buteyko breathing

my name is ben alsford, im 17 years old and ever since i was little i have wanted to join the armed forces as an officer. however a month back my carreers officer found out that i had asthma. i was told that i needed to have 4 years without medication before i could join. i have been looking high and low for an alternative treatment to astma and i found the Buteyko Breathing technique. this probably isnt new to any of u, but i am amazed how well it is working. ever since i have been concentrating on nose breathing i have found that i do not need my salbutamol releiver.

17 Replies

  • Hi Ben,

    I've been looking into it, and pretty impressed with the results, myself. Have you gone on a course or are you doing it from a book?

  • i do this

    Hello my local costas has been teaching me this and my ventolin uses has dropped loads my neb only gets used when really bad so thats a mega big + instead of up to 4 x aday it dose need alot of working on and is time comsuming ment to be done 3x day but i told physio from the start i could only do 2x aday coz trying to fit it round shift work so not the normal 9-5 ;)

    I try using the breathing excises first before doing reliver meds and mostly it works.

    Medication wise i'm still on it but my use of steorid tabs and mega loads of ventolin is loads better . Not every were dose it but I think that it's been pushed coz medics are getting the gitters about long team meds. The taping the mouth at night takes abit to get used to :)

    But it's well worth trying so ask at local costas at there phsiyo

    If u can get on a course go for it love smiler

  • Please please please only try this with the agreement of your asthma management team (Cons, GP asthma nurse, physio). You must be certain it is right for you and it must be done under- as Smilers is - close supervision.


  • dito Bex and be aware that it doesnt work for severe ashmatics?

  • This isn't something I practice and I want to add to the words of caution. From what I've read about the research that's been done into the Buteyko Effect it doesn't actually improve your asthma. Although patients can feel better their lung function tests don't actually improve, which I think is a dangerous state of affairs as it means that you've lost the ability to tell how ill you actually are. As I say, this isn't something I practice so I don't know of this through experience, but I have read about it and seen tv programmes about it.

  • Ben, just a quick note re the PM you sent me, it says I can't reply as you've opted not to receive private messages, so it's not that I'm ignoring you!

  • Ditto the warnings below.

    We know of at least one severe asthmatic who has been hospitalised by trying to follow the Buteyko method.

    However, it sounds as if Ben is - in the grand scheme of things - a mild asthmatic, and there is no reason why the Buteyko method can't help those who only normally need a little bit of an assist via medication.

    As has been said, anyone with asthma - no matter how mild it may appear - should seek the opinion of your GP/consultant first.

  • Hi Ben,

    As an officer in the Army who suffers from asthma, let me give you my advice. My asthma had been dormant for years, only resurfacing now I'm in my mid-thirties, so I was lucky to go through training and a number of operational tours without any problems. I now suffer in the winter but am practically perfect during the spring and summer months.

    Even the mildest asthma attack brought on by cold weather or dust or mould spores (and you come across plenty of those triggers during your military service) will effect the way you operate. The forces simply cannot afford for serviceman to become liabilities because of their health. Imagine how you feel during an asthma attack, and then imagine being told to pick up all your kit and run. Not much fun!

    I am confined to a desk job until I get better - although the way I feel at the moment, that could be a while!

    I hope you become clear for long enough to pass the medical, but just don't put yourself in a position where you'll become a danger to yourself or your soldiers.



  • Hi Ben. My experiences with Buteyko are that it helps me with my asthma and I'm pleased to have incorporated it into my life. I will, however, always have an asthmatic response to certain things including stress, cold air, chemicals, pollutants and sudden exertion etc. Buteyko can reduce the severity of symptoms but I think if you're prone to an asthmatic response, then that is the way your body will behave. Buteyko may mean you having to stop & be calm and still for a period of time and this may well interfere and be in conflict with your duties. By all means explore the Buyetko method carefully but always have your reliever medication with you and accept your asthma as a part of yourself.

  • definately worth a try

    Hiya Ben,

    I had pretty severe asthma ever since I was a child, i think i was taken to hospital the first time when I was on holiday in portugal at the age of 3! As a teenager I had the kind of asthma that you just don't grow out of. When I was about 16/17 years old I was taking a whole basket of inhalers and occasional pred ... I felt really awful.

    I was so fed up that I was willing to try anything! So I learned Buteyko from a book and really practiced it for a few weeks. I couldn't believe how much it helped me - it _really_ helped. Six years later and i'm so much better. I'm still taking the occasional ventolin but it is nothing compared to how miserable I was before.

    I know other people of all ages who have tried Buteyko and had great success. However, as has been mentioned you should be fully informed about it before you try it and make sure you don't stop taking your medication without your doctors permission.

