The Buteyko Breathing Method is a medically researched and scientifically proven training system
that corrects the condition of Over-Breathing or Hyperventilation.
Click on the image to watch this BBC "QED" Programme "Buteyko on Trial"
What is Hyperventilation?
Hyperventilation is the clinical term for over-breathing, or breathing
more air than the body needs metabolically. The standard volume of normal breathing for a healthy adult at rest is 4 –
6 litres of air per minute. Scientific research conducted by Professor Buteyko over four decades, along with scientific trials
at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane in 1995, demonstrated that people with asthma, for example, breathe a volume of 10 -20 litres
per minute between attacks, and over twenty litres during an attack.
Over-breathing is usually
not obvious to the person suffering or even to casual observers and hence has been termed Chronic Hidden Hyperventilation.
It appears to be a result of modern day living. The primitive fight/flight response that ensured our survival as stone age
man is not so useful for modern man. Environmental stressors include air, water, light, sound pollution. We eat poor quality
food. Mental and emotional stress are constant and lack of physical exercise all trigger over-breathing in an obvious way
such as hyperventilation attacks and in subtle ways such as holding our breath, gasping or sighing frequently or snoring.
Various estimates exist regarding the extent of over-breathing among the general population, ranging
from 30% according to Claude Lum, a prominent respirologist from the UK to Alexander Stalmatski who believes it to be 90%.
Professor Buteyko stated that genetic predisposition determines which illnesses people develop from
over-breathing. The response of each individual to hyperventilation depends on inherited factors. Regardless, the Buteyko
Method has been effective with over 150 different chronic conditions as evidenced by Dr Buteyko's research and clinical
What the Buteyko
Method Programme involves.
The aim is to restore healthy breathing patterns. This involves the following;
1. Learning how to unblock the nose by using the breath.
2. Switching from mouth breathing to consistently
3. Breathing exercises to bring breathing volumes down to normal levels.
4. How to participate
in physical exercise without hyperventilating.
5. Breathing exercises to stop coughing and wheezing.
changes which assist and facilitate the road to recovery.
Some of the symptoms of over-breathing;
"Chronic hyperventilation can affect any organ or system to different degrees." - Dr. Claude Lum
It would be safe to say that any disease or illness will be a stress on the body and that stress
will lead to increased breathing rate or hyperventilation.
The respiratory system: wheezing, blocked nose, loss of smell and taste, runny nose, post nasal
discharge, breathlessness, coughing, chest tightness, frequent chest infections, frequent yawning and snoring.
The nervous system: poor concentration, dizziness, light-headed feeling, , numbness, sweating,
dizziness, brain fog, vertigo, tingling of hands and feet, faintness, trembling and headache.
heart: racing or pounding heartbeat, pain in the chest region, and a skipping or irregular heartbeat and high blood
The mind: anxiety, frustration, restlessness, irritability, tension,
depression, apprehension, stress, lack of concentration.
Other general symptom:
mouth dryness, fatigue, difficulty falling asleep, waking up at night, waking up tired, reduced productivity, bad dreams,
nightmares, dry itchy skin, sweaty palms, increased urination, bed wetting, frequent nocturnal bathroom visits, diarrhea,
constipation, general weakness and chronic exhaustion.
Measure your relative
breathing volume with the Control Pause.
Although the measurement of breathing rate can be a complex clinical procedure that may involve Capnography and Flow
metering of air breathed, Professor Buteyko established a valuable simple test that correlates well with our breathing rate.
It is called the Control Pause and is a measurement of how long you
can comfortably hold your breath after a normal out breath. This is indicative of your breathing and general health.
Try it for yourself:
1. Sit down and take an upright but relaxed posture, keep your mouth
shut all the time.
2. Take a small breath in and a small breath out through the nose.
3. Hold your nose after
the 'out' breath.
4. Using a timer, count how many seconds you can comfortably hold your breath before
you need to breathe in again.
5. Release your nose and breathe in through it. You should not have any need for a
This is a completely stress free test.
What is the significance of the Control Pause (comfortable breath hold time)?
If your CP is less than 20 seconds, your breathing is quite poor and you probably already have a chronic condition
you are struggling with.
If your CP is between 20 – 30 seconds, your breathing is
poor and your condition is unstable, meaning exposure to a trigger will cause symptoms.
If your CP is between 30 – 40 seconds, your breathing is good but if exposed to a strong trigger, you will experience
If your CP is 40 – 60 seconds, your breathing and general health is very
If your CP is 60+ seconds, your breathing and general health is excellent.
The lower the Control Pause (breath hold), the poorer your body oxygenation, the greater the breathing
volume and rate, and the greater the chance of suffering symptoms. For example, a very severe asthmatic will have a
control pause of less than ten seconds. Corresponding to this large volume per minute their breathing is often through the
mouth causing additional problems.
Someone with anxiety may have a Control Pause of only
2 -3 seconds. This can be improved dramatically and quickly with the Buteyko Method.
your CP is 40+ seconds, it is very difficult to detect ones breathing as it is so quiet, calm and gentle, like a baby's.
How effective is the Buteyko Method?
The Buteyko Method has been researched extensively in Russia by Dr. Buteyko and his colleagues. Because of its relative
newness to the west, only about a dozen medical trials have been conducted to date. Generally, there is a significant improvement
to quality of life, reduction of symptoms and reduction of need for medications.
one can expect on average a 70% fewer symptoms, up to 90% less need for reliever medication and up to 50% less need for preventer
steroid medication within three to six months of starting the Buteyko Programme.
With snoring, one can expect a reduction of 75% within 2 weeks of beginning the course.
With sleep apnea, depending on the duration and severity of the condition, whether or not the person is on a CPAP
machine or not, one can expect to reduce sleep apnoea by 25 – 50% within a year and frequently eliminate the need for
The success of the Buteyko Method appears to be in part due to the highly structured training and
monitoring system involved. With all conditions, doing the exercises properly, consistently and frequently will lead to success.