Effects of a Passive Online Software Application on Heart Rate Variability and Autonomic Nervous System Balance

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Jan;23(1):68-74. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0198. Epub 2017 Jan 4.


Objective: This study investigated whether short-term exposure to a passive online software application of purported subtle energy technology would affect heart rate variability (HRV) and associated autonomic nervous system measures.

Methods: This was a randomized, double-blinded, sham-controlled clinical trial (RCT). The study took place in a nonprofit laboratory in Emeryville, California. Twenty healthy, nonsmoking subjects (16 females), aged 40-75 years, participated. Quantum Code Technology (QCT), a purported subtle energy technology, was delivered through a passive software application (Heart+ App) on a smartphone placed <1 m from subjects who were seated and reading a catalog. HRV was measured for 5 min in triplicate for each condition via finger plethysmography using a Food and Drug Administration medically approved HRV measurement device. Measurements were made at baseline and 35 min following exposure to the software applications. The following parameters were calculated and analyzed: heart rate, total power, standard deviation node-to-node, root mean square sequential difference, low frequency to high frequency ratio (LF/HF), low frequency (LF), and high frequency (HF).

Results: Paired samples t-tests showed that for the Heart+ App, mean LF/HF decreased (p = 9.5 × 10-4), while mean LF decreased in a trend (p = 0.06), indicating reduced sympathetic dominance. Root mean square sequential difference increased for the Heart+ App, showing a possible trend (p = 0.09). Post-pre differences in LF/HF for sham compared with the Heart+ App were also significant (p < 0.008) by independent t-test, indicating clinical relevance.

Conclusions: Significant beneficial changes in mean LF/HF, along with possible trends in mean LF and root mean square sequential difference, were observed in subjects following 35 min exposure to the Heart+ App that was working in the background on an active smartphone untouched by the subjects. This may be the first RCT to show that specific frequencies of a purported non-Hertzian type of subtle energy conveyed by software applications broadcast from personal electronic devices can be bioactive and beneficially impact autonomic nervous system balance.

Keywords: autonomic nervous system; biofield; energy; heart rate variability; stress.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autonomic Nervous System*
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Smartphone
  • Software
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy