Research Study Spotlight: Tapping Away Cognitive Impairment from Cancer

Written by: Nick Ortner

Cancer and its treatment can take a tremendous toll on the mind, body, and spirit. From the stress to the fatigue to the very unpleasant side effects, it is a disease that has wide ranging impacts on a person’s life.

Today, we are going to talk specifically about one of the adverse effects linked to cancer and cancer treatment: cognitive impairment. We will explore some of the research behind how Tapping can help support cancer survivors in finding relief from cognitive impairment, so that they get back to feeling like themselves.

This research is very promising and hopeful, offering an effective solution to an important issue that so many people living with cancer face.

Cognitive impairment – a common and impactful side effect from cancer

A common adverse effect of cancer and its treatment is cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment can involve having trouble concentrating, remembering things, making decisions, and so on. Some people refer to it as ‘chemo brain’ or ‘brain fog.’ Your mind just might not feel as sharp and clear as it did before cancer.

Many patients report cognitive impairment to be one of the most feared long-term impacts of cancer, and it is one that can really compromise an individual’s ability to function normally and feel like themselves. It has the potential to profoundly impact one’s quality of life, and unfortunately it can sometimes extend months or years after cancer treatment is over.[1]

Clearly, this kind of adverse effect is an important issue that deserves attention.

Fortunately, there is hope! There are effective ways to improve cognitive impairment associated with cancer and its treatment.

Researchers wanted to know: could Tapping help? 

Research suggests that one of the factors that can contribute to cognitive impairment in cancer patients is high levels of distress. The more distressed someone with cancer is, the more likely they are to experience cognitive impairment as a symptom.[1]

This observation led a group of researchers to wonder if techniques that help us manage our distress could also help people with cancer to improve their cognitive function. And so, they decided to investigate the effects of one of my favorite tools, Tapping, on cognitive impairment in cancer survivors.

As the authors of the study hypothesized: 

The wide range of conditions for which EFT is effective are usually attributed to the technique’s ability to deal with mild to severe distress. Distress, a component of many emotional and physical disorders, was also found to be a predictor of self-reported cancer-related cognitive impairment. We hypothesize that the application of EFT may relieve [cognitive impairment] in cancer survivors through a reduction of the level of distress.”[1]

The design of the study

The researchers performed a randomized controlled study involving 121 cancer survivors.[1]

Half of the participants were put into a wait-list control group, and they received no treatment during the first half of the study. The other half was put into the treatment group, and these individuals received EFT Tapping treatment for the first half of the study. 

The Tapping treatment group received one introductory session of Tapping, with a follow-up session about a week later. In the sessions the participants learned how to do Tapping, and they were asked to apply Tapping at least once per day throughout the course of the study.

After eight weeks, at the halfway point of the study, the wait-list group began the same EFT Tapping treatment protocol that the first group had gone through. For the remainder of the study, the researchers continued to observe the first treatment group to see how they did over time.

Assessments were given to all participants at the beginning of the study, eight weeks later at the end of the first Tapping intervention, and then again eight weeks later after the waitlisted group had completed their turn of the Tapping treatment. The assessments measured levels of cognitive impairment along with other things like fatigue, quality of life, depressive symptoms, and distress levels.

Results points to Tapping as effective tool for cancer-related cognitive impairment

What the authors of this study found was pretty incredible. After analyzing the data, they were able to confirm that EFT Tapping is an effective treatment for cancer-related cognitive impairment, and that Tapping helped to significantly improve quality of life for cancer survivors!

Complaints around cognitive function were 46.5% lower in the EFT treatment group than the control group after the first half of the study. This showed the investigators that the EFT Tapping had led to a significant reduction in cognitive impairment. After the wait-list group had also received their turn at the EFT treatment, their cognitive impairment decreased to a similar level as the first group.

Along with improving the symptom of cognitive impairment, the results of the study also showed that things like fatigue, distress, depressive symptoms, and overall quality of life were better after the EFT intervention took place.

This is very exciting, as it suggests that Tapping works really well for helping people with cancer to boost their cognitive function and feel better.

As the authors concluded in their paper, “This trial highlights EFT as a safe, effective, low cost and low threshold intervention, easy to implement in clinical practice.”[1]

Calmer mind, clearer mind

It is amazing to see how well Tapping works in specific situations, like we saw in this study around cognitive impairment in cancer survivors. It has been shown to have similarly impressive benefits for everything from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder to chronic pain (you can read more about the evidence-based benefits of Tapping here).

So how does it all work? 

It all comes down to stress. EFT Tapping helps to send calming signals to the brain, letting it know it is safe to relax. This helps us release distress and get the body into a relaxed state where it can begin to heal.

Remember how the researchers of the study knew that cognitive impairment is often linked to distress levels in people with cancer? Well, the science shows us that Tapping helps to turn down the stress response.[2,3,4] This can in turn help to improve symptoms that are linked to stress – like cognitive impairment for example.

As Tapping turns down that stress response in the brain, it helps us to be able to heal from a wide range of different concerns and issues.

Resources for getting started

If you want to regain clear thinking and mental sharpness, then Tapping is here to help! As the scientific research confirms, Tapping is an effective tool for improving cognitive function after cancer and boosting quality of life. 

I am so excited by this research, because it has the potential to bring so much hope and healing to the many people affected by cancer and its challenging side effects.

New to Tapping and want to know how to begin the process? Check out our Tapping 101 page, which is a great place to start. 

In The Tapping Solution App, we have many great meditations that can help you to release stress, support healing, and bring greater ease, clarity, and focus to your day. 

Some of the guided Tapping meditations that you can choose from include:

  • Micro Boost of Focus
  • Releasing Anxiety
  • I’m Stressed About My Health
  • Instant Boost of Healing
  • Freedom from a Diagnosis
  • Release Cancer Pain
  • Settle Your Stomach
  • Turn Your Day Around: Feel Safe & Grounded in Your Body

Wishing you deep healing and vibrant health!

Until next time… 

Keep Tapping!


  1. Tack L, Lefebvre T, Lycke M, et al. A randomised wait-list controlled trial to evaluate Emotional Freedom Techniques for self-reported cancer-related cognitive impairment in cancer survivors (EMOTICON). EClinicalMedicine. 2021;39:101081.
  2. Gilomen SA, Lee CW. The efficacy of acupoint stimulation in the treatment of psychological distress: A meta-analysisJ Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2015;48:140-148. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2015.03.012
  3. Church D, Yount G, Brooks AJ. The effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012;200(10):891-896.
  4. Stapleton P, Crighton G, Sabot D, O’Neill HM. Reexamining the effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychol Trauma. 2020;12(8):869-877.

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