Professor K.P. Buteyko 

"The complete victory will come

when the whole civilised world realises;

that the deep breathing principle of greed is the worst of human vices. That is it the source of almost all troubles, the main cause of disease and death for the overwhelming majority of human beings."

K.P. Buteyko 

Professor Buteyko was not an ordinary medical doctor. He enjoyed the status of an elite medical scientist, who was highly respected within the scientific community.  

 

 

History

 

Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko was born on the 27th January 1923, into the small farming community of Ivanitsa (about 150km from Kiev). Inheriting his fathers enthusiasm for machines, Konstantin was enrolled into the Kiev Polytechnic Institute until his studies were interrupted by World War II when Buteyko joined his country’s armed forces. After his experiences during the War, Buteyko felt compelled to study what he called “the most complicated piece of machinery of all” – the human organism.

 

In 1946, he enrolled into the First Medical Institute in Moscow. During his third year he started working in the clinical therapy group under the departmental head, academician Evgeniy Mikhailovitch Tareiev.

 

During this third year at the Institute, Buteyko was given a practical assignment which involved monitoring diseased patients breathing. He spent hundreds of hours sitting by patient’s bedsides, recording their breathing patterns prior to death. He noticed a considerable and uniformed deepening in patients breathing with the approaching of death. By recording these increases, Buteyko found that he was soon able to form a prognoses on how many days or hours were left before the patient’s death occurred. This event determined the area of Buteyko’s future interest.

 

In 1952, having graduated from the Institute with Honours, Buteyko continued his experiments independently along similar lines. He asked healthy subjects to breathe deeply for a period of time, and found that they became dizzy and nauseous, developed asphyxiating symptoms such as wheeziness and coughing, and eventually fainted. This (he had been told) was due to oxygen over-saturation of the brain.

 

During the second month of this independent work it occurred to Buteyko that certain diseases may develop as a result of deep breathing. He himself had suffered form hypertension for some time, and had often pondered its causes. By measuring his carbon dioxide levels, Buteyko discovered that his body’s carbon dioxide level was lower than recommended. It was known that over breathing lowered carbon dioxide levels in the body. He theorised that if his low levels were caused by over-breathing, then by correcting his breathing he may able to cure his disorder.

 

He immediately began experimenting on himself. Soon he had trained himself to breathe in a more shallow fashion. He found that by reducing his breathing, some symptoms such as headache and rapid heart beat also reduced. When he increases the depth of his breathing, the symptoms returned. Buteyko concluded that he had discovered the reason for his disease. He immediately set out to devise a programme by which a patient’s breathing could be quickly and effectively measured and then, if need be, reconditioned. He had shortly healed himself completely.

 

Buteyko checked and rechecked his theory on patients. He measured the breathing patterns of sufferers of asthma, stenocardia and other diseases. Discovering, without surprise, that they too were hyperventilating. Once again by correcting these patients’ breathing to an acceptable level Buteyko was able to normalise their carbon dioxide shortfall and their attacks stopped immediately. When they were asked them to return to their previous breathing patterns, their attacks resumed. It was clear, that Buteyko had stumbled across a very important discovery, a global discovery, and that current medical thinking was upside down.

 

Through further research, Buteyko was able to lay down the theoretical foundation for this idea – hyperventilation causes a depletion of carbon dioxide; low levels of carbon dioxide in the organism cause blood vessels to spasm and also cause oxygen starvation of the tissues. This results in a whole range of “defence mechanisms” that have been previously misunderstood and labelled as diseases. It was not difficult to surmise that vessel spasming occurring in hypertension could occur also with other types of diseases, for example: stenocardia (angina pectoris) with the resultant myocardial infarction (heart attack): end arteritis (inflammation of the innermost coat of an artery, usually occurring in legs) or ulcerative stomach disease. Scientific data associated with the physiological role of carbon dioxide is discussed in more detail in the “Buteyko Theoretical Manual”.

