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, which gave 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 not be alone the cure but also, amazingly, the cause of so many 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. He devised a programme to measure breathing and also a method of reconditioning patients' breathing to normal levels. This involved:
1.Switching from mouth breathing to nasal breathing.
2.Relaxation of the diaphragm until an air shortage is felt.