How to beat asthma?

It may seem that this method is contrary to common sense: according to the Buteyko method, people who suffocate or are under severe stress should breathe not deeply but superficially and slowly through the nose, breaking the vicious circle of sharp fast breaths, compressing the respiratory tract and breathing.

I don’t often write about alternative treatments for people with serious illnesses. Most of them are practically inactive, the effectiveness of only a few of them has been confirmed by clinical studies. In such studies, patients are assigned one or more courses of treatment and their effectiveness is evaluated, and neither the patients nor the doctors evaluating the effectiveness of the treatment are informed of which courses were prescribed.

However, now, talking about an alternative method of treating asthma, which in our country has not yet received high marks from official medicine (although it is taught in medical institutions in Russia, and it is covered by insurance in Australia), I go beyond my usually rigid scientific criteria for three reasons.

Treatment is a breathing technique developed half a century ago — harmless if practiced correctly under the guidance of a trained therapist.

This method can help improve health and improve the standard of living of many people with asthma, and at the same time save budget funds.

I saw with my own eyes how this method miraculously helped my friend David Vibe, who had to refuse treatment with hormonal drugs, thanks to which he supported his own life.

Mr. Vibe, 58, a resident of Woodstock, New York, a famous manufacturer of violins and cellos, 48 ​​years suffered from the most severe form of asthma, for twenty years received treatment with bronchodilators (bronchodilators) and steroids. Ten years ago, Mr. Vibe started having vision problems, which gradually worsened, until finally he was diagnosed with macular degeneration caused by hormones. Two leading specialists in the field of retina said that he should stop taking hormones if he wants to maintain his vision. He did so and several times got into intensive care with severe asthma attacks, which made him temporarily return to taking hormones to support life. No other methods of treatment helped him.

“After a couple of years I couldn’t live and work normally,” he confessed to me. “I was ready to lose my sight and return to taking hormones, only to make it easier for me to breathe.”

Treatment from the 1950s

Last spring, someone told him about the Buteyko method, the shallow breathing technique developed in 1952 by the Russian doctor Konstantin Buteyko. Mr. Vibe watched a video on YouTube and repeated the instructions in it.

“I felt my airways relax and open,” he recalls, “it was really impressive. Two participants of the exercises on the video were practically disabled, because of asthma, they could not go to work. They both admitted that the exercises were difficult, but allowed them to reduce the medication by 75%. And the level of their life gradually returned to normal. ” Mr. Vibe began searching for information and found the Buteyko Center in the United States in his hometown of Woodstock. This is the newly created official North American representation of Buteyko Clinic in Moscow.

“I came to the Center without much hope,” recalls Mr. Vibe, “for 24 hours I used the inhaler more than 20 times. If I was exposed to some kind of irritant or allergen, it could become a threat to life, and I again had to go back to hormonal drugs in order to escape death. It was terrible”.

However, after three months of training and supporting lessons on the shallow breathing technique, he said: “I use the inhaler no more than once a day and do not take medicine, only doing breathing exercises.”

Mr. Vibe does not say that he is completely cured, although he believes that this can happen if he continues to do the exercises regularly. He says: “The level of my life has grown beyond all expectations. It’s amazing. More people need to know about this method. ”

Usually during an asthma attack, people begin to panic and breathe quickly and as deeply as possible, exhaling more and more carbon dioxide. Respiratory rate is not controlled by the level of oxygen, but by the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which regulates the acid-base level of the blood.

Dr. Buteyko found that hyperventilation – too frequent and deep breathing – may be the main cause of asthma, worsening the condition of patients, due to the fact that the level of carbon dioxide in the blood decreases so much that the respiratory tract is compressed to prevent its further loss.

It may seem that this method is contrary to common sense: according to the Buteyko method, people who suffocate or are under severe stress should breathe not deeply but superficially and slowly through the nose, breaking the vicious circle of sharp fast breaths, compressing the respiratory tract and breathing.

I was intrigued by shallow breathing because I discovered its benefits during my daily activities in the pool. I noticed that the swimmers, who took a deep breath during each push, stopped to catch their breath, swam a couple of tracks, while I took small breaths after a few strokes and could swim, without getting tired, endlessly.

Teachers of the Buteyko method in Woodstock – Sasha and Tomas Yakovlev-Fredriksen, were trained in Moscow with Dr. Andrey Novozhilov, a student of Buteyko. Learning from them consists of two courses in five classes: one – on breathing techniques, the second – on the right way of life. Exercises on breathing techniques allow patients to gradually increase the time between breaths. Previously, Mr. Vibe was forced to inhale every two seconds, and now he can, if need be, at rest, inhale every 10 seconds.

The reaction may be different

Dr. Marie S. Lingat, a professional pulmonologist, Mr. Vibe’s doctor, told me: “Objective evidence shows that his breathing has improved since April, especially since he does not take hormones. The goal now is to continue these improvements. The Buteyko method works for him, but this does not mean that it will work for all asthma patients. ”

In an interview, Ms. Yakovleva-Fredriksen said: “People do not realize that too much air can only damage their health. Almost every asthmatic breathes through his mouth, taking deep, sharp breaths that cause bronchospasm – the apogee of asthma. ”

“We teach people to breathe through their nose, even while they are talking or sleeping, so as not to lose too much carbon dioxide,” she adds.

Patients at the Center in Woodstock are also taught how to cope with stress, how to exercise so that it does not lead to hyperventilation, and what food to exclude from the diet, since it can provoke asthma attacks in some people.

The teachers emphasize that patients undergoing training using the Buteyko method never offer to refuse to take medicine. However, clinical trials in Australia and in other countries have revealed that the majority of patients have been able to significantly reduce their dependence on drugs. Various experiments, including a study conducted in the UK for 384 patients, revealed that, on average, for those patients who regularly practice according to the Buteyko method, the need to use an inhaler is reduced by 90% and by 50% three to six months.

The British Thoracic Society assigned a “B” rating to the vehicle. This means that the improvements during the research actually occurred due to the use of the Buteyko method, and not for other reasons. Perhaps it is time for America’s medical community and pharmaceutical companies to explore the potential of this non-drug method.

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