 

Buteyko worked very intensively at the Central and Lenin Medical Libraries researching his theory. Was it really possible that for the entire existence of the medical science such a simple thought had never occurred to anyone else? He learnt very quickly that the answer to this question was yes. For centuries, the majority of the human race had taught their children to breath deeply, and no-one, even for a moment, tried to reduce breathing. During his research, Buteyko was lucky to learn of a few experiments supporting the viability of his thinking. (See- Bohr, Holden, Priestly, Henderson, De Kosta). This then led to Buteyko sharing his thoughts with his teachers, but he found no support from any of them.

He knew well, through his studies, that many medical discoveries had initially been dismissed and suppressed officially only to become accepted practice years later. He recalled the story of sepsis on 1846. A doctor friend of Zemelweise had cut his finger while performing an autopsy on a woman who had perished of sepsis (or “puerperal fever” as it was then known). Three days later, the doctor also contracted the “puerperal fever”. Zemelweise concluded that “something” had been passed from the corpse and into the doctors cut, via the blood. At the time microbes were not yet known of, they were discovered by Pastor 20 years later.

 

With the desire to confirm his supposition, Zemelweise began washing his hands prior to operations, disinfecting them with a chloride of lime solution. He suggested his assistants also follow this routine. In those times, about one third of all new mothers and surgical patients died of sepsis. A three month experiment confirmed Zemelweise’s hypothesis, and he lost no patients thereafter. He informed his societ of surgeons and suggested they follow his example. He was declared to be mentally disturbed.

 

Similar destiny befell Professor Lister, an Englishman, who ten years later also called for disinfection of hands prior to operations. Only after this discovery had reached the ears of the public, and hordes of patients’ relatives started to turn up at the operations demanding to know if the surgeons had washed their hands before operating, did this procedure become accepted by the surgeons. This happened half a century after the initial discovery by Zemelweise.

Historical knowledge of this nature made it clear to Buteyko that voicing his convictions was not likely to bring any positive results at that stage. He knew he must organise an experimental laboratory . He had to gather evidence, develop it, and only then, announce the fundamentals of his ideas.

 

Later that year Buteyko became a clinical therapy intern under Academic Tareiev again. Here he was given his chance to establish a functional diagnostics laboratory, This project failed due to lack of funds, personnel and equipment. An attempt to establish the laboratory under the auspices of the Ministry of Health in Moscow was also unsuccessful – the necessary equipment was made available, but not the scientific personnel. In 1958 Buteyko was invited by Professor Meshalkin to join the Institute of Experimental Biology and Medicine at the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Science (where Meshalkin was the director). Once again he set about the task of establishing a laboratory of functional diagnostics. This project was completed in 1960.

 

In 1958 – 1959 Buteyko conducted clinical studies on nearly 200 people, both healthy and sick. When the first data, various measurements, association, deductions, correlations, regulations, etc., were obtained. All of these confirmed the correctness of Buteyko’s discovery. On 11th January 1960, he presented his work to the Scientific Forum at the Institute and tried to explain the concepts of his thinking. He told those present of the experiments, which showed the objective linear relationship between the depth of breathing, the content of carbon dioxide in the body and vessel spasming and degrees of illness.

 

Buteyko’s colleagues were stunned. Surgeons took the studies as some dirty trick, because Buteyko offered to treat such diseases as asthma, hypertension, stenocardia, without a knife. Invasive surgery never cured these disease anyway, everybody knew that, and mortality was high. But the Buteyko method gave a quick, almost 100% recovery. Quite naturally, Buteyko had expected the surgeons to be delighted but unfortunately their reaction was quite the opposite. Never the less, he did receive temporary approval from Professor Meshalkin who chaired the Forum. He said he understood the perspective and wanted the research continued.

 

Over the next ten years of the laboratory’s existence, Buteyko and his team were able to obtain extensive information on the basic functions of the human organism – whether healthy or diseased. The laboratory was equipped at the highest level. There was a compendium of over forty various instruments capable of registering almost all basic functions of the human organism, and producing approximately 100,000 pieces of data per hour. Analysis of this information was done on computers, mathematically deriving physiological measurements and the various conformities of the body’s processes.

