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Introduction

Why Buteyko?

Being a long-term asthmatics myself, and having an asthmatic son, I had looked long and hard for answers to the problem. In conventional medicine I had put my faith in the doctors only to find that we were taking a variety of drugs in ever-increasing doses, but I found no answers.
Anguished and annoyed by orthodox `treatments’ offered, I resorted to alternative treatments such as naturopathy, homeopathy and acupuncture. They were sometimes accompanied by expensive vitamins, minerals and diets. Our asthma was still not being helped.

As my son’s asthma became increasingly worse, to the point where he was taking oral prednisone frequently, we tried Buteyko in despiration. After the first night I no longer needed Ventolin and my son no longer needed his nebuliser on day two. This inspired my wife and I to train as Buteyko practitioners and we have now treated over 4000 asthmatics in New Zealand.

We believe that both conventional and alternative medicine have let asthmatics down, by not looking at the underlying cause of asthma — hyperventilation. Breathing is an automatic activity, like your heart beating. Buteyko is designed to teach you how to break free of the asthma cycle and to work on the one factor in the cycle that can be controlled by you — your breathing rate. The exercises are simple but require commitment and effort.

As a practitioner I have seen the method mastered by children as young as three years old and adults as old as 89. The techniques are simple but faultless.»Russell Stark
Director of Buteyko Asthma Management
Buteyko Institute of Breathing and Health Executive Member

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Introduction

History of Buteyko

In the late 1940’s, a Russian medical student, Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko made an observation which has changed the treatment and lifestyle of thousands of asthmatics. He noticed that patients in the acute respiratory ward became more ill when their breathing rate increased. He also noticed that those who reduced their breathing rate began to recover. This particular fact had been noted long before, but it is the subsequent research of Buteyko, and the application of his observation, which has led to the development of the breathing techniques that bear his name.
For more than thirty years Dr. Buteyko researched hyperventilation and the effect it has on the human body. Buteyko linked hyperventilation to several conditions, including asthma, and set about developing techniques to normalise breathing patterns, reversing symptoms and lessening the need for medication. Buteyko’s research describes why people hyperventilate, why it continues to self-perpetuate, and finally how to reverse the cycle. By applying the fundamental laws of physiology, biochemistry, biology, anatomy and general science, Buteyko discovered the cause of asthma. On average, asthmatics breathe two or three times more than the normal accepted breathing rate. Buteyko developed the method over the next thirty years, the result being an effective, drug-free method for controlling asthma.

Initially treated with a great deal of skepticism by Soviet authorities, Buteyko was unable to get his method accepted as a viable alternative to allopathic treatment of asthma. However, Buteyko’s research over a number of decades, and the possibility of a great reduction in medication costs for a strained Soviet health budget enabled him to have the method accepted as a mainstream treatment for asthma. It is reputed that the technique has been successfully taught to over one million citizens of the states that made up the Soviet Union.

Buteyko came to Australia in 1990 and was introduced to New Zealand in 1994, by Russell and Jennifer Stark. The Starks own and manage Buteyko New Zealand. Courses have been held throughout New Zealand, with more than 4000 people attending since the first course in Napier.

In 1997 the Buteyko New Zealand programme was put into a format capable of being delivered anywhere in the world. This programme is simple and easy to follow as well as being extremely effective.

Buteyko Asthma Management is also responsible for training of Buteyko Practitioners, with training courses offered in New Zealand and overseas. Trainee practitioners are taught the Buteyko Breathing Techniques according to the Buteyko Institute Method, and receive three detailed manuals compiled by Jennifer Stark.

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Introduction

What will Buteyko do for me?

