A Brief History Of Breathing And Buteyko

The information in this article is from the research of Professor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, an eminent scientist and doctor still working in Moscow.

His early study as a medical student was a project which involved measuring the breathing of fatally ill patients. His project was to measure their breathing as they approached death. This task, which seems like a ghoulish thing to ask a young man to do, gave Buteyko the direction for his life’s work.

His measurements showed that the closer the people got to death, the deeper their breathing became. It got to the point where Buteyko could predict with great accuracy the time of death, from days before or simply by measuring their breathing. It seemed odd to him at the time that the deep breathing he was seeing on deathbeds was identical to that being promoted at the time [and still today by some misguided experts] to develop GOOD health.

His later research asked perfectly healthy subjects to breathe deeply for a period of time. All of them became dizzy, nauseous, and developed symptoms such as wheeziness and coughing, and eventually passed out.

The accepted theory at that time was that it was caused by ‘oxygen saturation of the brain’.

It was Buteyko’s research over the next decade, along with Bohr, that has changed the ‘accepted theory’. If you now ask any good medical student why these subjects responded in this way, they will say it is ‘hyperventilation’ [Breathing too much]. They will say that hyperventilation will cause an excess loss of CO2, which will cause constriction of blood and air pipes, changes to the pH of the body, affect the nervous system, and produce low oxygen levels. If continued it will lead to death, just as in Buteyko’s first project.

This was confirmed by the work an English scientist called Henderson. He designed an experiment that mechanically force dogs to hyperventilate [over breathe]. The changes to the gases were as predicted, and the dogs died awfully.

The lesson is as Buteyko succinctly puts it ‘The more deeply you breathe, the closer you are to death’.

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