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A journal of running, healthy food, mountains, bikes and technology by Julia Revitt

Buteyko is a drug free therapy to treat asthma by altering your breathing pattern. I am now asthma free for the first time since I was 4!  According to http://www.buteyko.co.uk, it has helped over 15,000 asthmatics with a claimed success rate of more than 90%.

Asthma is now so common that everybody knows someone who is suffering. I have had asthma since the age of 4 but I wasn’t given any medication until the age of 11 and was admitted to hospital on several occasions with breathing difficulties. Eventually, I was given an inhaler to relieve an attack, then a couple of years later I was given a steroid inhaler to try to prevent attacks and then I had a nasal spray to help me breath through my nose. I still suffered from asthma and a completely blocked nose. Playing sport, being near cats and going from a cold environment to a hot one were just some of my triggers. Eventually getting through the night became a difficulty as I frequently woke up wheezing and needing to take my inhaler.

I continued with this concoction of medicine until 8 years ago when I stumbled across an alternative treatment called Buteyko. I caught the end of a documentary claiming to be able to alter bad breathing habits to relieve asthma and was very interested. I’d never heard of Buteyko before and after a bit of research and a call to the Woodlands Health Centre who were my nearest practitioners, I decided to give it a go. After all, what could I lose.

I attended the two day course a couple of weeks later with Margaret Brooks at Woodlands Health Centre in Leicestershire, UK. There was a group of about 9 people all suffering from various levels of asthma. We practised changing our breathing techniques with exercises and were taught the reasons why we suffered in the first place. That weekend for the first time in years I was able to start breathing through my nose!

Two days later and it was all over – quite literally as I haven’t taken my asthma medication since. I practised my breathing exercises twice daily for about 2 years and continued with the recommended breathing technique. These days I don’t suffer from asthma and I can breath through my nose all the time! Before I started practising Buteyko my resting heart rate was over 100bpm which is very high and now it is about 60bpm! People no longer ask me if I’ve got a cold due to my constantly blocked nose.

There are mixed opinions on the effectiveness of Buteyko though. Many people think that if this treatment helps an asthmatic, then the cause of his asthma was ‘in his head’ in the first place. This is a very narrow minded opinion and I’m sure all the doctors and nurses that helped me in hospital would not agree that it was in my head.

There are several books and internet sites on the subject but I would thoroughly recommend attending a course rather than trying to teach yourself. Breathing is so fundamental to life that you want make sure you get get it right!

Check out www.buteyko.co.uk for more information, details on qualified practitioners and courses.

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