Can Deep Breathing Prevent Severe Covid-19 Symptoms?

Health & Wellness

Let’s get two disclaimers out of the way. First, despite the excitement about both Moderna and Pfizer Covid vaccines showing 90% or higher efficacy in clinical trials, there is currently no FDA-approved cure for Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Secondly, if somebody is in the ICU being ventilated, deep breathing exercises are too late. 

But suppose you are not Covid-positive. Or suppose you have very mild Covid symptoms. Can deep breathing help prevent becoming infected or developing more serious complications? 

The short answer is maybe. A researcher in India writes in this peer-reviewed article that a certain molecule that’s found in every one of your approximately 37.2 trillion cells was found to reverse pulmonary hypertension, improve severe hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and shorten ICU stays and ventilatory support. These findings weren’t discovered during the current pandemic. The research stems from the 2004 SARS epidemic, which  is nearly identical in genetic composition to Covid-19. 

Say “No” To Severe Covid With ‘NO’

Nitric oxide (NO) is the molecule in question. A colorless gas that’s naturally produced by the body, NO helps the inner muscles of blood vessels relax, when enough of it is activated. Hence the reason why early in the pandemic, Viagra, the popular erectile-dysfunction drug, was touted as a potential Covid remedy

But there’s a far cheaper, and potentially safer way to increase nitric oxide production, as all pharmaceutical drugs have the potential to cause side effects. (Remember the humorous medical disclaimer in Viagra commercials? If you have an erection that lasts more than four hours, seek medical attention.)

Deep breathing increases nitric oxide levels. NO is actually produced in the sinuses, and it’s continuously secreted into your nasal passages. When healthy, your lungs receive adequate NO. But when severe Covid symptoms compromises the lungs, NO levels are insufficient to relax the tiny capillaries in the lungs.  

But slow, intentional, deep breathing, either through yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, or just laying on your back in bed, can increase NO volume in the cells. A research article about Covid rehabilitation techniques says that respiratory exercises combined with deep breathing significantly improved the perfusion rate, which is the rate at which blood is delivered to tissue; in this instance, to the lungs. 

Deep breathing also alkalizes the blood pH and prevents blood coagulation, according to the aforementioned research article from India

Hmmm … Humming for Covid? 

Interestingly, an even simpler exercise for increasing nitric oxide in the cells and tissues is humming. The author of the above article cites another study that claims that humming cures infections of the respiratory tract, and may increase internal nitric oxide level 15 times more than quiet exhalation. 

Without doubt, deep breathing exercises, let alone humming, are not going to ever be recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC or the WHO as official Covid prevention or coping mechanisms.  

Downward Dogs for Coronavirus Prevention?

Can yoga help prevent the spread of a highly-contagious virus? There is some evidence to suggest that it may. In one research study, doing just one month of yoga was found to significantly improve the mental condition as well as reduce the viral load in patients suffering from HIV infection. For the novel coronavirus, yoga may prove to play a vital complementary role in the management of the disease. 

Research also suggests yoga strengthens the innate immune response and alleviates erratic immune responses. So-called ‘cytokine storms,’ in which the immune system goes haywire is largely responsible for severe Covid symptoms that require ventilation. One researcher determined that just 8 weeks of regular yoga therapy is sufficient to reduce inflammatory responses in high-risk populations such as those with heart failure.

Final Word

As long as you can breathe deeply without difficulty, start a deep breathing practice and stick to it every day. As little as five minutes a day can make a tremendous impact on your respiratory health. And if you’re physically able, try to follow along to beginner yoga videos on YouTube or purchase a DVD online.  


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