn, and I’m sure there will be more studies coming down the line to investigate all of this further. But for now, it’s fascinating to learn that Tapping may actually lead to important changes in the brain when it comes to chronic pain. 

Why this research matters

I think this research is so cool and inspiring. I love learning more and more about what is actually happening within our bodies and within our brains when we Tap.

This kind of information gives us even more motivation to spend time Tapping, especially when we are dealing with something as challenging as chronic pain! It reminds us that Tapping works, that it creates real changes in our brain and body, and that it’s worth our efforts.

Not only has Tapping been proven in the research to help reduce pain levels, but it also appears to actually work on a neural level, changing brain activity in brain regions involved in pain modulation.

This new research bolsters the scientific validity of Tapping, allowing it to become more and more accepted as a valid, evidence-based treatment for pain relief. 

Let’s get to Tapping! How to use Tapping for pain

It’s great news that Tapping is being highlighted in the scientific literature and we are learning so much more about how it works. And the even better news is that putting this technique into practice in our own lives is so incredibly easy.

You can learn how to Tap all from the comfort of your own home. It’s a tool you can use on your own time, whenever and wherever you might need it.

Pain keeping you up at night? You can Tap on that. Frustrated by how your pain is getting in the way of a productive work day? You can Tap on that. It’s easy to Tap whenever you need to relax your mind and body and find some relief.

And we’ve made it easier than ever with the help of The Tapping Solution App. In the app, we’ve loaded up our library of guided Tapping meditations with tons of pain-related content.

Here are just a few examples of meditation titles you can choose from in the app:

  • Release Back Pain
  • Release General Pain
  • Release Fibromyalgia Pain
  • Increase Your Mobility
  • Release Overwhelm and Frustration about Chronic Pain

A great place to start (and a great use of your 2-week free trial if you are curious about a Premium membership to the app) is the 5-Day Pain Relief series. Here’s what’s in store for you on this transformational 5-day journey:

  • Day 1: Creating Lasting Pain Relief
  • Day 2: The Stress and Anxiety Pain Connection
  • Day 3: When the Pain Started and the Impact of Your Diagnosis
  • Day 4: Releasing Anger and Self-Judgment About Your Pain
  • Day 5: Healing Breakthroughs

And if you’re still curious why working on your emotions with the help of Tapping can do so much to help with pain, I encourage you to read this blog to learn more about the links between emotions, stress, and pain. You can also check out my book The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief: A Step-by-Step Guide to Reducing and Eliminating Chronic Pain.

Start your journey to pain relief now! Take the first step, and try out a Tapping meditation today.

We can’t wait to support you as you begin this process and support yourself in breaking free from the pain so you can feel better than ever.

Until next time…

Keep Tapping!

Nick Ortner


  1. Peta S, Oliver B, Tom O, Bhuta S. Neural changes after Emotional Freedom Techniques treatment for chronic pain sufferers. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2022;49:101653. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101653

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