Buteyko: Positive For Some, Negative For Many. – Optimal Breathing LLC


Positive for some, negative for many. A mixed blessing of about 1/5th of the problem and many misguided insights. It may or may not help but it also gives poor support for breathing MORE. Breath is life. There is a direct relationship between breathing and aliveness.  Those that breathe more but in a balanced way seem much more alive to me than those who breathe less. 

The Buteyko system for asthma and some other breathing problems believe that breathing too much/over-breathing is the cause of those breathing problems.  This gives one the impression that breathing more is bad.

I have observed that breathing pattern disorder is the primary cause of asthma/hyperventilation/over-breathing; not CO2 but factoring in CO2 can be helpful for some.  It gets worsened by food and/or air born allergy but wheezing mostly disappears when the breathing pattern returns to optimal via certain breathing development techniques and exercises.

If one were to breathe quickly in the more belly abdomen parasympathetic mode the body can much better tolerate/manage and keep balanced one's energy build up from breathing much more readily.  It is the chest breathing pattern combined with the speed of breath rate that is mostly to blame.

Buteyko has gotten good results with many because it slows down the breathing rate but may or may not change the pattern. Slower is but part of the answer but how slower is achieved is critical to having an optimal  understanding of breathing.

And I do not care for anyone telling people they are breathing too much as I have successfully maintained 40 MMG at 30 breaths per minute. It felt great. It is skill. One of life's many.

Passion and purpose require more breathing, not less. The key is the pattern whether it is SNS based or PNS based. Buteyko if to me an illness model approach. I prefer a wellness model. Study healthy breathing says I. I do not care for B but it does help some people so I say try it and see. If you want to try our approach click on SOB.

Here is a simple way to increase CO2 levels.

At the bottom or end of a natural exhale, resist breathing in as long as you possibly can, even when moderate discomfort arrives, but without trying to exhale further and/or tightening your stomach muscles.

  • Do not do it so long that you pass out.
  • Time it in seconds. 45 minimum and 60 is passing.
  • How many seconds long is your extended pause?

     To further lengthen the Optimal Extended Pause. Do two cycles. Time each cycle.  It should improve a little or not. The third cycle I want you to wait until you feel significant hunger for air and then stand up and walk quickly back and forth across the room with a timer in one hand and as soon as you absolutely must breathe then click the timer. 

    What is occurring is the movement is distracting you and the hunger for air experience is somewhat lessened and you become more able to tolerate it and increase CO2 levels. Repeat this a few times and see how your extended pause time gets longer. 

    Then just do the last one. The one when you stand and walk.
    Try 3-5 attempts five more times daily for several days until you level off of reach 60 most of the times. Then progress to other parts of DVD2 in the Optimal Breathing kit.

    Dear Mike:

    Just found this while surfing, confirms what you said about Buteyko, I tried it and it was a waste of money, in fact I ended up in the hospital, quite soon after.


    From Mike: 

    Thanks Barbara.

    Buteyko is a form of endogenous breathing. Try it. It helps some, not all or even most. But also realize that you may well have developed a non optimal breathing habit UDB and someday it will begin to restrict your ability to breathe and probably so slowly you will never realize it unless someone has shown you how to breathe fully and in balance without limiting your air supply. 

    From what I have seen, Buteyko controls your responses and conditions you to use more of the same oxygen supply or have less need for oxygen.  I believe it does too little to develop your breathing volume (FEV1to the max. The Framingham Study USA clearly proved it was breathing volume that is the primary market for longevity. 

    I will add efficiency of exhalation to reduce the oxygen cost of breathing (Carl Stough) and support in rebalancing the nervous system. It is NOT about CO2. Excessive CO2 is a byproduct of a bad breathing pattern.

    Environment, stress, allergies, nutrition, immune system dysfunction are very relevant factors but poor mechanics and coordination of the breathing are I believe what sets up the tendency towards asthma in the first place.  Also, there is a HUGE emotional factor in asthma. See breath holding

    I have developed hands on and breathing exercise training techniques that have been very successful in reducing or eliminating inhaler and steroid usage, often in a matter of a few minutes.


    Buteyko, a controversial issue.

    "There are people who "compensate" or are able to tolerate lower levels than that because of their lung disease process" quoted from an email to me from a department head respiratory therapist connected with the Mayo clinic.  mw

    The alt.support.asthma News Group debates its virtues and downfalls ad nauseam. It's proponents tout it as a cure/treatment for everything from Asthma to Migraine, Hay Fever, Sinus and Allergies, Emphysema and COPD, Severe Snoring and Sleep Apnea. Its critics call it "Quack" Medicine, "Snake Oil", or worse, a money making pyramid scheme to cheat desperate people out of their earnings.

    According to Buteyko Breathing Page, "...asthma is simply your body's way of helping to restrict the amount of air you are breathing, so that more carbon dioxide is trapped in, and a possibly fatal event is avoided. It is just like plumbing - if you want to reduce the flow thru a pipe, simply make it smaller or clog it up."

    Buteyko is a technique of slowing respirations and decreasing Tidal Volume in an attempt to raise Alveolar CO2 (PACO2). They state that CO2 is an important factor in determining the pH of the blood, which is quite true, but they neglect take into account the buffering effects of hemoglobin and bicarb, effects of hypoxia on breathing and PACO2, or account for the actions of Asthma Triggers.

