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, 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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    Non-pharmacological treatments for breathlessness

     Here are the results of a Cochrane review of non-drug options in advanced stages of malignant and non-malignant diseases.

    First, the details.

    • Reviewers included studies of the effects of non-pharmacological and non-invasive treatments to relieve breathlessness in patients with advanced stages of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease, chronic heart failure, or motor neuron disease.
    • 47 studies in 2532 participants were included.

    And, the results.

    • There was high strength evidence that neuro-electrical muscle stimulation and chest wall vibration could relieve breathlessness.
    • Moderate strength for using walking aids and breathing training.
    • Low strength of evidence supporting acupuncture/acupressure.
    • Not enough data to judge the effectiveness of distractive auditory stimuli (music), relaxation, fan, counseling and support, counseling and support with breathing-relaxation training, case management and psychotherapy.
    • Most studies were conducted in COPD patients; only a few in other conditions.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “Breathing training, walking aids, neuro-electrical muscle stimulation, and chest wall vibration appear to be effective non-pharmacological interventions for relieving breathlessness in advanced stages of disease.”

    3/16/09 21:11 JR

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