Inhaled nasopharyngeal nitric oxide concentrations during unilateral nostril breathing - A pilot study

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2021 Nov:293:103734. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2021.103734. Epub 2021 Jun 29.


The yogic pranayama technique of unilateral nostril breathing (UNB) has previously demonstrated improvements in language and anxiety in stroke sufferers, as well as reduced blood pressure and increased heart rate in normal healthy adults. The nose typically passes different amounts of air through each nostril with the greater amount of air passing through the 'patent' side, and a lesser amount through the 'congested' side. Each side of the nose periodically takes turns at carrying the dominant tidal air flow in what is termed the' nasal cycle'. The nasal sinuses are a rich source of inhaled nitric oxide, a colourless and odourless gas that acts as a bronchodilator, vasodilator, and neurotransmitter. Nasal derived nitric oxide (NO) may contribute to the benefits attributed to UNB. This investigation seeks to assess the influence the nasal cycle has on inhaled nasopharyngeal NO concentrations during UNB by comparing unobstructed bilateral nostril breathing to patent-side and congested-side UNB in healthy individuals demonstrating a nasal cycle. After determining the patent and congested nasal sides in healthy adult volunteers, and sampling air at both nostrils, nasopharyngeal inhaled NO concentrations were then assessed during normal nasal at-rest tidal breathing during three different nasal breathing states: first both nostrils, then allocated in randomised order, patent side only, and congested side with only UNB. Nasopharyngeal NO concentrations were found to be consistently higher on both exhalation and inhalation during congested side UNB, when compared with either unilateral patent side UNB or breathing through both nostrils.

Keywords: Congested airway; Nasal airway; Nasal cycle; Nitric oxide; Patent airway; Unilateral nostril breathing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exhalation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Respiration*
  • Young Adult


  • Nitric Oxide