    This is in direct opposition to the National Institute of Health's definition found in the newest 1997 Asthma Treatment Guidelines: "Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role, in particular, mast cells, eosinophils, T lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, and epithelial cells.

    In susceptible individuals, this inflammation causes recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment.

    The inflammation also causes an associated increase in the existing bronchial hyperresponsiveness to a variety of stimuli (NHLBI 1995). Moreover, recent evidence indicates that subbasement membrane fibrosis may occur in some patients with asthma and that these changes contribute to persistent abnormalities in lung function (Roche 1991)."

    BUTEYKO:  CONTROLLING THE BREATHING PAUSE AKA A SHALLOW BREATHING TECHNIQUE  (From an email health professional whose name escapes me.)

    "I was intrigued with some of the technical stuff, but they're (Buteyko trainers)  basically teaching subventilation. Like people need to breathe less. I can't agree with anything that makes someone afraid of breathing too much.

    I think the success that some folks get from Buteyko comes with the feeling of control one gets from most any regularly applied breathing practice. It's better to feel in control than to fear that your breath might attack at any moment. But it's nothing like loving breathing. And it doesn't work nearly as well against asthma. 

    I think that asthma, like panic disorder/hyper-vent syndrome, (UDB-mgw)  begins as a spontaneous self-healing process. The respiratory system has been challenged, by chronic emotion-suppressing sub-ventilation and/or by some environmental toxin, pollen, etc, and the body (well-designed as it is) reacts by hyperventilating.

    This initiates a healing crisis which can be terrifying to child and family if no one knows how to help it play through and resolve. So the healing gets interrupted and the symptoms of healing-in-process now become symptoms of chronic disease. From then on, the struggle for breath feeds the fear of breath which increases the struggle for breath which feeds the fear of breath and on and on.

    BTW, the big problem I have with Buteyko is that there's no life-energy in the model.  Reducing breath to the oxygen-co2 cycle, is like trying to understand blood circulation without including the heart." MS

    From Mike White: 
    I agree with all you say and want to add that there is a HUGE mechanical component. The poor breathing can be rapidly changed without the "confronting" energies of the "overbreathing" breath.

    I believe Buteyko works largely because  it inhibits sympathetic nervous system response by holding one's energy static for enough time to maintain equilibrium and inhibit or detach from associated thought processes that cause excessive/overstimulated responses. But it is VERY uncomfortable to practice.

    An acupuncturist colleague says an asthmatic's energy "goes up" meaning from the belly to the chest. I call it an over stimulation of the SNS.  A Taoist might say that they are ungrounded. 

    So when the patient is asked to consciously hold their breath they inhibit the sympathetic response. This is good for SOME asthmatics but not so for others. Asthmatics need to be DRIVEN downward so the foundation of their breathing STAYS where you want it. 

    If it is too intense, breath holding-back can lock up the entire breathing system. Extending the exhale and stimulating the reflex does not.  But stimulating the reflex may not work for asthma as well as breath holding-back. 

    I believe breath holding gives the wrong inner sensing to the breath holder. There are better ways by using one of our capnometers.  A biofeedback device that lets you watch your CO2 levels on a computer screen and manipulate the percentage by breathing slightly less or more.

    "I studied the Buteyko system and read a couple of books and various articles. There are a few good ideas and I think the goal is close to yours in getting a free and natural breath. However, some of their means to the end do not resonate with me and I find your breathing programs much better for my needs.

    My breathing and my awareness of breath has improved tremendously on your programs. I still go into bad habits at times but those times are becoming less. If I do fall into UDB I can correct it by doing whatever exercise comes to mind and I'm back in rhythm. Breathing well has impacted every aspect of my life for the good. " mike yates

    From John Neal Rhodes:

    There was a study, The Brisbane Trials, done on the effects, or lack there of, of Buteyko. The study is flawed by losing its double blind component due to leaking the information of which group was receiving which therapy. A quote from the study:

    "This loss of blinding might have favorable influenced Buteyko subject's self assessment of asthma control and adversely affected the control group." The study also incorporates a great deal of subjective data, which is always suspect. In addition to that, the Buteyko subjects received more follow up phone calls as to their conditions (seven as opposed to one), further skewing the subjective data.

    The only definitive data returned by this study was that steroid use was reduced to a greater extent in the Buteyko group. Interestingly at the end of 8 months there were 4 Buteyko patients on oral Prednisone and 2 in the control group and an equal number participants (3) were admitted to the hospital with acute asthma exacerbation.

    Even the reduction of steroid use was not credited to the technique. Rather, the researchers stated that it was possible that the patient where already taking more steroids than needed before testing, quote:

    "Although during the run-in phase subjects were exhorted to use beta2 agonist therapy strictly on an as required basis, it is likely that in many subjects, the use of these medications and of inhaled steroids was excessive."

    The most crucial data to prove or disprove the technique, End Expiratory CO2, was unchanged. The whole basis of the technique was to raise this value. On top of this there were no significant changes in PFT values (FEV1 and PEFR), thus no evidence that there was any improvement in the patient's asthma.

    Let's look at a couple of facts dealing with Carbon Dioxide, Oxygen, Hyperventilation, and Asthma seen from the traditional medical point of view.

