In the year of the 30th anniversary of the asthma center Asthma Service, we remember unusual innovators from science. One of them was Buteyko.
“A myth remains a myth if it is far from science”
Many have heard about the Buteyko method. In 1956, he published an
article about his observation that asthmatic breathing difficulties are
sometimes relieved by reducing the depth and frequency of breathing. Buteyko
associated this phenomenon with an increase in the concentration of carbon
dioxide in the alveolar region of the lungs, and hence with a subsequent
increase in its concentration in the blood. Based on his practical observation,
he created a theory that is far from scientific, linking “deep” breathing
with many diseases and proposed a treatment method called “volitional
retention of deep breathing”, or VVHD. The theoretical value of Buteyko’s
views is very doubtful due to the complete lack of evidence, but in practice,
the use of the Buteyko breathing method brings clear relief to some asthmatics,
although it does not cure asthma, despite the author’s own claims. But
nevertheless, the improvement in the well-being of some asthmatics using this
method of breathing, ultimately gave rise to interest in this invention.
Clinical trials were carried out in many healthcare institutions, especially in
children’s: after all, the method did not require drugs! And some heads of
clinics, represented by the then Soviet pediatric professors, gave Buteyko
their positive feedback. But for full recognition, obtaining an author’s
certificate and rights to his invention, Buteyko needed a positive review from
the “chief” pulmonologist of the country.
This, apparently, led him in 1985 to the Department of Internal Medicine of the 2nd Medical Institute. A.G. Chuchalin – the head of this department – at that time, one of the main consultants of the 4th Directorate, was a clear favorite of the Politburo, ahead of many then veterans of Soviet pulmonology in ranks and ranks. For this, many envied him, and even feared him in their hearts. Rather, not even many, but all as one. Naturally, except for Buteyko, who did not depend on Chuchalin in any way. That is why he said, going out to the cathedral platform: “Hello! I am Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko. I have come to teach you how to treat asthma.” I still remember the deep amazement of the “senior comrades” – the assistant professor-party organizer, the second professor, the chief himself, his assistants, and the cheerful faces of graduate students and residents. The state of the chef himself could be expressed in the words of a famous poet: “… the king turns from white to yellow!” Nevertheless, Buteyko was allowed to express himself a little more in the same vein, and then everything ended scandalously: the staff of the department laughed, and Buteyko’s associates (who accompanied him everywhere) shouted slogans about the inertia of Soviet science and the unrecognized genius of Konstantin Pavlovich.
This speech later cost Buteyko dearly: on the verbal “recommendation” of the academician, wounded by disrespect for himself, he was simply no longer allowed into all healthcare institutions. Figuratively speaking, “he was executed by non-recognition from above”, and he could only hope for the support of his supporters. Fortunately for the persistent inventor, he had many supporters: after all, the method did not require anything other than the desire to apply it, it was quite simple and really helped asthmatics in some cases. All this led to a large number of appeals from his followers to the Ministry of Health, government agencies and the media. And there were so many of them that even the Soviet system could not calm everyone down. And then it was decided to “destroy” Buteyko ideologically and scientifically. And for this purpose, the Ministry of Health of the USSR and the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR specially organized a scientific conference “Non-drug methods of treating bronchial asthma” “under Buteyko”. We can say this for sure, because he was specially invited to speak and he was given several pages in the collection for printed theses. “Advanced Soviet Science” gathered into a “single fist” all the “ideological” scientific forces from all the departments and clinics of the country. Representatives of the military medical academy were even present there. Apparently, the task seemed simple to the organizers: to “crush” the pseudoscientific theories of the disgraced doctor with the speeches of “advanced Soviet medicine” and show that even without Buteyko, all problems with asthma have already been resolved. Although it was impossible to read the theses of Buteyko and his co-authors without tears: it was complete illiteracy in medicine in general! But only everything that was not published in this collection (a separate novel could be written about this) did not become a real alternative to the simple and unpretentious theory of the “inventor from the plow”! Separately, it must be said about the performances. After Buteyko’s rather chaotic report, all those with whom he collaborated and in whose clinics he tested his breathing method spoke. And all of them, as one, refused their positive reviews that they had given earlier! Some even went further and began to assert the opposite: the Buteyko method is not only ineffective, but even dangerous and harmful! In general, Konstantin Pavlovich, as they say, “surrendered even their own.” But even this did not help the “advanced Soviet” medicine. The conference turned out to be a failure. And one of the last performances, in fact, confirmed this. One of the conference participants asked to speak and, waving a collection of conference abstracts, asked: “What non-drug methods of treating asthma are discussed here? Transplantation of adrenal cells in newborn piglets? So this is no longer HEALTH CARE, but HEALTH CARE!” In essence, this thesis summed up the results of the entire conference. Academicians and professors have not understood the main truth: the trouble is not that the Buteyko method is not very reasoned and clear, but that the healthcare system has not found any real alternative to it. More than 15 years have passed since then. The most advanced “non-drug” methods of treatment of the Soviet period: hemosorption, intravenous blood irradiation with a laser and ultraviolet, etc. “vegetate” in Russia. And the Buteyko method is known today in many countries. In the UK, New Zealand and Australia, the number of fans of this method of breathing is growing. And the former Soviet professors, “terribly distant” from the people suffering from asthma , will not understand: why? Yes, simply because although the impaired lung function is not restored, and the disease continues to progress for those who breathe “according to Buteyko”, this brings relief, at least temporarily. This was checked long ago by foreign (and not ours!) researchers and published in the report “Global Strategy …”, or more simply GINA 2002.
Well, GINA 2002 itself is essentially solid hormones, and even calls for patients to self-treat with them. But it is clear that it is much more dangerous to use hormones uncontrollably than the Buteyko method! And the broad masses of asthmatics understood this faster than all the scientists put together, including the compilers of the GINA 2002 report.