The Buteyko Method takes its name from its Russian creator, Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko.(1) After graduating from Moscow’s First Medical Institute with honors, he developed a program that measured patient breathing and reconditioned it, as needed.
Correcting a CO2 Shortfall
The basic aim of the Buteyko method is to teach patients how to breath in a different way, and through this new, learned technique, increase their intake of Carbon Monoxide (CO2).(2) Low levels of CO2 allow for the bond within molecules of oxygen and haemoglobin in the blood to be strengthened.
This is not a good thing. A stronger such bond makes it more difficult for the human blood flow to oxygenate the brain and other vital organs, in what’s known as the Bohr effect. At a more serious level, lower levels of oxygen in brain and organ tissues can lead to hypoxia, an oxygen starvation condition. The drug-free Buteyko method is designed to condition patients to safeguard against the shortfall and these potential complications.
A 1994-95 Australian study documented remarkable results for the Buteyko method.(3) A group of asthma patients was divided into those employing the breathing technique and those not. The improvements for the former group were much more substantial, across the board. For example, after three months, Buteyko method patients showed a 90% decrease in the use of bronchodilator device, while non-Buteyko patients experienced a 9% increase.
Meanwhile, a 1981 Moscow study confirmed that children as young as the age of three can be taught the Buteyko method. Once again, the charted patient measurements are astounding. Not a single person participating in this study, either as an indoors or outdoors patient, claimed no improvements or a worsening of their condition. Eighty-three percent of the sampled group showed considerable improvement, while the remaining 17% registered some improvement.
Although the Buteyko method is applied mainly to patients suffering from asthma, its benefits can be equally impactful for emphysema patients.(4) U.S. clinicians also recommend that it be done in concert with other forms of treatment, such as prescribed medication and inhalers.
(1) ButeykoVideo.com – Buteyko Method: History, Retrieved June 14, 2011 from http://www.buteykovideo.com/history.aspx
(2) ButeykoVideo.com – Theory, Retrieved June 14, 2011 from http://www.buteykovideo.com/theory
(3) Buteyko.com – Trials and Research, Retrieved June 14, 2011 from http://www.buteyko.com/research/trials/index_trials.html
(4) Boston University School of Medicine – Buteyko Breathing Method, Retrieved June 14, 2011 from http://www.bu.edu/integrativemed/clinical-services/buteyko-breathing-method/