    First off, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), is a poison, a biproduct of metabolism. The respiratory system eliminates CO2 and provides Oxygen (O2) for the blood stream. CO2 levels effect our rate of breathing, but so does Oxygen levels.

    When Asthma Triggers or allergic reactions cause an attack to start, the airways respond with inflammation and bronchospasm. Some of the alveoli become closed off and oxygen levels drop. Once enough alveoli stop taking part in gas exchange, oxygen levels reach a point that causes hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels), see the article on ABGs for explanation of changes in blood gas values during an asthma attack.

    Hypoxemia will cause the respiratory rate to increase. This increase will effect oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide levels will fall and the pH to rise. The drop in CO2 levels is the result, not the cause of an Asthma attack.

    I challenge the proponents of Buteyko to prove me wrong, not by rhetoric or flawed studies, but by proven, double blind, objective, and published data. I'd love to be proven wrong on this one guys, anything to add to the arsenal we have for this disease.

    John Neal Rhodes, About.com

    From Mike:

    Unless infancy is plagued by abuse,  poor nutrition  (major cause such as allergies from milk and other dairy etc) and extremely bad air, asthma is largely a mechanical issue. Abuse and fear of abandonment are often the source.  Even with poor nutrition,  then the mechanical breathing must be optimized to eliminate or minimize emergency drug intervention. 

    I suspect that if you put 100 people in a room with bad air and you will have little to no asthma. Put 100 people together having eaten allergy causing food and the asthma symptoms will increase. Put 100 people together with bad air, bad food and UDB and you will have MANY people with asthma symptoms.

    I strongly suspect that the drugs and steroids group would like to keep it as a strictly non mechanical issue so that people keep supporting the pharmaceutical industry. 

    The people that advocate excessive drugs and steroids argue against Buteyko for what I deem  the wrong reasons as below.

    Basic Pulmonary Functioning.

    Dateline: 09/15/97

    Continuing with the subject of Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT), we will look at some of the most basic terms, concepts, and how they relate to asthmatics.

    Medical science divides our breathing pattern into a few basic components, these basic findings are important in assessing overall lung function. Understanding these findings and how they change during an asthma attack, helps in understanding some of the major lung changes that take place during an attack.

    Below is an illustration of a basic Lung Sub test. Starting from the left, a patient is breathing normally for three breaths, takes as deep a breath as possible, then exhales as much as possible, and then returns to normal breathing.

    Click on the right hand side boxes for definitions of these major lung divisions. (From Mike:) This was not a proper Buteyko procedure and I could not copy the graph so please disregard it.

    • TV, Tidal Volume, while at rest our normal breath is called the Tidal Volume. Stress, exercise, and illness (including asthma) will cause this volume to increase or decrease.
    • IRV, Inspiratory Reserve Volume, IRV represents the amount of air you can breathe in after a resting inspiration. This is the amount of air volume your body can call upon when a deeper breath is needed during exercise or when your body is under stress. Your body increases respiratory volume when it needs more oxygen and needs to blow off excess carbon dioxide.
    • ERV, Expiratory Reserve Volume, like the IRV, represents the reserve volume of air you can exhale after you have exhaled normally during a resting respiration (TV). Again, your body can call upon this reserve to increase the amount of air exchange.
    • IC, Inspiratory Capacity, IC equals the total amount of air you can inhale from a resting exhalation. Another way of looking at IC: TV+IRV=IC
    • FRC, Functional Reserve Capacity, FRC is the amount of air remaining in the lungs after a normal exhalation. FRC cannot be measured directly as with TV, IRV, ERV, IC, and VC. FRC is the sum of the ERV and RV (Reserve Volume) (FRC=ERV+RV). This is an important number as it relates to the increase and decrease of RV.
    • VC, Vital Capacity, represents the total amount of air exhaled from a maximal inhalation to a maximal exhalation. The VC is similar to the FVC in Flow Volume Loops except for the "F". The "F" stands for Forced, so in the VC we do not want the patient to exhale forcefully as in the Flow Volume Loop. VC tend to be a little larger than FVC, especially in asthmatics, since the act of forcing the air out, as in FVC, causes the very small airways to collapse, trapping or slowing the flow of air. The more relaxed technique allows these small airways to remain open and more air exhaled.
    • RV, Reserve Volume, the RV is the amount of air left in the lung after you blow out as much air as possible. This volume of air must be measured indirectly by use of gas diffusion or a Body Plethysmograph (also known as the "Body Box"). This is a very important value for asthmatics and one of the most critical. During an asthma attack the RV increases as a result of air trapping and extended incomplete exhalations due to airway collapse and constriction.

    Air trapping is caused by airways that totally close down trapping the air behind it. Since trapped air does not take part in gas exchange (the exchange of oxygen rich air for carbon dioxide laden air at the alveolar level), you don't get as much oxygen or get rid of as much carbon dioxide with each breath.

    As the blood levels of oxygen fall and carbon dioxide rise, your body tries to increase the depth (TV) and rate of breathing. But there is a catch, increasing RV also impacts on your reserve volumes (IRV and ERV), making them smaller.

    The physical sensation of this invasion of the other reserve volumes, the decreasing oxygen, and increasing carbon dioxide is shortness of breath. Prompt and appropriate treatment at this point usually halts the attack and symptoms are reversed.

    If left untreated and the asthmatic attack worsens, the increasing RV and incomplete exhalations eat away at your reserve volumes and can get to the point were you don't have enough reserves to keep up with your respiratory demand.

