Retraining your Breathing Eliminates Asthma

Treating Asthma by Getting to the Source or ‘Root Cause’ – Breathing

Linked below is a fantastic documentary published by the BBC back in 1998 looking at what’s known as the Buteyko Breathing method to treat asthma.

It’s just under half an hour, however if you have asthma or breathing difficulties, or know someone who suffers from it, it will be worth your time.

The video, filmed in Scotland, studied 4 asthma sufferers (some severely enough that they regularly end up in hospital) who relied on prescription medications and who were referred to a trial using the Russian Buteyko Breathing Method to treat their asthma.

Credit to the medical specialist who recommended these patients to the trial – although he took a bit of convincing.

The Buteyko method was developed by Professor Buteyko, a Russian doctor who was diagnosed with malignant hypertension at age 30, and not given long to live. Prof. Buteyko looked at how the human respiratory system works and used this knowledge to treat and cure himself. He went on to live for at least another 50 years.

Whilst it is not widely accepted, the Buteyko Breathing method is not unconventional at all. As mentioned, it uses our scientific understanding of the respiratory system and applies it to optimise respiratory function and alleviate symptoms of asthma and breathing difficulties.

Buteyko breathing treats the cause of asthma and breathing difficulties; not the symptoms, which are targeted by conventional medical practices.

The main cause is hyperventilation or over-breathing. In fact, the average person breathes twice as often and with far too much volume than they should (according to medical diagnostic norms).

This over-breathing disrupts the delicate biochemical balance in our respiratory system and blood stream that helps regulate respiration – the purpose of which is to get oxygen (O2) from the air we breathe into our cells for energy production, and to expel carbon dioxide (CO2) gas produced as a by-product of energy production.

This carbon dioxide is not entirely a waste gas however. It is vital for efficient respiration. In fact it is the limiting factor in respiration – it is the general in a show that sees oxygen from the air we breathe reach the cells for energy production. Without CO2 we don’t get any oxygen into our cells.

By retaining or storing some of the CO2 we eliminate during exhalation, CO2 performs this directing role. When we over-breathe we lose this retained or stored CO2 and our respiration becomes far less efficient, to the point that it can start to create problems or symptoms. These problems include asthma and other difficulties in breathing.

The symptoms occur because the body, perceiving it is under threat (because of the upset in biochemistry created by over-breathing), attempts to restrict the loss of CO2 by constricting the airways – leading to tightness, wheezing etc.

The Buteyko Breathing Method was used in this trial as it had been reported to reduce the symptoms of asthma and the reliance on asthma medications. Unsurprisingly, most medical professionals at the time viewed it as ridiculous.

Interestingly, and not surprisingly for me, all patients in the trial noticed a big difference in their symptoms within 5 days. In fact, one patient eliminated use of her medication entirely despite a lifetime reliance on steroids and bronchodilators.

The results were enough for the specialist doctor to conclude that; “perhaps we are underestimating the number of asthmatics who over-breathe chronically.”

Yet, positive results are not enough for medical professionals to take it seriously world-wide. At that stage the only research study ever conducted outside of Russia was conducted in Brisbane, here in Australia. The trial compared a group of asthmatic patients using the Buteyko Breathing Method for training with a group using the conventional medical approach. Initially the Buteyko group reported feeling better than the conventional medical group, but did not perform better in lung a function test – although this test has been seriously questioned over the years. However the long term results spoke volumes. The Buteyko Breathing group showed a 90% reduction in the use of bronchodilator medicine and 49% reduction in use of steroids after 3 months.

That suggests a huge improvement in the Buteyko group and huge savings of dollars over time.

Ironically, very few studies have been carried out since and, at the time, the Australian government had no more plans to run future studies. Why you ask?

Perhaps because most of the research is funded by the pharmaceutical companies!!

I have been a respiratory therapist for around 6 years now and use breathing methods based on the Buteyko Breathing principles. I also incorporate bio-feedback technology that comes from hospitals, called capnometry, to teach functional breathing rhythms.

My experience with clients has been similar to those reported in the video. I have seen many clients either reduce or eliminate asthma or breathing difficulty symptoms, as well as their reliance on prescription drugs.

Here is a testimonial from a happy client:

“Just wanted to say the breathing exercises have helped tremendously. I did a cardio session this morning and I didn’t need to use my puffer at all, and feel great. Not puffed out or wheezy at all!!!………my issue with the breathing has really held me back with my fitness and now there’s no stopping me!”  Mimi, Melbourne

Instead of running 5 day courses in groups, I treat clients one on one in clinic over a few weeks using the Buteyko breathing retraining methods and bio-feedback technology in Torquay, Geelong and Melbourne by appointment.

Given that spring and hay-fever season is fast approaching, now is a better time than ever to use natural methods that get to the cause of asthma and breathing difficulties instead of relying on medication and dealing with their side effects.

The same principles that make breathing retraining so effective in treating asthma and breathing difficulties so effective, also make it extremely effective in treating the following conditions:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Snoring and Sleep Apnoea
  • Sinusitis, hay fever and other allergies; i.e. eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • IBS and gut problems
  • Poor peripheral circulation
  • High blood pressure.

For consultations or advice, email me at or call 0425 739 918.