Humming For Health

Happily Humming Away

In my exploration of sound as a healing medium, I came across an interesting little book called “The Humming Effect” by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman (Healing Arts Press 2017). It suggests that humming could have the effect, amongst other things, of relieving stress and reducing blood pressure. Often we find ourselves humming when we’re happily engaged in something else, but could it actually work the other way round and cause us to feel better? Feeling much in need, I decided to give it a go and experiment on myself.

Try Humming Mindfully

When you hum, you produce a vibratory sensation in and around the mouth, nose, ears and chest. Try it now – take a deep breath from the diaphragm and hum with relaxed jaw and closed mouth, and notice where you can feel it. Try varying the pitch a little and notice any differences. You can tell if you are humming correctly as, if you pinch your nose closed, it stops!

Vagus Nerve

The vibration stimulates nearby branches of the vagus nerve to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. – our relaxation response. It is linked to the limbic system in the brain, which processes and regulates emotion and memory and plays a significant role in the body’s reaction to stressful situations and environments. A preliminary study using fMRI scans showed deactivation of the limbic system when chanting OM. The vibratory ‘m’ sound was compared to a non-vibratory ’s’ and a significant difference was observed. That means that you won’t feel as stressed after humming.

Deep Breathing

The second thing of note with humming is that you take a deep breath in order to do it. Deep breathing is a well known relaxation technique, especially when combined with the longer exhale you might perform in a hum. A 2010 study showed that after five minutes of slow deep breathing blood pressure and heart rate decrease.

Nitric Oxide

Humming also increases Nitric Oxide levels, causing vasodilation which can increase blood flow and decrease blood pressure. I’ve experimented with a five minute round of humming and a sphygmomanometer on myself and found a definite decrease in both systolic and diastolic measurements. Nitric Oxide is also associated with improving our immune, cardio-vascular and respiratory systems.

What To Do To Feel Better, Be Better

The vibratory sensations, the deep breathing and the Nitric Oxide all help you relax and not only feel better but be physiologically better. I have to conclude that yes, it does work the other way round too. You can hum your way to better health. Twice a day, once in the morning, once in the evening, for five minutes I intentionally hum away the stresses and strains of the day. I usually choose a single note to hum that feels the best when I’m doing it. Afterwards I’ll sit quiet for a minute or two before getting on with my day. It’s working so well, I suggested my Meditation Room participants try it too.  We’ve incorporated some humming into the meditations and they really like it! So go on, don’t leave it to chance, hum on purpose – maybe you’ll feel better too.


This article is for learning and entertainment purposes only. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis or treatment.





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