 

Two hundred medical specialists were trained in the laboratory, most of whom, by the way, had suffered from one condition or another and successfully treated themselves with the method. Soon they were all treating other patients utilising- Buteyko’s method. Official statistics showed that as at 1 January 1967 more than 1000 patients suffering from asthma, hypertension or stenocardia had been successfully treated and had totally recovered from their illnesses.

 

Despite this, Meshalkin categorically refused Buteyko’s request for an approbation to be conducted at the Institute’s clinic. Shortly thereafter Meshalkin mysteriously implemented brutal repression, up to the forcible confiscation of the laboratory equipment. There were to be no publications, and strong reprimands were made for any public appearances or speeches on the subject. This attitude was exhibited not only by Professor Meshalkin but by all of his student-surgeons. In 1963 Professor Meshalkin had also subjected a few new ideas which challenged current opinions of surgery, to a similar treatment. As a result of these unseemly management practices, the Institute was disbanded and closed.

 

This disbandment may have saved Buteyko’s laboratory. He was able to keep one third of all the instruments, personnel and the original laboratory premises. From 1963 to 1968 the laboratory was attached to the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Science. Professor Meshalkin’s clinic was reassigned into the system of the Russian Ministry of Health. Buteyko’s repeated requests to accredit his method had not met any support what so ever.

 

Only In January 1968, after representations made by the local and foreign press in defence of his discoveries was the approbation carried out in Leningrad, at the Institute of Pulmonology under Academician Uglov. Shortly before this, a visit was paid to Buteyko’s clinic by the Minister of Health, Academician Petrovsky. The Minister informed Buteyko that if he successfully treated at least 80% of the patients given to him, Petrovsky would make recommendations for an immediate entrenchment of the method into standard medical practices. He promised also to make available a 50 bed clinic for the continuation of Buteyko’s clinical work. The Minister had one condition – that the patients used on the approbation were the most serious and difficult cases, not otherwise treatable by conventional methods of medicine.

 

Of the 46 patients who underwent Buteyko’s treatment 44 (95%) were officially recognised as cured. Only 2 from the 46 had a smaller positive effect. Some of the patients had up to twenty different conditions each. One of the female patients had been recommended to undergo a mastectomy, as she was diagnosed to have a malignant tumour in the initial stages. She had refused the operation. She was included on the list of patients because of her asthma. She recovered not only from her asthma but from the rest of her complaints, including the tumour.

 

It should be added that the two patients not included in the success rate were also relieved of their diseases after further treatment and had informed the Minister responsible. Consequently, in effect, Buteyko could describe the results of his method as having had a 100% success rate.

 

The official conclusions of the approbation, which was monitored by the health ministry, were sent to the Health Minister, academician Petrovsky. These conclusions were never seen by either Buteyko or the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Science. The Ministry later, in a phone call to the chairman of the Siberian Branch, academician Lavrentiev, advised that the approbation had failed, with only two out of the 46 patients having been cured. This unexplained falsification served as a foundation for closing the Buteyko laboratory. On 14 August 1968, all of the scientists were dismissed without any offers of alternative employment, and all of the equipment was confiscated or pilfered.

 

However, even against such great odds, the method survived. The originally trained team of medical practitioners continued to treat patients. Although not one official medical establishment in Moscow was using the method, it was being used in Harkov, Chernigov, Kdhovka, Leningrad, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk, Sverdlovsk, etc…

 

Success after success forced the government to once again look into the method. The second official approbation was conducted at the First Moscow Institute of Paediatric Diseases in April 1980 at the direction of the Government Committee for Science and Technology of the Soviet Ministry of USSR. The study confirmed the findings of the earlier approbation, conducted in Leningrad: 100% success rate. This time the results were officially recognised.

 

Whilst the Russian approbations tended to focus on treatment of Asthma, it should be understood that this method is also extremely effective for a whole range of related disorders such as allergies, rhinitis, bronchitis, sleeping disorders (such as sleep apnea), breathing problems, etc.

