The Strange Reason You Should Hum While You Breathe

Nestor is a fan of nasal breathing (for a host of reasons, which you can learn more about here). But one of the main points is because the sinuses can release a boost of nitric oxide—a molecule that influences immune function. “It’s an amazing molecule that interacts with pathogens,” Nestor says. “It interacts directly with viruses.” 

In fact, researchers have been testing nitric oxide’s effects on mammalian cells infected with coronavirus; Nestor has previously discussed one clinical trial in particular, which is currently studying nitric oxide as a therapy to help restore lung function and boost an immune response in patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19

Needless to say, nitric oxide is an impressive molecule. The best part? It’s naturally available to you as you breathe through your nose. And, according to Nestor, it’s enhanced even more as you hum. 

“If we hum, we increase nitric oxide 15-fold,” he says. One study even showed that by humming for around an hour, four times per day, participants were able to eliminate chronic rhinosinusitis symptoms (i.e., congestion, facial pressure, and nasal inflammation) in just four days. In other words, we have a pretty powerful mechanism to enhance nasal function and support those immune-boosting molecules—all it takes is humming your favorite tune. 

Nestor doesn’t recommend any specific song (“Hum whatever you want!” he adds), although he does share that humming at lower frequencies may help jump-start the process. “There’s not a ton of science, but it can help loosen and stimulate the nitric oxide release,” he says. May we suggest a song with a ton of bass notes?