Basic Principles of Buteyko therapy
Thirty eight years have passed since I revealed that a great number
of so-called "civilisation-induced diseases" widely
spread now (bronchial and vasomotor spasms, allergic reactions,
etc.) are caused by one and the same factor, namely, alveolar
overventilation, or in other words, by deep-type breathing. I
conceived the idea of diminishing the depth of respiration, i.e.
its normalisation, and I became convinced that it can contribute
to recovery. Experiments have confirmed this assumption, for it
has been substantiated by general laws of physiology, biochemistry,
biology and other sciences.
Here are the basic postulates of our theory:
It is known that in deep breathing a large amount
of CO2 is removed from the organism and, consequently, its content
is reduced in lungs, blood and tissue cells.
Deficiency of CO2 caused by deep-type breathing produces pH
alkaline shifts in tissue cells and in the blood.
pH shift interferes with the activity of all proteins (approx.
1000) and vitamins (approx. 20) and brings about alterations
in metabolic processes. Consequently, when pH reaches the value
of 8 the metabolic disorders can produce a fatal result.
It is known that CO2 deficiency causes spasms
in the smooth muscles of bronchi, cerebral and circulatory vessels,
intestines, biliary ducts and other organs. Late in the 19th
century Werigo, a Russian researcher from the town of Perm,
discovered a peculiar dependence: as a result of diminishing
the CO2 content in blood, the oxygen binds with the blood haemoglobin
and impairs the transport of oxygen to brain, heart, kidneys
and other organs. In other words, it can be described as follows:
the deeper the breathing, the less amount of oxygen reaches
the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs. This is precisely
the law which forms the basis of our discovery but has not been
appropriately appreciated up to now. The dependency revealed
by Werigo has been concealed and ignored. At the same time similar
regularities were discovered by Bohr, a Swedish (ed: Danish)
researcher, and became known as the Bohr effect much later.
Unfavourable treatment of the above dependency makes it impossible
to clearly understand the theory suggested.
Brain oxygen starvation (hypoxia) caused by deep
breathing promotes more intense bronchial and cardiac spasms.
Hypoxia in vital organs is counter-balanced by the rise in arterial
tension (artery hypertension), enhances blood circulation and
the provision the organs with blood. Oxygen starvation in combination
with overventilation produces a false feeling of air deficit,
excites the respiratory centre, enhances breathing intensity
and adds to the progress in disease development. CO2 deficiency
in the nerve cells excites all the structures of the nervous
system thus making the process of breathing still more intensive.
As a result, oxygen starvation in nervous cells in combination
with metabolic distortions and nervous system hyperexcitation
brings about mental disorders, destroys the nervous system (sclerosis
of cerebral vessels) and, finally, causes a personality degradation.
Disorders brought about by deep breathing are aggravated
by environmental pollution, pesticides, chemicals and drugs found
in nutrition products. If assumed as such, the basic principles
of Western medicine, the remedial and preventive measures based
on them which widely employ deep-breathing methods just add to
the development of such diseases, since the application of strenuous
exercise and the administration of drugs relaxing the bronchi
and blood vessels which enhance the removal of CO2 from the body
do not improve a patient's condition, but make it still worse.
This is the reason why the so-called "civilisation-induced
diseases" cannot be subject to treatment and are so widely
spread. The discovery of the fact that the main cause of such
diseases is deep-type breathing, allows to rigorously substantiate
and prove by experiments the fallacy of existing remedial methods
A deep-breathing (overventilation) test suggested by the author
can serve as decisive evidence that this method is true. A key
point can be described as follows: a patient is offered to make
his breathing deeper and to evaluate the result of a well-known
command: "Take a deep breath!" In a few seconds or minutes
a deep-breathing test will cause or enhance the pathological symptoms,
while the reduction of the depth of respiration will remove them
almost at the same rate. Thus, the only justified principle to
be used for prevention and treatment is the reduction of the depth
of respiration to restore the normal respiratory function.
On this basis the method of volitional normalisation
of deep-type breathing or the method of volitional control has
been developed. The essence of this technique is that a patient,
by the exertion of will, deliberately diminishes the respiratory
depth by relaxing the smooth muscles till he feels a slight deficit
of air. The method can be assimilated by adults who do not suffer
mental disorders and. by children aged above three.
The method can be widely used in obstetrics for
matemity patients and the new-born, for teaching children the
norms of physiology and for health-improvement programs. The ideas
developed by the author can be widely used in space medicine,
surgery (preparation to surgical interventions), pedagogics, training
vocal singers, sports, etc.
To general opinion, medicine like other branches
of science requires a comprehensive restructuring. The author
considers his ideas and other similar progressive approaches which
have been ignored earlier, as a basis for medicine-of- the-future.
The top priority objective, in our opinion, is to
provide people with information concerning this method in order
to stop the propaganda of the advantages of deep- type breathing
in the mass media and to withdraw deep-breathing exercises from
sanitary (ed: health care) institutions.
The method developed by the author will win when
every human being realises that his in-born greediness (including
breathing) to take more is the cause of disasters, diseases and
K. P. Buteyko
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