Bibliography

 
  1. Buteyko K.P. Oscillogtaphs and Hypertonia. Is “Enhanced” Breathing Beneficial? Izobretatell I Ratsionalizator. 1962. No.5.

  2. Buteyko K.P. Shurgaya Sh.I.Functional Diagnosis of Coronary Disease. Thesis from Symposium on Surgical Treatment of Coronary Disease, Moscow, 1962.

  3. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V. Cross-correlational Analysis of Physiological Functions. Izv.Sib.Otd. AN SSSR. 1963, No.6. Ser.biol.med.nauk.Vypusk Issue) 2.

  4. Buteyko K.P., Odintsova M.P., Demin D.V. The Influence of Hyper and Hypoxaemia on the Tonus of Peripheral Vessels. Proceeding of the Second Siberia Scientific Conference of Therapists, Irkutsk, 1964.

  5. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V., Odintsova M.P. The Application of Regressive Analysis for Differentiation of the Influence of Gaseous Components of the Arterial Blood on the Functional State of Fine Peripheral Arteries. Materialy Vtoroy sib. Nauchnoy Konf. Terapevtov. Irkutsk, 1964.

  6. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V.,, Odintsova M.P. The Mathematical Analysis of Interreaction of Physiological tigation Factors. Physics-Mathematical Methods for Inves in Biology and Medicine. Materialy Pervoy Novosib- Conf., Novosibirsk/, 1965.

  7. Buteyko K.P., Demin Dove,, Odintsova M.P. The Relationship between the Ventilation of the Lungs and the Tone of Arterial Vessels in Patients with Hypertonic Disease and Stenocardia. Fiziologichni Zhurnal, 1965. Vol.II, No.5 (in Ukrrainian).

  8. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V., Odintsova M.P. The Relationship between the Carbon Dioxide in Alveoles, Arterial Pressure and Cholesterol in Blood in Patients with Hypertonic Disease and Stenocardia. Materialy Tretley Sib. Nauchn. Conf. Terapevtov. irkutsk, 1965. (Proceedings of the Third Siberian Sci. Conference of Therapists).

  9. Buteyko K.P. The Cross-Correlational Technique of Analysis of Physiological Regulations. Materialy VII Vsesoyuzn. Conf. po Avtomat. Kontrolyu i Metodam Elektr. Izmereniy. Novosibirsk, 1965, (Proc. of the VII-Union Conference on Automatic Control and Methods for Electrical Measurements).

  10. Buteyko K.P. The Complex Investigations into Functional Systems in Biology and Medicine. (Reports of the Medical Electronics Section of the 9th Regional Sci.-Tech. Conference Dedicated to the Day of. Radio). Dokl. Sektsii Med. Elektroniki 9-oy Obl. Nauchn.-Tekhn. Conf. Posvyashchennoy Dnyu Radio, Novosibirsk, 1966.

  11. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V., Odintsova M.P. The Relationship between the Partial Pressure in Alveolar Air and the Tone of Peripheral Arteries in Patients with Hypertonic Disease and Stenocardia. Zdravookhranenie Turkmenistana. 1966. No.2 (Public Health of Turkmenistan. 1966, No.2).

  12. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V., Odintsova M.P. The Effect of Carbon Dioxide on the Coronary Efferent Arteries in Patients with Hypertonic Disease and Atherocardiosclerosis. Zdravookhranenie Kazakhranenie Kazakhstana. 1966. No. 6 (The Kazakhstan Public Health, 1966, No.6).

  13. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V., Odintsova M.P. A Linear Model for Regulation of Vascular Tone by Gaseous Components of Arterial Blood. Dokl. 9-oy Obl. Nauchn.-Tekhn. Conf., Posvyashchennoy Dnyu Radio. Novosibirsk, 1966.

  14. Buteyko K.P. et al. The Influence of Intentional Regulation of Respiration on Some Physiological Functions at Altitude. Voprosy Aviatsionnoy Meditsiny (Problems of Aviation Medicine). Moscow, 1966.

