How does the program help people to normalize their breathing?

In 1952, Professor Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian doctor, discovered that hyperventilation or over-breathing caused asthma and other conditions. Therefore, in order to prevent asthma, it is necessary to improve breathing.

The Buteyko Institute Method teaches asthma sufferers to normalize their breathing in order to overcome and prevent asthma symptoms. In a series of workshops, (generally five workshops within an eight-day period) participants learn to modify their breathing and as a result of practising the exercises taught, can significantly reduce their medication and prevent symptoms.

The techniques, which involve breathing exercises only, are safe, non-invasive and simple to learn. No medication, herbs, hypnotherapy or any other form of therapy are involved. There are no stringent diets or exercise programs to follow. Unlike medication, there are no negative side effects to worry about.

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How effective is it?

Extremely effective, over 90 per cent of course participants are off their bronchodilator (reliever) medications by the end of the course. For example, the first clinical trial of the method in the Western World, conducted at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane, concluded that those practising Buteyko techniques "reduced hyperventilation and their use of Beta2-agonists" [reliever medication]. Click here for further details on the trial.

Within a three-month period, there was an average reduction of 96% in reliever medication usage and a 49% reduction in the use of preventer medication. The average age of study participants was 48 years (a third were over 64 years) and the average duration of their asthma was 23 years (MJA, Vol 169 7/12 December, 1998). Children, who obviously have been hyperventilating for a shorter period, also achieve excellent results.

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Will I have to stop all my medication immediately if I start the program?

No, certainly not! Safety is the key issue. The policy of the Buteyko Institute is exactly the same as that of the Asthma Foundations and the National Asthma Council, i.e., reliever medications to treat symptoms are used as necessary, and preventer medications to prevent symptoms are taken as prescribed and are only reduced or eliminated with your doctor's approval.

As participants become more familiar with the techniques taught, they are able to reduce reliever medication considerably over the course of the workshops. After a period of time, as breathing returns to normal, the person can consult their doctor and gradually reduce and then eliminate their preventer medication with their doctor's approval.

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Is there any follow-up?

Yes, two private follow-up sessions with Capnotrainer® Breathing Assessment are included in the program. In addition, the Buteyko Practitioner is available by telephone to give advice and answer queries, both during and after the course. Further reinforcing or refresher workshops are very rarely needed, but they are available at no extra cost.

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Does it work for all types of asthma?

According to Professor Buteyko, over-breathing causes all types of asthma, and therefore, all may respond to normalization of breathing. For example, the following types of asthma may benefit from the Buteyko Institute Method:
  • Asthma due to allergies from dust mites, animal fur, pollens, feathers etc.
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Asthma related to colds and flu
  • Seasonal asthma
  • Food-related asthma
  • Asthma triggered by irritants such as smoke, pollution, cold temperatures, fumes, and vehicle exhausts
  • Nocturnal asthma (night-time)
  • Late-onset asthma and childhood asthma
  • Occupational asthma
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How difficult are the Buteyko techniques to learn?

The Buteyko Institute Method is simple to learn. Over time, exercises can be reduced and gradually stopped, as breathing improves and is retrained towards normal. Some of the adult exercises can be done while doing other things, e.g. watching TV, on public transport or at the computer. The children's exercises are more active and fun to do, but they have to be done fairly regularly, particularly during the course and immediately afterwards to achieve the best results.

Can I take a partner or other support person to the workshops?
Will I be able to attend with my child?

Participants are encouraged to take along a partner for support and encouragement. For children under 18, a parent/guardian is required to attend workshops with their child.

My nose is blocked. Does this mean I won't benefit from the workshops?

Quite the reverse, many people with asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis and allergies breathe through the mouth. Some simple techniques which will unblock the nose are taught at the beginning of the course.

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My child is too young and would probably not have the patience right now to do the exercises. How soon can he /she start the course?

From the age of three-and-a-half to four, children generally benefit immensely and achieve excellent results. The exercises for children are simple, enjoyable and easy to do.

My asthma is quite bad right now. Should I wait until it is improved to get full benefit from the course?

No, you will benefit straight away, and in addition, you will realise just how powerful some simple breathing exercises can be at alleviating and preventing symptoms.

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