Buteyko breathing against asthma

People with asthma and other breathing problems generally take one or more medications to relieve shortness of breath. However, learning to breathe in a different way through the Buteyko method can help these people breathe more easily, often eliminating the need for medication. The breathing frequency per minute should be reduced from 15 to 6 per minute, exhaling longer than inhaling. This changes the ratio between carbon dioxide and oxygen and stimulates the parasympathetic system.

  • General
  • Buteyko’s theory
  • Buteyko for asthma
  • How does the Buteyko method work?


Buteyko therapists learn to optimize breathing through breathing exercises, so that the value of carbon dioxide in the blood does not become too low. This method involves inhaling and exhaling through the nose and the exercises are easy to learn and can be applied anywhere and in any position. However, it is preferable, at least initially, to perform this while sitting, pursing the lips (this will reduce breathing) and keeping the back straight. Inhale for two seconds, wait for two seconds and then wait again at the end of the exhalation to inhale again. Finally, be cautious when consuming animal proteins and coffee.

Buteyko’s theory

Buteyko assumes that deep breathing ensures that too much carbon dioxide is extracted from the body. This means that oxygen is less able to reach all cells in the body. The body will try to prevent this excretion of carbon dioxide by, for example, blocking the nose or constricting the bronchi. Buyteko therefore wants to prevent too much carbon dioxide from being lost when exhaling. This is because carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide) plays an important role in various processes in the body. For example, a deficiency of carbon dioxide changes the activity of enzymes and vitamins and the acidity of the blood.

Breathe deeply and still lack oxygen

The oxygen is also poorly separated from our blood cells and has difficulty reaching the cells of the organs. A paradoxical situation arises when the blood is maximally supplied with oxygen through deep breathing, but the cells of our organs suffer from a shortage of oxygen. The greater the oxygen shortage, the deeper people breathe, which only increases the oxygen shortage. The body compensates for this by making the blood flow faster, which increases blood pressure. The nose can also become blocked, causing polyps to develop and the bronchi and blood vessels to narrow. In short, poor blood circulation and mucus formation occur, all with the aim of increasing the value of carbon dioxide. By breathing less often and less deeply, these negative effects on the body are reversed and even chronic diseases can disappear within three to six months.

Buteyko for asthma

Buteyko sees asthma as a defense mechanism of the body against incorrect breathing. Asthma is the body’s desperate attempt to keep valuable carbon dioxide inside by narrowing the openings for its outflow. All asthmatics breathe too deeply and too much. When they learn to breathe more calmly, their asthma disappears (*).

As soon as people with asthma start breathing more , for example during sports, the symptoms of shortness of breath become worse. According to Buteyko, this can be explained because people then breathe faster and therefore lose more carbon dioxide. There are many testimonials on the internet from people with asthma who have started following the Buteyko method. Many were able to reduce their bronchodilator medications or even stop taking them altogether. And often within a fairly short period of time, according to the stories within a few weeks.

How does the Buteyko method work?

Buteyko works with a control pause (CP). The breath is held after exhalation. Then count the number of seconds you can keep this up. Please note that you should avoid having to inhale very deeply afterwards, but simply continue breathing (through the nose). This control pause is often only ten or slightly more seconds in the beginning. A Buteyko therapist aims to increase the CP through breathing exercises. So you can hold your breath longer. The aim is to retain more carbon dioxide, so that oxygen can be better transported to all cells in the body. Mouth breathing is also seen as hyperventilation, breathing too much. Breathing through the nose is therefore a prerequisite.

Let it also be clear that the Buteyko method does not only work for people with asthma. It is claimed that optimizing breathing works for many different (chronic) diseases, including allergies. In the Netherlands, the Buteyko method can only be learned with the help of a Buteyko therapist. And these sessions are quite expensive. But it is well worth the money if it improves breathing and you no longer need asthma medication. If you want to try it yourself and your English is reasonably good, take a look at the following site, www.normalbreathing.com/learn.php. It contains a mountain of information and also exercises to teach you healthier breathing. There are also several books for sale in the store that explain how to breathe better.

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