Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko (1923 – 2003) was a medical doctor and research scientist in Russia who explored the finding that breathing rate and health issues are unequivocally related. He found that hyperventilation leads to a loss of carbon dioxide, which in turn causes oxygen starvation to tissues and blood vessels, leading to spasms of the smooth muscle surrounding the vessels and causing negative effects in the body.
During his third year at the First Medical Institute in Moscow he was assigned to work with terminally ill patients suffering from a number of diseases. While watching them for hours on end he noticed that as they neared death, their breathing grew heavier and increasingly labored. He recorded this pattern and was soon able to predict their time of death with a great deal of accuracy.
After graduating with honors, Buteyko took what he had learned about over-breathing and started applying it to his own experiments. Suffering from hypertension and migraines himself, he tested his own CO2 level and found that it was too low. When he then slowed and reduced the volume of his breathing, his CO2 level rose and his headaches and rapid heartbeat went away. He tried increasing his breathing and the symptoms returned. In a short time he had cured himself.
Due to the suppression of information by the Russian Government at that time, Buteyko was unable to spread the word on his findings, despite several corresponding studies backing his theories (Bohr, Holden, Henderson, De Kosta, Priestly). Though he taught many people who were cured through his program, and managed highly successful clinical trials, he found little support from the contemporary medical world.
Through the perseverance of Dr. Buteyko and his colleagues, word eventually got out about the many successes of his technique. Ultimately, in 1980 the Russian Ministry of Health accepted Dr. Buteyko’s technique as standard medical practice and it is now fully endorsed by the Russian government.
Today the Buteyko Breathing Technique is spreading world wide. Presently it is best known in Australia and parts of Europe, and it’s use is spreading in the US and Canada. Some major insurance companies in Ireland and Australia include it in their coverage.