    Add to this muscle fatigue from increased work of breathing and increasing oxygen demands of respiratory muscles and you have a classic downward spiral. Blood levels of carbon dioxide continues to rise and oxygen fall, this is where asthma becomes respiratory failure. Respiratory failure can result in intubation and being placed on a ventilator, it can also result in death when treatment is delayed.

    • TLC, Total Lung Capacity, TLC is the total maximum amount of air your lungs can hold. It is the total of all lung volumes or lung capacities (IRV+TV+ERV+RV) or (IC+FRC).

    Decreasing peak flow meters (an aside about peak flow meter dangers from Mike) readings can give us an early warning to trouble. Stick to your asthma plan, don't delay treatment, and stay in contact with your asthma specialist. Follow your physician's advise for action to be taken for Peak Flow readings in the Green, Yellow, and Red Zone!

    The Brisbane trial is the best western study of the Buteyko Method. The trial results indicated asthmatics using the Buteyko Method reduced use of beta-agonists (relievers) by 96% and steroids by 49%.

    The trials were sponsored by the Australian Association of Asthma Foundations and lead by Professor Charles Mitchell, and Doctor Simon Bowler

    The Brisbane Trials

    In the study, 19 randomly selected asthmatics learned the Buteyko Method and 20 other asthmatics learned standard physiotherapy exercises. The group taught the Buteyko Method significantly reduced their beta-agonist intake, improved control over their asthma, and improved quality of life.

    Bronchodilator Reduction

    At the 12 week mark the group practicing Buteyko exercises had reduced their bronchodilator (reliever) medication by 96%, whereas the control group had no significant improvement.

    Bronchodilator Reduction

    Inhaled Steroid Reduction
    The Buteyko Breathing Method allowed asthmatics to reduce their anti-inflammatory medication by 49% over three months, whereas the control group had no reduction.

    Bronchodilator Reduction

     Breathing Rates

    The initial clinical testing demonstrated that all participants at rest hyperventilated. The Buteyko techniques teach asthma sufferers to reduce their breathing to normal levels.

    Buteyko subjects reduced their hyperventilation by an average of 31% in their minute volume at twelve weeks. There was no significant change in the control group.

    Bronchodilator Reduction

    There was a correlation between the relative reduction in need for bronchodilators and the proportionate reduction in minute volumes in Buteyko subjects; that is, the subject's need for bronchodilator medication was related to the volume of air they breathed. The more air an individual breathed, the more bronchodilator that person needed.

    This research supports:

    a) the known link between hyperventilation and asthma

    b) the effectiveness of the Buteyko Method in normalizing breathing

    c) the relationship between the normalization of breathing and the reduced need for medication

    The outcome of the Brisbane trial has led the Australian National Asthma Campaign to include Buteyko in their next doctor's asthma Management Handbook, giving official blessing to the Buteyko Method.

    At present, similar trials are planned in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. The Victorian Asthma Foundation has made AUD$20,000 available for further research into Buteyko.

    Click here to read a full version of the trial published in the Australian Medical Journal.

    From Mike: 
    All the alt.support.asthma above seems to direct one  toward the western medical model of drugs and steroids. 
    Using my optimal breathing techniques I have had people reduce their inhalers by 100% in one day.

    So. I would sum it up to say that Buteyko can be a good emergency medical approach for some.  I believe it is inherently misleading towards the healthiest way to breathe.  It has a distinct western medical "illness model" bias.  Shallow breathing eventually will cause the rib cage to be unable to expand as it should UDB.

    Shallow breathing also inhibits the natural massage of the internal organs UDB. Making the body better efficient to use less oxygen is I believe sub-optimal.  Making an organism more efficient such as endogenous respiration (compressing intra lung pressure  to make oxygen  more concentrated in the blood) is good (more efficient) up to a point. Efficiency does not beget ease if it is very much smaller in volume UDB.  Efficiency can only compensate for volume up to a certain point.

    Also, there is a nervous system aspect that  has to do with the parasympathetic depth and its relationship to the relaxation/rest/digest/heal  response.  Without volume and rib cage expansion there is loss of deepest rest. 

    The ultimate for relaxation, healing, oxygenation would be volume AND efficiency.  Then the optimal capacity becomes reachable. Otherwise volume and ease are slowly lost to efficiency.  Efficiency also has a stress component to it. Volume does not. The larger car engine runs slower and smoother. The smaller one faster and less smooth.

    Take careful note of the oxygen information on the upper left of this page.  Judge for yourself whether you believe CO2 is more important or is oxygen the primary focus for a long, healthy and vibrant life. 

    Note the information on hyperbaric oxygen chambers.  If the CO2 theory were accurate then a having massive amounts of O2 would cause massive wheezing and clearly it does not.  Educate yourself and make your choice. 

    Newspaper interview.
    I also need to mention the fact that I was interviewed for the Daily Mirror in London about an article they were doing on "breathing".  It sells 8 million daily and I was very happy about doing the interview. The interviewer spent around 4 hours over 2 days in transatlantic phone calls asking me many , many questions.

    When I finally saw the article I was aghast to see  that it was really about Buteyko. This fact had never been mentioned.  I was set up and quoted completely out of context as I had no idea the article was being written about Buteyko.