  15. Buteyko K.P., Chasovskikh S.F.,, Demin D.V. An Indirect Determination of the Degree of Hypertension of Pulmonary Circulation According to the Data of Calibrated Phonocardiography. Materialy 4-oy Povolzhskoy Conf. Fiziologov, Biokhimikov i Farmakologov- Saratov, 1966. T.l. (Proceedings of the 4th Volga River Conference of Physiologists, Biochemists and Pharmacologists. Saratov, 1966, Vol.1).

  16. Buteyko K.P., Odintsova M.P., Demin D.V. The Influence of Hyper- and Hypoxaemia on the Tone of Arterial Vessels. Sovetskaya Meditsina. 1967. No.3 (Soviet Medicine, 1967. No3)-

  17. Murakhtanova Z.M., Buteyko K.P. et al. Concerning Characteristic of External Respiration in Patients with Scoliosis. Sbornik Rabot Novosib. Instituta Travmatologii i Ortopedii. Novosibirsk, 1967. (Collection of Reports of the Novosibirsk Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics. Novosibirsk, 1967).

  18. Buteyko K.P. et al. The Use of Correlation Methods for Investigation of Cardiovascular System. Mat. Metody v Aviatsionnoy i Kosmicheskoy Meditsine. – Moscow, 1967 (Mathematical Methods in Aviation and Cosmic Medicine).

  19. Buteyko K.P., Demin D.V., Odintsova M.P. The Mutual Information of Heartrythm and Other Physiological Human Functions according to the Data of Cross-Correlative Analysis. Mat. Metody Analiza Sergechnogo Ritma. Moscow, 1968 (Mathematical Methods for Analysis of Heart Rythm. M., 1968).

  20. Buteyko K.P., Odintsova M.P., Nasonkina P.S. The Ventilation Test for Patients -with Bronchial Asthma. Vrachebnoe Delo, 1968, No.4 (Medical Treatment. 1968, No.4).

  21. Buteyko K.P., Odintsova M.P. Hyperventilation as One of the Reasons for the Spasm of Nonstriated Musculature of the Bronchi and Arterial Vessels. Materialy 4-oy Nauchn.-Praktich. Conf. po Vrachebn- Kontrolyu i Lechebnoy Fizkulture. Sverdlovsk, 1968 (Proceedings of the 4th Scientific-Practical Conference on Medical Control and Medical Physical Culture. Sverdlovsk, 1968).

  22. Buteyko K.P. Complex Methods for Investigation of Cardiovascular System and Respiration. Voprosy Funktsionallnoy Diagnostiki. Novosibirsk,, 1969 (Problems of Functional Diagnostics. Novosibirsk, 1969).

  23. Buteyko K.P. The Theory of CO2-Deficient Diseases of Civilisation as an Adaptation to the Evolution of Atmosphere. Kiberneticheskie Aspekty Adaptatsii Sistemy “Chelovek-Sredall. Tez. Seminars. Moscow, 1975 (Cybernetic Aspects of Adaptation of the System “Man-Environment”. Seminar Thesis, M., 1975).

  24. Buteyko K.P. Therapy of Hemohypocarbia. Patent No.1067640. Registered in the State Record of Inventions of the U.S.S.R., 15.9.1983.

  25. Buteyko K.P., Genina V.A. Concerning Pathogenesis of Asthma Attack during Physical Exercise. Non-medical Methods for Treatment of Patients with Bronchial Asthma. Tez. Dokl. Vsesoyuzn. Conf. Moscow, 1986 (Report Thesis from the All-Union Conference. M., 1986).

  26. Buteyko K.P., Genina V.A. The Comparison of Justification and Effectiveness of the Complex, Symptomatic and Monoetiological Principles of Treatment of Bronchial Asthma and Other Allergies. Ibid.

  27. Buteyko K.P., Genina V.A. The Theory of Discovery of Deep Respiration (Hypervention) as a Main Cause of Allergic,, Bronchial-vascular-spasmodic and Other Diseases of Civilisation. Ibid.

