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Medical controversy about Buteyko studies in New Zealand

Publication of the first Buteyko trial for asthma in New Zealand in the NZ Medical Journal prompted a number of responses in that journal.

Researchers Shaun Holt and Richard Beasley questioned the science in a letter dated January 2004. Their criticisms focus solely on the study methodology. They make no mention of the significant reductions in asthma medication, improved symptom scores or the fact that the Buteyko group maintained airway function despite reducing medication.

ENT surgeon Jim Bartley responded to Holt and Beasley suggesting that “As medical scientists, we should not become stuck in the comfort of the familiar but welcome observations that cannot be explained by current theories. They may hold the keys to new solutions.”

The study authors responded to Holt and Beasley in the same journal by acknowledging that “access to funding for investigation of non-drug therapies may prove particularly difficult to mainstream researchers, many of whom have built careers on research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.”

They also say that “In light of the social and economic burden of asthma, and the potential benefit of BBT [Buteyko Breathing Technique], the challenge to such groups to meaningfully contribute to the evidence is clear.”

You can read the full correspondence on the New Zealand Medical Journal website:

Holt, S., Beasley R.  Buteyko pseudoscience
Bartley, J.  Physiology, pseudoscience, and Buteyko
McHugh, P., Duncan, B., Houghton, F. Study authors respond to Holt and Beasley


Progress can only be made by ideas which are very different from those accepted at the moment.
Renowned Austrian Endocrinologist Dr Hans Selye

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