From:David Bell Buteyko Diary

I am a chronic asthmatic, and my condition is deteriorating. I have been an asthmatic since my early 20's and have been dependent on medications for all that time. In particular, I am totally dependent on the drug Ventolin, and cannot go anywhere without my inhaler. This summer I have been using my inhaler 15 to 20 times a day, and this would horrify any doctor. I have been desperate for air and utterly miserable. I have even started planning an early retirement, and considered moving to a better climate. But why should I have to do this when I have a good job and a lovely home and garden right here.

Last night (27/01/2003) I decided to investigate the Buteyko Breathing method, in the hope that I might find a way of getting the asthma monkey off my back once and for all, and become drug free.

I was astonished by what I found and spent many hours reading all I could find. In particular I found a terrific site at which seems to be the premier information site on the subject. In particular I recommend that you read the testimonies at

Reading these testimonies makes you think that Buteyko is not far from being a miracle cure for asthma. So I have decided to give Buteyko a serious try, and I will report my progress here, from day one. Bear in mind that yesterday I used my puffer maybe 20 times and when I went on my daily walk I was puffing most of the way, and could barely make it up slight inclines. Having now read the Buteyko essays, I can see that a Buteyko teacher would classify me as "seriously ill".

Buteyko is a method where the body retrains its breathing. It is based on the theory that the body breathes too much (rather than too little as the condition of asthma would suggest) and the need for breath needs to be dramatically reduced. The key to this retraining is to breathe only through the nose. You should not breathe through the mouth at all. Here is a broad outline of the buteyko method as far as I can ascertain it from the Internet.

Day One (27/01/2003)

So how did I measure up last night?
I found that in the totally relaxed state I was still taking 11 breaths per minute, and my CP was 15. I decided to go to bed with my mouth taped. This was a pretty scary thing to do. I imagined that I would suffocate and die. But I did fall asleep fairly quickly. (They say that Buteyko breathers enjoy fantastic sleeps). I slept for the first time on my left side as this is also recommended.
In the early hours of the morning I awoke feeling asthmatic. My instinct was to reach for my puffer; I was feeling quite frantic and struggling for breath. But I decided not to give in and to practice some CP's instead. I was very uncomfortable for this time and worried that I really should be taking the Ventolin. But eventually I fell asleep again and woke up a few hours later.
Today I am going to begin my formal exercise program.

Caution: It is highly advisable that you attend a proper Buteyko course, rather than the DIY method. I will be looking for one at the first opportunity.

Day Two (28/01/2003)

This method is absolutely astonishing, one day on. I have not used my ventolin at all today, and except for one period just after lunch I have not felt even the mildest symptoms of asthma. My mistake was to eat too much at a work luncheon and I felt a bit wheezy for a couple of hours. However, I refused to touch the Ventolin and focused on the breathing exercises instead. Soon I felt normal again, but food is obviously something to be monitored. This compares with every day prior when I was using my Ventolin up to 20 times a day. I notice though that sometimes my nose is almost blocked and I do you do the breathing exercises when that happens?

Answer: Go for a brisk on.

Buteyko seems to be nothing short of miraculous. I have not used my puffer once since starting, compared with ave 15 puffs a day prior. Tonight I went for a very brisk 4km walk and not once did I feel tired or short of breath. In fact I felt strong and could have kept going. Every other time I have needed to stop for breath and use the puffer. The secret was/is the nose breathing. Close the mouth and breathe exclusively through the nose. Go for a walk right now and try it. You will be amazed how energised you feel. I don't know whether you will have needed to do some Buteyko exercises first; I suspect not because just breathing through the nose is half of what Buteyko is all about. Let me know how you fare.
Note: As the walk progresses you will notice your nose releasing fluids and soon it is all cleared up.

Day Four

I am completely, absolutely and totally persuaded by the efficacy of this remedy. During the last four days I have not used my inhaler at all. I cannot remember such a span of freedom from asthma drugs in 30 years. Once or twice I have felt the need for treatment, with a mild feeling of wheeziness, but I have immediately applied shallow breathing techniques and soon I am calm and OK.
Some side effects have become very noticeable; my nose is incredibly clear. For most of my life I have lived with a "blocked nose", hence the need to breathe through the mouth; and suddenly my nose is distinctly unblocked. In fact Buteyko theory teaches that mucous is a direct product of CO2 deficiency, acting as a shield against further assaults on the lung cells. By remedying the CO2 balance one eliminates the need for these defences and hence the nose no longer need fill with mucous.
This in turn has led to another side effect; my sense of smell now is very acute. I go to the toilet and the smell of urine is overwhelming. If someone now lights up a cigarette in my presence I have a very strong reaction to it. Last night I slept without taping the mouth. I think it was a mistake as I woke up with mild asthma symptoms, including mild gasping through the mouth. Breathing through the mouth is the origin of the "over breathing" that Buteyko so opposes.

Day Nine (04/02/2003)

During the last nine days I have used my inhaler twice. Not twice a day, but twice only. I find that my sleep has once or twice been interrupted by asthma and I have reached for the puffer. Otherwise, the improvement has been miraculous. I am not totally free of asthmatic feelings; there are quite a few times when I feel mildly asthmatic, but instead of reaching for the inhaler, I practise my breathing and soon start to relax. If I have one problem it is the problem of complacency. When things are going well (which is most of the time) I am tempted not to do my exercises, and presume that I am now cured. This slackness finally caught up with me this morning when I was feeling asthmatic for quite some time. I reminded myself that I MUST keep up the practice.

It is astonishing that during the course of 9 days I have been so well, and that my inhaler usage has dropped to just two puffs.

I have just received in the mail a book called "Freedom from Asthma" by Alexander Stalmatski with a foreword by Professor Buteyko. I intend to read the book and let you know what I think of it.

But you already know what I think of the Buteyko method: It is a miracle in my life.

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