Research and Guidelines

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Many research studies have been carried out all over the world. This accumulation of research evidence has led Buteyko to be included in asthma management guidelines alongside other breathing re-education techniques. An extract from the BTS/SIGN guideline and a list of the research trials can be found below.

BTS/ SIGN Guideline on the Management of Asthma (2016) This Guideline is jointly produced by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and the British Thoracic Society (BTS). The Buteyko Breathing Technique and the Papworth Method are the only breathing techniques mentioned by name within this guideline.

Non-pharmacological management

Evidence for BBT and the Papworth Method is classified as 1++, which is the highest classification, indicating the evidence consists of high quality meta-analyses, systematic reviews of RCTs or RCTs with a very low risk of bias.

“Behavioural programmes centred on breathing exercises and dysfunctional breathing reduction techniques (including physiotherapist-delivered breathing programmes such as the Papworth Method, and the Buteyko Method) can improve asthma symptoms, quality of life and reduce bronchodilator requirement in adults with asthma, although have little effect on lung function. These techniques involve instruction by a trained therapist in exercises to reduce respiratory rate, minute volume and to promote nasal, diaphragmatic breathing. Trials that include more than 5 hours of intervention appeared more likely to be effective. They can help patients experience of their condition and quality of life although do not affect lung function or airways inflammation. They should ideally be provided as part of integrated medical care.

There is currently insufficient evidence relating to other breathing exercise methods, such as yoga breathing techniques and inspiratory muscle training, on which to base a recommendation.” (p.61, BTS/SIGN Asthma Management Guideline 2016)

Recommendation: “Breathing exercise programmes (including physiotherapist-taught methods) can be offered to people with asthma as an adjuvant to pharmacological treatment to improve quality of life and reduce symptoms.”- Grade A supporting evidence (p.62, BTS/SIGN Asthma Management Guideline 2016)


Buteyko Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs)

Bowler et el (1998) Buteyko Breathing Techniques in Asthma: A Blinded Randomised Control Trial.  Medical Journal of Australia Vol. 169, pp.575-578.

Cooper et el (2003) Effect of Two Breathing Exercises (Buteyko and Pranayama) in asthma: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Thorax Vol. 58, No. 8, pp. 649-659.

Cowie et al (2008) A Randomised Control Trial of the Buteyko Technique as an Adjunct to Conventional Management of Asthma.  Respiratory Medicine Vol. 102, No. 5, pp. 726-732.

McHugh et al (2003) Buteyko Breathing Technique for Asthma: An Effective Intervention. New Zealand Medical Journal Vol. 116, No. 1187.

Opat et al (2000) A Clinical Trial of the Buteyko Breathing Technique as Taught by Video. Journal of Asthma Vol. 37, No. 7, pp.557-564.

Prem et al (2013) Comparision of the Effects of Buteyko and Pranayama Breathing Techniques on Quality of Life in Patients with Asthma- A Randomised Controlled Trial. Clinical Rehabilitation. Vol. 27, No.2, pp.133-141.

Slader et al (2006) Double Blind Randomised Controlled Trial of Two Different Breathing Techniques in the Management of Asthma. Thorax Vol. 61, pp. 651-656.

Other Buteyko Research

Adelola et al (2013) Role of Buteyko Breathing Techniques in Asthmatics with Nasal Symptoms. Clinical Otolaryngology. Vol.38, No.2, pp.190-191. (Published as a correspondence).

Cooper et al (2009) Effect of Mouth Taping at Night on Asthma Control: A Randomised Single-Blinded Crossover Study. Respiratory Medicine. Vol. 103, No. 9, pp.813-819.

Hassan et al (2012) Effect of Buteyko Breathing Technique on Patients with Bronchial Asthma. Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis. Vol.61, pp.235-241.  (Not randomised).

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