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Buteyko breathing technique


Related terms

Related Terms
  • Buteyko breathing training, Buteyko Institute Method, Buteyko technique, Eucapnic breathing technique, Eucapnic Buteyko breathing.

  • The Buteyko breathing technique (BBT) consists of breathing techniques, relaxation exercises, and asthma education. The technique aims to reduce hyperventilation. BBT originated in Russia in the 1950s and has since been adapted for use elsewhere.
  • BBT is most commonly used to treat asthma and other breathing conditions. Some evidence suggests that BBT may help reduce reliance on asthma drugs, especially among patients who frequently use a rescue inhaler. However, studies have not shown improvement in other measures of asthma severity.

  • The theory behind the Buteyko breathing technique (BBT) is that individuals with asthma over-breathe (hyperventilate), causing them to lose excessive carbon dioxide from the lungs. When carbon dioxide levels become too low, the airways constrict and oxygen levels are lowered.
  • BBT may have an effect because of the personal attention patients receive or because of a change in the patient's perception of asthma severity. In addition, asthma education may improve patients' understanding of the disease.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Studies have shown reduced use of rescue inhalers among patients receiving BBT. Improvements in other measures of asthma severity have not been shown. Additional study is warranted.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, hormonal disorders, migraine, nervous system disorders, panic attacks, respiratory disease, skin conditions (eczema), sleep apnea, snoring.


Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

  • BBT is generally considered safe. BBT may interact with asthma medications and should be used with caution in patients with asthma that changes suddenly ("brittle asthma"). Patients should use caution when reducing levels of asthma medications and should always carry a rescue inhaler. Asthma should be treated by a qualified healthcare professional.
  • BBT is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to a lack of safety data.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Abramson M, Borg B, Doran C. A randomized controlled trial of the Buteyko method for asthma. Int J Immunorehabil 2004;6:244.
  2. Bruton A, Lewith GT. The Buteyko breathing technique for asthma: a review. Complement Ther Med. 2005;13(1):41-46.
  3. Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA. Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust. 12-7-1998;169(11-12):575-578.
  4. British Guideline on the Management of Asthma. Thorax 2008;63 Suppl 4:iv1-121.
  5. Cooper S, Oborne J, Newton S, et al. Effect of two breathing exercises (Buteyko and pranayama) in asthma: a randomised controlled trial. Thorax 2003;58(8):674-679.
  6. McGowan J. Health Education: Does the Buteyko Institute Method make a difference? Thorax 2003;58(suppl III):28.
  7. McHugh P, Aitcheson F, Duncan B, et al. Buteyko Breathing Technique for asthma: an effective intervention. N Z Med.J 12-12-2003;116(1187):U710.
  8. Opat AJ, Cohen MM, Bailey MJ, et al. A clinical trial of the Buteyko Breathing Technique in asthma as taught by a video. J Asthma 2000;37(7):557-564.
  9. Walters EH, Johns DP. Unravelling the Buteyko effect. Med J Aust. 1-15-2001;174(2):64-65.
  10. Weiner JM, Burdon JG. Severe allergen-induced asthma despite the use of Buteyko breathing technique. Med J Aust. 7-19-1999;171(2):109.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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