A collective of medical and holistic professionals advocates a drug-free treatment for asthma sufferers.
The collaborative effort of journalist and holistic practitioner Yakovleva (Breathing Exercise Buteyko Logbook, 2015, etc.) and Russian physicians and debut authors Buteyko and Novozhilov seeks to substantiate and promote Buteyko’s “Breathing Normalization Method.” The authors believe this technique can vastly diminish and possibly eradicate asthmatic symptoms. These claims directly counter current medicinal treatments that incorporate steroid inhalation therapies in the form of both long-term control and “rescue inhalers,” which provide immediate relief for severe allergic bronchial inflammation. While these treatments are beneficial from a pharmacological perspective, the book presents alternative, drug-free methods of coping with asthma using breathing self-regulation techniques. The authors deliver the bad news first: asthma has historically been labeled an “incurable disease” only because modern medicine has not uncovered a process for eliminating allergic inflammation, just drugs to control and reduce its symptoms. The narrative focuses on physiologist Buteyko’s mind-body approach and claims that a deficiency in carbon dioxide in the lungs is caused by “excessive breathing.” By controlling what the authors believe is the problem of “chronic hyperventilation” during an asthmatic episode (and throughout daily life), these levels become normalized, and lung bronchospasms retreat and even subside permanently. This may be difficult for readers to comprehend since Western medical practices historically counsel patients to take a deep breath when stressed. The book’s primary objective is to demonstrate the benefits of slowed breathing, though Buteyko’s four-page list of “diseases reversible by breathing reduction” begs for debate and medical substantiation. Subsequent chapters detail how readers can achieve the maximum benefits from this process by using “Breathing Snake” visualization, improving posture, practicing the “Control Pause,” and other easily applicable breathing exercises. A supporting cast of physicians and patients at Yakovleva’s Breathing Center facility claims to have victoriously “tamed asthma” and provides enthusiastic endorsements. Using interviews, graphs, documents, and illustrations, the book reinforces its seemingly sound evidentiary support and provides clinical advice through a sensible methodology. But the volume’s suggestions should definitely be addressed with a physician first. Though pages of testimonials and a helpful, expanded question-and-answer section bolster the work’s claims and clear up many misconceptions about asthma, further research and personal trials remain in readers’ (and their physicians’) hands.
While this book delivers a positive message about improving overall health through mindful breathing techniques, the specific medical claims require individual investigation.