Buteyko Problems or Breath Retraining Challenges: Why Am I stuck?

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- Updated on October 23, 2020

Buteyko Problems or Breath Retraining Challenges: Why Am I stuck? 1By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author

- Medically Reviewed by Naziliya Rakhimova, MD

(Learning the Buteyko method by modules)
(Module 19. Common mistakes and problems)

When a breathing student gets stuck with his or her progress in body oxygenation due to various Buteyko problems, there are always reasons behind low body-O2 content and the inability of the organism to adapt to slower breathing and higher body O2. This page is going to analyze these reasons.

While breathing students can apply different methods to increase body-O2 content (including uses of the Buteyko breathing exercises, Frolov device, and other breathing devices, such as Samozdrav, Amazing DIY breathing device, etc.), all these challenges can be described as Buteyko breathing problems.

Indeed, in most cases, when analyzing the causes of low body O2 or CP, it is not important which particular breathing exercises one uses. Most likely, the reasons are due to other factors.

If one achieves 30 s for the morning CP, this is an excellent result. (More details about breaking through 40 s MCP can be found in the Big book or Oxygen Remedy online webinars.) However, many students get stuck with less than 30 s for their morning CP (often with less than 20 s), and we are going to consider such situations on this page.

Here are the most common mistakes for those students who are stuck below 30 s morning CP and are “free learners” (or those people who dared to learn on their own or without a breathing teacher from pages of this site).

1. Boasting about the outcomes

Before starting their breathing retraining, the student boasts (or claims) to others (and often on pages of this site) that he or she is going to get high morning CP 30 or even CP 60. When someone says to others, “I am a good father”, “I am a good wife”, “I am the best athlete in the team”, “I am going to win this competition”, the performance of this person in this particular area is going to be much worse just due to making such statements. In fact, if we consider breathing retraining, each and every person whom I knew and who claimed to get CP 60 never got even CP 30.

If you do not believe in the existence of this psychological or motivational law, you can surely try it on yourself. Select your hobby or area you are good at, and start saying to people around you that you are great in this area. See the effects in some days or weeks (how your motivation disappears).

This motivational problem (lack of focus on practical challenges and desire to avoid real work) is easily solved by focusing on business rather than making unnecessary claims.

2. Wrong CP results

When people learn on their own, it is very common for them to exaggerate the results of the CP test. In other words, they cannot measure their CP correctly. Usually, instead of measuring the CP, such students either take a deep breath just before the test or push themselves to nearly the Maximum Pause. Hence, their result is 50-100% longer than their real CPs.

3. No daily log

The student does not fill the daily log thinking that keeping the diary with all the details and numbers is unnecessary. An absence of records means poor self-control and the absence of objective information to analyze later. In fact, I have not seen a student yet who got even 30 s MCP without having a daily log.

The main daily log for short Buteyko breathing sessions and for the Frolov and DIY breathing device sessions – 1 page (Rich-Text Format, or PDF file, or Excel Spreadsheet).

4. Ignoring EFAs

The student does not use fish oil (at all or not enough) claiming that, “It is written on the bottle to use 2 capsules per day”, “I take Udo oil”, “I use flaxseed oil”, etc. since he or she does not like the smell of fish oil, or is trying to save money, or have some other causes. For many people, even taking 5 large capsules of fish oil per day would not produce a large difference due to inflammation and other abnormalities. This is the reason why 1 tablespoon or 10 ml per day is considered as the right dose for the 3-day trial. More information about EFAs is here: Fish oil benefits.

5. A lack of exercise

The student with low body O2 (usually 15-25 s) ignores the importance of physical exercise thinking that he or she has a special body that does not need exercise or some other abilities. This often results in less than 20 seconds for the morning CP (body-O2 content). For minimum requirements in physical exercise, see the Table from the page devoted to the benefits of exercise.

6. Attachment to junk

The student is attached to his or her usual eating habits (e.g., to have lunch at noon and supper at 6 pm), warm blankets, dead teeth (root canals), mercury fillings, table salt (instead of sea salt), and so forth. For example, the student believes that he needs to have his usual lunch or supper regardless of his hunger, wellbeing, blood sugar levels, and other factors. Another student may think that she must sleep under her favorite blanket. Some other students may believe that their mercury fillings do not cause any health problems (even though such students can have numerous health complaints).

