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A breathing technique to combat Covid

Humming helps produce nitric oxide in our nose. But it should not be seen as a substitute for anti-Covid drugs and vaccines

Updated: May 13, 2021 9:12:05 pm
It is established that COVID-19 first sits in the nose before going to the lungs and other organs. That is why we wear masks - to stop viruses from entering our nose. (File Photo)

Written By N K Ganguly, Irminne Van Dyken, Pritesh Kasliwal

Recently, a Canadian company named Sanotize discovered that a newly invented product of theirs reduces the viral load of COVID-19 by 99.9 per cent. This product is a nasal spray, based on a chemical compound called nitric oxide. It has to be sprayed inside the nose to protect it from viruses. Sanotize has filed for emergency approval in the UK and their production has already started in Israel. India is waiting for Sanotize to complete its clinical trials and manufacture this nasal spray. That may take some time.

Until then, we can generate some of our own nitric oxide in our nose through a breathing exercise called humming. The amount may not be as high as Sanotize’s nasal spray, but it can still be significant enough to reduce at least some COVID-19 virus from our noses. It is very important to note that this breathing exercise cannot replace the vaccines, Sanotizes’s nasal spray or any other treatments, but it can be a safe, effective and zero cost method to support such preventative and curing treatments.

When we breathe through the nose, it naturally produces some nitric oxide, which acts as the first line of defence against viruses and various other infections. The good news is that if you just hum, you can generate up to 15 times more Nitric Oxide in your nose than by breathing normally. This conclusion is based on extensive scientific research conducted in the last 20 years by globally renowned medical research institutes.

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Take a deep breath through your nose, and while exhaling, hum for five to ten seconds. Take a deep breath again through your nose, and while exhaling, again hum. Do this for four rounds. Make sure that you can feel maximum vibrations in your nose during humming. See figure 1 for clear explanation of the steps.

Then, take at least a three-minute break before performing the next four rounds of humming. This break is the most critical part of this breathing exercise.

The obvious question would be why a three minute break? A Karolinska Institute (Sweden) thesis says that after four rounds of humming, there is a temporary period when you do not produce high concentrations of nitric oxide. However, during those three minutes break, your body will replenish nitric oxide from sinuses (present around the nose, where we naturally have high reserves of Nitric Oxide). The nasal cavity gets nitric oxide from these sinuses through this amazing mechanism called the Helmholtz resonance that happens during humming.


It is established that COVID-19 first sits in the nose before going to the lungs and other organs. That is why we wear masks – to stop viruses from entering our nose. High concentrations of nitric oxide in our nose can help remove the virus in the nose itself before it reaches lungs or other organs. Sanotize’s nasal spray contains solutions that release highly concentrated Nitric Oxide. Humming can also increase nitric oxide that is produced naturally in our nose.

Even the Nobel-prize winning scientist, Louis Ignarro, who has worked on nitric oxide, talked about humming like yogis to generate nitric oxide in the nose. He also talked about Nitric Oxide’s antimicrobial property and the role it can play against COVID-19. In recent months, he has given several talks about nitric oxide and its immense benefits.

It is not just Sanotize; there are dozens of clinical trials currently undergoing that are testing the efficacy of Nitric Oxide against COVID-19 and its variants. So far, these early clinical trials have very encouraging results.


Past clinical trials and pilot studies have shown that humming can have several other benefits such as lowering blood pressure, curing rhinosinusitis, improving heart health, reducing stress and reducing tinnitus.

There is no known side effect of naturally producing nitric oxide through humming. It has been part of regular yoga practice (Bee Humming, or ‘Bhramari Pranayama’ in Sanskrit) for hundreds of years. It is not surprising that this Bhramari Pranayama yogic exercise involves pressing sinuses to release more nitric oxide. Even the word, “Om” that is chanted regularly in yoga practices emphasises humming. Humming has also been part of chorus singing in churches. Very likely, similar humming practices exist in various cultures around the world.

Two caveats: First, don’t do it in extreme (like humming for hours). We don’t know the side effects of such extreme humming. Second, do not confuse nitric oxide (NO) with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or nitrous oxide (N2O). They are not the same chemicals and all three have completely different properties. Just like H2O (water) and H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) are different chemicals with completely different properties.

It is worth repeating that humming cannot replace the vaccines, Sanotize’s nasal spray, or any other treatments. However, it is a free and safe breathing exercise to support such preventative and curing treatments.

So, just hum using this specific technique above. Perform this breathing exercise for at least once in the morning and once in the evening (for 15 minutes). There are dozens of benefits of humming and no known side effects.


Ganguly is former Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research. Irminne Van Dyken and Pritesh Kasliwal are doctors

Disclaimer: There are no clinical trials completed on this concept (yet), and the authors are in discussion with the authorities for conducting clinical trials. The authors are of the opinion that since this concept involves just humming, the general population can safely practice this. This article is based on a review paper submitted to Journal of Nitric Oxide on April 30th, 2021. The paper is not peer reviewed yet.




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First published on: 12-05-2021 at 11:21:02 pm
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