Relaxation Response to ""switch off"" my asthma attacks

For about a year now I've been using the Relaxation Response whenever I have an asthma attack and this has led me to not need to use my inhaler anymore. I've had asthma since the age of 2 and have tried all sorts of alternatives/complementary medicine (acupuncture, Buteyko, diets) and have not had much success. BUT, after reading a book on the Relaxation Response by Dr Herbert Benson I used his technique whenever I had an attack. It took a few months for me to actually register but I'd realised I hadn't needed to take my Bricanyl inhaler for several weeks (previously took it daily). I still take my inhaler with me everywhere I go but never use it. I realised that this info may be of help to others. I had never previously thought my asthma was stress related but I think it is more the case that I don't typically breath in the most ideal way, particularly when I'm stressed. The Relaxation Response probably helps me calm and normalise my breathing.

10 Replies

  • Hi Emma,

    Just read your post & im intrigued.

    Is it basically a breathing technique which is working for you, or is there more to it?

    Either way, im curious enough to check out the library later today.



  • It's just about making sure you breathe in a regular pattern: in and then out. I've actually noticed my breathing is definitely not usually like that unless I concentrate on it. I hold my breath at times and then take short breaths and then kind puff out my breath (hard to describe). Here is a link describing how to elicit the Relaxation Response

    I initially used it for stress and not for asthma. I noticed once or twice that asthma attacks disappeared while doing it. Then I used it for asthma attacks (when I had the time) and it worked with some persistence most of the time. Sometimes I'd lose patience and feel panicky and want to grab my inhaler but it usually helped, much to my surprise. Now it works all the time. I don't see it as a miracle cure but as a way to control the asthma. This has been going on for a year or so now and I thought I should tell people. None of my GPs have ever suggested anything to me other than taking medication.

  • Hi Emma

    No joy at library re book,

    But thanks for link.

    Will check it out


  • Books on Relaxation Response

    I also couldn't find it at the library. I instead bought a couple from Amazon: Timeless Healing and The Relaxation Revolution. Neither of them actually cover asthma much but helps in understanding the process more. There are a number of studies on scholar google looking at asthma and the relaxation response.

  • I'm glad this has worked for you! I know I tried a meditation class (8 weeks) and failed miserably. I was in the middle of a massive asthma attack and it was kind of LOL in retrospect because I would be doing my relaxed breathing, and would be getting chest pain, and the first thing that would come up for me would be ""help! I can't breathe."" Over and over again.

    So I believe in relaxation exercises, and am so glad that they're helping, but also had to laugh,because at that point I was so beyond anything but really strong meds helping...that it was kind of pathetic.

    So glad you carry your inhaler as back up that you hopefully will need very seldom.


  • @BeeThere: Were they telling you to breathe in particular way in the meditation class. That is why I think Buteyko did not work for me. I felt like I had to breathe in a way that was not natural and it did not work for me. With the Relaxation Response I m

  • It was more the relaxed breathing...and I do find it helpful sometimes. I'm a bit of an odd bird though, so don't worry about me. I was actually breathing food into my airway, so was basically stuck getting pneumonia over and over. The one that happened during the meditation class went for 4 months of fun. Grrr.

    But I am pleased that you have found this helpful, and do believe that it works...just have found for certain illness for me it doesn't do enough, if you know what I mean.

    So I'm glad you have your inhaler, and hope you never have to use it! I hope you don't mind me sharing, it's just I was told by so many doctors that meditation would fix my problem...and I kept trying...and it really didn't. I really wanted it to, but it didn't. So I just have to laugh about it!


  • hi ive tried this method and although i do find 'relaxation breathing' helps it doesnt do anything when im having an attack-and ive tried many times. its great that it helps some people do without meds but because my asthma is set off by almost anything and everything and stress is only one small cause of my attacks, its not suitable for me x

  • Sorry to hear it didn't work. I may have made it sound simpler and quicker than it actually was. It took a while, around 10 mins for an attack and a few months before it became something I could rely on. I hope you find something else that works.

  • Hi Emma,

    That's O.K. I'm glad you found something that worked, and thanks for sharing.


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