The Breath, Covid-19 and Nitric Oxide by Ben Wolff
As James Nestor – Author and Science Journalist says, "You can't really be healthy without breathing right, we know that now".
Without getting into offering medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, there have been some interesting confirmations of past insights since the world has been exposed to Covid-19. Oxygen deficiency has proven to be a great problem with patients with Covid and at times like this, more than ever, it's important to access evidence based knowledge sources to see if working with the breath can somehow aid in prevention or protection.
Louis J Ignarro, a Nobel prize winner and Professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the University of California, explains that simply breathing through the nose can increase oxygen intake by releasing the molecule nitric oxide (NO), which boosts oxygen levels in the blood but also increases blood flow through the lungs. The nitric oxide that is only released when we breathe through the nose also provides the medical benefit of being anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and importantly anti-viral. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO directly to the lungs where infections such as Covid could be blocked. NO also relaxes the smooth muscle in airways making it easier to breathe. Something that many Covid patients struggle with.
Inhaled NO is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of patients with Covid. Researchers are hoping that three principal actions of NO may help fight Covid: dilating the pulmonary arteries and increasing blood flow through the lungs, dilating the airways and increasing oxygen delivery to the lungs and blood, and directly killing and inhibiting the growth and spread of the virus in the lungs.
Not only does nose breathing have a plethora of medical benefits, but for a long time it has also been associated with the ability to calm the body and mind down, as well as reducing stress. Coherent breath is a form of breathing that involves taking long, slow breaths through the nose of about 6 seconds per inhale and per exhale. We know that stimulating and increasing the release of NO in the body through nose breathing at a coherent rate allows a massive increase in the amount of oxygen available. This ratio has been shown to optimise the oxygen take up at the cell level by the legendary neuroanatomist Dr Bud Craig and the wonderful Dr Richard Brown and Dr Patricia Gerbarg (under whom Ben Wolff studied). A focus of these researchers and clinicians has been to showcase the healing power of the breath.
One may go further and say that nose breathing is a master key to health. There is a big line of prevention and protection, that is simply not available to us if we breathe through the mouth, unscreened and unfiltered. And the faster we breathe the less oxygen actually gets delivered to the cells, to make the odds even less in our favour. We can all of us shift the scales by learning these simple, rapidly useful and easy to learn gentle breath practices.
The Virtual Breathing School, here at The Shala, shows students how they can universally aid repair and rebalance the hormones and chemistry of the body in a whole multitude of conditions, including Stress & Anxiety; Panic Attacks; Breathlessness, COPD and Asthma; High and Low Blood Pressure; Chronic Fatigue; Chronic Pain; Addiction; Weight Loss; Depression and Intrusive Thinking; and Insomnia and Sleeplessness.
Now more than ever is the time to get your breath back, and get an education in how to breathe yourself healthier. See here for more details of The Virtual Breathing School.
We are running a weekend training on 20 & 21 March, where you can learn how breath, physiology and posture, biochemistry, and clinical hypnotherapy can play a part in improving the quality of life for sufferers of Long Covid.
Nitric Oxide and properties
Breathing and tranquility