Among all these factors, only root canals could be safe for some people without serious organic health problems. Here is additional information about mercury fillings, root canals, and other focal infections.

7. Too little amount of breathing exercises

When teaching live or Skype students, my common requirement is about 1 hour of breathing exercises and 1 hour of physical activity per day in order to move forward and achieve up to 20-25 s morning CP. However, some students may require up to 2-3 hours of daily breathwork in order to get even 15 or 20 s morning CP. Practicing breathing exercises for 2-3 hours per day was the common requirement of Dr. Buteyko and over 150 MDs he trained. You can simply check that over 2 hours of reduced breathing exercises per day was also a feature of the most successful clinical trial in the history of cancer research (6-time reduction in metastatic cancer mortality). See Cancer pages for details of this trial.

8. Ignoring GI problems

The student experiences GI problems with numerous symptoms (such as soiling, gas, increased urination, etc.) that can be caused by intestinal parasites, inflammation, ulcers, IBS, IBD, Crohn disease, Candida yeast infection, and many other causes. It is important and possible to achieve ideal digestive health even before one gets 25-30 s CP. Abnormal GI flora, in most cases, will keep the CP below 30 s, in some cases below 20 s, until its causes are addressed.

The CP is unchanged after breathing exercises

Apart from these cases, there are also situations when the person is unable to increase his or her CP after breathing sessions (the CP after breathing exercises is not better than the CP before breathing exercises). If it relates to the Buteyko breathing exercises, the most likely cause is the poor execution of the Buteyko breathing exercises (and this is one of the reasons why I encourage people with less than 20 s CP to use breathing devices that are much safer and easier to learn).

Another possibility is low levels of blood cortisol. This happens at about 10-15 s CP when the pulse is over 70 beats per minute 24/7. Such students require cortisol supplementation and/or other measures related to excessive inflammation and adrenal exhaustion. More info about the main signs and symptoms of cortisol deficiency will be provided later.

Several other types of Buteyko breathing problems related to more specific cases when existing health problems and factors (hypertension, panic attacks, GI problems, pregnancy, allergies, and so on) lead to various negative bodily reactions and health problems. Most of these situations are discussed on several pages devoted to Restrictions, limits, and temporary contraindications.

Go back to: Learning the Buteyko method by modules

Below are authentic comments, questions, and testimonials from the same page on the old PHP site before we converted it to WordPress.

On 2019-07-25T06:36:35, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Yes, I believe that, in the general population, a leaky gut is one of the key causes of modern diseases.

On 2019-07-24T13:13:28, Dr. Alex Ehret wrote:
Hello Mr. Rhakimov, could a leaky gut (the scientific term “intestinal permeability” due to overconsumption of specific plant matter be a major cause of Low o2 Levels?

On 2019-06-15T07:35:23, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
What do you do in the kitchen? Is it the same effect if you go to the toilet or remain in the same room? Compare those effects.

On 2019-06-13T19:18:09, Krolik wrote:
I do 30 min intense RB. CP goes from 20 to 25.. but I can Go to Kirchen and Back and find it Drops to 20 again? Normal? All my Sessions are similar

On 2019-06-07T07:07:21, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
If sedatives cause no adverse effects and your doctor prescribed these drugs, why would one stop using them?

Being overweight can surely reduce progress, while practically it all depends on overeating at any particular meal.

On 2019-06-06T10:09:34, Me wrote:
Is 20kg overweight enough to prevent Progress?

On 2019-05-24T07:31:47, Charlottenburg wrote:
Can I use them even If they greatly reduce CO2 sensitivity, it seems as Somebody wrote below? Thanks

On 2019-05-24T07:03:44, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
If they help, use them, get MCP 40+ and later reduce the dosage.

