Serious Benefits of Laughter

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Laughter TherapyNorman Cousins, in 1979, discovered the tremendous health benefits of a simple-looking act bestowed only upon humans by the almighty Nature, laugh! He suffered from a painful spinal disease which he claimed to get cured by watching “Candid Camera” and Marx Brothers movies and seeking out laughter. Cousins claimed that he got two hours of painless sleep because of those 10-15 minutes of laughter.

It has been proved now that laughter helps pituitary gland secrete pain-relieving opiates such as endorphins. Gelatology (Greek gelos – laughter) has emerged to study laughter and its influence on human body from mental and physiological perspectives.

Laughter has been proven to offer an impressive list of health benefits.

  • Laughter enhances oxygen uptake and blood flow. It reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and can enhance memory, creativity, alertness and learning.
  • Research done at the University of Maryland has suggested that humor may increase level of antibodies and promote levels of immune cells. In another study at the same university, 19 diabetics were found to have lower blood sugar levels after watching a comedy than attending a dull lecture, or after even eating the same meal.

Following are some Mayo Clinic documentations about laughter benefits:

  • A good laugh has many short-term benefits. When you start laughing it lightens your load mentality and also induces physical changes in the body, like stimulating many organs.
  • Laughter improves oxygen intake and stimulates lungs, heart and muscles.
  • It activates and relieves your stress response. A boisterous laugh fires up and later cools down your stress response, and increases heart rate and blood pressure. The result is a good relaxed sensation.

In the long run, laughter can:

  • Improve your immunity. Negative thoughts reflect into chemical reactions which can influence your body by creating more stress into your system and reducing your immunity. On the other hand, positive thoughts release neuropeptides that are helpful in fighting stress and more-critical illnesses.
  • Relieve pain by making the body produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter also can break the pain-spasm cycle common in some muscle diseases.
  • Increase mental ability to fight difficult situations and helps connect with other people.
  • Elevate mood. Chronic diseases bring depression in many people which can be eased due to a good laughter.

Laughter therapy has been taken up by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America as a tool to help cancer patients. Dr. Katherine Puckett says on the center’s website that she introduced the therapy to the Midwestern Regional Medical Center upon a patient’s request. Now it has become common for helping patients and families heal. The therapy involves physical exercise of laughing, wherein patients start making sounds of “ha-ha” or “he-he” until they start actually laughing. Puckett observes that laughter is so contagious that it is hard for people not to join in, and patients actually learn to laugh. She observes that when you laugh, it is difficult to focus on anything negative.

So, seek a good laugh today and start living a healthier life.

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