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Buteyko breathing

We haven't looked at the research on Buteyko breathing in as much detail as we have the other treatments on our site. (To learn more, see .) But we're including some information because you may be interested in it.

The Buteyko breathing technique is one of the best-known breathing methods for asthma, although people also use other techniques such as yoga breathing. The Buteyko method is named after its founder, Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, a Russian doctor who developed the technique more than 50 years ago.

Buteyko breathing is based on the idea that asthma and other diseases are caused by breathing that is too fast or too deep (called overbreathing or hyperventilation). Some people think this overbreathing leads to too little carbon dioxide in the blood, which causes problems throughout the body. Carbon dioxide helps trigger the release of oxygen from red blood cells into the body's tissues. So if you have too little carbon dioxide, your body doesn't get as much oxygen as it needs.

What Buteyko breathing involves
Buteyko breathing aims to help people control their breathing to boost the level of carbon dioxide in their blood. This means focusing on things such as holding in the breath and relaxing the muscles used in breathing. People usually learn the Buteyko method through classes for four or five days. Special classes are offered for children with asthma to go to with their parents.

The Buteyko breathing technique teaches people:

To breathe through their nose, not their mouth Ways to clear their nose to help with breathing Ways to keep their mouth closed so they breathe through their nose (this can involve wearing tape over their mouth when sleeping) How to check whether they are overbreathing Ways to stop overbreathing by doing breath-holding exercises Lifestyle changes to help reduce overbreathing, such as eating less and doing less stressful exercises. Adults and children who use Buteyko breathing should not suddenly stop taking their asthma medicine. They should still carry a quick-relief inhaler with them and also continue to use preventers such as inhaled steroids if this is part of their treatment.

What the research says
We don't know whether the Buteyko breathing technique works because not enough research has been done. Here's what some of the research says so far.

In one study, 39 people with asthma were given either Buteyko training or general asthma and relaxation training. It found that those who had Buteyko training used less asthma medicine and did less overbreathing than the group who had general asthma education. The Buteyko group also seemed to have a slightly better quality of life, although the difference between the groups wasn't that big.

Another study looked at using a video to teach Buteyko breathing to people with asthma. The study included 36 people who watched either a training video on Buteyko breathing or a training video that didn't cover Buteyko breathing. Those who watched the Buteyko breathing video used less of their quick-relief inhaler and rated their quality of life higher than those who watched the other video.

A third study compared Buteyko breathing with a device that mimics a breathing technique from pranayama, which is a type of yoga that teaches different ways of breathing.[3] People who used Buteyko breathing had a drop in asthma symptoms and they used their quick-relief inhaler less often. There was no real change in the group using the pranayama device.


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