Buteyko Breathing TechniqueMarch 26, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
In previous columns, I’ve described the health benefits of various forms of deep breathing in diseases ranging from asthma to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux). But, there’s another, vastly different school of thought in the world of breath retraining. The Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) contrasts from practices such as diaphragmatic and Senobi breathing in that it actually recommends reducing depth and frequency of breath in order to assist asthmatics to better control their symptoms.
According to Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, the developer of BBT, hyperventilation and hypocapnia (low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood) are two of the primary mechanisms involved in asthma. His theory affirms that breath holding, preventing mouth breathing at night and slowing breath rate corrects subclinical hyperventilation and normalizes carbon dioxide concentrations in the blood of asthmatics. Several peer-reviewed, clinical studies support the primarily subjective benefits of BBT, such as improvements in quality of life and reductions in the use of bronchodialators and inhaled corticosteroids. What’s more, comparisons of BBT vs. other techniques, including pranayama yoga breathing, generally favor BBT with regard to symptomatic changes. However, what has yet to be clearly demonstrated is exactly how BBT exerts its positive effects. For instance, carefully controlled scientific investigations have generally failed to observe the expected changes in carbon dioxide long postulated by Dr. Buteyko. Given this, one evaluation concluded that, “BBT might influence symptoms by improving the efficiency of the biomechanics of breathing”.
Although BBT has been found beneficial for most and very safe, it does require the active participation of highly motivated individuals who are willing to learn the process and practice it daily. I think it’s a therapeutic approach that ought to be considered by anyone looking for a natural adjunct or alternative to conventional care. However, for asthmatics who don’t find BBT appealing, there are a number of other breathing exercises and therapies that have also been documented as improving lung function and numerous measures of asthma-related quality of life. Recent studies indicate that: guided respiratory exercises improve muscle strength and treatment outcomes in senior asthmatics; aerobic exercise, alone or combined with diaphragmatic breathing, improves chest dimensions and increases the number of asthma-free days and; Senobi, a short and simple breathing and stretching technique, reduces the need for “asthma rescue medication use” and promotes more robust “forced expiratory volume”. Any one or combination of these options can assist with the management of asthma and should be considered by patients and physicians alike.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Hypocapnia and Asthma: A Mechanism for Breathing Retraining? … (link)
Study 2 – A Clinical Trial of the Buteyko Breathing Technique in Asthma as Taught … (link)
Study 3 – Effect of Two Breathing Exercises (Buteyko and Pranayama) in Asthma … (link)
Study 4 – Buteyko Breathing Technique for Asthma: An Effective Intervention … (link)
Study 5 – A Randomised Controlled Trial of the Buteyko Technique as an Adjunct … (link)
Study 6 – Investigating the Claims of Konstantin Buteyko, M.D., Ph.D.: The … (link)
Study 7 – Respiratory Exercise Program for Elderly Individuals with Asthma … (link)
Study 8 – Pulmonary Function and Abdominal and Thoracic Kinematic Changes … (link)
Study 9 – Effects of Aerobic Training on Airway Inflammation in Asthmatic … (link)
Study 10 – “Senobi” Stretch Ameliorates Asthma Symptoms by Restoring … (link)
The Buteyko Method Improves Symptom Scores in Asthmatics
Source: Thorax 2003;58:674-679 (link)
Tags: asthma, Breathing, Buteyko
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise