Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

[Questioning the mechanism behind slow breathing and heart coherence training]

PainSci » bibliography » Houtveen et al 2012

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Slow breathing and heart coherence training are being offered increasingly as treatments for anxiety, depression and stress-related mental and somatic complaints. Both of these interventions are aimed at influencing (i.e. increasing or optimising) heart rate variability and the mechanism involved is described in terms such as heart coherence, resonance breathing and heart-brain communication. AIM: To find out whether treatment effects are indeed based on the optimisation of heart rate variability. METHOD: Our literature search focused on 1) the assumption that poor mental health is definitely linked to deviant heart rate variability, and 2) the assumption that optimising heart rate variability leads specifically to a reduction of complaints and symptoms. RESULTS: There is insufficient evidence to support these two assumptions. CONCLUSION: Slow breathing and heart coherence training probably achieve their effects as a result of non-specific psychological mechanisms.

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: