The Buteyko Method was founded by a Ukranian physician, Dr. Constantine Buteyko in the 1950s. It's a breathing technique and alternative therapy that has been successful in treating a variety of respiratory conditions.
The first study on the Buteyko Method was done in 1968 at the Institute of Pulmonology in Leningrad where they tested the effects of the method on asthma. The second study, in April of 1980, at the First Moscow Institute of Pediatric Diseases eventually led the government’s Ministry of Health to implement the Buteyko Method in the treatment of Bronchial Asthma.
Later the method was introduced to the rest of the world and continues to receive increased exposure. Many people have attributed their successful health changes to this method which is widely available now in books and on the internet. In 2019, a popular singer posted a picture of herself on social media with tape over her mouth which led to interest and discussion of the Buteyko Method.
The main idea of the method is that most breathing disorders are the result of undiagnosed hyperventilation. This can lead to low carbon dioxide levels in the blood which in turn can lead to disturbances in the acid-base balances in the blood and lower tissue oxygen levels.
People who promote the Buteyko Method believe that these disturbances can lead to widespread muscle spasms in the airways and other chemical reactions in the body. The Buteyko Method retrains the body's breathing pattern to correct the hyperventilation and treat or cure these medical problems.
The Buteyko Method wasn't widely accepted in the medical community due to the fact that there wasn't enough evidence in the research to prove that hyperventilation was behind the diseases. Studies have looked for ways to match the theory to the research such as looking at the carbon dioxide levels of the practitioners of the Buteyko Method but were not able to find convincing evidence. This caused some to speculate other theories as to how this method helps to improve symptoms.
Although different theories on the method exist, the main objective remains the same which is to normalize breathing using three core principles:
Nasal Breathing - The Buteyko Method emphasizes the importance of breathing through the nose which humidifies, cleans, and warms the air entering the lungs. Many asthmatics suffer from difficulty breathing at night, by practicing proper posture and nasal breathing during the day, it can help reduce symptoms at night. Strictly nasal breathing during exercise is important as well.
Reduced Breathing - This consists of constantly reducing your breathing rate or "volume".
Relaxation - By reducing breathing and practicing relaxation you can train your body to have less panic-induced rapid breathing attacks.
The Buteyko Method is now used to treat a variety of different breathing problems ranging from asthma to rhinitis, hayfever, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, dental health, craniofacial development, and ADHD. It also has been proven to help with snoring, insomnia, and sleep apnea.
The method is designed to reprogram a person's breathing and make them more aware of how they breathe and what is actually the correct way to breathe for maximum health benefits to your body. Although breathing is a natural act that doesn't require too much thinking about, many factors can affect your breathing such as environment, lifestyle choices, and stress.
Proper breathing can be measured by breathing in and out the nose with light breaths and the movement coming mainly from the diaphragm. Poor breathing is through the mouth and the movement is mainly from the upper chest.
People with poor breathing mostly complain of unsatisfying breaths, difficulty keeping proportionate breaths during exercise, and a general feeling of not getting enough air. Poor breathing patterns can cause the airways to narrow and for blood circulation to decrease. The Buteyko Method teaches breathing methods and exercises that decongest the nose and switch poor breathers to nasal breathing. It also teaches slow breathing and breath holds following exhalation, the objective to take less air into the lungs. The program is designed for children over the age of five and adults.
Having a deviated septum can be a major factored in breathing disorders. A deviated septum is when the bone dividing the cartilage of the center of the nose is twisted and blocks the normal airflow in the nose.
Many people don't have completely straight septums but not all conditions require serious medical attention. Combined with other symptoms such as allergies, congestion, or turbinate hypertrophy, breathing can be difficult and cause sleep apnea as well as other conditions.
A deviated septum can be caused by a childbirth injury as the baby passes through the birth canal. Another theory as to the cause of a deviated septum is that any trauma that could have occurred to the nose during childhood or adolescence can cause the septum to twist. As the person gets older the nose continues to grow in that twisted manner.
All these factors contribute to poor breathing patterns and can benefit greatly from the Buteyko Method’s breathing training. This form of breathing therapy trains your body to breathe slower and more regularly. Combined with Buteyko's lifestyle guide to sleep, diet, and exercise, this method is designed to improve the overall body-oxygen level.
There is a special test called the Control Pause which determines the progress a person is making with the exercises. Control Pause is performed by taking a deep breath in through the nose and breathing out through the nose. You then hold your nose and wait until the first sign of your body trying to get back to breathing and note seconds before that happens. The general rule is that anything under 25 seconds is an indicator of possible breathing disorders.
You can learn the method by going to a workshop or buying a set of DVDs that teach the workshop in the comfort of your own home and in your own timeframe. Results are expected within a couple of days of starting the exercises and can improve health and breathing problems and bring about more calm, better sleep, and higher energy levels.