  • Im going to try this buteyko course its well worth a go as i go through 2-4 ventolin inhalers every 2/3 months on using them when i need to. I went to a buteyko health and breathing meeting and all the evidence given seems legit and the science they demonstrated into this all fits the gaps and explains how asthma is caused and how your body reacts. I tried one method they gave me about sleeping at night and it works! since that evening i havnt used my inhaler at night or woken up unable to breathe. Ive done some research into this and countries like Russia and Austrailia back this method 100% and note people in russia use this as 1st line treatment for asthmatics. As someone mentioned an asthmatic goign to hospital over this....it happens even with meds! and if you all knew the damages inhalers are doing to your lungs i think youll will try anything to avoid using inhalers. If it works well begin to chop the £270 million a year NHS costs for inhalers. il try this buteyko method and il write up something in about a years time and keep a diary of what me and my mums progress and let you all know

  • *sighs*

    Do tell me about the damage inhalers are doing to my lungs....

  • It was me who mentioned an asthmatic going to hospital over this.

    What I meant was they were hospitalised DIRECTLY AS A RESULT OF TRYING THE BUTEYKO METHOD (sorry for the caps; can't do bold). I am well aware that meds don't keep all asthmatics out of hospital!

    And as to its use in Russia... This PubMed abstract makes interesting reading:


    The opening line says quite a lot: ""To address the recent rise in asthma morbidity and mortality in Russia""...

  • This again..... <sigh>

    Thank you very much for your useful comments, Steve - even if you did shout... ;)

    I also know of a case of an asthmatic who was admitted to ICU and intubated, having previously had reasonable control, after starting the Buteyko technique.

    Buteyko focuses on overbreathing (hyperventilating) as a root cause for asthma. For those asthmatics who hyperventilate, the technique MAY be useful to try and address this - although I think there is inadequate evidence of this at the moment. I don't believe that it has any direct disease-modifying effect, though. There is a small amount of evidence that Buteyko reduces symptoms and beta agonist use, but no robust evidence that it alters lung function as measured by spirometry. This to me is rather worrying, as it suggests the possibility that Buteyko merely alters one's perception of asthma symptoms, rather than disease activity - this is potentially dangerous, and so-called 'poor perceivers' of airway narrowing have higher rates of hospital admission and death.

    Aside from this, the real danger comes when the Buteyko technique is used by those who don't over-breath. Some asthmatics, especially at the severe end of the spectrum, may actually not hyperventilate at all, even to the degree which is appropriate in an asthma attack to maintain oxygen levels, and may even underbreath instead. Asthmatics who do this will often get high CO2 levels during an attack and may have been intubated for asthma. For these people, practising techniques designed to reduce hyperventilation and raise the CO2 could potentially increase their already high CO2 to an even greater level - if it gets too high it can potentially precipitate confusion, coma and even respiratory arrest. Not good.

    I'm delighted for anyone who has found Buteyko helpful, but please, please, seek advice from your doctor before trying it, keep taking your prescribed medication, don't forget to always be vigilant for symptoms and to take your reliever with you where ever you go, keep checking your peak flows and remember that Buteyko may just be masking your condition rather than treating it.

    Personally I'm going to avoid it like the plague.

    And as Cathy said, comments about the damage inhalers are doing to our lungs are not helpful (and not evidence based, either). Many of us on here have no choice but to take inhalers and even stronger medication in order to stay out of hospital or even to stay alive.

    Okay, I'll stop ranting now :)

    Take care all

    Em H

  • I am just thinking about the harm I will do to my lungs if I dont use my inhalers and nebs. Heck no actually I don't want to go there. There won't be any damage cos I won't be alive to do the damage.

    As far as I am concern if the National Heart and Lung Hospital say no then it is a very definte no.

    I can only re-itterate please please don't try this unless supervised by your resp cons.


  • I would be very interested to read any evidence concerning the ratio of male to female recipients who improve by using buteyko breathing strategies.

    Inflammation of the lungs, as is common with ALL breathing problems, whether temporary, permanent, or a mixture of both MUST be the prime focus in achieving control, before ANY sort of other supportive strategies....

  • hey

    Ben i tottally sympathise with you i am currently undertaking 6th form but wanted to join the TA alongside with a view to getting a bursary from the forces for Uni after, it was also a life long dream to join the forces just like you i consulted a careers advisor to hear the same thing, i got home and sat at my desk in tears for a good half hour, i had never realised how life changing asthma really is until then and how many jobs i am restricted too

    it sucks ass



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