Objective: To evaluate the effect of Buteyko breathing techniques (BBT) in the management of asthma.
Design: Prospective, blinded, randomised study comparing the effect of BBT with control classes in 39 subjects with asthma. The study was conducted from January 1995 to April 1995.
Participants and setting: Subjects recruited from the community, aged 12 to 70 years, with asthma and substantial medication use.
Main outcome measures: Medication use; morning peak expiratory flow (PEF); forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1); end-tidal (ET) CO2; resting minute volume (MV); and quality of life (QOL) score, measured at three months.
Results: No change in daily PEF or FEV1 was noted in either group. At three months, the BBT group had a median reduction in daily beta 2-agonist dose of 904 micrograms (range, 29 micrograms to 3129 micrograms), whereas the control group had a median reduction of 57 micrograms (range, -2343 micrograms to 1143 micrograms) (P = 0.002). Daily inhaled steroid dose fell 49% (range, -100% to 150%) for the BBT group and 0 (range, -82% to +100%) for the control group (P = 0.06). A trend towards greater improvement in QOL score was noted for BBT subjects (P = 0.09). Initial MV was high and similar in both groups; by three months, MV was lower in the BBT group than in the control group (P = 0.004). ET CO2 was low in both groups and did not change with treatment.
Conclusion: Those practising BBT reduced hyperventilation and their use of beta 2-agonists. A trend toward reduced inhaled steroid use and better quality of life was observed in these patients without objective changes in measures of airway calibre.