Author Archives: howard

Dr. Mercola: “If You Have Asthma, Try Buteyko Breathing”

In one of Dr. Mercola’s latest blog post on dealing with asthma, Buteyko Breathing was mentioned as one of the remedies. Here’s the part on Buteyko Breathing:

Most people chronically “overbreathe,” which just means breathing more than you need to. When you overbreathe, you are depleting your carbon dioxide reserves. The odds are that if you are breathing through your mouth during the day, you are also doing so at night, which can lead to several health problems like dehydration, snoring, and sleep apnea. (*To learn more on snoring and sleep apnea ,here’s a great post by Health Ambition: Why do people snore)

Mouth breathing also plays a critical role in bronchial asthma, especially exercise-induced asthma. In a study published in theAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease, young asthma patients had virtually no exercise-induced asthma after exercising while breathing through their noses.5 However, they experienced moderate bronchial constriction after exercising while mouth breathing. Other studies have shown similar findings.

Mouth and nose breathing differ dramatically in terms of the depth of your breath, how the air is “prepared,” and the effects they produce in your body. The first step to attaining optimal breathing is to breathe through your nose, not through your mouth. If you have asthma, I recommend using a simple technique called The Buteyko Breathing Method—named after the Russian physician who developed the technique—which can help restore normal breathing patterns, improve the delivery of oxygen to tissues and organs, increase the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood, and radically improve your overall health and fitness.

Asthmatics typically breathe through the mouth. They also tend to breathe heavier and have a higher respiratory rate than non-asthmatics. According to Patrick McKeown, who is one of the top teachers of the Buteyko Method in the world, there’s a feedback loop, in that the heavier breathing volume that’s coming into your lungs causes a disturbance of blood gasses, including the loss of carbon dioxide (CO2). Contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide is not merely a waste gas. Although you breathe to get rid of excess CO2, it’s very important that your breathing volume is normal, in order to maintain a certain amount of CO2 in your lungs.

“If you’re breathing too heavily, you lose carbon dioxide, and smooth muscles surrounding your airways constrict. Another factor from an asthmatic point of view is dehydration of the inner walls of the airways. It’s a combination of these factors that cause the airways to constrict. Heavy breathing is causing the loss of carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide also helps to relax smooth muscles surrounding your blood vessels. So, it’s not just the airways which constrict when you’re breathing too much, but it’s also the blood vessels,” he says.

You can test this out by taking five or six big breaths in and out of your mouth. Most people will begin to experience some light-headedness or dizziness. While you might reason that taking bigger breaths through your mouth allows you to take more oxygen into your body, which should make you feel better, the opposite actually happens. This is because you’re getting rid of too much carbon dioxide from your lungs, which causes your blood vessels to constrict—hence the light-headedness.

So, the heavier you breathe, the less oxygen that’s actually delivered throughout your body due to lack of carbon dioxide, which causes your blood vessels to constrict. The Buteyko Method teaches you how to bring your breathing volume back toward normal or, in other words, to reverse chronic hyperventilation or chronic overbreathing. When your breathing is normal, you have better oxygenation of tissues and organs.


Here’s the link to access the original full article:

BBEA 2013 Conference at Seattle

It was very exciting to get to see Chris again; and Carol and Susan since the 2011 Buteyko Educators Training in Michigan! Also met many new Buteyko Educators such as Don, Lynn, Gordon, and Tess Graham all the way from Australia!

In addition, thanks to the support from the BBEA community, I will begin to serve as a board member of the BBEA!

BBEA 2013 conference group photo

BBEA 2013 Conference. Source: BBEA Newsletter Fall 2013

How to Breathe during Color Run

How to Breathe During Color Run

How to Breathe during Color Run

Running, in recent years, has becoming increasingly popular all over the world. Besides the traditional marathon events for the extremes, more people are attending the half marathons and 10Ks; but most importantly, there are many “themed” runs being hosted for both the running enthusiasts as well as the general public who just want to have fun. These runs are generally short, only about 5km long, so anyone can finish it. It’s not timed, so no pressure, no need to rush; you could literally just walk the entire route if you want, and just take your time to enjoy the theme.

So last weekend I attended one of these “themed” run called the color run here in Vancouver, Canada. All attendees start the run with a white t-shirt from the event, and like the name describes, you “get colored” during the run, and at the end of the run you “become colored”.

How to Breathe during color run

How to breathe during color run

“How was it?” If you ask, I’d say it was a pretty fun event, a half day well spent with a couple friends.

One problem, that some runners have with this event, is the “getting colored” part. Basically, there are 4 set up points along the run course, each point is called a color zone with a unique color assigned to it (purple, yellow, blue, orange). Volunteers in each color zone continuously throw packs of colored corn starch powders into the air and onto the runners, so that the runners get colored as they pass by.

