Vitali Health Centre in Wilderness, South Africa Vitali Health Centre in Wilderness, South Africa
Healing Body, Mind & Spirit
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Butyeko Breathing technique
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Dr Jon Morley

Dr Jon 
VITALI Health Centre

Cell:+27 (0) 44 889 0119
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Close Your Mouth!

Do you have asthma, chronic nasal congestion, emphysema (COPD), chronic sinus problems? Or do you experience some of the following symptoms: Respiratory: wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, chest tightness, frequent yawning, sighing, sniffing, snoring, sleep apnoea. Nerves: anxiety, light-headedness, poor concentration, numbness, dizziness, vertigo, faintness, trembling, fatigue and headache. Heart: racing heartbeat, pain in the chest, irregular or skipping beats. Mind: tension, depression, apprehension, stress?
You may be over-breathing.

These symptoms can all be due to too little carbon dioxide in your blood. Yes, too little. ‘What?!’, you say: carbon dioxide is the ‘bad’ gas, waste gas, we must get rid of it....perhaps not. Carbon dioxide can dilate your airways, reduce mucous in the airways, relieve congested airways, calm the mind, dilates blood vessels. In fact, the level of carbon dioxide in your blood is a primary determinant of your breathing and the healthy oxygenation of your cells.

Oxygen is relatively insoluble in blood, and most of it, around 98%, is bound to haemoglobin. Your cells (brain, muscle etc) want oxygen. The Bohr Effect, first described in 1904, shows that the strength of oxygen-haemoglobin bond is inversely proportionate to the amount of carbon dioxide. So, the lower the blood concentration of carbon dioxide, the tighter the haemoglobin binds the oxygen, leaving less of it free to enter the cells...where you want it. The more the carbon-dioxide level, the looser the bond and the better the oxygenation of the cells.

Practically: during the oxidation of carbohydrates and fats for cellular energy and cell metabolism while exercising, carbon dioxide is produced as an end-product. This is carried by the veins to the lungs, where the excess is exhaled. When you over-breathe, too much carbon dioxide is exhaled.
In our design, breathing through the nostrils slows air movement down, moistens and cleanses the air and regulates the temperature of that air reaching our lungs. Exhaling via the nostrils also slows and lessens the volume exhaled. Mouth breathing cannot boast the same valuable attributes: instead, fast moving, cold, unfiltered air rushing into the upper airways, and then leaving in large volumes without regulation. Carbon dioxide gets less...and less..until your body tries to trap some air, save some carbon dioxide. It may congest or tighten or swell the airways.

There are receptors in our arteries to gauge the concentration of CO2 in the blood. If it goes over a certain level, we breathe more, and vice versa. This is not a fixed point. The average CO2 concentrations in human blood has a narrow range. Too little and we are very unwell, too much and we can feel toxic. In 1968, G.Sterling wrote in an article entitled ‘The Mechanism of Bronchoconstriction Due to Hypocapnia (low carbon dioxide)’ that “hypocapnia due to voluntary hyperventilation in man, causes increased resistance to airflow”, and that when subjects were given an air mixture containing 5% CO2 “ bronchoconstriction was reversed...”.

The more you overbreath, the lower your CO2 levels become, the less oxygen is freed up from haemoglobin for uptake in your cells, the sicker the tissues become, the more likely it is that your body’s survival mechanism will resist airflow via spasm and congestion of the airways in order to allow CO2 to build up once again, and thus allow better release of oxygen into the cells.WOW!

It’s possible that our modern habits of over-eating, eating more refined foods, less exercise, warmer home temperatures , more service-based jobs requiring more talking and less doing and greater stress levels may be some factors that contribute to over-breathing. It is estimated that 50 years ago, we did an average of 4 hours of physical labour a day, nowadays most of us are lucky if we exercise 30minutes a day! Exercise produces higher levels of CO2. Did anyone notice that the Olympic athletes and swimmers mostly breath through their noses, if at all (swimming): their coaches know that by reducing the loss of CO2, the athletes tissues (muscles) are better oxygenated.

Around the 1970’s, Russian medical professor, Konstantin Buteyko, closely observed this phenomenon. He noticed that asthmatics were breathing around 14 litres per minute (approx 700-1000ml breaths at a rate of 15-20 breaths a minute), while non- asthmatics were breathing around 5 litres a minute (10-12 breaths per minute with a volume of approx 500ml per breath). This high volume of breathing in asthmatics is not just during a asthma attack, but on a chronic, ongoing basis. Usually asthmatic breathing is open mouthed, and often accompanied by anxiety symptoms as well as a host of the symptoms at the beginning of this article.
Based on his observations, Buteyko began teaching people how to breathe less. First was his instruction of nasal breathing, then various very easy to follow exercises that encouraged a building up of the body’s CO2 levels to reverse the airway narrowing that all asthmatics are familiar with. Through longterm habitual breathing habits, we ‘set’ our acceptable levels of CO2 in the blood...we can Re-set it through Buteyko’s methods.

In my experience, when done properly, one can reduce asthma symptoms by as much as 50% in 2 weeks. This methodology has been validated in at least 6 independent trials in the western world. The approach is simple to understand, easy to apply, can be learned by kids as young as 4 and all adults with different degrees of asthma, COPD and high blood pressure. In fact, the overall health benefits of improving our cellular oxygenation are innumerable. We don’t need to buy fancy ozone machines or super-oxygenated water, or expensive supplements promising ‘nascent oxygen’ and such things: we could just learn how to maximise the incredible miracle that we are.

For more information go to, or give us a ring at Vitali and we’ll teach you how you can follow this wonderful technique and improve your body’s vitality significantly.

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