Konstantin Buteyko: The Discovery

English translation originally published on www.buteyko.ru >>

Konstantin Pavlovich was born in 1923 in sun-lit, fertile Ukraine. His father was a carpenter, mum v a tailor. The author of a Method. His big brother Volodya took care of younger Kostya. By the then standards, their life was fine, nobody starved and they always had bread to eat. In 1929 (without Volodya, who suddenly died of acute pneumonia) they moved to Popovka near Konotop, where Kostya was supposed to go to school. Since his early years, Kostya (nick-name for Konstantin) had a passion for mechanics. After finishing high school (in Konotop) he was dreaming of building an amazing machine that would dig, swim and fly to other planets. To do that, in 1939 he went to the Department of Road Transport in Kiev Polytechnic.

In just two years World War II began. Bombs dropped on his dear Kiev. Kostya and his classmates rushed to the military commissariat, from where his friends were appointed to the tank school, and he became just a mechanic in a Ministry of Health motorcade (too young!). Drugs to the frontline, the wounded back v that-s what his life was until the end of War, which found him in Berlin. That-s where he drove several trophy trucks for the Ministry of Health in Moscow from. And Moscow was where he chose to stay for good.

Man is the most complex mechanism of all

And decided to carry on with education. Not on the Department of Road Transport, though, but in the 1st Moscow Medical Institute named after I. M. Sechenov. Having seen so much blood and death at War, Kostya decided to study Man. At that time he already felt something was wrong about contemporary medicine. Even as a child he noticed that what cured diseases were granny-s herbs. Her ointments and tinctures helped enormously, but should his mum turn to doctors, only drugs and injections, often totally useless, were prescribed.

During the War years, Buteyko became so good at mechanics that he could identify disorders by the tiniest differences in how the engine ticked. That was the level of perfection he wanted to achieve as a Human Organism specialist. Fast and precise diagnostics was the acme of medical mastery for him. In late summer of 1946, Buteyko enrolled at the Department of Therapy, 1st Moscow Medical Institute, but his utter disappointment in therapy manuals made him move to the Department of Sanitary Hygiene.

Konstantin Pavlovich never let things slide in all his life, but he was particularly vigorous in studying medicine. A straight A student and the class monitor: these titles speak for themselves. The institute library didn’t suffice, and the central medical library was only open for qualified doctors. However, they made an exception and he literally plunged into the boundless sea of books.

Miracles happen

By the end of the course, he was diagnosed high blood pressure disease. He, a wonderful sportsman who-d spend long hours exercising! He, who was so good at boxing, could not beat the approaching disaster. Neither the Diploma with Honors in summer 1952, nor the post-graduate course at the Department headed by his teacher, Academician Tareyev, could make him happy. What was it all for, if he only had one or two more years to live? Blood pressure would often exceed 220. His head swelled from terrible, sometimes unbearable pain. And the heart shrank in a totally non-sportive manner. Buteyko was at the biggest national theoretical and practical center, but nothing could have saved him. Even the sinister cancer was outshadowed by malignant high blood pressure disease.

The early stages of cancer were possible to fight with, sometimes even successfully. The killing ailment could be muffled or interrupted (often, for long). However, malignant high blood pressure disease gave him no chance! A year or two, and you die out, even if you-re the strongest person in the world. Buteyko knew it. He had the rarest medications at his disposal, including imported ones, he had the biggest Soviet authority in blood pressure, Academician Tareyev, by his side, and yet Konstantin Pavlovich (the qualified doctor was now called by full name) was doomed! Drugs were ineffective, and he was afraid to say all to Tareyev. They could simply expel him from the course (given his blood pressure values!).

Nonetheless the teacher could judge by hints and primarily by appearances and looked at him sympathetically, the way you look at the one who goes for good. Academician had plans for Buteyko (which he often delicately drew at); he thought he was one of his most talented graduates.

Suddenly a miracle happened in October 1952. Buteyko, who had been heading to the gates of the graveyard, first slowed down, and then walked, no, simply rushed away from them. His cheeks were red again, his grey eyes, almost dimmed, sparkled anew. The miracle happened on October 7, 1952. That day, or more precisely, night, Buteyko remembered till his last days. In the night of October 7, 1952 Konstantin Pavlovich made a discovery…

Erroneous diagnosis leads to the discovery

On October 7, 1952 a young Soviet researcher Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko made such a discovery. Everything was simple and ordinary. The young resident was on duty in the 1st Moscow Clinic near Petrovskie Vorota. While explaining the basics of diagnostics to the other students on duty, he made a diagnostic mistake. The patient with all bronchial asthma symptoms had the same ailment as Konstantin Pavlovich himself, malignant high blood pressure disease.

“No way!” thought Buteyko looking in the patient-s back as he was slowly walking down the hallway. Just no way. Cautious pace. Severe breathlessness. Steadily open mouth: those were all symptoms of a typical asthma! And yet, that was malignant high blood pressure disease. How come? Rarely did Konstantin Pavlovcih diagnose erroneously, and what a wide go! “What if?!..” it struck him unexpectedly. What if deep breath, typical for asthmatics and so well-expressed in this boy with malignant high blood pressure disease, is not just a vivid symptom, but the cause of both illnesses?

A short talk with the strong, waist-belted patient gave grounds to his vague suppositions. Yuri Kozlov, 21, had long been in weightlifting, which means constant “overbreathing”: barbell taken v exhale, barbell up v inhale deeply. Buteyko remembered his own sports story. Immense physical overloads, “locomotive-type” breathing. When he noticed the signs of the grave disease, Konstantin Pavlovich had to quit sports, but he still continued to breathe deeply. He was able to read Kozlov’s record almost to the middle, when he felt he had a new attack.

As usual, like a lot of hammers, blood began to pulsate in his temples, signalizing an abrupt blood pressure jump. The killing pain possessed the back of his head. His heart shrank, and then throbbed, the right kidney ached. Following the reflex, Buteyko put his hand down in the pocket to get the drug, but- suddenly pulled it back. Why the drug? What is it good for if the cause is still there? And the cause of malignant high blood pressure disease, as he was inclined to think from that night on, was deep breathing. So, what was up? Who wanted tinctures? Why not try to take the bull by the horns? Why beat around the bush?

Buteyko put the record aside and leaned against the rigid chair back. He held breath. “Breathe as shallow as possible. Little by little. Little by little…” the young researcher thought. He was short of air. He wanted to open his mouth wide and swallow it in huge gulps, but Konstantin Pavlovich held himself in hands.

One minute, another- and that was a miracle! The headache was gone; furious blood throbs in the temples disappeared. The heart didn’t ache any more, the kidney colic faded away as if from a hot compress. Bingo! His idea was being most vividly confirmed. Who can best speak about himself and his discoveries if not the author?


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Anders Olsson is a lecturer, teacher and founder of the Conscious Breathing concept and the author of Conscious Breathing. After living most of his life with a ”hurricane of thoughts” bouncing back and forth in is head, Anders was fortunate enough to come across tools that have helped him relax and find his inner calm. The most powerful of these tools has undoubtedly been to improve his breathing habits, which made Anders decide to become the worlds most prominent expert in breathing. This is now more than 10 years ago and since then he has helped tens of thousands of people to a better health and improved quality of life.

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