Guest: Mim Beim
Guest Bio: Mim is one of Australia’s leading naturopaths. She’s had over 25 years experience in natural health and medicine, and she uses a variety of modalities to treat her patients such as herbal medicine, nutrition, and the Buteyko method.
Health Professional Radio – Buteyko Technique
Katherine: Thank you for joining us today. I’m Katherine for Health Professional Radio, and today we have Mim Beim. Mim is one of Australia’s leading naturopaths. She’s had over 25 years experience in natural health and medicine, and she uses a variety of modalities to treat her patients such as herbal medicine, nutrition, and the Buteyko method, which we will be talking about today. Welcome, Mim.
Mim Beim: Thanks for having me on, Katherine.
Katherine: Not a problem. Can you tell us about this method?
Mim: Yeah. As you mentioned in the promo, I have been practising as a naturopath for 25 years. It’s only recently that I’ve been trained as a Buteyko practitioner and it’s absolutely transformed the way I practise. I first came across the technique over 20 years ago. I did a course and I had exercise-induced asthma, and it totally cured me of asthma. Since then, I’ve never had asthma. I always thought that it was going to be another string to my bow, helping my patients with asthma.
I went over to the States actually to train with an Irish practitioner who trained with Buteyko, the Dr. Konstantin Buteyko who started the whole thing. I was absolutely amazed at what else his technique could help with, things like anxiety, sleep apnea, sinus, even constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. It truly transformed the way I treat people.
Katherine: Okay. It sounds like you’ve had a lot of personal success with it as well, especially with your asthma. You no longer need your Ventolin, things like that?
Mim: No, absolutely. What had happened, which I didn’t realise was that it actually changes the way your body, I guess, reads the amount of carbon dioxide. It’s quite a scientific method. It’s changing the amount of carbon dioxide in the body. We tend to think of carbon dioxide as a negative thing. It is a waste gas, but like everything in the body, we need it as well. Slightly increasing carbon dioxide levels, what that does is, several things that that does, that explains why Buteyko has such a broad effect on really a raft of conditions.
Mim: First of all [indecipherable 02:39] a slight increase in carbon dioxide, it relaxes smooth muscle, and smooth muscle is what lines all the hollow cavities in the body. The airways are smooth muscle, so that’s one reason why it can help with asthma. If the airways are in spasm, the smooth muscles are in spasm, that’s the start of an asthma attack. If you are able to relax those airways by the slight increase in carbon dioxide, you’re going to reduce your tendency for asthma.
Other smooth muscle in the body is the bowel. That explains relaxing the bowel, relaxing the muscle, and the movement of that muscle called peristalsis, that can be made to be more steady and relaxed. That will reduce irritable bowel syndrome, which is a really common condition, and also some types of constipation, where people are holding stress in the bowel.
Other smooth muscle is also blood vessels, so it is thought this is why it is very good for hypertension, high blood pressure, which Buteyko…that’s where he started his study of this method. It’s great for hypertension, and also headache. A lot of the reasons for headache is constricted blood vessels in the brain.
Mim: It’s a really… has so many applications.
Katherine: Yeah, and if you are not suffering, say, from asthma or any of these conditions, you would just like to prevent or be able to sleep better. Is this something that people can incorporate into their daily lives?
Mim: Yes, absolutely. Initially you do a course. I call it breathing boot camp if you like, where you change the way the brain accepts to have slightly increased carbon dioxide. After that time, generally you don’t need to be doing any more exercises. One of the big things that I recommend is that people just breathe through their nose. After you do the course, your awareness is heightened to how many people don’t do this basic thing of breathing through the nose.
Breathing through the nose has the effect of, (a) it’s reducing the volume of the air that you are taking in, so that already is going to increase carbon dioxide levels by…because the aperture of the mouth is generally bigger than the nostrils, one hopes, and if you’re just breathing through your nose instead of your mouth, you are already reducing the loss of carbon dioxide.
What the nose also does is, there is all the turbulence and it’s actually quite a big structure inside the skull, and the air coming in through the nostrils is warmed and moistened by the time it reaches the lungs. For a lot of people with sinus or asthma, the triggers are cold and dry air. If you’re already just breathing through your nose…this condition, sorry, this Buteyko method really creates the possibility for people to nose-breathe rather than mouth breathe.
