As we close the door on this very unusual year, with the coronavirus as much a problem as ever as we wait for a widely-distributed vaccine, I thought I would recap helpful breathing advice that’s seemed to meet the test of time.
- Boost naturally-occurring, germ-killing Nitric Oxide gas in the nasal passages — either with a high-tech medical device or low-tech humming. It’s shown promise for both preventing and recovering from COVID-19.
With news that there are different, more transmissible mutations of the coronavirus now circulating, and questions about whether the vaccines will need to be modified, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as we head toward the one-year anniversary of this incredible tragedy.
In the past few weeks as I sought to compile the best breathing-related COVID advice of 2020, it was — hands-down — the finding that humming increases the concentration of germ-killing nitric oxide (NO) in the nose, the gateway to the lungs.
NO is released in the nasal passages during nasal breathing. Because of its past success stopping other viruses from replicating and growing in victims’ bodies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it as an acceptable treatment for COVID-19 last year. In subsequent 2020 COVID-19 studies, it showed promise for both preventing and recovering from that specific disease too.
In hospitals NO is administered with a compressed-gas machine. In multiple current clinical trials, NO concentration above 150 parts per million (PPM) has been shown to act as a potent antimicrobial agent, according to research from Israel.
But get this. While the normal concentration of NO in the paranasal sinuses is 17 PPM during silent nasal breathing, when we hum it can reach 252 PPM, according to a study in Stockholm, Sweden reported in 2006.
Humming raises the concentration by increasing air movement between the sinuses and tThe good news is that we can all experiment with this on our own for free — anytime and anywhere! It hasn’t been declared a “cure”, but so far the results look positive and there’s nothing to lose!
In one study at Massachusetts General Hospital that appears to still be ongoing, nurses caring for COVID patients are being administered 160 PPM of NO for 15 minutes two times a day, before and after their work shifts.
How can we copy this at home? Research found an effective way to increase NO concentration naturally is to hum for five seconds over and over again to the C3 note on the piano (130 Hertz).for 15 minutes at a time, two to five times a day.
I find this totally inspiring. I believe it can offer hope to poor, marginalized people and essential workers. Please start humming!
I’ve been trying it myself. I get bored quickly just sitting around humming only, but I enjoy it easily alongside housework, walking my dogs and other activities where it’s possible to do two things at once.
The first time I hummed I got light-headed, and the small muscles in my nostrils and around my nose felt sore. So I stopped and the next day I was able to do it longer without feeling discomfort. If you want to experiment with this, try it for as long as is comfortable and then just keep doing it and increasing the time.
Here is one of several fantastic videos on the topic from Dr. Irminne Van Dyken, a Kaiser Permanente surgeon in Hawaii. There are links to all the scientific research cited too on the blog.
Here is the note it’s recommended to hum. I’ve got it saved in my phone so before I hum I use this as a tuning fork!
- Discover “Four TipsTo Manage Breathlessness After Non-Hospitalised COVID-19 Infection” from the Buteyko Breathing Association in the United Kingdom.
Here’s a simple, compassionate and informative resource for post COVID-19 patients on how to start rehabilitating their breathing as part of their recovery.
It explains how the virus can disrupt our breathing pattern and offers some ways to get it back to normal, with introductory tools to improve breathing efficiency and control.
It’s a one-page PDF at:
As a breathing coach in the San Francisco Bay Area, I received this in an e-mail in early Fall after the British association held a webinar for doctors on this important issue.
I believe they’re saying “non-hospitalized” to specify non-acute cases. We breathing educators work with people on lifestyle habits. Our work should not be confused with the therapeutic recovery protocols of respiratory and physical therapists in a medical environment for people who are still recovering from acute illness.
Videos on Nitric Oxide:
Nitric Oxide in the treatment of Covid-19: https://youtu.be/m6Kk8GjWho4
Nasal Nitric Oxide: https://youtu.be/6v-nTRLEXFk
Nitric Oxide Review: https://youtu.be/bis1gvjxmpQ
36 clinical trials Re Nitric Oxide and COVID 19: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=Covid19&term=nitric+oxide&cntry=&state=&city=&dist=
Eurpean Respiratory Journal https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/22/2/323.figures-only