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What is the Butekyno Breathing Method?

Posted On April 7, 2014
Butekyno breathing
April 07, 2014

Whether awareness was raised in movies, TV or from personal, first-hand experience, most of us are familiar with Lamaze or patterned breathing during labor of a child. But what about another breathing method, which is touted to help combat various medical conditions from lupus to chronic fatigue syndrome to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? What is the Butekyno breathing method and is it too good to be true?

Butekyno Breathing Method Explained

Created by Konstantin Buteyko, a Ukrainian doctor in the 1950s, this breathing method is based on the theory that carbon dioxide assists with the release of oxygen into cells and tissues from the blood. Buteyko believed that a variety of medical conditions, close to 150 total, were due to not breathing properly, as seen with mouth breathing and over-breathing. His theory was that poor breathing resulted in decreased amounts of carbon dioxide in the body. Hence as a result, you actually were taking in too much oxygen and not allowing the body’s cells and tissues to function normally. With proper breathing, the cells of the body get fully oxygenated.

People who have sleep apnea have problems breathing at night due to an obstruction in their airway, and some sufferers breathe through their mouths. At any rate, left untreated, sleep apnea results in the tissues of the body, including the brain, not receiving the nutrients that oxygen provides.

How It Works

For the most part, the Buteyko breathing exercises are easy to learn. It is sticking to them that might cause people to abandon ship. Here are the steps to master:

  1. Breathe in normally and then out.
  2. Hold your nose and then time on your watch, phone or clock, how long it takes for you to feel the need to take another breath.
  3. This amount of time is considered your control pause.
  4. After 3 minutes have elapsed, follow step one again but then this time hold your nose and time how long you can hold your breath.
  5. This second amount of time is considered your maximum pause.

Most individuals when they start to learn this breathing method will have a control pause of about 17 seconds and a maximum pause of about 30 seconds. With continued practice, it is not out of the realm of possibilities to have a control pause of 1 minute and a maximum pause of 2 minutes.

There have been studies of the Buteyko breathing method but mainly with regard to using as an alternative therapy for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and not as a treatment option for sleep apnea.

Individuals who have adopted the Buteyko breathing method claim to experience an increase in energy, sleep more soundly and find their immune system improved. Some even have found that their fitness level has improved. Nevertheless, this breathing method is not a true medical treatment of sleep apnea but only another avenue of lifestyle modification that can possibly help. It is always important to seek out sound medical advice and get an accurate diagnosis and information about all available sleep apnea treatment options.

If you have sleep apnea and would like to explore available treatment options, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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