The link between dysfunctional breathing and asthma which was identified by Professor Buteyko in the 1950’s, is now appearing with increasing regularity in the western medical literature.
Medical research is very expensive; most funding for medical research comes from companies involved in the treatment of the conditions. Pharmaceutical companies or Sleep Apnoea appliance makers do not invest in research to prove their products use will be reduced…
Money and politics drives health just like all areas of our lives and companies looking to invest in research are looking for a quick return. It is far easier to produce a new drug for on the root causes.
When it comes to sleep and sleep apnoea often research is directed toward a new potential market for the products … such as Studies of Shift workers indicate poor quality sleep ??? or Study health of long haul truck drivers indicate fatigue and poor quality sleep??
Symptomatic treatments that people have to buy provide good return on this kind of research investment.
The prevalence of dysfunctional breathing patterns amongst people with asthma has been of interest to medical researchers since the Australian clinical trial of Buteyko in 1994-1995.
Similar findings have been found in the following studies of the Buteyko Institute Method:
- Hamilton Polytechnic, New Zealand 1998, pilot study. BIBH (Russell and Jennifer Stark)
- Victoria University, Victoria 1999. (Cameron Gosling, Steve Lee). BIBH (Paul O’Connell)
- Glasgow, UK, pilot study 2000. Researcher, Jean McGowan, Paisley University (prepublication)
- Glasgow, UK. Researcher Jean McGowan, Major study of 600 people over two years (abstract in Thorax Journal
- Respiratory Medicine 4 Dec 2003 Vol 58 Supplement III)
- Gisborne Hospital New Zealand, researcher Dr Patrick McHugh (New Zealand Medical Journal, Dec 2003)
The key findings of each of the clinical trials have shown that by applying the Buteyko Institute Method (BIM) to correct underlying dysfunctional breathing patterns (chronic hyperventilation), asthma symptoms and the need for reliever medication reduce significantly. Please see below for further details on the 3 published clinical trials from Australia (1998), Glasgow (2003) and New Zealand (2003).
A direct correlation has been observed between reduction in average Minute Volume and a reduction of reliever medication requirements (average 90 – 96 % reduction). The majority of participants are able to commence steroid reduction programs, under medical supervision, within twelve weeks. The participants who learn the BIM techniques report improved Quality of Life, including better sleep patterns and waking feeling more alert and relaxed.
The Buteyko Institute Method is designed to correct dysfunctional breathing patterns.
Details on the 3 published clinical trials from Australia (1998), Glasgow (2003) and New Zealand (2003)
Australia – Medical Journal of Australia (Dec 1998)
Clinical trial results published in the Medical Journal of Australia for the first clinical trial of Buteyko outside Russia (conducted in Brisbane from November 1994) showed that after 12 weeks, people who learned Buteyko had an average 96 per cent reduction in reliever medication, an average 49% reduction in preventer medication, and an average reduction in asthma symptoms of 71%. The people in the control group showed no significant changes in these parameters.
United Kingdom – Thorax Medical Journal (Dec 2003 Vol 58 Sup III) “Health Education in Asthma Management – Does the Buteyko Institute Method make a difference?”
This report describes the results of the Glasgow trial – the largest clinical trial of Buteyko yet conducted. The Glasgow trial was designed for 600 adults with asthma aged between 18 and 69 years. 384 of the initial 600 participants (64%) completed the trial. The results for the Buteyko group show average reductions of over 90% for reliever medications, preventer medications and asthma symptoms after 6 months, which were maintained at 12 months.
The Glasgow trial was conducted by (BIBH) member Jill McGowan, who also presented these results at the British Thoracic Society Winter Conference in London on 4 December 2004.
Jill McGowan was awarded Carer of the Year, Pride of Britain Award for her work in raising funds to enable this expensive research.
New Zealand – New Zealand Medical Journal (12 Dec 2003, Vol 116 No 1187) “Buteyko Breathing technique for asthma: an effective intervention”
A blinded randomized controlled trial comparing Buteyko with control was conducted on 38 people with asthma aged 18 to 70 over 6 months. The Buteyko group exhibited reductions of 85% in beta 2 agonists (reliever medications) and 50% in inhaled steroids (preventer medications). The conclusion was that Buteyko is a safe that merit further study.
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- ‘Crossing the apneic threshold: Causes and consequences’. Dempsey, Jerome A. 2004.Julius H. Comroe Memorial Lecture – Experimental Biology,WashingtonDC. April 2004. Physiology in Press; published online on 30 November 2004 as 10.1113/expphysiol.2004.028985.
