Friday, September 16, 2011

Could This Mean the End of the Inhaler?

from The Daily Mail UK, 16th May 16 1996
by Jessica Fisher, Good Health article.

New breathing technique aims to replace drugs.

After being warned by the government to stay at home to avoid the recent bad air pollution, Britain’s 3 million asthma sufferers will be eager to hear of a treatment that has just started in this country.
The Buteyko method teaches asthmatics to control their symptoms using a breathing technique, rather than conventional drugs.
Among the first British patients was Jonathan Aitken, Treasury Chief Secretary, who was treated by the method’s senior practitioner, Christopher Drake. Mr Drake has bought the Buteyko Breath Reconditioning Technique from Australia, where it is undergoing the first clinical trials.
A late-onset asthmatic, Mr Aitken had for the past 5 years suffered typical asthma symptoms, including attacks of coughing and breathlessness. Since he started practising the Buteyko method three months ago, his symptoms have become minimal and he no longer uses any reliever medication. ‘I have tried plenty of treatments, but this is the only one that has really worked,’ he says. ‘I think it is a remarkable one that could help many people’.
One in 20 British adults suffers from asthma, a chronic and incurable disease affecting the airways. Its prevalence is increasing worldwide, and in the UK it causes 7 million days off work and kills someone every four hours.
The primary cause is unknown, but once the condition develops – which can be at any age – symptoms can be triggered be secondary factors such as cold air, exercise, allergens and stress, which cause the airways to contract.
Most asthmatics rely on conventional medicine to control symptoms. Preventive corticosteroids act slowly to reduce inflammation, and bronchodilators, such as Ventolin, open the airways and bring instant relief during an attack. Severe asthmatics may be prescribed steroid tablets.
Asthma prescriptions cost the NHS (UK pounds) 350m a year (a figure which has doubled over the past decade), yet many specialists and organisations such as the National Asthma Campaign believe there is no real alternative.
Mr. Drake, however, is critical of conventional drugs because they treat the symptoms and not the cause. The Buteyko method is based on the findings of a Russian scientist 40 years ago, that asthma is caused by a simple but fundamental and unrecognised disorder: long-term over-breathing.
‘Asthmatics are chronically hyperventilating all the time’ says Mr Drake. Imagine if our body temperature was five times what it should be...we’d be dead. Well, some asthmatics breathe five times more than they should.’
This, he explains, has wide repercussions within the body, the most significant being a loss of carbon dioxide, the body’s own bronchodilator, which ultimately leads to the symptoms of asthma.
The Buteyko method uses (reduced) breathing to reverse the condition. Carbon dioxide levels are restored and the symptoms disappear.
The method is simple but it takes commitment to change the breathing habits of a lifetime.
‘Generally, after a couple of days people can learn to control their asthma attacks without bronchodilators.’ says Mr. Drake. ‘After a few more days, attacks are reduced and, if the technique is maintained, patients can become asymptomatic.’
Mr Drake stresses that the method is quite safe as medication is only reduced as symptoms improve. ‘The breathing technique acts like Ventolin, as a bronchodilator. You only take headache tablets if you have a headache; if you don’t have a bronchospasm, why take a bronchodilator?’

Five-year-old Ben Lord-Smith, who lives in Canberra, Australia, was classed as a chronic asthmatic and put on an ever-increasing regimen of preventative drugs after his first life-threatening attack at 18 months. They failed to control the condition: he needed nebulisers day and night and had repeated hospital stays.
Yet within 3 days of trying the Buteyko method, Ben was off bronchodilators, and after seven months his GP was able to take him off all asthma medication.
‘To have that threat of death taken away is wonderful’, says his mother Sharon. ‘The drugs worried me – and why would you want to feed children drugs if you’ve got some other way? Now, if he gets occasional symptoms he does the Buteyko technique.’

It was anecdotal evidence like this that prompted the Australian Asthma Foundation to fund the first controlled clinical trial in Brisbane. The preliminary results, reported last month to the Australian Thoracic Society, showed that after 6 weeks, patients using the Buteyko method felt substantially better and had fewer symptoms and had been able to reduce their reliever medication by 90 percent.

Although the treatment has aroused some controversy in Australia, Jonathan Aitken said he was surprised. ‘There’s nothing subversive or dangerous about it. It’s just a different breathing method. I dare say it will ruffle the feathers of drug manufacturers and those very set in their ways, but the acid test is: “Does it work or not?” Well, it did for me.’

Friday, August 26, 2011

Buteyko Spring Deal Cape Town

Spring is the month in which those with allergies traditionally have the worst time. Instead of enjoying the changing scenery and Spring flowers, many allergy sufferers are experiencing sneezing fits, hyper-responsive airways and a blocked and runny nose. But with the Buteyko Method, you can look forward to Spring again knowing your symptoms won't be aggravated by the changing season.
Spring is the time when we traditionally clear out the old to make way for the new. No better way to do this than with a new way of breathing that will help you to feel well - for life.
And because good things are worth sharing, if you sign up for the Spring program in Cape Town, I will give every person you bring a 50% discount. You can split the deal between you, or just know that you have done your bit to contribute to an allergy free society.
Go to for contact details.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Breath IS life...