How to Breathe during color run

How to Breathe during Color Run

While the event host claim these powders are safe, they still recommend people who find the powders irritating should wear a mask or goggle or something to cover their eyes, nose, and mouth. Nonetheless, it’s best to keep these powders outside of your body.

So, if you can, try to take a full breath in just before you enter the color zone, and hold your breath until you completely pass the color zone. For people who have been trained with Buteyko Breathing, this should be a piece of cake for you all.

If you can’t hold your breath throughout the zone (the zone really isn’t that long), then please make sure you keep your mouth closed and breathe only through your nose! If you breathe through your mouth, you literally become a vacuum for the powders, all those powders in the air will go directly into your lungs. If you find eating those powders disgusting and unhealthy, shuffling those powders into your lungs (instead of stomach) is much much worse! If you breathe through your nose, at least the filters (ie. ciliary hair) inside your nasal cavity and along the trachea can help filter out most of the powders.

Our body has it’s own natural cleansing mechanism, gradually over time the trapped powders will slowly get pushed out from the nasal cavity by the mucus. If you want to make sure your nasal cavity is cleaned fast and thorough, then you can use a pulsatile nasal irrigator to help you rinse out all the trapped powders in your nasal cavity.

Enjoy the run, and stay healthy!

Common solution for snoring and sleep apnea (apnoea) that you won’t enjoy – Part 3: CPAP

cpap for sleep apnea

CPAP is the abbreviation for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine consists of 3 parts, a mask that fit onto your face, which kind of looks like a lite version of a storm trooper’s mask in Star Wars; and a tube that connects the mask to a machine  that pumps air to you continuously throughout the night. A full CPAP set generally range in the hundreds and can go up to a couple thousand dollars depending on the grade of the machine and what kind of extra features and functions are added; In general, a CPAP does work in addressing the sleep apnoea issue. A CPAP machine forces air in and out through your throat; it drives your breathing so that your breathing will be continuous throughout the night. However, many people find wearing a breathing mask to sleep is just as discomfort and irritating as wearing a mouth piece, if not more. Also, if you are a light sleeper, the sound of the CPAP machine running may be what keeps you awake now. Not to mention you will need to rely on the machine for the rest of your life, and always carry with you when you travel. 

Common solution for Snoring and Sleep Apnea (apnoea) that you won’t enjoy, Part 2 – Surgery

surgery for snoring and sleep apnoeaI’ve never had a sleep apnoea surgery done on me so I wouldn’t be able to comment this from my own experience. While surgery may be a quick fix to your problem, there’s no guarantee. as many people go into the surgical room with the anticipation that all their sleeping problems are solved once they are out the door, while this may be the case for some people, for the others, it’s not. While many medical surgeries are quite safe nowadays, still no medical surgeries can guarantee a 100% success rate. Surgeries also often come with post-surgical side effects (this is assuming the initial surgery was a success). I am not saying you should never have a surgery performed; sometimes a surgery is necessary, but because a surgery is not reversible, you really don’t want to do it unless it is really your last resort and only option left. Continue reading

Common solution for Snoring and Sleep Apnea (apnoea) that you won’t enjoy, Part 1 – Mouth Piece

There are many types of mouthpiece on the market, but they all do the same thing, keeps your jaws together by biting onto the mouth piece during sleep; known as jaw retention or mandibular position appliances (There are also a few that emphasize on the tongue retention). Mouthpiece can either be bought off the shelf, or they can be fully custom-made for you by dentists who specialize in sleep treatment with oral appliances. Continue reading

A clever mom who knew the importance of nasal breathing

Air canadaNovember 2012 – I was on a Air Canada flight flying from Vancouver to Chicago OHare airport, where I’ll be connected onto another flight flying to Germany. After the plane had levelled in the air, the lady on my left who was seating in the windows seat asked where I was going, I told her I was attending MEDICA in Dusseldorf; it’s the largest annual medical trade fair. She was a marketing manager of a company in the oil and energy industry, and she was heading to Chicago to meet some of their clients.

She told me both her husband and her son had issues with asthma and hay fever, but before I had the chance to start my quick 30 seconds information session on Buteyko Breathing Technique, she quickly continued on saying that she had already found an easy fix to it. Was I surprised by the solution she found? No, because it was “nasal breathing”. She said just by ensuring her husband and her son to nasal breathing at all time, their symptoms had reduced significantly and were healthier than before. A very clever mom, she had perfect understanding and awareness of the importance of our nose.

There are many sources that promote the benefit of nasal breathing, but most of the time we simply ignore them because “breathing through your nose” just doesn’t sound exciting or significant at all. But sometimes, it is this kind of small detail or habit, which carries a great impact to you and me.