Buteyko for Asthma – Frequently Asked Questions

What results can I expect from the Buteyko Method?

We expect the Buteyko Method course to allow sufferers to dramatically reduce their medication, and enjoy a much-improved quality of life. Asthmatics can expect to have a 71% reduction in symptoms, at least a 90% reduction in reliever medication and a subsequent reduction in preventer (steroid) medication. Children have similar outcomes. Without fear of constant asthma attacks quality of life improves dramatically. We expect the majority of asthmatics to see noticeable improvements within the first week.

Will the Buteyko Method just decrease symptoms, or actually cure asthma?

The definition and diagnosis of asthma are not an exact science. Many people who had been prescribed asthma medication have found that by using Buteyko they have been able to significantly reduce symptoms and medication. Buteyko is not allowed to be described as a cure, however, it is currently the best available form of asthma control without negative side effects. As you continue to follow the programme given by your practitioner your breathing starts to normalise.

As the breathing normalises, symptoms cease to occur. As you need less reliever medication your breathing rate will improve even further. Hence, you are breaking the vicious cycle created by having to increase asthma medication & creating a virtuous cycle of health improvement. Many people consider that this is one of the major factors involved in the asthma epidemic seen in the Western world today. This is also why many people consider Buteyko the nearest we have to a cure.

I’ve been using medication for years to control my asthma symptoms. Why should I take a Buteyko course?

Medication simply controls or suppresses the symptoms of any disease, including asthma. Medication does not address the underlying cause, which Prof. Buteyko found to be hyperventilation or overbreathing. In fact, asthma reliever medication has been shown to make symptoms worse and to lead to increased allergic response. In 1993 a Canadian study demonstrated that after just two weeks use of regular Salbutamol (Ventolin) there was an increased reaction of the airways to the same amount of allergen. In the summary, it was stated that the effect of inhaled beta antagonists provided further evidence to support the detrimental effects of regular use.

The newer long-acting beta-antagonists such as Salmeterol known as Serevent (or Seretide when combined with steroid), Formoterol Fumarate know as Oxis (or Symbicort when combined with steroid) seem to control asthma symptoms. However these are no safer and may be more dangerous in the long-term. In July 1995 Dr. Lipworth of the University of Dundee produced a paper published in the Lancet entitled “Bronchodilator subsensitivity to Salbutamol after twice daily Salmeterol in asthma patients”. Patients were randomised to receive Salmeterol 50 mg twice daily or a placebo, for 4 weeks in a double-blind cross-over fashion. It was found that the patients pre-treated with Salmeterol had a reduced response to Salbutamol, in terms of both Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) and Peak Flow expiratory flow rates, than those treated with placebo. The reduction in response equated to a 2.5 to 4-fold greater dosage of Salbutamol being required to produce the same benefit as found in the placebo group.

This may explain the very common situation found among asthma patients that, year after year, they are being prescribed increasing doses of asthma medication. The dose never seems to be reduced. The only known way of reducing symptoms of asthma and thereby reducing the need for medication is to re-train the breathing by use of the Buteyko breathing re-training exercises and strategies.

What do I do about my asthma drugs when I am on a Buteyko course?

Bronchodilators (reliever medication such as Ventolin) are taken on an as-needed basis, according to Asthma UK guidelines. During a Buteyko course and in the weeks following, you use as much bronchodilator as you need – if you don’t need your reliever, due to the Buteyko exercises, then you don’t use it. Steroids should never be stopped unless under the guidance of your doctor, who, when the time comes, will be very happy to reduce/stop drugs you no longer need.

A Buteyko course is a very good investment in your health. You are learning strategies and techniques that will help to get you healthy and keep you in good health for the rest of your life. Incidentally, those people who pay for their own prescriptions often find that they have saved the course fee within a year in prescription charges alone.

How will it change my life?

Correct breathing is essential to good health. Optimising your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels will provide great health benefits. If you are an asthmatic, a Buteyko breathing course will give you a better understanding of what causes asthma and how the drugs work, as well as the ability to reduce your dependency on drugs. Many thousands of asthmatics, and those with other breathing related disorders, have experienced remarkable improvement of their condition with this method. It offers a quality of life previously thought impossible.

Can the Buteyko method be taught to Children?

Yes. It can be taught to children as young as three years old. The earlier we learn how to breathe correctly, the less we will rely drugs with known side effects. Please see the section Buteyko for Children.

What about my doctor?

The Buteyko Method teaches the importance of breathing through the nose, how to practice simple breathing exercises and adopt lifestyle guidelines aimed at promoting good health. You are advised not to alter medications without the consent of a registered physician. Tell your doctor that you are taking the course so that he/she may monitor your progress. Most doctors are pleased to see their patients’ reliance on drugs of any kind reduced or diminished.

What are my next steps?

The first step is a one-2-one consultation, in person or on the phone. If you haven’t yet made up your mind about taking a course, you can call or email us to arrange your first session. If, after hearing about how it all works, you decide to continue, you may make your course fee payment on the second day of the course. After two or three days even the most sceptical of people find that their asthma symptoms have noticeably improved.