Asthma and the Buteyko Breathing Method

The Buteyko Breathing Method can help people to control their asthma symptoms with less medication. Initially you learn to control an asthma attack by controlling your breathing, moreover Buteyko also helps change your breathing pattern over time, not just tackling symptoms, but eventually making it unlikely to have an attack at all. This is done in a measured way, using the pulse and a particular estimate of breath holding time to monitor progress. Information about diet and exercise and other lifestyle factors also play an important part in the training.

The Buteyko Breathing Method is extremely effective, most people dramatically reduce their need for reliever medication within days.  Some people (with their GP’s supervision) can come of medication altogether.  The method does take commitment, especially for the first few weeks, but eventually the exercises can be tailed off.

So you may feel that you have a good idea what causes your asthma (it is in the family- genetic- or you know the triggers, e.g. dust mites or exercise), and why you need drugs to control it. But did you know that the Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko, said that these are only secondary reasons, and the primary reason is over breathing or hyperventilation. People with asthma breathe a considerably bigger volume of air per minute than normal. This can dry and  irritate the airways. Additionally, the normal levels of carbon dioxide in the lungs drop, and since carbon dioxide is a natural bronchodilator (opens the airways) the airways narrow, causing the usual symptoms of asthma; wheezing, breathlessness etc., needing medication to open the airways again.

But this is very good news as breathing can be corrected, and this is exactly what the Buteyko mentod does.  Firstly, the person with asthma is taught how to breathe in a relaxed manner, through the nose and using mainly the diaphragm (low and slow). This is better than breathing mainly with the chest (high and fast), which is an inefficient way to breathe, and often seen in people with asthma and anxiety.

The Buteyko method is the only complementary method that has had sufficient good quality research carried out to give it a “B” rating and a listing in the UK British Thoracic Society Asthma Guidelines since 2008.

Of course this is not a cure as such, as if the breathing pattern goes unchecked and the person slips into the old bad habits of bad breathing, then the asthma will without come back! By regularly checking pulse and breath holding time, this never needs to happen.

The Buteyko method gets to the root cause of the problem, unlike medication which just deals with some of the symptoms, so Buteyko can put you back in control of your health.

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