You're Humming Now!

Dear Friend,

Instead of whistling a happy tune, try humming. Researchers at the Karolinska Hospital in Sweden discovered that humming increases ventilation in the paranasal sinus cavities. This is significant because your sinuses are major producers of nitric oxide, which helps dilate capillary beds and increase blood flow. When nitric oxide levels were measured during humming, researchers found that they were 15 times higher than during normal breathing. Even more amazing is the fact that humming dramatically increased the exchange of gas in the nasal sinuses.

Get Gassed

During humming, the gas exchange between the nasal passages and the sinuses was 98 percent during just one exhalation, almost a complete exchange. During normal exhalation, without humming, the gas exchange rate was only 4 percent.

Why does this matter? Poor gas exchange and poor circulation in the sinus cavities promote the perfect environment for bacterial growth and infections. Based on the results of this study, the researchers feel that daily breathing exercises involving humming could help reduce the incidence of sinusitis and upper respiratory infections. (Am J Respir Crit Care Med 02;166(2):131-2)

When you hum, you feel the vibration along the roof of your mouth and in your nasal cavity and sinuses. It's amazing that this simple sound vibration can have such a profound effect on the exchange of gases and circulation in your upper respiratory tract. This phenomenon undoubtedly is linked to the increased mental clarity experienced by individuals who hum mantras during meditation. I suspect that humming various sounds for long periods of time would increase blood flow and oxygenation in the brain.

If you suffer from chronic sinus problems, try humming several times a day on a regular basis, and see if you don't notice an improvement. In fact, it appears that a little humming would probably do us all some good, especially during winter. It beats a flu shot any day of the week.

-Dr. David Williams