Laughter Really is Good Medicine

March 7, 2014 in My House

While laughing isn’t a substitute for medical care or exercise, it can make you feel better in a variety of ways. Both the mind and body can benefit from a good laugh as shown in a growing body of evidence.

Here are just some of the examples showing the benefits of laughter.

1. Blood pressure- Initially, a hearty laugh can cause blood pressure to rise, but then it decreases to below average levels and stays there.

2. Hormones- Laughter reduces at least four stress hormones including epinephrine, cortisol, dopamine, and growth hormone.

3. Immune system- Infection-fighting antibodies increase and the immune system is strengthened with laughter

4. Brain function- Laughing keeps the brain alert and enhances learning by stimulating both sides of the brain and easing muscle tension and psychological stress.

5. Respiration- Belly laughter is similar to deep breathing. This allows more oxygen-enriched blood and nutrients to enter the body.

6. Heart health- One study found that an active sense of humor may help prevent heart disease.

7. Good workout- Laughter provides good cardiac, abdominal, facial, and back muscle conditioning.

In addition to all of this, laughter can be very important to mental and emotional health. It can lift our mood, lower stress, help us forget our pains and problems, and improve our relationships with others. So if you need a physical or mental boost, try a good laugh.

Sources:
Fry W, Savin W. Mirthful laughter and blood pressure. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 1 (1): 49-62

Berk L, Tan S, Fry W. Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 298 (6).

Berk L, Felten D, Tan S, et al. Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during the eustress of humor-associated mirthful laughter. Alternative Therapies, 2001; 7 (2): 62-76.

Fry W, Rader C. The respiratory components of mirthful laughter. Journal of Biological Psychology, 19 (2): 39-50.

Miller M, Fry W. The effect of mirthful laughter on the human cardiovascular system. Medical Hypotheses, 2009; 73 (5): 636-639.

Clark A, Seidler A, Miller M. Inverse association between sense of humor and coronary heart disease. International Journal of Cardiology, 2001; 80 (1): 87-88.

Cogan R, Cogan D, Waltz W, McCue M. Effects of laughter and relaxation on discomfort thresholds. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 10 (2): 139-144.

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