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11 Powerful Health Benefits of Nitric Oxide and Humming Bee Breathing

benefits nitric oxide

Have you ever caught yourself humming? It probably happens when you are lost in the moment – walking, cleaning, gardening, or hiking. If you’re ever around little ones, you’ll find that humming is natural to them. They don’t only talk out loud when they play, they also hum. My daughter hums almost non-stop unless she is eating, reading, or talking. And that’s a VERY good thing!

In today’s post, I will show why you should practice humming regularly and how it can help you increase your body’s ability to self-heal and destress.

However, before we get into the benefits of humming, let’s do some simplified geek talk to lay down the groundwork, so it will all make sense.

Let’s start off by talking about nitric oxide – a chemical compound that is so important that three scientists – Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro, and Ferid Murad – whose research on nitric oxide uncovered its benefits were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998. (1)

What is Nitric Oxide

image source medium.com

Nitric oxide is a compound found in the body that causes blood vessels to widen. It also stimulates the release of hormones, such as insulin and HGH (human growth hormone).

Why is Nitric Oxide Good for You

Your body uses nitric oxide to help regulate a number of functions. When Nitric oxide is readily available in the body, it…

  • prevents cardiovascular disease
  • high blood pressure, and
  • strokes…

by regulating vascular tone and blood flow.

It promotes wound healing and acts as an anti-bacterial agent. (4)

Nitric oxide protects you against…

  • depression
  • asthma attacks (it dilates pulmonary vessels)
  • bone loss
  • dangerous infections (such as MRSA)
  • immune system problems
  • erectile dysfunction, and…
  • cancer.

Nitric oxide also helps to move food along your digestive tract, which is very important for your metabolism.

Nitric oxide acts as a signal molecule in the nervous system. This is very important during times of high stress and low oxygen (anoxia) since nitric oxide will help to keep the nervous system functioning properly and oxygenate the brain, which will relax you. In fact, nitric oxide has been called “Mother Nature’s natural tranquilizer” because it…

  • protects you from overstimulation by letting your body know whether or not you need to respond to a stressful situation.

Nitric oxide also plays an important function in the immune system. (1) It helps to control T-cell-mediated immune response.

Proper nitric oxide levels…

  • reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are active in autoimmune disorders (2), and protects against free radical damage.

Healthy levels of nitric oxide may also…

  • inhibit cell proliferation, and arrest cancer growth. (3)

It increases insulin sensitivity (9) and improves endothelial function.

Nitric oxide increases blood flow to the kidneys and helps with the filtration and production of urine, thus preventing kidney disease. (4)

Nitric oxide activates the vagus nerve which is responsible for bringing information of organs such as the heart, gut, liver, and lungs to the brain. When you stimulate the vagus nerve, you signal to your body that it can destress and relax, which is necessary for healthy hormone and thyroid function and avoiding depression and anxiety.

Insufficient production of nitric oxide can lead to endothelium dysfunction, which in turn can increase the risk factors for heart disease, strokes, and other conditions mentioned above. Low nitric oxide levels can lead to long post-workout recovery times (think in the terms of soreness).

So, since nitric oxide is so important for our health, the logical question is: “Where do we get it?”

Good news! Nitric oxide is not only good for you, but it’s also easy to produce without the need for dietary supplements.

Can You check your Nitric Oxide levels?

At this time, there are no tests for nitric oxide, because it is too unstable. However, nitrate, nitrites, and nitrosylated compounds can be tested using various tests. (4)

Rather than trying to figure out whether you have a sufficient level of nitric oxide by spending money on unreliable tests, you can simply evaluate your health and symptoms, and begin to practice the following ways to increase nitric oxide naturally and safely.

5 Ways to Increase Nitric Oxide Naturally

A healthy lifestyle is the best way to help your body produce nitric oxide. In fact, nitric oxide production is built into your body’s function. Your skin produces nitric oxide. It does it by an enzyme-dependent mechanism and by reduction of sweat nitrate by skin’s commensal bacteria. We also produce nitric oxide by breathing.

1 – Breathe Through Your Nose

When we breathe through the nose, we boost nitric oxide production by up to 6 times as opposed to mouth-breathing! Nasal breathing drives nitric oxide into the lungs, which then send it out to the rest of the body.

2 – Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as seaweed, algae, chia, hemp and flax seeds, walnuts, edamame, kidney, and soybeans is one way to increase nitric oxide production.

3 – Eat Whole Foods Rich in Nitric Oxide

Green leafy vegetables, celery, fruits, and whole-grain cereals are also great for nitric oxide production.

For example, 100 grams of spinach can contain anywhere from 24 to 387 milligrams of nitrate per 100g.