    I recently received an email from a man that represented Buteyko and had his power of attorney that he sent me a copy of. We had a running 7 email dialogue where I offered to have him come to America as my guest and stay with me and join forces to see how we can discover new ways of addressing asthma.

    His response was "I am really sorry to say but you as well as many many other practitioners in western countries know next to nothing about Breathing.  Actually you are copying each other.  However - nothing personal, Mike"

    That said. 
    I have developed a simple way to change the mechanics of the breath that begins to reduce need for excessive inhaler usage. I call it the Squeeze and Breathe. I have purposefully linked this page the OXYGEN menu above and to the left. It is part of our No More Asthma self help program.  Or begin with it and go from there. Med J Aust. 2001 Jan 15;174(2):64-5.

    The effects of carbon dioxide on exercise-induced asthma: an unlikely explanation for the effects of Buteyko breathing training

    Al-Delaimy WK, Hay SM, Gain KR, Jones DT, Crane J.

    Wellington School of Medicine, New Zealand.

    OBJECTIVES: To examine the effect of breathing 3% CO2 on exercise-induced asthma (EIA), as a raised airway CO2 level is suggested to mediate the effects of Buteyko breathing training (BBT).

    DESIGN: Double-blind crossover study, using a standard laboratory-based exercise challenge, with EIA defined as a fall of 15% or greater in the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) within 30 minutes of completing a standard exercise protocol.

    SUBJECTS: 10 adults with confirmed EIA. 

    INTERVENTION: Air enriched with 3% CO2 during and for 10 minutes after exercise.

    OUTCOME MEASURES: Maximum percentage fall in FEV1 after exercise. Area under curve (AUC) of the decrease in FEV1 with time. 

    RESULTS: Mean maximum fall in FEV1 was similar: 19.9% with air, and 26.9% with 3% CO2 (P = 0.12). The mean AUC for the total 30-minute post-exercise period was 355 for air and 520 for 3% CO2 (P = 0.07). After discontinuing the 3% CO2 at 10 minutes after exercise, there was a further and sustained fall in FEV1.

    Mean AUC for the period 10-30 minutes post-exercise was significantly greater for CO2 than air (275 and 137, respectively [P = 0.02]). Mean minute ventilation was increased when subjects exercised breathing 3% CO2: 77.5 L/min for 3% CO2, compared with 68.7 L/min for air (P = 0.02).

    CONCLUSION: Breathing 3% CO2 during exercise does not prevent EIA. The shape of the FEV1 response curve after 3% CO2 suggests that a greater degree of EIA (because of increased minute ventilation during exercise) was opposed by a direct relaxant effect of CO2 on the airway. Increased airway CO2 alone is an unlikely mechanism for the reported benefits of BBT; nevertheless, further study of the effects of voluntary hypoventilation in asthma is warranted.
    Publication Types:

    • Clinical Trial
    • Randomized Controlled Trial    

    PMID: 11245506 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] On November 3 2004 I learned that the Hale Clinic In the UK had ceased using the Buteyko method. I find this confusing as the technique does have some benefit for some people.

    The Hale clinic was to the best of my knowledge the non Russian western world's  leading proponent of the technique. I suspect that the Buteyko method, while effective with some may worsen sleep apnea with many others.

    Email to Mike: Mike's answers in bold.

    So essentially what you're saying is that Buteyko reduces one's need for oxygen?  I doubt anyone can ever get too much oxygen or needs less than they can get breathing naturally.  More oxygen is definitely better. Mountain training (under reduced oxygen) is not about learning to need less oxygen for health, it is about extreme conditioning that may be unhealthy in the long or short term.

    Actually, slowing the breathing down (overbreathing antidotes are to change to slower, less deeper breathing so O2 uptake may be improved but volume is lessened) can improve O2 uptake due to lessened Sympathetic Nervous System vasoconstriction but to me Buteyko does it in a negative way that is indirect to what I see as the real cause and makes O2 seem bad.

    To me it is the WAY they breathe, their breathing upper and lower hemisphere-balance and sequencing and speed that invites excessive vaso-constriction and O2 lessening, not the overbreathing/breathing more. It is to me more an issue of balance of the Sympathtic) fight, flight, freeze, fake it, fumble, fun) and parasympathetic (rest, digest and heal) then faster, deeper over breathing.

    When one has developed a strong enough  parasympathetic breath as described as "the bottom of the pear" in our 176 Fundamentals Training video/dvd) one can maintain focus and function in spite of any excessive energy caused by breathing more/over-breathing.

    One HUGE benefit of this ability is increased oxygen reserves. 
    O2 reserves developed this way create awesome energy for stamina, recovery and self healing due to extra oxygen saturation but it must be accessed without excessive sympathetic stimulation/vasoconstriction that leads to the symptoms that Buteyko, asthma drugs and steroids TRY to address and primarily/only muffle the symptoms. 

    Still, all things being equal one can only breathe so fast for so long a time then excessive energy begins to cause "distortions" of perception.  But given a enough strong parasympathetic foundation, these "distortions" often include strong but tolerable and manageable feelings of joy and gladness,  laughter, orgasms, and ecstasy. There is a developable optimal breathing skill level to all this. It starts here.

    " A recent email. Mike's answers in bold. "


    Are you an MD? Not at all. I simply study breathing.   I have read hundreds of pages on the Buteyko method that was formulated by very skilled doctors over the course of decades.  I have read some of your opinions on the Buteyko method, and it does not appear that you have a total grasp of what is going on. 

