Papworth breathing technique cuts asthma symptoms by a third

July 2, 2007

A sequence of breathing and relaxation exercises known as the Papworth method has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms by a third by the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the technique, which is published online ahead of print in Thorax.

Eighty five people with mild asthma were randomly assigned to receive either five sessions of treatment by the Papworth method on top of their medical care or to continue to rely on usual drug therapy.

After the sessions had finished, patients’ asthma symptoms were assessed using the St George’s Respiratory Symptom Questionnaire. Patients who had been treated by the Papworth method scored an average of 21.8 on the questionnaire compared with an average score of 32.8 for patients who had not received the treatment.

And this improvement in symptoms was still maintained one year later. At 12 months patients who had been treated using the Papworth method scored 24.9, while patients who had not scored 33.5.

Use of the Papworth method was associated with less depression and anxiety, and symptoms from inappropriate breathing habits were also reduced. The technique improved the relaxed breathing rate but there was no significant improvement in specific measures of lung function.

The authors say: ‘To our knowledge, this is the first evidence from a controlled trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Papworth method.

‘The fact that no significant change was observed in objective measures of lung function suggests that five treatments of the Papworth method do not improve the chronic underlying physiological causes of asthma, but rather their manifestation.’

The Papworth method of physical therapy is a series of integrated breathing and relaxation exercises developed in the 1960s. The breathing training involves a specific diaphragmatic breathing technique, emphasises nose breathing and development of a breathing pattern to suit current activity. It is accompanied by relaxation training and education to help people integrate the exercises into their daily lives and recognise the early signs of stress.

Source: BMJ Specialty Journals

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Onions could hold key to fighting antibiotic resistance

January 22, 2018
A type of onion could help the fight against antibiotic resistance in cases of tuberculosis, a UCL and Birkbeck-led study suggests.

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.