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.