  28. Buteyko K.P., Genina V.A., Nasonkina N.S The Reactions of Sanogenesis in Medical Treatment Using the ISDR Method. Ibid.

  29. Putintsev E.V., Varlamova Z.A., Meshcheryakova L.R. Concerning Medical Physical Culture for-Bronchial Asthma. Sb.Materialov k Godichnoy Nauchnoy Sessii Instituta. Novokuznetsk, 1967 (Collection of Reports for Annual Sci. Session of the Institute. Novokuznetsk, 1967).

  30. Shelomova K.V. Intentional Normalisation of Respiration in the Complex of Medical Physical Culture for Bronchial Asthma. Proceedings of the 4th Sci. -Practical Conf. on Medical Control and Medical Physical Culture. Sverdlovsk, 1968 (as in 22).

  31. Panova L.A. Bronchial Asthma – a Model of Adaptation to the Changed Environmental Conditions. (As in 24.).

  32. Gavalov S.M., Genina V.A., Gavalova R.F. Intentional Regulation of Respiration in Complex Medical Treatment of Bronchial Asthma in Children. Saratov, 1976.

  33. Genina V.A., Glur-,henko I.R. The Construction of a Generalised Indicator of the Bronchial Asthma Condition. Methods for Physical Measurements of Parameters of the Ecological Systems and the Mathematical Processing of the Obtained Data. Novosibirsk, 1982.

  34. Genina V.A. The Role of Hyperventilation in the Pathogenesis of Bronchial Asthma and Its Medical Treatment by means of Reduction in Ventilation of the Lungs. Epidemiological Characteristics of Non-r.,pecific Diseases of the Lungs in Various Professional Groups. Novosibirsk, 1982.

  35. Genina V.A. et al. The Medical Treatment of Bronchial Asthma in Children Using the Method of Intentional Normalisation of Respiration (INR) according to the Data of the 1st MMI Children’s Clinic. Pediatriya, 1982, No.2 (Pediatrics, 1982, No.2).

  36. Genina V.A. The Technique for Elimination of Chronic Hyperventilation in the Treatment of Patients with Obstructive Syndrome. Medical Treatment of Non-specific Diseases of the Lungs.

 

I, Professor Konstantin Buteyko, the inventor of the method of treatment for some chronic diseases of the respiratory system, nervous system, hormonal system, cardio-vascular system, immune system (Patent No: 1067640), known in the West as the Buteyko Method, categorically make this statement:

 

The Buteyko Method appears misleadingly simple to practice. However, there is a specific training on how to apply this method to each individual patient. If this is done incorrectly there could be severe complications and damaging effects on a patient’s health.

 

It is for this reason that I only allow qualified practitioners to teach the Buteyko Method to patients in a workshop environment. As a Professor of Medicine I clearly state that it is dangerous for medical doctors or health care professionals to practice the Buteyko Method without the appropriate training.

 

I categorically state that it is exceedingly dangerous for patients to be instructed in the Buteyko Method through the medium of video, audio tapes, books, instructions and manuals. The Buteyko Practitioner assesses the 4 page Patient History Form before commencement of the workshop. They then monitor the progress of each individual patient on a daily basis during the workshop course, adjusting the use of the techniques to each individual’s need, to ensure correct use of the method and prevent complications arising. They are available for follow-up consultations where necessary.

 

Any Buteyko practitioner who does not train patients thoroughly in the Buteyko Method by taking shortcuts with videos, tapes, books, instructions and manuals and who try to offer training to potential Buteyko practitioners will have their certificates removed.

 

I will also use legal measures and public opinion to stop those who misuse and abuse my method and bring the Buteyko Method into disrepute.

 

Meanwhile, I will wish people well – my only concern is to see the Buteyko Method taught correctly in the West.

I congratulate all patients who have achieved freedom from their disease by practising the Buteyko Method.

 

K.P. Buteyko

 

 

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