On 2019-05-23T15:29:09, Charlottenburg wrote:
Sedatives Double my cp from 10 to 20 and I can Progress to 35 when I do 2 hours of RB. Would this have any relevance health-wise? Normally I am stuck at 17 with RB only

On 2019-05-21T09:06:29, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
See this page: https://www.normalbreathing.com/s/treat-sleep-apnea.php

On 2019-05-20T19:45:23, Hess wrote:
Hallo Artour,
I have sleep apnea and I use a machine during the night for 10 years. I got sinusitis and took cortisone Spray for more than 6 months. I started breathing exercises two weeks ago and stopped taking the cortisone. I tape my mouth at night but still use the machine. I tried to sleep without it, but can’t do it. How can I Stopp being dependent on the machine? My CP ist just about 10 sec and has not improved since doing the exercise and nose breathing. What do you suggest?

On 2019-02-22T13:21:25, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
It is probably the safest metal to have in the body.

On 2019-02-21T23:18:09, Jessica C wrote:
Beautiful website. I had an ACL reconstruction on one of my knees and the procedure ended up leaving some non-absorbable sutures in the bone tunnel/canal and a very small titanium fixation button on the femoral cortex. I have a morning CP of about 20 s and can never seem to get it to improve. I do the Frolov device and also cardio through the nose. My blood pressure is high, so I don’t do any breath-holding exercises. I don’t see any reason why my CP should be stuck, so I’m wondering if having these small foreign objects in my femur and tibia could be the impediment? The orthopedic doctors swear all of these little implants they’ve left in me are inert, but I’m not so sure. In their defense, I don’t have any direct pain from the sutures or the button. I do have arthritis in the knee, but it’s very general and not indicative of hardware problems. Can a mild, but permanent, foreign body response hinder CP improvements? I believe when the body deals with foreign bodies, it eventually reaches “equilibrium” with such body but nonetheless, the immune system will be in a permanent state of “mild chronic inflammation” around the suture, button, or whatever implant. Can this hinder CP’s improvement? Have you ever had any experience with this issue? Thoughts? Thank you! Jessica

On 2018-12-05T09:26:06, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Belts during sleep can be useful or even very useful, while allergy triggers from food can keep one’s inflammation unchanged or present all the time.
Why would one do that?

On 2018-12-04T09:27:08, JD wrote:
Dr. Rhakimov,
Very good website, very good method, and really efficient tools.
Belly breathing by using a belt during the night enables me to eliminate asthma symptoms even when eating dairy cheese (I really can’t eliminate goat cheese).
Is it safe to do it during all of the night?

On 2018-11-13T07:29:48, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Generally, titanium is considered safe, but it is certainly possible that someone with multiple cross allergies can be affected.

On 2018-11-12T23:00:15, Bryan D. wrote:
I’m concerned about a titanium or stainless steel screw left in my knee from long-ago knee surgery. Can a metal implant left in the bone cause any problems with trying to raise the CP? Thank you very much, Bryan

On 2018-09-10T15:43:27, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Hard to be 100% sure, you may consult your MD or GP, or GI specialist.
If stuck with the progress, I can help with Skype classes. It is very unlikely that this will prevent your progress.

On 2018-09-10T14:44:37, Brian wrote:
I love your website and thank you for all of your beneficial insight. I’m a Buteyko believer and have a CP of about 25 seconds. I can’t seem to improve from there. Could a plastic hernia mesh implant under my belly button (for umbilical hernia) be a problem for improving CP? I got the umbilical hernia surgery about 6 years ago and the plastic mesh seems to have integrated into my body without infection or pain. But, it is a foreign object in the system and I’m hoping it doesn’t provoke an immune response as the CP increases. What is your opinion on this? Thanks! Brian

On 2018-05-19T06:30:18, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Not that I am aware of.

On 2018-05-19T00:45:54, CHRIS wrote:
I am trying to master diaphragm breathing and I think I achieve some success, I feel very comfortable doing and I don’t feel too tired when I am in
the treadmill,I do not need much effort my question is can I do that all the time, are there any side effects?

On 2018-01-15T08:43:12, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Both removal of dead teeth (root canals) and mercury removal can cause a temporary drop in health and the CP, but generally only temporary, for 1-2 days. It might be longer if your dentist removed mercury without using a rubber dam.
Why no progress? Some causes are above, but probably 50-70 other causes can be added. Do you expect that cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. can all be solved for 100% of breathing students right here in a few lines of a comment? Or maybe you can ask your doctors and specialists who get good money from the state and their patients too.

