What is the Buteyko Method?
Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) is a method of breathing most commonly used in the treatment of asthma. Developed in Russia in the 1950s by Dr Konstantin Buteyko it is now recognised as an effective method of managing Asthma by Asthma UK and The British Thoracic Society.
The British Guidelines for the Management of Asthma have endorsed the Buteyko Breathing Technique so that GPs and asthma nurses can now recommend it. The guidelines grade the research into Buteyko as a 'B' classification - indicating that there are high quality clinical trials supporting the efficacy of the therapy in reducing both asthma symptoms and bronchiodilator usage. No other complementary therapy has been endorsed by this body for the treatment of asthma.
It is not, and does not claim to be a cure for asthma, simply a way to create a better quality of life for those with asthma by changing one’s breathing patterns and habits.
Like using a defibrillator to reset an unstable heartbeat, using this breathing technique will help to reset your natural breathing pattern so that you can do more activities with confidence and generally lead a better quality of life.
The Buteyko Breathing Technique requires practice and dedication for at least 28 days. Any medication that is being taken must continue to be taken whilst on the programme. The training is once a week for an hour for five consecutive weeks. For homework, you will need to find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and practice morning, afternoon and evening for 30 minutes. Only with regular practice will you see the results. If you’re still interested, read on!
What’s the theory?
Generally speaking, asthmatics breathe through the mouth more because they feel short of air, they will tend to hyperventilate and use neck and shoulder muscles to help breath in.
On the in breath, we absorb oxygen (O2) into our blood. On the out breath, we expel carbon dioxide (CO2). Under normal conditions, our body regulates our breathing so that levels of O2 and CO2 in the blood are sufficient for the activity we are doing, whether it is watching TV or going for a walk. When we hyperventilate, we expel more CO2 than we should (for the activity we are doing), so that levels of CO2 drop. So what you might ask?! Well CO2 is a bronchial dilator, so you need ‘normal’ levels to keep them open. Paradoxically, the shorter you are of breath, the more frequently and harder you want to breathe, the more CO2 you lose and the more constricted the bronchi become leading to even more shortage of air.........and so the vicious cycle goes on.
What’s so special about Buteyko?
Nothing really. There is no magic involved, and no mystical arts. Merely the observations and conclusions by a very clever Russian medical doctor, Dr Konstantin Buteyko who went on to design a training programme that has helped thousands of people worldwide to reduce their medication and improve their quality of life.
The course involves five sessions over a 28 day period, where you will be taught breathing techniques to improve lung performance and become confident in using these techniques in practice so that you can use them calmly and effectively when you really need to, ie when you feel an attack coming on.
You will be expected to practice breathing exercises three times a day for around 30 minutes. You will keep a daily diary of results and asthma related events which you will discuss in your follow-up lesson.
Who can benefit?
Most people with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), asthma being one can benefit. It can benefit people of all ages from children to our most senior citizens. (With children, the defining criteria is not age, it is the child’s ability to follow simple instructions and ability to practice every day.) Children will need to be accompanied by one or both parents in order to observe the techniques for themselves so that they can ensure the exercises are not only adhered to, but also done properly and the diary is kept up to date.
There are of course conditions that BBT is not suited for and these can be discussed over the phone.
What else is Buteyko good for?
It has helped people with the following conditions:
Snoring; Sleep Apnea; Bronchitis; Chronic Cough; Emphysema, COAD and COPD; Rhinitis; Sinusitis; Hay fever; Allergies; Anxiety symptoms and Migraine
If interested in learning more, call Martin on 01707 514 432. He’s also an osteopath specialising in respiratory complaints and treats many asthma related symptoms.
If not, here is a tip that you might like try if you or anyone you know suffers from asthma.
First rule of BBT is.... Breathe through your nose! Why? Because doing so warms, filters and moistens the air, whilst slowing down and smoothing out the air as it fills the lungs. Imagine how irritating it must be for the lining of the airways to have cold, dry and unfiltered air hitting it in such a fast and turbulent manner!
Arranging a Lesson
Lessons can be individual or in groups, call Martin on 01707 514 432 for details.
If you have friends or relatives and would like to learn together, this too can be arranged at a mutually convenient venue.
Buy the DVD
You can buy an excellent video and audio CD to help you practice at home. The cost is £29 and can be pruchased from the Buteko Breathing Association web site, just click here.