Breathing Retraining: From Sick/Victims to Superhumans

All Clinical Trials of the Buteyko Method

There were 6 randomized controlled trials of the Buteyko method (follow these links in order to read abstracts). You can click on a link to read the abstract of the trial of scroll down (they are all on this page):
• 1995, Mater Hospital, Brisbane, Australia (asthma)
• 1999, Alfred Hospital, Prahan, Australia (asthma)
• 2003, Gisborne Hospital, Gisborne, New Zealand (asthma)
• 2003, Division of Respiratory Medicine, City Hospital, Nottingham, United Kingdom (asthma)
• 2006, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (asthma)
• 2008 Calgary COPD and Asthma Program, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (asthma)

Soviet medical approbations and trials of the Buteyko method

Apart from asthma, there were Soviet medical approbations or trials on heart disease, cancer, liver cirrhosis and hepatitis B, radiation disease, and HIV-AIDS. The Soviet health care system, for political and social reasons, had always been more centralized than Western ones. Innovations in medicine were usually introduced by the Soviet authorities and health care bureaucracy. New ideas and drugs were often tested in hospitals and research Institutes, which provided higher authorities with reports about the results. In the West, as we know, results of scientific studies or trials are usually published in journals. While the Soviet approach was different, the reliability of their information was comparable. Directors, managers and project leaders of corresponding organizations and departments put their signatures to official reports about such Soviet trials and their approbations. These people were personally responsible for the trustworthiness of the results and their names and copies of the relevant documents, related to the Buteyko trials as well, are still archived in Russia and Ukraine.

Soviet medical approbations and trials of the Buteyko method and health conditions addressed:
• 1981, Sechenov's Med Inst, Moscow, USSR (asthma, with pneumonia, rhinitis, chronic tonsillitis)
• 1990, Shevchenko's Central Hospital, Kiev, Ukraine (radiation disease)
• 1991, Kiev Scientific and Research Instit of Epidemiol and Infect Diseases, Ukraine (HIV-AIDS)
• 1991, Kiev Scient and Res Inst of Epidemiol and Infect Diseases, Ukraine (hepatitis B and liver cirrhosis)
• 2001 Zaporozhsky State Institute of Further Medical Education, Zaporozhie, Ukraine (cancer)

The Buteyko method is applied only for patients with alveolar hyperventilation, since the goal of the technique is to breathe less. This Table with 34 medical research studies (minute ventilation in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, COPD, ...) suggests which diseases can be addressed with the Buteyko method.


All clinical trials and approbations of the Buteyko breathing method

(in chronological order, with summary and references)

• 1968, Institute of Pulmonology, Leningrad, USSR (bronchial asthma, hypertension and angina pectoris)

50 patients with severe bronchial asthma, hypertension and angina pectoris, all of them with many years of heavy medication, most with steroid deficiencies and organic complications; success rate 95% (Khoroscho, 1982).

Khoroscho A, Interview with Buteyko [in Russian] 1982, in Buteyko method. Its application in medical practice, ed. by K.P. Buteyko, 2nd ed., 1991, Titul, Odessa, p.168-180.


• 1981, Sechenov's Med Inst, Moscow, USSR (asthma, with pneumonia, rhinitis, chronic tonsillitis)

52 children (34 in-patients and 18 out-patients; 3-15 years old) with regular asthma attacks (once per day or more); 41 of them had pneumonia, 27 rhinitis, 36 chronic tonsillitis. All had problems with breathing through the nose, palpitations, and were bronchodilator users. In 1-5 days the patients were able to stop the attacks, cough, blocked nose, and wheezing, using the method. Observations in 1-3 months showed considerable improvements (cessation of heavy attacks or a total disappearance of the symptoms) in 83%, some improvement (less heavy attacks and considerable reduction in medication) in remaining 17%. Their average CP increased from 4 to 30 s, aCO2 from 25 to 36 mm Hg. Higher blood concentrations of IgA, IgM, IgG, and IgE were found, according to laboratory reports. Blood pressure normalised, forced expiratory volume raised over 5 times. Significant increases in lung volume, expiratory speed, and other parameters were found. Average breath holding time (CP) increased from about 3-6 s to over 30 s. For more information on this trial, visit http://www.buteyko.com/research/trials/index_trials.html.