On 2018-01-14T17:02:08, Aurelia wrote:
I suffer from Hashimoto, symptoms of CFS…
I am doing the Buteyko method for more than one year. After replacing all amalgam fillings and removing three dead teeth my CP is even lower than before! Why??? I also do exercise,…even do breathwork at night….
Why can it happen that after removing my teeth problems my condition is worse?? I did that about 2 weeks ago. Have you any explanation? Thanks! Regards Aurelia

On 2017-12-15T08:11:29, Dr. Artour (mod) wrote:
Thanks. Yes, anesthesia techniques and drugs cause respiratory suppression and can prevent progress.

On 2017-12-15T05:52:13, James wrote:
Hi Arthur. A quick case report for you. I had been doing Buteyko exercises with success until I was prescribed benzodiazepines (valium). Shortly after starting these, breathing exercises became totally ineffective and even had negative effects. Research later led me to find that this class of drugs greatly diminishes co2 sensitivity/chemoreceptors. Presumably, they do something to prevent a positive adaptation to higher co2. Hoping this will reverse now I’m coming off them.
Just mentioning it in case any other students of yours find that this factor is preventing progress. It wiped out my progress completely! Take care, James

On 2016-10-06T05:33:20, Guy wrote:
Thanks for your advice.

On 2016-10-04T08:34:09, Artour (mod) wrote:
You described your case here and asked questions related to different topics that have their own pages…
For root canals, learn about uses of calcium oxide and calcium hydroxide for deep disinfection (FDA approved).
For CFS, study Trauma Release Exercises by Dr. Berceli on YouTube.
For private help, see http://www.normalbreathing.com/aaa-courses-fees.php

On 2016-10-03T08:32:57, Guy wrote:
I learned Buteyko breathing from a practitioner 3 months ago. My chronic fatigue symptoms have reduced greatly and I usually get physiological effects (short-term lower cp, warmth, sometimes more saliva) from reduced breathing sessions. However, my CP has risen only from 15 to 18 and I find diaphragmatic breathing hard to maintain. I have given up on the practitioner as she does not care about CP and suggests I should be satisfied with symptom improvements, but I want to see if I can make further progress. Following your books, I am seeking to work out my limiting factors. I used to sleep on my back. Last few days I have started the left side and front only sleeping (I was already mouth taping). I am cautiously increasing exercise, will observe your supplement advice, and consider using a Frolov device. My first question is, can I rule out a cortisol problem because I can get a short-term response from sessions? If I still get no cp increase in a month I plan to consider GI and dental issues. However, if from your experience you advise one root canal and 4 mercury fillings are highly likely to be a problem I can have them removed. Would you suggest that and would straight extraction of the tooth solve a root canal problem? Thanks for your site. I have learned a lot.

On 2014-02-11T19:50:26, Artour (mod) wrote:
Hard to tell, this requires analysis and private help.

On 2014-02-10T09:36:06, Perry wrote:
Hi Artour. I used to do quite a bit of training, both with exercise and the Frolov device. I got away from it for various reasons, one of which was a plateauing of progress (CP stuck in 20-30), and I couldn’t figure out why. So, I tried/corrected lots of things. Low carbs + high good fat helped the most in overall health. “Grounding” helps too. However, something that was a serious problem before, and is a problem yet now that I started using the Frolov device again, is that I get really BAD pain (mix of sharp and dull sore): on my left side, under my ribs, near the bottom tip of the front (my left side, same side as my heart). Sometimes it moves to the side, and sometimes to the back (still left side). It gets worse and worse as I’m doing the deep diaphragmatic movement, almost like I’m physically rubbing my ribs on something inside? BUT, it also gets worse when I’m not really moving the diaphragm so much, but even just holding a pause at the bottom of my breath and CO2 is increasing. It will often start throbbing internally on the whole side. I also get it from heavily fermented foods (like yogurt and spicy kimchi, but not kefir or kombucha), foods high in glutamic acid (rabbit), and coconut chips (diuretic) and so I am investigating possible kidney problems (stones or other). Gallbladder or colon may play a role, but I’m always under high stress, totally exhausted, cold often, underweight, sad and don’t enjoy life much (close death in the family) so possibly adrenal issues as well. Lastly, I’m investigating H.Pylori too. Whatever it is, I have always just hoped that the Buteyko breathing would help me get healthier. But unfortunately, I find it usually quickly increases the pain there to the point where I can’t take it anymore (6 or 7 on a 0-10 pain scale.) Wondering if you have ever heard of this left side pain that gets worse with Buteyko? I have searched and searched the internet and found very little. Any leads you have would be appreciated. Thank you. I don’t know whether it’s a sign of healing, or damaging.