    I think some of the concerns that you have are valid however.  Once a patient sees improvement, and the brain begins to maintain a higher level of CO2, they must push themselves with exercise. Why should they have to do that?

    It is there that increased lung capacity is achieved.  Even if someone sees less constriction and inflammation, the lungs will not improve in performance unless training takes place. Not so for a significant percentage of gain as experienced by our Breathing Kit Techniques. Many of these patients are long time sufferers, and the lungs have lost some capacity. 

    Some may be permanent. Not likely. Most can make significant improvement.   But I suspect that many do not go beyond "getting rid of the symptoms threshhold", and over-all lung performance does not improve. Most can make significant improvement.  So far we have a very high percentage of success.

    This is one of the facts that western medicine argues against this method. The fact still remains that people do improve, and they can do more activity with less mess. I agree. It is just not the all to be all that it is represented to be. 

    The problem is people are lazy, lazy may not be the most productive way to think of this. I think of it as either they quickly forget they had a problem or it returns and they do not have the juice to get the juice.  and once symptoms get better, they simply go on without taking advantage of new potential. 

    Yes, sadly many take breathing for granted until they can't do it anymore. The purpose of this method is to retrain the brain-stem to use higher (more healthy) levels of CO2 to regulate breathing, and keep smooth muscles dilated. 

     If that is accurate it is to me limited/limiting. Then when one exercises, respiration rate and depth of breath will increase, but the brain will try to maintain a higher level of CO2 than before treatment. Agreed You seem to be going after the same result, but focusing more on the mechanics. Absolutely. 

    I think a good mix of the two are best. Again I agree and that is why we have integrated slowing the breathing down  in our 4 Week program. But it is but 1/12th of the options, albeit an important one. The issue is HOW one slows it down.The way many representations I have heard about it the way they go about it does not stem from properly developing it but just slowing it down. 

    There is a high blood pressure machine that gets similar results. Slows breathing down but without really properly developing it. Using automobiles as an example we create "larger breathing engines". They run slower and smoother. Larger and balanced PNS dominant is key. 

    I have high blood pressure, panic attacks, hiatal hernia, and many other issues.  I have seen some very good results so far using the Buteyko method.  This is after a week.  Good for you. Keep it up As long as it works I have no problem with it but remember the threshhold and plan to table out. But if you do not carefuly measure for that such as with timed and distanced fast walking  you may never know it is occurring. 

     I have found that my ability to get over the hump has improved with this technique, even though I am focusing on shallower breaths. Makes sense getting over the hump should be handled in a few days to weeks with our techniques but it will not address deeper issues of restricted mechanics.  

    My chest is more clear and open than it has been in years!  I do believe that my mechanics need some work, and I have been doing some exercises to better utilize my diaphragm.  I have always been a mouth and chest breather.  This is a very hard habit to break, but I am making progress. 

    I am also going to try a breathing device designed in Russia that automatically mixes incoming and outgoing air to raise CO2 in the lungs to 6-6.5%.  This seems less traumatic than holding ones breath, and achieves the same goal. Same issue.

    Illness model that allows initial improvement and creates a plateau caused by the tensions from breathing resistance and altitude training.  The illness model RARELY if ever gets you above being barely well, and rarely if ever gets you VERY WELL.

    I may take a further look at your program down the line, but the finances are not going to allow it at this point. I know that the Buteyko method is sort of "competition" to you. Not really. I want people to do what works for them. But I would hope that you could work the positive aspects in. There is way too much evidence our there to dismiss it's utility.  There is very compelling data.  One just has to weed through some of the marketing rhetoric and get to the basis of what it can do to improve our lives. AMEN. But ours works better. A larger engine when properly balanced, runs smoother and slower and its power output is more efficient.  mike 

    Another recent email, mike's comments in bold.

    "As you surmise, Buteyko has completely missed the point of his own observations. The problem apparently lies in the questions he asked ... he was looking for the specific cause of a symptom, and he ended up transforming, in his own mind anyway, general functions of the body with specific events and outcomes.

