Physician shares breathing exercise for coronavirus patients


A breathing technique said to help patients with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms has gone viral on social media, with a YouTube video of the exercise receiving over 4 million views as of press time.  

Sarfaraz Munshi, MD, from Queen’s Hospital in London, posted the video of what he describes as a “vital breathing technique” to help ease COVID-19 symptoms. According to Munshi, once a patient has an active infection, they need to get a “good amount of air into the base of the lungs,” and the breath work helps achieve that.

Also present in the video is Sue Elliott, RN, director of nursing at the Partnership of East London Cooperatives, who helped demonstrate the technique, which involves taking five deep breaths in, each time holding the breath for five seconds, and on the sixth deep breath inhaling and coughing while covering the mouth. This process is completed twice and is followed by a 10-minute series of slightly deeper than normal breaths while lying down.  

In the video, Munshi urges patients diagnosed with the infection to start doing the breathing exercise and notes it may be a good idea as a preventative measure. He said the technique can help oxygenate the lungs and open the small airways, to avoid mucus plugging that can cause secondary infections like pneumonia.

The video was made popular by author J.K. Rowling and CNN broadcaster Chris Cuomo, both of whom posted on their respective Twitter accounts praising the technique.

In a follow-up interview, Munshi clarifies several of the points made in the original video, including noting it was not intended for the general public. He learned the technique after both of his parents were diagnosed with COVID-19, and his mother’s condition and respiratory symptoms worsened. Munshi clarified the video is not formal advice or positioned as a cure, and he does not to intend to replace guidance from a primary care physician.

Editor’s note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.