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Buteyko breathing therapy

What is Buteyko ( pronounced Bu-tay-ko) ?

Buteyko is a concept of breathing exercises pioneered in the 1950s by the late Russian Physician, Dr Konstantin Buteyko, developed to treat patients with asthma.

Today, Buteyko breathing therapy (BBT), offers a complimentary package of treatment. BBT focuses on a structured programme of simple exercises in voluntary breath control, along with advice regarding cough control, exercise, nutrition and medication use.

It is used in the management of asthma and other breathing disorders including hyperventilation, panic attacks and COPD. The British Thoracic Society guidelines of May 2008 recognised the value of Buteyko techniques in treating asthma used alongside conventional medicine.

The efficacy of BBT is also supported by the results of scientific trials which demonstrate significant reduction in the use of reliever medication.1,2,3,4,5

The early stages of an asthma attack is associated with hyperventilation( over breathing) and cough, resulting in the drying, cooling and traumatising of the airways which increases bronchospasm further
Buteyko techniques teach avoidance of the initial hyperventilation stage of an asthma attack.

By restoring a nasal breathing pattern a substance called nitric oxide is released from the nasal sinus in to the airways: this is a strong bronchodilator, helping to open up the airways.

Principles of Treatment
Breathing through the nose versus the mouth is encouraged along with relaxed diaphragm (abdominal) rather than upper chest breathing.

  • A 21 day breathing exercise plan, lasting 20 minutes two to three times a day during the initial few weeks, reducing once symptoms improve.
  • Cough control
  • Option to use Micropore to partially tape the mouth at night to encourage nose breathing during sleep
  • Increase general physical exercise along with breath control
  • Used alongside conventional medicine advising bronchodilator only when required for control of symptoms with the continued regular use of prescribed inhaled steroids.

Buteyko techniques have been shown to be safe. The results of clinical trials show a significant reduction in medication use in groups of patients treated with Buteyko 1,2,3,4,5

Clinical experience has shown that Buteyko techniques can reduce asthma symptoms, prevent panic attacks, stop coughing and improve sleep.

For further information go to


1. Bowler S, et al (1998) ‘Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial.’ MJA;169:575-578

2. Cooper S, et al (2003) ‘Effect of two breathing exercises ( Buteyko and Pranayama) in asthma: a randomized controlled trial.’ Thorax ;58;674-679

3. Cowie RL,et al (2007)’A randomised controlled trial of the Buteyko technique as an adjunct to conventional management of Asthma’ Respiratory medicine 102:726-732

4. McHugh P, et al (2003) ‘Buteyko Breathing technique for asthma: an effective intervention’ New Zealand medical Journal 116;1187

5. Slader CA, et al(2006) Double blind randomised
controlled trial of two different breathing techniques in of asthma’ Thorax 61:651-656