    1. Respiration performs two primary functions:  THREE. the Third is conscious to habituated (hopefully in a healthy functional way) with PNS dominance. It is trained but becomes automatic therefore primary as well.
    2. Oxygenation, bringing oxygen (O2) into the body. 
      b. Elimination, removing light metabolic acid byproducts (primarily as CO2) from the body. 
      2. Exhalation controls respiration. That is, the strength and ability for the lungs to expand of our exhalator muscles largely determines the degree to which we empty our lungs when we exhale and therefore our capacity to inhale. In addition, our vitality with respect to cardiopulmonary function has a significant influence. most definitely but never confuse conditioning with volume, ease and balance with a dominant PNS. We want BOTH conditioning AND volume.
      a. So what do we mean when we say that someone hyperventilates?  Deeper and too high chest
      We mean that this person is exhaling spastically,not exactly. It is more SNS biased via high chest  spewing out CO2 and not allowing time for his/her lungs to reinflate. So of course his/her body rapidly becomes depleted of both CO2 and O2 at the same time.  However if the deeper breathing is dominant PNS the body vaso dilates and the law of mass action fills the plasma and transfers to the hemoglobin regardless of what the CO2  5% advocates believe. 
      b. But none of these things is the problem ... all symptoms. The problem is located in the cause of the hyperventilation, which is likely not even discussed. (Certainly not in the excerpt, below.) 
      3. Relaxation inherently leads to slow, deep breathing, not the reverse. Better said  PNS based relaxation instead of SNS reduction inherently leads to slow, deep breathing, not the reverse. When we breathe deeply (only if PNS based) , our entire being becomes better oxygenated AND our elimination improves ... both benefits occur together. 
      a. The deep breathing Buteyko observed in those dying patients likely reflects their letting go of holding onto life, their relaxation into death.  Cross breathing aka co-medition is an ancient Tibetan peaceful transitioning to the next expression technique. Many find it spontaneously.  But such an interpretation would be "off the map" for a medically minded researcher. And since we humans tend to find what we are looking for AMEN, he would never have "found" this understanding of his own observations. Instead, he attempted to translate everything into symptoms, and conditions ... to medicalize it all.Yep. He did what he was trained to do, nothing more, nothing less. 
      4. Tension is the opposite of relaxation. This is equally true in physics, engineering, biology ... across the sciences and in our everyday vernacular. Spasm consists of uncontrolled bursts of extreme tension ... literally, hypertension. That is, spasm is the antithesis of relaxation. And to say that hyperventilation leads to hypertension is really oxymoronic. But it does by definition. I am referring not to the traditoinal illness model hyperventilation when the SNS is stronger (too strong) but to MY definition called hyper-INHALATION when it is PNS dominant.
      5. Regarding his experiments to raise and lower his own breathing: breathing is an autonomic function. Most people cannot consciously control it for more than a short time, and not all all during sleep. Not exactly true. The fundamental way you breathe during during waking hours is significantly carried over into sleep. 
      6. But he was correct in this regard: Chronic deoxygenation of the system is indeed a primary "deficiency", and therefore a primary cause of impaired vitality. AGREED and nutrition and metabolism is also a key factor.  Not "disease", for that refers only to some collection of symptoms. Yep. Rather, loss of capacity to live, and therefore vulnerability to whatever may come along. The only unpredictable element lies in "whatever may come along", hence the diversity of diagnoses associated with this (and other) causes of "disease". Sounds good so far. mike white

      Make sense? 

    Hello Michael White, how are you? (mike's comments in bold)
    I am writing because I am interested in ordering one or more of your products, however I have a lot of confusion about my breathing and what may be right for me so I hope I can ask some questions before ordering.
    Firstly I want to say that my main problem is hyperventilation and an irregular breathing pattern. I think I breathe faster than I should but that is not the main problem - I also breath from my chest and tend to hold it in and also I think to use too much effort breathing and push out too much air when I breath out. Good insight.

    I have had for many years a lot of physical symptoms which I realized some months ago were related to my breathing. The most bothersome are altered skin sensations but also include feeling out of breath a lot - especially when talking or singing or even just walking at times, having an irritable bladder, low back pain, mental tension, tiredness, worry.

    stress, sore muscles, tension in chest etc.etc. I have had various scans and medical tests all which seem to be normal. I do have a very mild level of anaemia but doctors didn't seem to find it significant enough to take iron pills. www.breathing.com/e3live.htm
    When I first realized about my breathing  being the main cause I think I twigged partly because I was trying to practise yoga pranayama, and noticed that instead of making these sensations in my skin feel better as I hoped, it would often trigger or worsen all the symptoms. not surprised.

     Also I understood that the reason I feel worse when I'm at the computer is because my breathing gets really bad when I am doing that. It seems like only a small increase in my breathing sets everything off. see attached. 
    Well to cut a long story short I have been very frustrated trying to improve my breathing. I first bought a home teach buteyko kit. (I live in .... as my husband is ...., although I'm ....) and nobody here has heard of hyperventilation or knows how to treat it at least where I am. We do. 

    The buteyko method involves reducing your breathing for set periods of time and also some out breath holding. While I sometimes got a lot of relaxation in my mind when practicing this, I also found that afterwards, the practices seemed to increase my out of breath feeling, and reducing the breathing so fast also seems to trigger some of the same symptoms as over-breathing and I was finding it hard to get the balance right, so I finally gave up.  

     My main dissatisfaction with that was that although it teaches you to reduce your breathing there isn't much emphasis on anatomically how to breathe right. Exactly. I have been trying to practice diaphragm breathing and sometimes it does seem to come better but I still don't really know what is actually the correct breath because I think when I was starting I was pushing out my belly and that didn't feel right.
    Reading your program has given me some hope, however before purchasing anything - (in ......money it is a lot for me).  I would really be happy if you could answer the following questions!!
    In your website you have a quote by Elizabeth Browning - he who breaths most air breaths most life. But my understanding is the more I breath the worse I feel!! It is the pattern not the air.
    Also in your information you mention deep breathing a lot , but when I did the yoga deep breathing that seems to involve taking in even more air and also triggering symptoms. PROPER deep breathing. 

