Watch our YouTube channel   Find us on Facebook    Find us on Instagram

Asthma - Another option for treatment

Asthma - Another option for treatment

As I see it – By John Appleton

Everyone knows someone with asthma and everyone knows about the standard treatments for asthma, but how many of us are aware that there is a simple technique that has helped many asthma sufferers in New Zealand and around the world? How many of us have heard of Buteyko?

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, diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure, panic disorder etc. are believed to be the body’s responses (a ‘defence mechanism’) to ‘hyperventilation’ or in simple terms; over-breathing. We often hear the term ‘mouth breathing’.

What's wrong with this picture? Have a look at the photo and note that the horse has his mouth shut and nostrils flared. Not so with the Jockey.

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 (over-breathing) is a 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.

The theory of Buteyko is based on the idea that over- breathing disturbs the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our lungs. At the end of the 19th century, carbon dioxide was found to be responsible for the bond between oxygen and haemoglobin. If the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood are lower than normal, this leads to difficulties in releasing oxygen from haemoglobin. This is known as the Bohr effect.

Loss of carbon dioxide during hyperventilation causes smooth muscle to constrict around airways and blood vessels. Dr Buteyko maintained that this is what causes chest tightness and is the main factor in blocked noses. An asthma attack is the body’s way of attempting to reduce the airflow passing through the lungs in order to reduce carbon dioxide loss.

According to Dr Buteyko, 150 different chronic diseases are essentially just one, which he called “deep breathing disease”. When breathing is normalised which can be done simply by decreasing its depth thus allowing carbon dioxide in alveolar air to reach the desired level of 6.5%, symptoms can disappear. Though most people may think of it as a poison, carbon dioxide may, in fact, be the “breath of life”.

Like so many people who end up being passionate about health, Auckland Buteyko practitioner 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 eight years and no longer needs asthma medication. The change was so profound that he decided to give up his career as a geologist and train as a Buteyko practitioner.

The Buteyko method has attracted attention in many countries and a trial at Gisborne Hospital achieved reductions in ‘reliever’ medications of 85 per cent and ‘preventer’ medications of 50 per cent in the Buteyko group. Despite the significant reductions in asthma medication demonstrated in the trial, doctors at Gisborne Hospital have encountered difficulty in obtaining further government funding. How often do we see this? Any promising treatment that doesn’t involve expensive drug therapy struggles to gain recognition.

Glenn is not deterred however. He says “we see results like these in every class we teach”. “Benefits are immediate and participants are excited to discover that a totally safe, side effect free treatment option has been so helpful”. Glenn says that many hundreds of New Zealanders are now asthma-free after doing the one week course. It’s not just asthma either; Glenn recommends Buteyko 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. Anyone interested in learning more can contact Glenn at

John Appleton –
Ph: 09-489-9362
From The Channel Magazine, March 2012

Read how you can be free of asthma symptoms in less than one week >>

Posted: Mon 30 Apr 2012


View News index »

Helping people with breathing disorders since 2001

20 Arthur Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland 1011, New Zealand  |  Phone +64 9 360 6291  |  Email

Download our leaflets [PDFs]:  Do you suffer from asthma or allergies? »    Do you snore or suffer from sleep apnoea? »

BIBH logo
Registered Practitioner / Practitioner Trainer

All cartoons courtesy of Chris Slane, Qantas Media Awards Cartoonist of the Year 2010  ©

Site design © 2015