Can the Buteyko Breathing Technique Help Asthma?
The Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) was developed in Russia more than 50 years ago and consists of combining breathing and relaxation exercises to help you control breathing patterns and reduce reliance on your inhaler. Just keep in mind that BBT can't substitute long-term asthma medications, so continue to take those as directed.
How the Buteyko Method Works
During an asthma episode, you may begin to panic and hyperventilate, which can lead to a loss of carbon dioxide in the lungs. This causes your airways to tighten and your oxygen level to plummet.
The BBT method attempts to break this vicious cycle. During an asthma attack, BBT patients are taught to take deep, small, shallow breaths through their nose. Although this probably goes against your natural instincts, with proper training, you can master this form of breathing.
Research on the Buteyko Method
Not everyone is in favor of BBT because there doesn't seem to be any clinical evidence that it improves lung function, yet some doctors do believe that the concept holds much promise. In fact, several research studies have found that using the Buteyko breathing technique can significantly reduce how frequently you need to rely on inhalers and steroids over an extended period.
How the Buteyko Method Helps Asthma
Those in favor of the Buteyko method for asthma speculate that the relaxation and breathing exercises help patients to stay calm when they feel an asthma attack coming on. In addition, BBT incorporates principles to help you have a better handle on asthma.
Is the Buteyko Method Right for You?
If you're interested in trying the Buteyko method, first ask your doctor if this is a safe option for you. People who have a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms may not be good candidates for this technique.
If you are a good fit for BBT, work with a specialist who can teach you how to use the breathing and relaxation exercises most effectively. Your doctor can refer you to a qualified practitioner or you can do a search online to find the right fit. Just be sure the person you're working with has appropriate credentials and can provide references.
AARP Health Encyclopedia. "Buteyko breathing technique." Web. 17 March 2012. http://healthtools.aarp.org/natstandardcontent/alt-buteyko-breathing-technique
Buteyko Breathing Educators Association, Inc. "What is Buteyko Breathing?" Web. 21 March 2012. http://www.buteykoeducators.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=174916&module_id=77715
New York Times. "A Breathing Technique Offers Help for People With Asthma." 2 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 March 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/health/03brod.html
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