• Reports from two conferences in Moscow and Krasnojarsk in 1988 (large variety of health problems)

In addition to these trials, there were about 30 published reports (Buteyko method, 1992) of about 40 Russian medical doctors and health professionals, who met during two conferences in Moscow and Krasnojarsk in 1988 in order to share their practical experience of application of the Buteyko method in over 20 medical hospitals and clinics in Russia. The total reported number of treated people, according to the published conference proceedings (Buteyko, 1991), was over 3,000. Although most of them had respiratory (asthma, bronchitis, rhinitis, etc.) and cardiovascular (hypertension, angina pectoris, ischemia, etc.) problems, hundreds were treated or relieved from arthritis, osteoporosis, epilepsy, ulcers, gastritis, kidney stone problems, hepatitis, different infertility conditions, skin diseases (e.g., dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema), etc. Typical reported results were either some or essential improvement for over 90% patients, while remaining patients were not able to normalise their breathing parameters due to absence of desire or motivation and quitting the method during its initial stages. Thus, those patients who achieved large CPs significantly improved their health state. Normalization of breathing always leads to dissapperance of symptoms and no need for medication.

Buteyko method. Its application in medical practice, ed. by K.P. Buteyko, 1991, 2nd edition, Titul, Odessa.


• 1990, Shevchenko's Central Hospital, Kiev, Ukraine (radiation disease)

50 patients with radiation sickness due to Chernobyl's nuclear plant disaster. 82% patients had considerable improvement in blood analysis, cardiovascular parameters (blood pressure, pulse, etc.), work of the digestive system, and reduction in medication. No cases of side effects or complications due to the breathing exercises were reported (Bebeshko et al, 1990; p.221, Zimchenko & Romanenko, 1991).

Bebeshko VG, Denisyuk AB, Act regarding the clinical trial of VEDB (Volitional Elimination of Deep Breathing) method or the Buteyko method in accordance with the Cooperation Agreement of January 3, 1990 between the USSR AMS (Academy of Medical Sciences) NRMRC (National Radiation Medical Research Centre) and the therapeutic center "Buteyko Breathing" during 1990, Kiev, 1990.

Zimchenko VN & Romanenko NF, Conclusions on practical trial of Buteyko method, conducted in Department of Radiation Pathology of Central Republican Hospital of Shevchenko region (Ukraine) during 06.03.1990-07.04.1990 [in Russian], in Buteyko method. Its application in medical practice, ed. by K.P. Buteyko, 2nd ed., 1991, Titul, Odessa, p.222-227.


• 1991, Kiev Scientific and Res Inst of Epidemiol and Infect Diseases, Ukraine (HIV-AIDS)

This trial involved 7 young patients with AIDS, two of them had HIV-infection in the lympho-adenopathic stage (Frolov et al, 1991a). Progression of this disease is usually accompanied by a variety of symptoms and complaints in the digestive, immune, cardiovascular, respiratory, hormonal and other systems. The official documents of the Institute provided information about improvements in clinical symptoms and the patients’ quality of life such as emotional stability, irritability, panic attacks, chronic fatigue, insomnia, digestive complaints and some other factors. All symptoms were relieved with no side effects due to breathing retraining. More about this HIV-AIDS trial...


• 1991, Kiev Scient and Res Inst of Epidemiol and Infect Diseases, Ukraine (hepatitis B and liver cirrhosis)

30 patients, mostly 20-40 years old, diagnosed with acute (6 patients) and chronic (18 patients) hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver (6 patients) applied the Buteyko method, while continuing to use traditional medication (Frolov et al, 1991b). 28 patients had remissions of their symptoms while 25 showed improvements in their blood test results. The official documents report 93% success rate.

Frolov AF, Buteyko KP, Vovk AD, Novosel’tsev VA, Degtyareva RM, Report about approbation of the VEDB (voluntary elimination of deep breathing) method or the Buteyko method in the Clinic of the KSRIEID (Kiev Scientific and Research Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases) on patients with acute and chronic hepatitis, and liver cirrhosis during 10 January-30 April 1991, Kiev, 1991b.


• 1995, Mater Hospital, Brisbane, Australia (asthma)

20 patients with a long history of asthma and significant medication. In 3 months, they decreased use of relievers (bronchodilators) by 96%, preventers (inhaled steroids) by 49%. Minute volume decreased from 14 l/min to 9.6 l/min. The symptoms' score was improved by 71% (Bowler et al, 1998).

Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA, Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a blinded randomized controlled trial, Med J of Australia 1998; 169: p. 575-578.


• 1997, Perth Academy of Natural Therapies, Australia (chronic fatigue syndrome)

A study by Shellie Gaskin, as a partial fulfillment for a Diploma of Naturopathy, was conducted on 15 people diagnosed with CFS. There were following improvements: fatigue 87%, night sweats 75%, depression 70%, allergies 66%, anxiety 66%, muscular aches 60%, difficulty sleeping 54%, and headaches 50%. After 10-12 weeks all those who continued their breathing exercise regimes reported a 100% reduction in fatigue.


• 1999, Alfred Hospital, Prahan, Australia (asthma)

18 patients with mild to moderate asthma were taught the Buteyko method by a video and compared with 18 control subjects (Opat et al, 2000). The study found a significant improvement in quality of life and significant reduction in inhaled steroid use.