Buteyko is about self-care. It enables you to take an active role in managing your condition. Buteyko has no negative side-effects and it does not require ever- increasing doses of medication to stay in control. It removes almost entirely the symptoms of asthma and allows you to take charge of your life. The control you experience means you:
are able to participate in activities of your choice
“I can now enjoy more situations — a night out, for example, than I would have in the past.” Paul Willoughby

miss much less work or school because of asthma symptoms
“We are grateful for Buteyko for seeing the quality of life improve so much for Clare. To see her enjoying schoolwork and free of the tiredness and stress generated by Asthma is wonderful.” Catherine Sandbrook

are free of symptoms day and night — including sleeping through the night
“The improvement to my sleep through the knowledge that I gained at my Buteyko course was incredible. I now sleep as I haven’t done in years. It was worth every penny!” Paula Sargent

need emergency visits or hospitalisation for asthma a lot less
“It has been wonderful for me. I have only had one cold in the last year and it didn’t even go to my chest. Before Buteyko I seemed to be ill most of the time. I had been to hospital twice in the weeks before starting the course and not since.” Yvonne Benson

reduce the need for asthma medications “Since completing the course in September 1996 I have never needed to use my Ventolin — not even once.” William Henderson (4/11/98)
can enjoy sport more
“When Benjamin completed the Buteyko course many people commented on the tremendous improvement in his rugby. We had thought that he was a bit frightened of the action and hung back but after Buteyko there was no holding him. We realise now that he had no breath and energy to keep up.” Alison Gibb

are empowered
The Buteyko method has been excellent for me because I have lost the fear of having an asthma attack as I am able to control my breathing.» Bill Emery.

save money
“My husband remarked the other day that I had not bought any medication for Asthma this year” Jennifer Keenan (31/10/98)

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Introduction

Asthma Control Quiz

1. Common asthma symptoms include: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Do these symptoms cause you to wake at night or bother you when waking?
Yes
No
2. In the past few months, has your asthma kept you from work or school?
Yes
No
3. In the past few months, has your asthma caused you to seek urgent care at an ER, clinic or hospital?
Yes
No
4. Do you feel tight-chested, wheezy or cough during and after exercise?
Yes
No

5. Do you use your bronchodilator medicine more than three times a week? (a bronchodilator is the inhaler you use during asthma attacks to relieve symptoms)
Yes
No
6. Do you ever avoid any of the following situations because you’re afraid of aggravating your asthma:

visiting a friend’s house (because of allergens)
going to places with strong smells
walking in windy or cold weather
going outside on polluted or smoggy days
going to places where there is a lot of
cigarette smoke
laughing or feeling strong emotions
Yes
No
7. Do you have or are you concerned about the side effects from your asthma medications?
Yes
No
8. Do you feel that your asthma is becoming increasingly worse as time goes on?
Yes
No
9. Are you satisfied with the way your asthma is managed?
Yes
No

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Introduction

The Programme

The Buteyko method is a programme of education and simple breathing exercises that allows asthmatics to control and reduce the frequency of their asthma symptoms. The method encompasses the Buteyko breathing exercises, as well as a comprehensive description of asthma and how to manage it.
The method is taught in courses spread over five consecutive days, each session lasting approximately one and a half hours. The Buteyko breathing exercises are only part of the course. Considerable time is devoted to the safe management of asthma, the necessity of correctly using medication and an understanding of the physiology of asthma. The course is also available in a home education kit.

Buteyko reduces asthma symptoms and drug dependency in four ways:
Using special breathing exercises to normalise breathing patterns which reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Monitoring the condition accurately and using the Buteyko Method when it is becoming worse.

By practicing a natural and effective method to overcoming attacks.

Learning about what your medication actually does, and how to use the smallest amount for the greatest effect.

Who can learn Buteyko
Buteyko is for all people of all ages. Children as young as three years have successfully mastered the method. Adults into their late eighties have also learnt Buteyko. Adults and children learn different exercises, with teenagers usually learning both. It is necessary for those under eighteen years old to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who attends free of charge.

Buteyko is suitable for asthmatics ranging from very mild to the most severe. The Buteyko programme is adjusted according to the severity of your condition. This means that asthmatics who use one puff of reliever a month right through to those using nebulisers every day can gain improved health from the method.

The Practising Buteyko section explores the programme in-depth.