4 – Exercise to Boost Nitric Oxide Production

Exercise is another way to increase nitric oxide production while decreasing blood pressure. (6)

And finally…

5 – Release Stress to Normalize Nitric Oxide Production

Releasing stress often is great for nitric oxide production. And this is where humming breathing comes in.

Side Effects of Excessive Nitric Oxide

WORD OF CAUTION: Just as deficiency of nitric oxide can lead to disease, so can excess of it.

Too much nitric oxide can lead to type 1 diabetes, melanoma, and type 2 diabetes. It can cause headaches and migraines. It may even damage brain cells, which can lead to developing such diseases as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. (4)

Avoiding nitric oxide dietary supplements, mouthwash (because it destroys beneficial bacteria which help to produce nitric oxide in the mouth) (5), and foods rich in nitrates (ham, bacon, deli meat, hot dogs, and other processed meats) are some of the first steps you can take to avoid excessive nitric oxide levels.

Humming to Increase Nitric Oxide Production

Studies show that humming increases nitric oxide production by 15 times! (7)

So, when we practice nasal breathing – we are winning. But when we hum on exhale after inhaling through our nose, nitric oxide levels increase dramatically. In fact, humming is so good for our health, that one hour of strong humming a day can help terminate chronic rhinosinusitis in four days! (8)

Humming is innate to humans. In fact, Pranayama – regulation of breath (in Hindu) has been practiced for centuries by yogis, monks, and meditators. There are many types of Pranayama – quiet breathing, deep and fast breathing, alternating nostril breathing, and bhramari (“humming bee”) breathing.

When practiced regularly, humming breathing has many benefits.

11 Benefits of Humming Breathing and Nitric Oxide

  1. It improves cardiovascular (heart) health
  2. Relaxes the nervous system, leading to relief of anxiety and depression symptoms
  3. It helps to regulate hormone production
  4. Leads to better intimacy by increasing blood flow to sexual organs
  5. Releases serotonin and dopamine
  6. Helps to relieve migraines and headaches
  7. Lowers blood pressure
  8. Helps to calm the mind
  9. Arrests and prevents cancer growth
  10. Reduces inflammation (which can lead to weight loss, among other benefits!)
  11. Improves kidney function…

And so much more.

If you would like to learn more about the healing benefits of humming bee breathing, check out the book “The Humming Effect: Sound Healing, for Health and Happiness” by Jonathan and Andi Goldman. They take a deep dive into explaining the science of sound healing. In fact, they found that humming creates new neural pathways!

TWO WAYS TO PRACTICE HUMMING BEE BREATHING

Practicing humming is VERY easy. You can hum to music, sounds of nature, in the quiet of your room, or, my favorite – the sound of Tibetan singing bowls or crystal bowls.

There are benefits to focused conscious humming meditation. Research has shown that humming with awareness produces chemical changes in the body and leads to a better integrated body-mind connection.

While seasoned meditators prefer to practice humming bee breathing as described below, there is no wrong way to practice your humming breathing. You can do it by setting aside dedicated time, or when you are going about your day – cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, exercising, or daydreaming. As long as you are practicing your humming breathing, you are making progress and your body is benefiting.

1 – Simple Humming Bee Breathing

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet place in an upright position.
  2. Close your eyes. Relax your shoulders and jaw.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling up your lungs to capacity.
  4. Exhale fully, with your mouth closed, while humming – making MMMMM sound. You should be making sounds akin to a bee.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Practice humming for 10-15 minutes. But even if you start with 1 minute at a time and increase your practice over time, you will still reap amazing health benefits.

2 – Advanced Bhramari Pranayama Breath

  1. Sit comfortably in a relaxed upright position.
  2. Optional, to increase sound vibration: with your thumbs gently close both ears. You can also cover your eyes with index and middle fingers at the same time to avoid distractions. Or you can simply close your eyes.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling up your lungs to capacity.
  4. Exhale fully, with your mouth closed, while humming – making MMMMM sound. You should be making sounds akin to a bee.
  5. You can alternate the pitch of your sound up and down to create resonance.
  6. Practice humming breathing for 10-15 minutes. You can also include humming in your meditation practice.

Here is a great example of humming breathing:

And here’s one of my favorite sounds to practice my humming bee breathing to:

Conclusion

I hope you found this article helpful and will add humming bee breathing, aka Bhramari Pranayama, to your skillset to achieve better hormone function, a more relaxed mind, and a healthier body.

If you would like to take your health to the next level and get not one, but ALL of my tools, so that you do not have to waste another day on being sick, SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY HEALTH CLARITY CALL and let’s see how we can create a customized plan for you to achieve optimal hormone, thyroid, and immune health.

 

REFERENCES

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11013875/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21931202/
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/7290133
  4. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/nitric-oxide/
  5. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrd2466
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5463976/
  7. https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200202-138BC
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16406689/
  9. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/62/12/4030

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