Opat AJ, Cohen MM, Bailey MJ, Abramson MJ, A clinical trial of the Buteyko Breathing Technique in asthma as taught by a Video, J Asthma 2000; 37(7): p. 557-564.


• 2001 Zaporozhsky State Institute of Further Medical Education, Zaporozhie, Ukraine (cancer)

One hundred twenty patients with metastasized breast cancer participated in this controlled study published in Oncology Journal (Kiev). It could be the most successful clinical trial in medical history in relation to metastasized breast cancer: fivefold (!) reduction in 3-year mortality for breathing normalization group. You can read the translated full text of this breast cancer trial, as well as my analysis and the PDF file, of the this trial.

S. N. Paschenko, Study Of Application Of The Reduced Breathing Method In A Combined Treatment Of Breast Cancer, Oncology (Kiev, Ukraine), 2001, v. 3, No.1, p. 77-78.


• 2003, Gisborne Hospital, Gisborne, New Zealand (asthma)

In this blinded randomized controlled trial conducted in 38 people with asthma Buteyko Breathing Technique group was compared with control (McHugh et al, 2003). The Buteyko group was taught by a Buteyko practirtioner Russell Stark. As in the previous western trials, the Buteyko group reduced inhaled steroid use by 50% and fl2-agonist use by 85% at six months from baseline. In the conclusions, the medical professionals wrote that the method is "efficacious asthma management technique". The instructions for the Buteyko group were provided by Russell Stark.

McHugh P, Aitcheson F, Duncan B, Houghton F, Buteyko breathing technique for asthma: an effective intervention, New Zealand Medical Journal 2003; 116: p. 1187.


• 2003, Division of Respiratory Medicine, City Hospital, Nottingham, United Kingdom (asthma)

90 patients with asthma taking an inhaled corticosteroid participated in a randomized controlled trial. The groups were followed in 3 and 6 month periods (Cooper et al, 2003). Asthma symptoms remained unchanged in the PCLE and placebo groups, but were diminished in the Buteyko group. It was concluded that the Buteyko breathing technique is able to reduce asthma symptoms and decrease the use of bronchodilator medication.

Cooper S, Oborne J, Newton S, Harrison V, Thompson Coon J, Lewis S, Tattersfield A, Effect of two breathing exercises (Buteyko and pranayama) in asthma: a randomized controlled trial, Thorax 2003; 58: p. 674-679.


• 2003, Glasgow, United Kingdom (asthma)

According to the recent press release (4 December, 2003) of the British Thoracic Society (the UK’s professional body of respiratory specialists), nurse, Jill McGowan, organized the world’s largest clinical trial on the Buteyko method for asthma with over 360 people who completed the study in Glasgow.

The control group was able:
- to reduce asthma symptoms by 98%;
- to reduce use of reliever inhalers by 98%;
- to reduce use of preventor inhalers by 92%.

These results were found after 6 months (McGowan, 2003). This self-funded trial was possible due to heroic and sacrificial, in financial terms, efforts of the Buteyko practitioner Jill McGowan.

McGowan J, Health Education: Does the Buteyko Institute Method make a difference? Thorax, 58, Suppl. III, p. 28 December 2003.


• 2005, Foothills Hospital, Calgary, Canada

64 patients, all of whom were using inhaled corticosteroids, after 6 months improved their asthma control from 41% to 75% (Proceedings, 2006). Decrease in inhaled corticosteroids was found in 39% patients, elimination of steroids in 21%.

Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society, 2006; 3: A530.


• 2006, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The Buteyko method was applied for 12 weeks. Median reduction in usage of relievers was 86%, preventers 50% (Slader et al, 2006).

Slader CA1, Reddel HK, Spencer LM, Belousova EG, Armour CL, Bosnic-Anticevich SZ, Thien FC, Jenkins CR, Double blind randomised controlled trial of two different breathing techniques in the management of asthma, Thorax, 2006 Aug; 61(8): p.651-656.


• 2006, Gisborne Hospital, Gisborne, New Zealand

8 children, from 8 to 14 years old, in 12 weeks reduced their average b2-agonist use (salbutamol) by 66%. Inhaled steroid (fluticasone) use reduced by 41% McHugh et al, 2006). While 11 courses of prednisone were given 3 months before the trial, only 1 course of prednisone was given three months after the trial.

McHugh P, Bruce Duncan P, Houghton F, Buteyko breathing technique and asthma in children: a case series, New Zealand Medical Journal Vol 119 No 1234 May 2006.


• 2008 Calgary COPD and Asthma Program, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Cowie RL, Conley DP, Underwood MF, Reader PG, A randomized controlled trial of the Buteyko technique as an adjunct to conventional management of asthma, Respir Med. 2008 May; 102(5): p. 726-732.

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