Do you or your child have asthma? No doubt you are familiar with the standard treatments for asthma, the puffers (relievers to open up the airways and inhaled steroids to reduce airway inflammation) but new studies are showing that many are overusing these drugs and this may be contributing to the alarming rise in asthma.
New Zealand now has one of the highest asthma rates in the world. Asthma is the most common cause for child hospital admissions and the Asthma Foundation estimates over 200,000 children in New Zealand have asthma.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are now eight published studies in medical journals both here and internationally recognising the benefits of breathing exercises in helping to control asthma and reduce medication use.
A study published in the prestigious medical journal Thorax showed those practising breathing exercises were able to reduce reliever medication by 85% and preventer medication by 50%. The best-studied of these breathing programmes is the Buteyko Method.
So what is Buteyko? Very simply Buteyko is a strategy to retrain dysfunctional breathing and it is based on the postulation that many diseases result from an abnormal breathing pattern. To be more specific, conditions such as asthma, allergies, sinusitis, snoring, insomnia, sleep apnoea, panic disorders, etc. are believed to be the body's responses (a 'defence mechanism') to hyperventilation or, in simple terms, ‘over-breathing’.
Dr Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian physician, developed the method in the 1940s to treat conditions including asthma, allergies, sleeping disorders and hypertension. He found that hyperventilation is the primary cause of these conditions and thus his programme is based on slowing down breathing rates to within normal parameters. The programme includes guidelines for correct diaphragmatic breathing and learning to breathe through the nose.
Buteyko Institute practitioner, Glenn White, runs regular programmes for adults and children at his clinic in Freemans Bay. Like so many people who end up being passionate about health, Glenn White is no different. Glenn was a lifelong asthma sufferer. After three attacks requiring hospitalisation in 2000, a friend encouraged Glenn to try Buteyko. The results were astonishing. In one week he was breathing freely and no longer using his Ventolin inhaler. Glenn has now been asthma free for ten years and no longer needs asthma medication. The change was so profound that he gave up his career as a geologist to train as a Buteyko practitioner.
In 2001 Glenn set up the Buteyko Breathing Clinic in Freemans Bay. Since that time he has helped thousands of adults and children overcome their asthma. Benefits are immediate and most no longer need to use their reliever medication within the first week. All medication reduction is undertaken by the client’s medical provider. Medical professionals now account for the bulk of the clinic referrals and clients come from all over New Zealand to attend the clinic. Thousands are now asthma free after doing the breathing course.
It’s not just asthma either: Buteyko has been shown to be effective for other breathing-related conditions including allergies, sinusitis, hay fever, persistent cough, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), panic attacks, sleep apnoea, insomnia and snoring. Additional benefits include improved sleep, the ability to exercise without getting breathless and less susceptibility to colds and flu.
Anyone interested in learning more can contact Glenn at the Buteyko Breathing Clinic in Freemans Bay Tel: 09-360 6291 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buteykobreathing.co.nz
Article written by John Appleton, Appleton Associates