Asthma UK community forum

Buteyko recognised by the British Thoracic Society

I know quite a few people on here are aware of the Buteyko method - but I thought I should mention this news release as I think it could be quite big news and it hasn't been covered by Asthma UK's news feed.

Basically, the new 2008 version of the British Guidelines for the Management of Asthma (which are what your doctors and nurses use to decide how bad your asthma is and what to prescribe!!) have endorsed Buteyko, granting permission for GPs and asthma nurses to recommend it to people as a complementary therapy for the treatment of symptoms.

Quote from the article:

""The new guidelines grade the research on Buteyko as a 'B' classification - indicating that there are high quality clinical trials supporting the efficacy of the therapy in reducing both asthma symptoms and bronchiodilator usage. No other complementary therapy has been endorsed by this body for the treatment of asthma.""

I know they spelled bronchodilator wrong, but I would think this is big news.

Buteyko really helped me, but I would be very interested to hear other people's experiences with it (good or bad) - particularly who taught them, where they heard about it, or what went right or wrong for them.

12 Replies

Indeed, and the extract directly from the BTS Guidelines themselves reads thus:



""The principle of yoga and Buteyko breathing technique is to control hyperventilation by lowering respiratory frequency. A Cochrane review of breathing exercises found no change in routine measures of lung function. One study showed a small reduction in airway responsiveness to histamine utilising pranayama, a form of yoga breathing exercise.

""The Buteyko breathing technique specifically focuses on control of hyperventilation and any ensuing hypocapnia. Four clinical trials suggest benefits in terms of reduced symptoms and bronchodilator usage but no effect on lung function.

""Evidence grade B: Buteyko breathing technique may be considered to help patients to control the symptoms of asthma.""

However, the introductory paragraph to the section reads:


Successive reviews have concluded that the evidence to support any recommendations on complementary or alternative medicine is lacking. It is recognised that a lack of evidence does not necessarily mean that treatment is ineffective and high quality research, conducted in the same rigorous and objective fashion as that for conventional therapy, is required.""

Basically - more research required. It ever was thus. Hopefully one day we will have stronger more robust trials stating yay or nay. In the meantime - as ever, discuss with your doctor or asthma nurse before commencing a programme of breathing exercises, as in some people it may cause problems.


I worry about any intervention which reduces symptoms reported and bronchodilator use, but doesn't have any impact on lung function. To me, that suggests that what is actually being affected is *perception* of symptoms - ie, you are still tight-chested and have the same degree of bronchoconstriction, but are less aware of it. This is potentially dangerous - indeed, lack of perception of symptoms is one of the things that has been implicated in increasing the risk of asthma death.

Personally, as someone who has reduced perception of symptoms anyway, and as someone who is thought to HYPOventilate and be prone to HYPERcapnia (high CO2), rather than HYPERventilate and be prone to HYPOcapnia (low CO2) I will be avoiding Buteyko and similar interventions with a very large barge pole.

As Cathbear says, the key thing is that anyone who is considering any form of breathing exercises discusses it carefully with their doctor or asthma nurse first, and learns from a reputable healthcare professional under close supervision. There is a perception that things like breathing exercises, even if they don't help, 'won't do any harm' - sadly, for some people, this is just not true.

Hopefully there will be more research done on this topic, and it will be interesting to see the results.

Em H


EmH, I know there are some here who use it and find it helpful, I understand they have all been taught by people who know what they are doing and they have been taught it with the approval and advice of their resp cons. It is certainly not something that anyone should try without the approval of their consultant and they must make sure taught by someone who knows what they are doing.



I have just done a bit of web hunting on this and frankly the stuff on the web scares me silly on the 1st google page I got several sites that say using your inhaler is wrong as does not correct the problem, which it says is low CO2 and that buteyko is the correct way to sort out your breathing. Please please please people do not use any of these self help sites or send of self help DVD's or books if you think it might help you talk to your consultant do not stop using your prescribed medication without the approval of your respiratory team.

Please admins having seen what you find on the 1st page of google could you put a warning up to make sure that people realise they must only try this with the approval of their medical team.





Bex, I sort of thought that that was what Cathbear and I had just done!

You are quite right - Buteyko and other forms of breathing exercise are not suitable for everyone and can be unsafe and lead to a dangerous deterioration in your condition if done inappropriately or incorrectly. You should only attempt these sorts of exercises after discussing it with your doctor or asthma nurse and under the direct supervision of a competent, trained healthcare professional.

In particular, no-one should stop their medication, inhaled or otherwise, without discussing it with their doctor, and breathing exercises should be seen as complementary too, not an alternative to, conventional medication.

Em H

(forum moderator/doctor)


I think as with anywhere on the internet there are ""crackpot"" sites, like so many that claim to be able to ""cure"" asthma if you give them about thirty dollars to download this amazing e-book that they have written.

I do know of people who find Buteyko useful for helping to control their breathing during an attack, but these people have been taught by specialist respiratory physios. As Em says, if you're interested ask a health professional - but please don't be tempted to try to self-teach.


Great replies all. I'm certainly in agreement that anyone wanting to try Buteyko should ask their GP first - especially if their asthma is excitable.

I'm hopeful that this announcement will aid further studies and hopefully sort out what it is that works best and what the best ways to approach NHS-style treatments are (in the same way your doctor can send you for acupuncture for example).

I agree though that there probably isn't a properly regulated body for Buteyko teaching - so be careful. The Prince's Trust links to this though: who list around 100 healthcare professionals trained as Buteyko teachers and I learned from one of these.


I agree that Buteyko is not for everyone. After consulting my doc and asthma nurse I enrolled onto a course by a qualified instuctor and within 2 days was on ITU, it didn't suit me. However, there were people on the course who felt it helped.

As with all treatments, discuss it first with yoiur doc and beaware of deterioration in your condition, if so stop and get help.

Truly x


'...especially if their asthma is excitable.'

I love your terminology, Xephos! From now on, my asthma is not brittle, difficult or severe - it's excitable!

Em H


LOL how very funny, I look forward to the day we are seeing the excitable asthma diagnosis on Sean's next clinic letter :-)


or how about over enthusiastic asthma ;)


After the first rush of morning excitement I am pleased to say my asthma calmed down. Sadly this evening it must have got over-tired cos it is being all excitable again :)



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