The Buteyko Institute Breathing Method has been known in Australia since the early 1990s for the management of asthma. The basis of the method is to normalise the breathing pattern. This results in a significant decrease in symptoms, with over 90% of course participants coming off all of their reliever medication within a week of starting the course.
The Buteyko view is that asthma is not a disease, but rather that it is a collection of symptoms – bronchospasm, mucous production and inflammation of the lining of the airways. All are brought on by breathing above the normal physiological level of 4-5 litres per minute. This overbreathing or hyperventilation causes an imbalance of the gas levels in the lungs and the blood. In particular we breathe out too much carbon dioxide. For normal healthy body functioning, the body needs about 5.5% carbon dioxide in the lungs. If we overbreathe and lower the level of carbon dioxide in the lungs (the air has only 0.03% carbon dioxide) the result will be the onset of symptoms.
Carbon dioxide is a natural smooth muscle dilator or relaxant. When we have too little carbon dioxide our smooth muscle (which is wrapped around the tiny air tubes of our lungs) will go into spasm - experienced as tightness and difficulty breathing out.
Oxygen is slow to be released from the blood (Bohr Effect and the Oxy-Haemoglobin Dissociation Curve). This will be experienced as breathlessness.
Mast cells, responsible for part of our immune response become super-sensitive to perceived allergens, releasing large amounts of histamine, producing inflammation.
Over-breathing dries out the airways, inflaming them and encouraging mucous formation
The goal of the Buteyko Method is to teach people to normalise their breathing pattern. When breathing rates are normal, the level of carbon dioxide within the body will be normal and the body functions well. The smooth muscle around the airways will stay relaxed, oxygen will move more quickly from the blood to all the cells, mast cells will function appropriately and the mucous membranes of the airways will not be inflamed.
By learning the Buteyko Method people are able to overcome most asthma symptoms by using the breathing exercises. This enables a reduction in asthma reliever medication.
“Amy saw Michael over a 4 week period and at the end of that period all I can say that in our eyes she’s fixed. We are amazed at the transformation and even listening to his advice has allowed us to make life choices as well.”
Mr and Mrs Watkins
“I ditched inhalers and gave my full attention to buteyko health breathing techniques. I was able to increase my training and eventually returned to full fitness and competitive standards. In January this year I became Scottish champion and have also won more national medals".
- Katie McIntyre