On 2013-12-28T16:51:11, Artour (mod) wrote:
Yes, it can.

On 2013-12-27T18:36:06, Thomas wrote:
Is it possible that Candida can keep your CP stuck below 25s?

On 2013-10-16T12:33:39, Artour (mod) wrote:
No, your cortisol production appears at 20 s CP and then grows at higher CPs.
Heartburn and acid reflux likely relate to not enough chewing and/or wrong diets, no hunger, etc. See GI pages on how to achieve no soiling and other signs of good GI health.

On 2013-10-15T21:28:16, Tom wrote:
Is it possible that I have low cortisol even though I have a morning CP of 30-33 and a night CP of 40-43? I think this because I’ve had very slow progress. It took me over 3 months of reduced breathing and the Frolov device to increase from 20 morning CP. I also have heartburn and acid reflux and I was wondering if that could be related to low cortisol. Thanks.

On 2013-06-01T08:51:59, Artour (mod) wrote:
Maybe, it is hard to diagnose online without dozens of details.

On 2013-06-01T05:32:02, Thomas wrote:
So would it have been a cleansing reaction if I felt slightly ill? Not feverish but just worn down.

On 2013-05-30T17:12:35, Artour (mod) wrote:
If you lost weight or got through a cleansing reaction, you may still have about the same CP but better health. However, in a long run, you should be moving forward.

On 2013-05-30T14:25:47, Thomas wrote:
I know I have no health problems and I am pretty sure I am doing the exercises right because I feel air hunger, but I get no CP increase.
I found plans for a good DIY device and also use that with strong air hunger. I am breathing less after than before the breathwork and I feel better so I don’t feel like I wasted time. But what could the explanation for no CP increase be?

On 2013-03-05T19:54:43, Anonymous wrote:
But Fluoride has been linked to many diseases and neurological impairments, many people in Canada and the U.S. are petitioning to have it removed from public water and many European countries do not fluoridate their water. Some think it is a mind-control drug since it accumulates in the pineal gland. http://www.holisticmed.com/fluoride/
Also, genetically modified food is widespread in the U.S. and Canada. The majority of the food we consume is genetically modified and has been proven to cause large tumor growth. http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html
Of course, aspartame and MSG will be avoided permanently, but will other things such as drinking fluoridated water and eating GMO fruits/vegetables impede body oxygen progress? And once a high CP is reached, will one be immune to the apparent harmful effects of GMO and fluoridated water?

On 2013-03-05T00:09:42, Artour (mod) wrote:
I think that it is better to live without aspartame. Fluoride is probably good and necessary in very small amounts, but tap water has poor quality nearly everywhere.

On 2013-03-04T03:17:28, Anonymous wrote:
Artour, I was wondering what you think about fluoride and aspartame? These are chemicals used in so many of our foods and tap water (fluoride) that cause serious brain damage and other illnesses according to some studies. What do you think about them?

On 2013-03-01T13:32:56, Artour (mod) wrote:
If the person follows the program, autism is not a problem. You need to review the DIY book and Modules on the site. Increase the amount of breathing exercises up to 1.5-2 hours and physical exercise for 2-3 days only to see if you can move forward.

On 2013-03-01T03:34:16, Permadi wrote:
Hi Artour, I’m 30 years with autism. My CP stuck at around 20s, with breath retraining or DIY device. Is there any problem with autism to learn the Buteyko method, sorry for my bad English?