Anyone who suffers from breathing difficulties positively bristles when they hear someone use the expression that something is “just as simple as breathing.” When one can barely breathe at all and struggles with every intake of air, it seems anything but simple. Most people with breathing problems are willing to try any treatment that promises relief. Still, the question remains, what is the best treatment?

Breathing difficulties can seemingly stem from a multitude of causes: allergies, asthma, COPD, infections, bronchitis. The list could go on forever. Historically, the treatment given has been dependent upon what doctors considered to be the source of the problem. For example, if allergies were the cause, the treatment would be antihistamines. If the cause was determined to be asthma, various treatment options were available including inhalers or oral steroids. Bacterial infections were treated with antibiotics.

In some eastern philosophies and medicinal practices, however, breathing difficulties are understood not as the symptom of some other malady, but as the cause of the maladies themselves. Operating on the premise that breath gives life, these approaches see breathing as that force which regulates the rest of the human body. It is improper or incorrect breathing, they say, that causes other parts of the body to miss out on life-giving oxygen. This then throws the whole system out of order.

There does seem to be reason in such an approach: If breathing is the problem, then focusing on the breathing would seem to be the logical solution. Rather than putting a bandage over the seeming problem, such methodologies seek to get at the root of the problem itself.

Of course, even among these alternative approaches, there is a difference of opinion as to what actually gets at the root of the problem. Some encourage deep, cleansing breaths as the way to health and wholeness. Others argue that most people tend to be over-breathing and are in a constant state of hyperventilation. They say that breathing needs to be slowed down. Shallow, measured breaths are what they believe are necessary to reach a state of balance. Still others combine breathing with stretching exercises and meditation so that both the body and the mind can be brought into alignment.

If you suffer from any sort of breathing difficulties and are at your wits’ end in trying to deal with the symptoms, you might consider consulting with an alternative medicine practitioner to determine if you might benefit from a more holistic approach. You can also inquire if some form of breathing treatment might be right for you.

When you improve breathing, you improve your total health and, most likely, negate the need for medicinal breathing treatment. The Buteyko Center offers a free breathing test online and a free Buteyko Health Evaluation report with our recommendations. The test will help you determine whether you hyperventilate or not, and if so to what degree, and how that may be affecting the quality of your sleep, as well as recommendations for improvement.