Katherine: I have heard of situations, where for example, someone has been in a car accident or they’re in hospital for quite a while, and they physically can’t move for a while. Is it possible for them to perhaps use breathing as a form of therapy? Have you heard of situations such as this, where people can’t move but they use breathing?
Mim: For stress or anxiety?
Katherine: Yeah, also healing, basically healing after an accident.
Mim: Yeah, well, it is a movement of the body and you’re causing that the movement, a very big muscle, the diaphragm. One of the, I think, the biggest pluses for me with this method is that the slight increase in carbon dioxide also switches on the parasympathetic nervous system. The nervous system that is not under our conscious control is called the autonomic nervous system, and it is in two parts. There is the sympathetic, which is the flight and fight, and that’s adrenalin-based. Then there’s the parasympathetic, which is called rest and digest.
That is dopamine and serotonin, so more relaxing. A lot of it is actually [indecipherable 07:20] more of the sympathetic or the flight and fight. By doing this breathing technique, you actually switch on the parasympathetic nervous system. That is an absolute boon for people who suffer from anxiety, and this is why it can help with insomnia and all kinds of stress. Someone who is hospitalised after an accident, just switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, which will help the healing process. Perhaps that’s the link.
Katherine: Right. Before you mentioned that you run some programs and also the breathing boot camp. Can you tell us what that involves?
Mim: Yeah, it’s a series of four lessons of two hours each, and I call my course Breathe Well. It involves, especially the first two lessons, involves the theory, because I really think it’s important, as I do with my naturopathic treatment, to know why we are doing something. To explain the theory of the practice. We explain, we look at the hows and whys, as well as the exercises and then throughout the four weeks, there are four consecutive weeks of two hours, each lesson, I give my students exercises to do. This will be doing exercises.
After which time, depending on the severity, you may not need to do anything else at all. Your body has changed. If someone has got a serious condition, say emphysema or another chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or extreme anxiety, I might ask them to continue doing exercises after the course is finished.
Mim: It’s a group of breathing exercises, and it’s basically working at increasing that carbon dioxide level.
Katherine: I see. I’ve read also about breathing centres. I’m not too sure if breathing centres are where people go to do the courses as patients, or they go to train as practitioners, or a bit of both. Can you tell us what a breathing centre is?
Mim: Well, when you first mentioned it, there are breathing centres in the brain, and that’s what’s governing how much oxygen and carbon dioxide there is in the body, and that’s what we’re trying to change. But there’s…
Mim: Sorry, I’m not sure whether it’s an outside the body-centre.
Katherine: I’m referring to the building, yeah.
Mim: Okay. Well, it’s still in its infancy, the Buteyko. It started in Russia, with Konstantin Buteyko. He died 20 years ago, so it’s the people who trained with him who are now many of the trainers. As I mentioned, I’ve trained with an Irish fellow, Patrick McKeown, and I followed his work for a number of years before deciding that he was going to be the teacher for me, and he is absolutely brilliant.
Mim: I’m still in contact with him. He researches new areas. He’s just been researching the effect of Buteyko for athletes. It’s like working, for athletes it improves their stamina and endurance. He is looking at the different applications with this technique.
Katherine: Right. I see.
Mim: I teach… Sorry.
Katherine: Oh no, sorry, keep going. What you were saying? You teach?
Mim: I teach at various venues. I have a practice in Bowral, in southern New South Wales, where I teach. I also teach it in Sydney, so evening classes. I use different venues that hopefully are more convenient for students to get to. They do four of these lessons, and then basically what I offer is…I offer a money-back guarantee. If your symptoms don’t improve, you get your money back.
Also, you have access …you are welcome to email me anytime thereafter or during the course. Also, any student who does one of my Breathe Well courses, they are welcome to come back as a refresher at no cost at any of my future courses.
Katherine: Well, it sounds like…
Mim: I’m really excited about this method… sorry?
Katherine: Yeah, it sounds like you are. I can hear your passion coming through. It sounds like you have had a lot of experience as well.
Mim: Yeah, I, now, I really, I’m having a database now with what… how this affects people. I’m actually doing a Masters of Nutrition at the moment, and my hope is that, maybe one day, I’ll do a PhD on this method. I’m thinking mainly looking at anxiety, although it has the applications for so many other things. There is a lot of information on my website, which is buteykobreathing.com.au.
Katherine: Yes. For those of you that would like more information or to get in contact with Mim, please go to her website. Thank you very much today for sharing all of this information with us.
Mim: My absolute pleasure, Katherine. Thank you for having me on.