The Buteyko Method

A breathing technique to ease asthma


The Buteyko Method is a breathing technique designed to ease the symptoms of asthma, and other respiratory conditions. The method was developed in Russia by Konstantin Buteyko who focused his medical studies on the link between breathing and illness. When used successfully, the Buteyko method can reduce the need for a reliever inhaler and help to improve your quality of life if you suffer from asthma.


What is the Buteyko Method?

Known as the Buteyko Breathing Technique, or BTT for short, it’s simply about learning to breathe correctly. It focuses on breathing through the nose to avoid over-breathing, or hyperventilation, to manage your asthma symptoms when they occur to prevent an attack. It’s a skill which is often taught over a period of five weeks and after sufficient practice, it becomes part of your daily routine. This method is designed to complement your existing medication, not to replace it.

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Where did the Buteyko Method come from?

The Buteyko Breathing Method was founded by Dr Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian medical scientist. He began working on his theory that breathing patterns had an impact on physical health in the 1960s. His programme of specialised breathing techniques was seen as controversial at first but by 1967 results showed a positive effect on over 1000 people with this drug-free treatment. In 1990 the Buteyko Method was introduced in Australia, coming to the UK in 1994 after published medical trials showed the treatment to be a success.


Will the Buteyko Method cure my asthma?

There is no cure for asthma but you can learn to significantly reduce your symptoms by applying these techniques to your breathing. Clinical trials have shown that the Buteyko Method has proven to reduce reliever inhaler use by up to 96% within three months of applying the breathing techniques.

The British Thoracic Society has classified it as a category B intervention for treating asthma. Within two weeks you can expect a 50% reduction in coughing, wheezing and breathlessness. After 3-6 months your need for preventer medication could reduce by 50%.

The important thing to remember is that these breathing techniques can only have a significant effect on your asthma symptoms if they are applied correctly. It might take time to learn and to get into the habit of breathing differently but once you do it can have a hugely positive impact on your life. The Buteyko Method is more of a complementary way of managing your symptoms rather than a cure.

Where can I learn Buteyko Breathing Techniques?

This treatment is not readily available on the NHS but you can learn the Buteyko breathing method from a trained therapist who specialises in this area. They offer courses and workshops you can book into and there is often a variety of face to face workshops or online sessions to choose from. There are also plenty of online resources, books and video materials you can access if a course is too costly.  

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