The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Effect of breathing instruction on panic disorder and stress

    Recommendations to modify breathing patterns are commonly given to people with ordinary stress and tension, as well as to patients with anxiety disorders.

    This study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California used physiological measures to document changes in respiration to examine the physiological and psychological effects of breathing instructions.

    First, the details.

    • The immediate effects of short and simple breathing instruction were recorded in 13 people seeking treatment for panic disorder, 15 complaining of daily tension, and 15 controls.
    • During a 3-hour laboratory session the volunteers were told to breathe more slowly, or shallowly, or both.

    And, the results

    Following anti-hyperventilation instructions

    • They failed to raise the end-tidal pCO2 (a measure of the carbon dioxide in the lungs and by extension, in blood) for any of the groups because changes in respiratory rate were compensated for by changes in tidal volume (the amount of air breathed in or out during respiration) and vice versa.

    Paying attention to breathing

    • This significantly reduced respiratory rate and decreased unstable tidal volume compared to other instructions.

    Shallow breathing

    • This made all groups more anxious than other instructions.

    In addition, heart rate and skin conductance (a measure of emotional arousal) were not affected by instructions.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded that attention to breathing increased respiratory stability. By comparison, simple and short instructions to alter breathing did not help people to relax their breathing.

    9/20/07 19:49 JR

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