Doctors and scientists have long known that carbon dioxide (CO2) plays a vital part in releasing oxygen from the blood to cells and tissue – the Bohr effect.
According to Professor Buteyko, some 150 diseases are linked to dysfunctional breathing including asthma, allergies and emphysema are the result of a deficiency in our body of CO2, caused by not breathing correctly, in a panicky way, so you take in too much oxygen.
By retraining the body's breathing pattern to nasal breathing, reduced breathing and relaxation regular breathing can be normalised.
The Buteyko method emphasises the importance of nasal breathing, which protects the airways by humidifying, warming, and cleaning the air entering the lungs.
The core Buteyko exercises involve breath control; consciously reducing either the breathing rate or breathing volume. To undertake breath control you need to undertake a programme of breathing retraining and once this becomes natural and instinctive the exercises in breath control can be gradually phased out as the condition improves.
Check Your Breathing
Take a normal breath in, then out, hold your nose and using a stopwatch see how long it takes before you need to take another breath. That’s your Control Pause.
Try it now and see how well you do. If you’re in good shape your Control Pause should be at least 30 seconds, though the average is just 17 seconds.
The Buteyko method aims to get you up to a Control Pause of 30-60 seconds.
History of Buteyko
The Buteyko method was originally developed in the 1950s by Russian physiologist
Konstantin Buteyko in Russia. Dr. Buteyko (pictured above) discovered the method as a result of trying to address his own dangerously high blood pressure at the age of 26 while he was studying atthe First Moscow Institute of Medicine. At the time his life expectancy was only about 18-months and his systolic over diastolic was 220/110, an indication of very high blood pressure.
An idea came into his mind that perhaps how he was breathing might be contributing to his high blood pressure. His research on himself and other patient's lead him to the conclusion that as a patient’s condition became more severe their breathing rate increased. He reasoned that if there really was a connection between hyperventilation and illness it should be possible to reverse this by deliberate breath control.
So, he started to teach himself how to calm down his breathing to a normal state. As he did so the aches and pains of the different symptoms that he was suffering from reduced and with this knowledge and confidence in his research he began applying the same technique to his patients.
Developing the Buteyko Method
By the early 1980s the Russian authorities were sufficiently impressed with Buteyko’s results to allow him a formal trial with asthmatic children in a Moscow hospital. The results were sufficiently impressive to persuade the State Medical System to approve the method for widespread use.
The Spread of the Buteyko Method
In the late 1980s an Australian businessman was admitted to hospital in Russia for treatment of an attack of angina. He was introduced to the Buteyko method and found it extremely helpful. The Australian sponsored two Russian practitioners to teach the techniques in Australia. Since then the Buteyko method has spread to many countries around the world with many practitioners who have adopted the method.
Professor Buteyko extended his life for over fifty years after developing and using the Buteyko Method, he died in Moscow, Russia on May 2, 2003, aged 80.