The Buteyko Method
The Buteyko Method was developed in the 1950s by Russian doctor Konstantin Buteyko. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have practised his method to help a variety of conditions including snoring, sleep apnoea and insomnia.
As a young doctor, Buteyko spent many months sitting at sick patients’ bedsides, observing their state of health, and noticed that patients’ breathing became more intense as their health deteriorated. As a person’s illnesses advanced, he noted that breathing movements from the chest and stomach increased, breathing became more audible, breathing rate became faster, and that the patients sighed and breathed more frequently through their mouths.
These observations raised a fundamental question for Buteyko: did his patients’ illnesses contributeto their heavy breathing or did their heavy breathing contribute to their illnesses?
At the time, Buteyko suffered from severe high blood pressure that continued to worsen. Based on his findings, he experimented with slowing down his breathing so that less air entered into his lungs. Reducing breathing to the point that there is a tolerable feeling of air shortage helps to activate the bodies relaxation response, and this is likely to be the reason that Dr Buteyko normalised his blood pressure without the need for medication.
Over the following decades, Buteyko researched the connection between breathing habits and blood pressure extensively, and operated a dedicated laboratory to further his findings. His breathing method was brought to the West in 1990 and is now taught in many countries to correct a variety of conditions and symptoms. The Buteyko Method has become a popular technique for significantly improving asthma control, and in recent years there has been a major shift in awareness of the benefits of the method to treat sleep disorders, including insomnia, snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.