by Craig Weatherby
We were struck by a recent column from New York Times health reporter Jane Brody.
Ms. Brody, who we met at a 2005 conference on seafood and health, brings to attention an obscure breathing technique that seems to hold real promise for asthma sufferers.
Developed in the early 1950’s by Russian doctor Konstantin Buteyko, M.D., Ms. Brody relates the dramatic improvements experienced by a friend who tried it.
And as Ms. Brody writes, the approach has substantial support from clinical trials:
“…various trials, including a British study of 384 patients, have found that, on average, those who are diligent about practicing Buteyko breathing can expect a 90 percent reduction in the use of rescue inhalers and a 50 percent reduction in the need for steroids within three to six months.”
She notes that “…the British Thoracic Society has given the technique a “B” rating, meaning that positive results of the trials are likely to have come from the Buteyko method and not some other factor.”
The conclusions of a recent Canadian trial echo those of most—albeit not all—other clinical trials: “…a large majority of subjects… displayed control of their asthma with the additional benefit of reduction in inhaled corticosteroid use in the Buteyko group” (Cowie RL et al. 2008).
Jane Brody ends her account with this prod to lung doctors: “Now, perhaps, it is time for the pharmaceutically supported American medical community to explore this nondrug technique as well.”
Anyone who suffers from asthma or know someone who does should read the article… it could be a life-changer. And we should note that omega-3s also hold promise as antiinflammatory agents in asthma (Search our newsletter archive for “asthma”).
Brody notes that her friend sought help from the Buteyko Center USA, which, as their Web site says, has “…exclusive rights to educate on the patented Buteyko™ Method.”
- Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA. Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust. 1998 Dec 7-21;169(11-12):575-8.
- Brody J. A Breathing Technique Offers Help for People with Asthma. The New York Times. November 3, 2009. Accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/health/03brod.html
- Bruton A, Lewith GT. The Buteyko breathing technique for asthma: a review. Complement Ther Med. 2005 Mar;13(1):41-6. Epub 2005 Apr 18. Review.
- Cowie RL, Conley DP, Underwood MF, Reader PG. A randomised controlled trial of the Buteyko technique as an adjunct to conventional management of asthma. Respir Med. 2008 May;102(5):726-32. Epub 2008 Jan 31.
- McHugh P, Aitcheson F, Duncan B, Houghton F. Buteyko Breathing Technique for asthma: an effective intervention. N Z Med J. 2003 Dec 12;116(1187):U710.