Sep 23, 2009

Laughter is Truly the Best Medicine

And it's free. Research is ongoing regarding the potential health benefits of laughter. Still to be proven is if the sense of humor and positive attitude behind laughter are also helpful.

When we laugh, we increase our pulse rate and blood pressure, and the effects may be similar to exercise. Researchers have estimated that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes burns 50 calories. Other studies suggest laughter improves blood flow, immune responses, and blood sugar levels.

Research looking at the connection between mind and body suggests that repeated doses of laughter, and even anticipation of laughter, can lead to positive physical changes.

In a paper presented at the American Physiological Society, they found that the hormones beta-endorphins (which elevate mood) and human growth hormone (which builds immunity) increased by 27% and 87 % respectively in patients exposed to "mirthful laughter."

Another study found that laughter reduced three key stress hormones; cortisol, epinephrine, and dopac -- by 38 percent to 70 percent. Significantly high levels of those three hormones have long been linked to compromised immune systems.

Laughter promotes all kinds of good endorphins, which help reduce pains and promotes deep breathing.

In another study, they found that the same anticipation of mirthful laughter reduced the levels of three detrimental stress hormones. Cortisol, adrenaline, and dopac, were reduced 39, 70, and 38%, respectively.

A group of 20 high-risk diabetic patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia were divided into two groups: Group C (control) and Group L (laughter). Both groups were started on standard medications for diabetes and Group L viewed self-selected humor for 30 minutes in addition to the standard therapies.

The patients in the laughter group had lower epinephrine and norepinephrine levels by the second month, suggesting lower stress levels. They also increased HDL (good) cholesterol and had lower levels of inflammation.

At the end of one year, the laughter group HDL cholesterol had risen by 26 percent, and only 3 percent in the Group Control. Harmful C-reactive proteins decreased 66% in the laughter group vs. 26% for the control group.

Take these in small doses, but not in the office - Link 1  Link 2  Link 3

The study suggests that the addition of an adjunct therapeutic laughter prescription to standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase "good" cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome. Hey, if you want some good laughs and to get fit at the same time, try some of my joke books, especially 'Medical Humor - medical nonsense to tickle your funnybone'. Don't forget to use the 'search inside' feature to get a detail look at the contents.