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- ‘Buteyko breathing technique for asthma: an effective intervention.’ McHugh P, Aitcheson F, Duncan B, Houghton F. NZ Med J. 2003, 116: (1187). http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/116-1187/710/
- ‘The effect of physiotherapy-based breathing retraining on asthma control’. Grammatopoulou EP, Skordilis EK, Stavoli N, Myriantheps P, Karteroliotis K, Baltopoulos G and Koutsouki D. Journal of Asthma 2011; 48: 593–601.
- ‘Didgeridoo playing as alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: randomised controlled trial’. Puhan MA, Suarez A, Lo Cascio C, Zahn A, Heitz M and Braendli O. BMJ February 2006; 332 (7536): 266–70.
- ‘Role of Buteyko breathing technique in asthmatics with nasal symptoms’, Adelola O.A., Oosthuiven J.C., Fenton J.E. Clinical Otolaryngology.2013, April;38(2):190-191.
- ‘Sleep Apnoea and Breathing Retraining: To what extent is the Buteyko Institute Method of breathing retraining effective for sleep apnoea?’ A survey of Buteyko Institute practitioners’ experiences with clients suffering from sleep apnoea. Birch M. 2012.
- ‘Clinical Review: Sleep apnoea – A survey of breathing retraining‘ Birch M. Australian Nursing Journal October 2012, 20:(4) 40-41.
Summary of Scientific Principles
The Buteyko Institute Method is scientifically based on the standard medical principles of respiration, the normalisation of breathing and the Bohr Effect.
- Ideal respiration is 4-6 litres of air per minute, equivalent to approximately 10 breaths per minute.
- People with respiratory disorders have been found to breathe from 2 to several times this amount, resulting well in excess of 20,000 breaths per 24-hour day.
- Under normal circumstances, the lungs expect measured volumes of air via the nasal passage, where it has been filtered, disinfected, warmed and moisturised.
- Large volumes of untreated air, via the mouth, cause drying of airways, irritation and greater exposure to allergens viruses and bacteria.
- Hyperventilation, over breathing and mouth breathing all contribute to the ‘dumping’ of CO2 from the body, upsetting the O2 – CO2 balance.
- CO2 is a natural bronchodilator and correct blood and alveolar levels prevent the smooth muscle in the bronchioles, and in other parts of the body from going into spasm.
- Sustained low levels of CO2 cause the breathing centre in the medulla of the brain to reset to a level which encourages hyperventilation or over-breathing. The average person with asthma breathes around 14 litres per minute, and has a CO2 level of 30 to 36mm Hg (40mm Hg is considered the normal healthy amount).
- Buteyko exercises train people to breathe through their noses, reduce their breathing to normal levels, keep their mouths closed and retain a higher proportion of the CO2 produced by the body.
- With practice, the Buteyko method allows the person to permanently elevate their normal. The CO2 level rises to the normal level of 40mm Hg pa.
Symptoms of Dysfunctional Breathing or Hyperventilation
Many symptoms and conditions are reported in the medical literature as being either caused or exacerbated by hyperventilation. The Buteyko Institute Method therefore has significant potential to revolutionise health management in the future.
Respiratory: Asthma, cough, production of mucus, blocked or runny sinuses, chronic throat tickle, shortness of breath, tightness in or about chest, sighing respiration, excessive yawning
Neurovascular: Disturbances of consciousness, faintness, dizziness, unsteadiness, impairment of concentration and memory, feelings of unreality, “losing mind”, paresthesia, numbness, tingling and coldness of fingers, face and feet
Musculoskeletal: Tremors and coarse twitching movements, diffuse or localised myalgia and arthralgia, carpopedal spasm and generalised tetany (infrequent)
Cardiovascular: Palpitations, skipped beats, tachycardia, atypical chest pains, sharp precordial twinges, dull precordial or lower costal ache, variable features of vasomotor instability
Gastrointestinal: Gastrointestinal: oral dryness, globus, dysphagia, left upper quadrant or epigastric distress, aerophagy, belching, bloating, flatulence
Psychic: Variable anxiety, tension and apprehension, inappropriate pseudocalmness (hysterical subjects)
General: Sleep apnoea, snoring, easy fatigability, generalised weakness, irritability and chronic exhaustion, frightening dreams
Dental: Narrowed upper jaw, overcrowding, tooth decay and gum disorders