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Background to

The Buteyko Breath Reconditioning Technique.

In Brief The man and his discovery.

This is the Summary version

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Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko was born on

the 27th January 1923,

World War II when Buteyko joined his country's armed forces.

After his experiences during the War, Buteyko felt compelled to study what he called "the most complicated piece of machinery of all" - the human organism.

In 1946, he enrolled into the First Medical Institute in Moscow.

Buteyko was given a practical assignment which involved monitoring diseased patients breathing.

He noticed a considerable and uniformed deepening in patients breathing with the approaching of death.


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In 1952, having graduated from the Institute with Honours,


Buteyko continued his experiments independently along similar lines. He asked healthy subjects to breath deeply for a period of time ..more

it occurred to Buteyko that certain diseases may develop as a result of deep breathing.

He himself had suffered form hypertension for some time, and had often pondered its causes

He immediately began experimenting on himself.

Buteyko concluded that he had discovered the reason for his disease.


He had shortly healed himself completely.


He measured the breathing patterns of sufferers of asthma, and other diseases.

Discovering, without surprise, that they too were hyperventilating.

Once again by correcting these patients' breathing to an acceptable level Buteyko was able to normalise their carbon dioxide shortfall and their attacks stopped immediately.

the theoretical foundation for this idea - Buteykohyperventilation causes a depletion of carbon dioxide; low levels of carbon dioxide in the organism cause blood vessels to spasm and also cause oxygen starvation of the tissues.

This results in a whole range of "defence mechanisms" that have been previously misunderstood and labelled as diseases.

It was not difficult to surmise that vessel spasming occurring in hypertension could occur also with other types of diseases, for example:..more

Buteyko worked very intensively at the Central and Lenin Medical Libraries researching his theory.

During his research, Buteyko was lucky to learn of a few experiments supporting the viability of his thinking. (See- Bohr, Holden, Priestly, Henderson, De Kosta). ..more

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Buteyko became a clinical therapy intern under Academic Tareiev again.



Here he was given his chance to establish a functional diagnostics laboratory,

This project failed due to lack of funds, personnel and equipment. An attempt to establish the laboratory under the auspices of the Ministry of Health in Moscow was also unsuccessful

In 1958 Buteyko was invited by Professor Meshalkin to join the Institute of Experimental Biology and Medicine at the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Science

Once again he set about the task of establishing a laboratory of functional diagnostics. This project was completed in 1960.


In 1958 - 1959 Buteyko conducted clinical studies on nearly 200 people, both healthy and sick.


On 11th January 1960, he presented his work to the Scientific Forum at the Institute and tried to explain the concepts of his thinking.

Buteyko's colleagues were stunned. Surgeons took the studies as some dirty trick,

Never the less, he did receive temporary approval from Professor Meshalkin who chaired the Forum. He said he understood the perspective and wanted the research continued.

Over the next ten years of the laboratory's existence, Buteyko and his team were able to obtain extensive information on the basic functions of the human organism


Two hundred medical specialists were trained in the laboratory, most of whom, by the way, had suffered from one condition or another and successfully treated themselves with the method.


Official statistics showed that as at 1 January 1967 more than 1000 patients suffering from asthma, hypertension or stenocardia had been successfully treated and had totally recovered from their illnesses.

Despite this, Meshalkin categorically refused Buteyko's request for an approbation to be conducted at the Institute's clinic.

 As a result of these unseemly management practices, the Institute was disbanded and closed.

From 1963 to 1968 the laboratory was attached to the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Science. Professor Meshalkin's clinic was reassigned into the system of the Russian Ministry of Health. Buteyko's repeated requests to accredit his method had not met any support what so ever.

Only In January 1968, after representations made by the local and foreign press in defence of his discoveries was the approbation carried out in Leningrad, at the Institute of Pulmonology under Academician Uglov. Shortly before this, a visit was paid to Buteyko's clinic by the Minister of Health, Academician Petrovsky.


The Minister informed Buteyko that if he successfully treated at least 80% of the patients given to him, Petrovsky would make recommendations for an immediate entrenchment of the method into standard medical practices.


Of the 46 patients who underwent Buteyko's treatment 44 (95%) were officially recognised as cured. Only 2 from the 46 had a smaller positive effect. Some of the patients had up to twenty different conditions each.

It should be added that the two patients not included in the success rate were also relieved of their diseases after further treatment and had informed the Minister responsible. Consequently, in effect, Buteyko could describe the results of his method as having had a 100% success rate.

The official conclusions of the approbation, which was monitored by the health ministry, were sent to the Health Minister, academician Petrovsky. These conclusions were never seen by either Buteyko or the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Science.

The Ministry later, in a phone call to the chairman of the Siberian Branch, academician Lavrentiev, advised that the approbation had failed, with only two out of the 46 patients having been cured.

This unexplained falsification served as a foundation for closing the Buteyko laboratory. On 14 August 1968, all of the scientists were dismissed without any offers of alternative employment, and all of the equipment was confiscated or pilfered.

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However, even against such great odds, the method survived. The originally trained team of medical practitioners continued to treat patients. Although not one official medical establishment in Moscow was using the method, it was being used in Harkov, Chernigov, Kdhovka, Leningrad, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk, Sverdlovsk, etc...


Success after success forced the government to once again look into the method. The second official approbation was conducted at the First Moscow Institute of Paediatric Diseases in April 1980 at the direction of the Government Committee for Science and Technology of the Soviet Ministry of USSR. The study confirmed the findings of the earlier approbation, conducted in Leningrad: 100% success rate. This time the results were officially recognised.

Whilst the Russian approbations tended to focus on treatment of Asthma, it should be understood that this method is also extremely effective for a whole range of related disorders such as allergies, rhinitis, bronchitis, sleeping disorders (such as sleep apnea), breathing problems, etc.

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