Health Benefits/Medical Research

The Benefits of Laughter
Laugh for the Health of It!

(Citing Research done at University of Maryland Medical Center, Loma Linda University, CA etc…)

  • It provides instant relaxation by counteracting the negative effects of STRESS by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood .  Cortisol (released in quantity by the adrenal glands as a response to stress) has side effects of increasing blood pressure and shuts down all processes not immediately necessary—such as digesting food, building bones, & immune system functioning.  So laughter will lower blood pressure, and aid in immune system functioning & digestion!  Over 70% of illnesses have some connection to stress (and thus cortisol levels.
  •   Further boosts the immune system by increasing the body’s production of  the protein Immunoglobulin A, which is the body’s first line of defense against respiratory illness and increases the production of T-cells–which help the body fight infections and helps to protect us from major illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Helps reduce pain and gives a sense of well being by causing the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller and “feel-good” hormones (more potent than Morphine!).
  • Boosts stamina and overall health: Laughter increases our intake of oxygen and  causes the inner lining of blood vessels (endothelium) to relax, increasing the blood flow thereby increasing the oxygen supply to your cells—it’s like  a natural “Power Shot” for all the cells of your body!  Dr. Otto Warburg, President, Institute of Cell Physiology & Nobel Prize Winner says” Where cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not, cannot occur.”
  • Laughter is great aerobic exercise for the body–20-30 seconds of heavy laughter is = 3 minutes of hard rowing and burns up to 400 calories/hour.
  • All muscles above your waist (about 350!) get a workout when you laugh, including giving an excellent internal massage to the digestive tract and all the organs of the body.
  • Can improve sleep and reduce snoring because laughter is very good for the muscles of the soft palate and throat.
  • When you really laugh you are forced to forget all your troubles—all your brain can think about is your laughter!
  • Laughter will dissolve tension, anxiety, stress, irritation, anger, grief and depression.
  • Laughter (like crying) lowers inhibitions, allowing the release of pent-up emotions.
  • Laughter also makes us feel good because it defuses three of the most painful emotions (fear, anger and boredom) by releasing them. That release, in turn, prevents or stops conflicts, eases tension, and helps people to see one another’s point of view.
  • Promotes group connections and team building by creating bonds between people who laugh together . It opens up lines of communication thus building trust and rapport.
  • Increases productivity and problem solving in the workplace.
  • Makes you look Better! Brings a happy glow to your face & makes your eyes shine by a thin film of tears squeezed from the lachrymal sacs during the act of laughter

In Cardiac Rehabilitation, laughter may be key, notes Dr. Lee Berk (Loma Linda Univ.):
In a study of cardiac patients asked to watch humorous videos for 30 minutes daily for an entire year, there was an 8.3% recurrence of heart attacks as compared to 41.7% in the group treated by conventional methods.

 

Negative Effects of High Levels of the Stress Hormone “Cortisol” in the Bloodstream

Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decrease in muscle tissue
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Decreases blood circulation by up to 35%- cellular performance is negatively affected (conversely laughter increases blood flow by 22%)
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
  • Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!

Cancer Treatment Centers Of America Uses Laughter Therapy in Treating Patients
http://www.cancercenter.com/complementary-alternative-medicine/laughter-therapy.cfm

Mark Sherry “The Laughter Pharmacist