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Holistic Medicine - Integrative Health

Breathing Exercises

What is the Buteyko Breathing Method?

Buteyko is a clinically-proven, natural, safe breathing retraining program which utilizes the body’s self-healing capacities. It is based on the standard medical principles of respiration and the Bohr effect. Faulty breathing patterns such as mouth breathing, excessive use of the upper chest, or taking large breaths are very common. They can be significant and yet unnoticeable, and can create symptoms.

The way you breathe determines your body chemistry and how it functions, on every breath you take. Dysfunctional breathing patterns can modify the biochemistry of the body and seriously impact emotion, circulation, digestive function, and the musculoskeletal structures involved in respiration. Therefore, many symptoms and conditions can be caused or aggravated by dysfunctional breathing. The aim of breathing retraining is to restore physiologically normal breathing and improve related symptoms. The program consists of breathing exercises and other guidelines on breathing in daily life (exercise, speech, nutrition, sleep, etc.) to achieve maximum control of breathing and greatly reduce negative symptoms.

Symptoms of dysfunctional breathing include:

  • Shortness of breath, chest tightness and pressure, chest pain, nausea, coughing, excess sighs/yawns, snoring
  • Sweaty palms, cold hands, tingling of the skin, numbness
  • Heart palpitations, irregular heart beat
  • Anxiety, apprehension, emotional outbursts, tenseness
  • Fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, headache, poor sleep
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, confusion, black-outs, poor concentration, poor memory, blurred vision
  • Muscle spasms, stiffness, trembling, twitching
  • Abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence, indigestion, irritable bowel, belching, bad breath, dry mouth

*Keep in mind that these symptoms could be related to other medical issues that need to be ruled out by your doctor.

What is it effective for?

Buteyko is shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of conditions.

Asthma

The Buteyko breathing method is medically proven, natural, drug-free, and very effective for asthma. It is recognized as a viable option for treating asthma by GINA (Global Initiative for Asthma). Studies have shown that people with asthma breathe 2-3 times more air than people without asthma. Over-breathing occurs unconsciously, but results in irritation, inflammation, and constriction of the airways. These breathing exercises are designed to raise carbon dioxide to healthy levels and stop attacks. With a rise in C02, breathing will be normal and undesirable symptoms -along with the need for medication can greatly diminish or disappear altogether.

The Buteyko program is very effective for children, and with a supportive family can dramatically improve asthma control with fewer medications.

Important Note: Buteyko therapy is an educational program, which does not affect conventional asthma management. Patients are encouraged to take medication in accordance with current asthma management practices. An early benefit of the treatment is a reduced requirement for bronchodilators and fewer symptoms. Reduction in steroids is arranged by the patient's doctor once the symptoms have disappeared.

Allergies

Allergies are a result of malfunction or over-reaction of the immune system. Breath training can help restore functional breathing, leading to fewer irritants inhaled, reduced production of excessive mucus and histamines, and a less reactive immune system.

Chronic cough

A cough that persists longer than 8 weeks, and doesn’t respond to medical treatment, could be related to dysfunctional breathing. Mouth breathing and coughing dry out and irritate the tissue linings of the nose, throat, and lungs. The dehydrated and irritated tissues will produce more mucus for lubrication and protection. With continual over breathing, this mucus may thicken and become harder to clear - a vicious cycle. Mouth breathing can also cause the throat to become dry and raw, causing a tickling sensation which triggers cough. This can also create a cycle of dry throat, coughing, and so on. Restoring nasal breathing and learning cough suppression techniques have been shown to reduce cough.

Vocal Cord Dysfunction/Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion

Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is often co-existing or misdiagnosed as asthma. The main differences between VCD and asthma are that in VCD, the obstruction is felt in the throat and/or upper chest. It is more difficult to inhale than exhale, symptoms start and cease fast, and they don’t respond to asthma medications. Many of the common symptoms that happen during these attacks, such as dizziness, lightheadedness, visual changes, extremity heaviness, numbness and tingling are likely symptoms of hyperventilation. Breathing retraining is the gold standard treatment for this condition.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea has been linked with mouth breathing and hyperventilation. It is caused by inflammation and closing of the upper airways. As a result, the inspiratory muscles work harder to overcome the resistance causing the upper throat to collapse as the air pressure in the throat further drops lower than the atmosphere. Strong breathing causes the upper airways to collapse. Restoring regular nasal breathing may decrease the collapsibility and improve sleep.

Snoring

When someone snores, too much air moves over the loose tissue at the back of the throat, causing it to rattle. Snoring is typically accompanied by open mouth breathing. To experience a good night’s sleep with no snoring, it is essential to breathe quietly and through the nose.

Enhanced athletic performance

A primary goal of every athlete is to achieve optimal potential. Breath training has been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing the efficiency of respiration and therefore improving the supply of oxygen to tissues and vital organs during exercise. Learning to control the breathing will also decrease the amount of stress the body is put through (decreased heart rate and blood pressure) and help you to exercise safely.

Stress, Anxiety, & Panic Attacks

Dysfunctional breathing affects up to 80% of people with anxiety. Acute hyperventilation is obvious in panic attacks. Much less noticeable is the habitual over-breathing which is almost always present in people who suffer daily fear, stress, high levels of tension and anxiety at a lower level. Buteyko breathing helps to reverse that chronic over-breathing, letting the body return to a calm state.

Dental and Facial Development

Dentists and orthodontists recognize chronic mouth breathing as a significant contributor to poor oral hygiene and orthodontic problems. With specialized breathing techniques, mouth breathing can be treated early, and its negative effect on facial and dental development as well as medical and social problems associated with it can be reduced or averted.

Voice Disorders

Breath work is frequently included in singing pedagogy programs in recognition of the influence of breathing patterns on vocal function. This Buteyko training experience will assist students to better manage respiratory disorders and provide new insights and strategies to influence speech and singing breathing training for both normal and disordered breathers. The Buteyko method has been shown to dramatically reduce the use of asthma medications, which are commonly associated with hoarseness.

What are the Risks?

The Buteyko Method has no known side-effects. It involves no herbs, vitamins, special diets, traditional chest physiotherapy, medication, nor new drugs. There is no equipment needed.

Who is the Instructor?

Hadas Golan, MS CCC-SLP is a registered Buteyko educator and trainer. She is a founding member of the Buteyko Breathing Educators Association (BBEA). Hadas works at Boston University Medical Center in the Department of Otolaryngology, specializing in voice disorders and the care of professional voice. She also offers practitioner training programs.

For more information or to book an appointment, please call 617.638.8124.

What can I Expect?

  • Improved asthma control and considerably less symptoms
  • Considerably less allergic reactions in the airways, skin and gut
  • Dramatic reduction in medication
  • Improved performance in sport and exercise
  • Improved stress management and stress-related symptoms
  • Improved sleep and snoring

The Buteyko Breathing Method