Doctor Buteyko
(taken from "Close Your Mouth")

Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko was born near Kiev in the Ukraine on January 27th, 1923. This simple yet extraordinary man devoted his life to studying the human organism and made one of the most profound discoveries in the history of medicine.

Buteyko commenced his medical training in Russia in 1946 at the First Medical Institute of Moscow. Part of one of his practical assignments involved monitoring the breathing of terminally ill patients prior to death.


After hundreds of hours spent observing and recording breathing patterns, he was able to predict with accuracy, often to the minute, the time of death of each patient. Each patient's breathing increased as their condition deteriorated and as they approached death.

While at University Buteyko was diagnosed as suffering from severe hypertension, giving him a life expectancy of just 12 months. Under the guidance of his tutors Buteyko researched his illness in depth although it seemed that there was very little that he could do to reverse it.

On October 7th,1952 after majoring in clinical therapy, he began to wonder whether the cause of his condition, which was going from bad to worse, might be his deep breathing. He checked this by reducing his breathing. Within minutes his headache, the pain in his right kidney and his heartache ceased. To confirm his discovery, he took five deep breaths and the pain returned. He again reversed his deep breathing and the pain disappeared.

He did not appreciate it at the time, but this was one of the greatest, although as yet largely unacknowledged, medical discoveries of the twentieth century. Buteyko established that breathing, so vital in sustaining life, can be not alone the cure but also, amazingly, the cause of so many of diseases of civilisation.

Buteyko's next step was to seek out the theory which would support his discovery. The data then available (in 1952) from authors such as Holden, Priestly, Henderson, De Costa, Werigo, and Bohr, seemed to confirm his hypothesis. It was known at that time that exhaling carbon dioxide by deep breathing resulted in spasms which decreased the supply of oxygen to vital organs, including the brain thus making one breathe deeper again. This completed a vicious circle.

Buteyko measured the breathing patterns of patients suffering from asthma, but he also included in his research sufferers from other ailments and found in many cases that they too hyperventilated between attacks. After many years research, he went on to work on the theoretical aspects of his discovery at the Central and Lenin Medical Libraries.

Buteyko received a cold reception from the medical establishment at the time. In order to have his discovery accepted he commenced clinical research on a mixed group of two hundred people ? some sick and some healthy, in 1959. On January 11th, 1960 he demonstrated to the Scientific Forum at the Institute the correlation between depth of breathing, carbon dioxide levels in the body and state of health.

However, for many of his colleagues Dr. Buteyko offered too great a challenge to many of the theories upon which medicine was based. Surely illness, for which the conventional medical remedy was surgery and/or extensive medication, could not be dealt with simply by a change in breathing. Yet this was exactly what Buteyko demonstrated. And while not receiving outright acceptance, Buteyko did gain the temporary support of Professor Meshalkin, the chairman of the Forum, in enabling the research to continue.

In the years that followed, Buteyko continued his research, assisted by a team of two hundred qualified medical personnel and using the most up to date technology. By 1967 over one thousand patients with asthma, and other illnesses, had recovered from their conditions using his methods.

Unfortunately Professor Meshalkin continually refused to allow a scientific trial of the Buteyko Method. Later, this was followed by closure of his laboratory and outright repression. There were even reports of attempts on his life by mysterious car accidents and food poisoning.

However in January 1968, following growing public support, Health Minister Academician Petrovsky, promised that he would endorse acceptance of the Buteyko Method as an acceptable standard medical practice if Buteyko could demonstrate an eighty per cent success rate with patients. This was to be based on scientific evaluation of severe cases which were not treatable by conventional health management. Forty-six patients were taught his method and the results were astounding: one hundred per cent of the patients were officially diagnosed as cured. However in an extraordinary development and for no reason that can be established, falsified results were forwarded to the Minister. This subsequently resulted in the closure of Buteyko's laboratory.

Professor Buteyko persevered and, in April 1980, following trials in Leningrad and at the First Moscow Institute of Pediatric Diseases, the Buteyko Breathing Method was officially acknowledged as having a one hundred per cent success rate. This research was directed by the Soviet Ministry's Committee for Science and Technology.

The USSR Committee on Inventions and Discoveries formally acknowledged Buteyko's discovery in 1983 and issued the patent entitled "The method of treatment of hypocapnia", (Authors certificate No. 1067640 issued on September 15th, 1983). Interestingly, the date of the discovery as listed in the document was backdated to January 29th, 1962. His discovery was officially recognised twenty years after it had been made. Over two hundred medical professionals teach this therapy at present from centres located in major towns throughout Russia. Buteyko wrote over fifty scientific publications detailing the relationship between respiration and carbon dioxide and at least five Ph.D. dissertations were written by his colleagues. The basis of the Buteyko Breathing Method detailing the relationship between carbon dioxide and breath holding-time forms part of medical curriculum at Universities.

On Friday, May 2nd 2003 at 4.05 p.m. (Moscow time), Professor Buteyko parted from this world with some very deep inspirations. His death came as quite a shock to the many people around the world who had experienced excellent health as a result of his life's work. His wish was to be buried in the country of his birth, the Ukraine. His resting place is in Feodosia in the Crimea, Ukraine.

His memory will live on and will grow in momentum as more and more people hear about his discovery.