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Clinical Trials of the Buteyko Institute Method

The following summary and links provide details of clinical trials.


Bowler, S., Green, A. and Mitchell, C.,
Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial,
MJA 1998; 169:575-578.

In December 1994, this three-month trial of the Buteyko Method funded jointly by the Asthma Foundations, began at the Mater Hospital, Brisbane. A group taught the Buteyko Method was compared to a control group which was on conventional medication and standard physiotherapy and breathing exercises.

After 12 weeks the Buteyko group showed:
  • A 96% reduction in bronchodilator (reliever) medication use.
  • A statistically significant reduction in symptoms.
  • Improvement in quality of life.
  • A reduction in hyperventilation.
  • A 49% reduction in steroid (preventer) use.

    The control group continued to take the full range of conventional medication without significant improvement.

    The full published details of this trial are presented on the Medical Journal of Australia website.

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    Clinical Trial Abstracts

    Medical Journal of Australia
    Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial
    Simon D Bowler, Amanda Green and Charles A Mitchell

    MJA Dec1998; 169: 575-578


    Objective: To evaluate the effect of Buteyko breathing techniques (BBT) in the management of asthma

    Design: Prospective, blinded, randomised study comparing the effect of BBT with control classes in 39 subjects with asthma. The study was conducted from January 1995 to April 1995.

    Participants and setting: Subjects recruited from the community, aged 12 to 70 years, with asthma and substantial medication use.

    Main outcome measures: Medication use; morning peak expiratory flow (PEF); forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1); end-tidal (ET) CO2; resting minute volume (MV); and quality of life (QOL) score, measured at three months.

    Results: No change in daily PEF or FEV1 was noted in either group. At three months, the BBT group had a median reduction in daily beta2-agonist dose of 904 g (range, 29 g to 3129 g), whereas the control group had a median reduction of 57 g (range, - 2343 g to 1143 g) (P = 0.002). Daily inhaled steroid dose fell 49% (range, - 100% to 150%) for the BBT group and 0 (range, - 82% to +100%) for the control group (P = 0.06). A trend towards greater improvement in QOL score was noted for BBT subjects (P = 0.09). Initial MV was high and similar in both groups; by three months, MV was lower in the BBT group than in the control group (P = 0.004). ET CO2 was low in both groups and did not change with treatment.

    Conclusion: Those practising BBT reduced hyperventilation and their use of beta2-agonists. A trend toward reduced inhaled steroid use and better quality of life was observed in these patients without objective changes in measures of airway calibre.

    The New Zealand Medical Journal
    Buteyko Breathing Technique for asthma: an effective intervention
    Patrick McHugh, Fergus Aitcheson, Bruce Duncan and Frank Houghton

    Vol 116 No 1187 ISSN 1175 8716


    Aim: To assess the impact of the Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) on medication use in asthma.

    Methods: A blinded randomised controlled trial comparing BBT with control was conducted in 38 people with asthma aged between 18 and 70. Participants were followed for six months following the intervention. Medication use and indices of ventilatory function were recorded.

    Results: No significant change in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) was recorded in either group. The BBT group exhibited a reduction in inhaled steroid use of 50% and 2-agonist use of 85% at six months from baseline. In the control group inhaled steroid use was unchanged and 2-agonist use was reduced by 37% from baseline. Investigator contact between the two groups was equal. There were no adverse events recorded in either group.

    Conclusions: BBT is a safe and efficacious asthma management technique. BBT has clinical and potential pharmaco-economic benefits that merit further study.

    Respiratory Medicine
    A randomised controlled trial of the Buteyko technique as an adjunct to conventional management of asthma
    Cowie RL, et al. Respir Med (2008), doi:10.1016/j.rmed.2007.12.012


    Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a non-pharmacological intervention in patients with asthma on conventional therapy including inhaled corticosteroid.

    Design: A randomised controlled trial of the Buteyko technique in a group of adults with asthma. The control group was trained by a physiotherapist in breathing and relaxation techniques.

    Setting: A single centre associated with a University-based asthma programme.

    Main Outcome Measure: Asthma control, defined by a composite score based on the Canadian asthma consensus report 6 months after completion of the intervention.

    Results: Both groups showed substantial and similar improvement and a high proportion with asthma control 6 months after completion of the intervention. In the Buteyko group the proportion with asthma control increased from 40% to 79% and in the control group from 44% to 72%. In addition the Buteyko group had significantly reduced their inhaled corticosteroid therapy compared with the control group (p=0.02). None of the other differences between the groups at 6 months were significant.

    Conclusions: Six months after completion of the interventions, a large majority of subjects in each group displayed control of their asthma with the additional benefit of reduction in inhaled corticosteroid use in the Buteyko group. The Buteyko technique, an established and widely recognised intervention, or an intensive programme delivered by a chest physiotherapist appear to provide additional benefit for adult patients with asthma who are being treated with inhaled corticosteroid.



    Stalmatski, A. (1998), Freedom From Asthma: Buteyko's Revolutionary Treatment, Kyle Cathie Ltd. London.

    Ameisen, P.J. Dr., (1997) Every Breath You Take, Lansdowne, Sydney.

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    Journal Articles

    Birch, M., Asthma and the Buteyko Breathing Method, Australian Nursing Journal, March 2001.

    Birch, M., Controlling Asthma with the Buteyko Breathing Method, Nursing Review, May, 2000.

    Birch, M. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Breathing Retraining, Australian Nursing Journal, August 2004.

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