This Winter has been bitterly cold, and I have had many requests for Buteyko information as folks struggle with their breathing in the colder months. 
Dr Rudolph Steiner, who also founded the Waldorf method of education once said '...A secret activity of healing resides in the breathing system, and all the secrets of healing are at the same time secrets of breathing.' ('The Four Seasons and the Archangels' Lecture 5, Para's 16&17). How true that is when one looks at it from Professor Buteyko's perspective. 

We can live without food for many weeks, without water for several days, but without breath for only a few short minutes. Air - and thereby breathing itself - is so vital to all existence that it is the reason why Earth is the only one planet able to sustain life in our entire galaxy, yet we completely disregard our breathing and the way we breathe as important. 
Why do we take our breathing so for granted? Is it because it is an automatic function that we usually do not consider until we have difficulty breathing, or is it because no one has told us that there is a better way to breathe than the way we do now? As evolved beings we are constantly striving for improvement. We look to improving our circumstances, our social skills, our sporting performance, our health - heck, even our cars and mobile phones! So why not also improve our breathing - especially if the benefits are better health, less stress and better quality of life?

The cause of breathing difficulties and many illnesses lie in hidden hyperventilation, but yet we continue to do deep breathing exercises and believe that the key to successful relaxation lies in deep, slow breathing. 
No one ever tells us why this is considered good practise, or what studies have proven that this is a good method of reducing stress and improving health, although telling people to breatheless will always encourage doubts as to how that can be good for the health! Luckily, we can back this statement up with plenty of studies to prove that the Buteyko method works. In fact, the method is proven to reduce the symptoms of asthma by 75% - which in the words of Cornell University respiratory physician and researcher, Dr. Robert Cowie, "is about as good as it gets for any asthma treatment". 

Asthma and sleep apnoea are considered breathing problems that are incurable managed only by drugs and devices that artificially open the airways and reduce inflammation. Yet if these conditions are breathing problems, then why do no treatments other than the Buteyko Method consider changing the rate and volume of the breathing as a viable solution?
Despite our efforts to discover a new way to treat our asthma, snoring, sleep apnoea, allergies and panic, we are so conditioned to think that a pill, potion or device is the answer - if not allopathic then homeopathic, if not chemical then something natural...something external will fix the problem. Yet all the answers lie within. 

Lao-Tsu famously said that "The perfect person breathes as though he is not breathing". Master your breathing and you cannot fail to master your health. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alternative Treatments for Asthma

I am finding that the internet offers many potential solutions for alternative asthma treatments. Herbs like Lobelia and Pennyroyal are said to be helpful but also potentially toxic. Various salt cures are on offer as well as a number of other possiblities.
These ideas get me to thinking every time, that not one of these therapies offer a way to address the cause of the asthma in the first place. Relying on external substances to fix an internal problem, is problematic. Medical doctors are, understandably, concerned when they hear that their patients are experimenting with herbal remedies. Asthma is a serious condition and to drop medication in favour of unproven herbs and spices is incredibly risky - even irresponsible. Buteyko is the only method that can be offered as a complementary support - purely because it has been clinically trialled and proven to work. All properly trained Buteyko instructors / practitioners will always encourage better communication between doctor and patient, and also will teach you more about using the medication in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines. Besides, Buteyko practitioners know that when you are doing Buteyko, you are more likely to experience fewer symptoms, making your need for medications and other treatments largely redundant.

My experiments with menthol, eucalyptus, mustard and various holistic therapies before I found Buteyko, were, to say the least, expensively disappointing. But Buteyko is just so logical it makes perfect sense. By stopping hyperventilation, many health difficulties can be reversed. And Buteyko only relies on your own body. No substances, devices and gadgets necessary! You can use Buteyko any time you like - and no one will even notice you are doing it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Gauteng was great, the group was so receptive and pleased to be able to learn new techniques to assist them with their breathing. It was obvious that it wasn't going to be a quick fix, but with perseverance they will all get results.
I get asked many questions at workshops, which I love! But sometimes they are questions I just can't answer, like:
"Why doesn't my doctor know more about the importance of Carbon Dioxide?"
"This is so logical, how come it isn't general knowledge?"
Well, these are questions that I think we all need to be asking! In fact, keep asking, and you will eventually find the truth.
Some of the truths that I have discovered in my quest for drug free asthma control, is that asthma, panic attacks, snoring,etc, are all breathing problems. Another truth is that breathing problems are problems that can be solved! It is just logical that breathing problems are solved by changing the breathing! With time and energy put into changing the breathing, you will breathe better. If you persevere, you will breathe better - for life!