In the late 1940’s, Russian medical student Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko made an observation that has changed the treatment and lifestyle of thousands of Asthmatics. He noticed that

  • that the condition of patients in the acute respiratory ward deteriorated when their breathing rate increased.
  • as those patients approached death their breathing deepened markedly
  • those who reduced or normalized their breathing rate began to recover

Dr. Buteyko’s subsequent research and application of these observations allowed him to developed the breathing techniques that bear his name.

For more than thirty years Dr Buteyko researched hyperventilation and the effect it has on the human body. He linked hyperventilation to several conditions, including asthma. He then set about developing techniques to normalize breathing patterns, reversing symptoms and lessening the need for medication.

Dr. Buteyko’s research describes

  • why people hyperventilate,
  • why it continues to self-perpetuate, and
  • finally, how to reverse the cycle.

His research was initially treated with a great deal of skepticism by Soviet authorities, and he was unable to get his method accepted as a viable alternative to allopathic treatment of asthma.

Finally a strained Soviet health budget and Dr. Buteyko’s  persistence enabled him to have the method accepted as a mainstream treatment for Asthma. It is reputed that as of the early 1990’s, the technique had been successfully taught to over one million citizens of the states that made up the then Soviet Union.

An Australian businessman who was hospitalized during a business trip to Russia was taught the Buteyko Method, which dramatically improved his condition. Convinced there was a market for Buteyko in Australia, he arranged for the immigration of a Russian Buteyko expert, Alexander Stalmatski, in the early 90’s.

Mr. Stalmatski taught a large number of Buteyko courses around Australia. A number of people who had attended his courses who had gained a great deal of benefit from the Buteyko Method, were trained to teach the it to others thus ensuring the proliferation of Buteyko around Australia. The Buteyko Institute of Breathing and Health (BIBH) was established to support Buteyko educators in Australia.

Buteyko was introduced to New Zealand from Australia in early 1994 by Russell and Jennifer Stark, who owned and managed Buteyko New Zealand. Since giving the first course in Napier, New Zealand, the Starks had taught more than 4000 people the Buteyko Method by 1999.

From this extensive experience the Starks developed a user-friendly method of learning the Buteyko method without the need for lengthy practice sessions, restricted diets or added mineral supplements. The Buteyko New Zealand education program has spread across the world, and a partnership was formed with Susan Neves to promote this method in the US in 1998. Buteyko Asthma Education was started in 1998 with the goal of helping asthmatics understand and control their condition with minimal medication.

In the mid 1990’s, Mr. Stalmatski took the Buteyko Method to the United Kingdom, then tried to bring it to the United States. Apparently something happened with customs and that effort failed.

Chris Bauman, an asthmatic from Canada, traveled to New Zealand in 2000 to be trained. She has since traveled around Canada, taken part in the first ever North American study of Buteyko in Calgary, and trained a number of other Educators since she became a trainer.

In 2010 the Buteyko Breathing Educators Association (BBEA) was founded to support Buteyko educators around the world.