    You also mention bellows breath (bhastrika) which to me means fast breathing and I am a bit concerned about doing that type of breathing. I don't really know what deep breathing means - can you explain briefly? 
    Also I know that a lot of hyperventilation correction people recommend having an outbreath twice as long as the in breath. I am sure there must be logic for that - but when I was practicing the pranayama before I found that practices such as chanting OM or humming bee breath involve breathing out a long out breath and they were what triggered the symptoms more than anything? I suppose because my already low CO2 is getting more and more depleted. Does your program involve making a very long out-breath?  Not for you. 
    Finally in Buteyko they recommend paying attention to your breathing all the time to stop hyperventilation. Baloney. That will drive some people crazy. I can understand why they say this but at times I felt like I got obsessed and being conscious of my breath all the time made it worse also - do you have any recommendations about that?
     I don't know fully what is going on with my breathing but I suspect it is a bit more complex than just hyperventilation and I wonder - given the information I'm giving you if your program is likely to be appropriate.  It should be . 
    I really hope you may be able to help because i have been really in despair about not being able to correct this - I really do have a lot of discomfort because of this and have even felt suicidal at times before I knew what was going on -  it feels like everything in my life would be fine if only I could manage to breathe!! Breath is life in many ways.
    Also if I do purchase some of your products to help me  and I get stuck, to what degree can I email to ask for help or what would you recommend I do in that case?  Within reason. Or you can pay for a private webcam session if needed. 

    As I am in ..... to have one to one sessions is not a option at least at the moment.
    Click here AND the BVS option. mike
    many thanks for your time and I really hope to hear from you soon,

    "As you've noted Buyteko breathing is very unpleasant to practice. I much prefer your techniques. They seem more intuitively correct and achieve a similar end of hugely slowing the breathing while utilizing all of the lungs." Kurt

     Warm regards, j


    Included in a recent letter to Mike White from Charles D. Connor, President and CEO American Lung Association. "The recent study published by Robert L. Cowie et al in Respiratory Medicine, which was on of the largest controlled trials of Buteyko, found no difference in the degree of improvements between Buteyko and control groups. The author stated that it was "difficult" to "attribute the results" of the study, and recommended further research"


    "Research into the use of the Buteyko method has focused almost exclusively on the treatment of asthma, and have had methodological problems. Studies have not found objective measures to support its use such as improvement in lung function, though there are results showing.

    It could possibly improve subjective measures such as asthma symptoms and quality of lifeReviews of this literature have generally concluded that the evidence is not strong enough to recommend its use based on the available evidence. Those exceptions that have recommended considering its use have noted it should be used as an adjunct to more traditional therapies and is unlikely to affect or cure the underlying cause of asthma."

    Asthma and oxygen

    Back to Mike. 
    Asthma is a mixture of several factors, none of which are clearly defined so as to make any program 100% dependable. 
    Try Buteyko anyway. See what you get. It may or may not help. Just do not assume it is the all to be all.

    In closing, the bottom line is that shortness of breath symptoms have been reduced with improved diet, environment, breath holding, extending the exhale, fasting, emotional balance or catharsis and developing one's breathing. None of these involve drugs or steroids. Learn about UDB.  Better breathing is possible for everyone.  Our approach to asthma.

    Lyme and Buteyko . Mike's answers in bold

    I have a question, I'm struggling with meshing the concepts that 

    1) breath training to reduce the breath (the O2-Co2 relationship is often confusing due to what you outlined.  One camp has the too much oxygen and the other has too little oxygen. It is not about oxygen so much as the breathing pattern.

    When  the pattern is too high chest it causes vaso constriction and hyperstimulaton. Oxygen is clearly an aid for lyme and has been with hyperbaric chambers for many years.  But the hyperbaric is too pricey for most and not insurable for very long  hence our leaning towards oxygen enhanced exercise and rest. www.myoxygenmachine.com . 

    Again, breathrate and hight chest pattern is the key as when they are both together they vasoconstrict blood vessels and hyperstim the adrenals and cortisol levels and wear out the immune system.  AND the breathing PATTERN STILL needs to be PNS (lower abdominal) dominant.  That is the tricky part, decrease hyperventilation and over inhalation of oxygen and lack of enough co2 is beneficial to health and 

    2) breathing in oxygen from an oxygen concentrator to increase oxygen intake is beneficial to health

    It seems like it should be one or the other is best since they contradict...less oxygen with breath training and more oxygen with supplementing with concentrator. Back to the breathing pattern. Breath rate and high chest pattern is the key as when they are both together they vasoconstrict blood vessels and hyperstim the adrenals and cortisol levels and wear out your immune system.

    Options: Either get a hard case hyperbaric chamber which we can help you find or our O2E2 and exercise and sleep with it. www.myoxygenmachine.com   Again, the breathing PATTERN STILL needs to be PNS (lower abdominal) dominant.  So we add the breathing mastery kit.


    This post came closest as it somewhat calmed him down (we do that as a matter of course but you see he still has lyme. Our aproach is to develop the breathing "engine" so it runs slower and naturally deeper and allow the immune system to strengthen. 

    Buteyko is over simplified and part of the equation but only about 80% of optimal breathing.  I can show you a faster way of using the pause/breath effectively but if you must maybe try B and see how it works so we can have that experience teach you how well it works if at all. It is after all part of our system though we call it extended pause instead of control pause. Same thing. 

    Economically i would do the O2E2 and the Mastery kit each day. Hope this helps. 
    Coordinating all this will probably require a few fee based skype sessions over time.  Call if you need more info 704.597.6775  EST.  mike

    Lyme disease

    To develop the breathing pattern to slower and more belly/lower abdominal based.


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