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Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

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Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

 

Michelle Hennessey

Everglades University

Abstract

We researched wether laughter is really the best medicine, and if so, why and how does it work as the best medicine. The predictions that we have are that laughter will reduce depression and force people to “lighten up”. Most people have been in a situation where someones laughter has caught on to every one else, and next thing anyone realizes, everybody in the room is laughing. Another prediction we have is that laughter may reduce the feelings of stress, such as watching a movie after a stressful day. We have all met the quintessential cranky old guy, we believe that maybe some contagious laughter would have done him a world of good.

When we are children, laughter seems to come so easily but for some reason, when we grow up, we don’t quite laugh as much. One study says that in the 1950’s we laughed on average of 18 minutes a day, and now, we only laugh 6 minutes a day. What happened? One theory is that we, as adults, think that we need an actual reason to play and have fun, or even a destination such as a theme park. But if you’ve been to a theme park lately, many of the adults don’t seem to be having any fun, as if they lost their ability to loosen up and have a good time. Laughter is very important to our health, and over all well being. Laughter and play is vital to everyone of us, and too many of us have forgotten how to do either.

Drs. Madan and Madhuri Kataria are the founders of International Laughter movement promote laughter as exercise and also as prevention of illness in their laughter club. The sessions begin with fake or simulated laughter, then rythmic hand clapping along with chants of ho-ho-ho and ha-ha-ha with the clients arms in the air. The group is then lead through laugh types to promote playfulness among the members of the group. The names of these types are milkshake laugh, lion laugh, and handshake laugh. Eye contact is encouraged between the clients, and before anyone knows it, the fake laughing becomes real. The husband and wife doctor team also developed Hasya yoga, or laughter yoga. They started it in 1995, and incorporated the yoga breathing techniques into the laughing exercises.

Mr Norman Cousins, who is the editor of Saturday Review, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he to take steps to ensure the great attitude that is required to beat such a diagnosis. He watched funny movies with comedians like the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, and also read funny books to keep up the good attitude. Cousins began to notice that when he got a good strong 10 minute belly laugh, he also got two hours of pain free sleep. Norman Cousins beat the brain tumor and credits all of the laughing that he did and his general sense of humor. This inspired him to write his book called “Anatomy of an Illness”. Dr. Stuart M. Berger, M.D. was involved in a study where the immune system of test subjects were measured before and after watching funny videos. He found that the immune system was not only significantly strengthened but also remained stable when the volunteers watched a not so funny video afterwards. Dr. Berger, who is the author of “The Immune Power Diet” and also “Forever Young”, believes that laughter could very well be the most powerful health booster yet.

Cardiologists at UMM (University of Maryland Medical Center) recently studied the effects of laughter on heart health and found that laughter could prevent heart disease. The study found that people who were diagnosed with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh at certain situations that people of the same age with out heart disease did laugh at. The study found that laughing helps with blood vessel dilation and can therefore reverse the effects that mental stress has on the heart and it’s vessels that carry blood to and from the heart therefore lowering the chances for most heart diseases.

According to Mike Adams, editor of naturalnews.com, laughter’s operating systems have three separate levels biophysical, biochemical and bioenergetic. On the biophysical level, lymph fluid is moved around by the convulsive actions that your body makes while your laughing. This action naturally detoxifies the immune system and makes more room for the good lymph that is needed to transport the illness fighting cells. When you laugh, you gulp in air which will bring more oxygen to your organs and cells thereby reducing your risk of cancer since cancer cells are destroyed by the presence of oxygen. On the biophysical level, circulation is increased, facial and abdominal muscles are worked and the flexibility of some joints are are increased. On the biochemical level, laughing creates an abundance of chemicals in the brain such serotonin, which is our bodies natural mood booster and interleukin which is our bodies immune system booster. Mike Adams says “For every minute of laughter, you produce somewhere around $10,000 worth of healthy body chemicals.”

Robert Provine is a neurobiologist and laughter researcher and he says that “humans have a ‘detector’ that responds to laughter by triggering other neural circuits in the brain, which, in turn, generates more laughter. This explains why laughter is contagious.” Humor researcher Peter Derks wanted to know what part of the brain laughter came from so he hooked up some volunteers to an EEG (electroencephalograph) to measure their brain activity while they watched humorous videos. The results were interesting since it turned out that laughter comes from several parts of the brain as opposed to just one, and that the limbic system is the predominate portion of the brain involved in laughter.

In conclusion, we have seen what happens when we laugh, how it affects our health, the reasons we don’t laugh and which part of our brain makes us want to laugh and also controls our laughter. There are a myriad of reasons to laugh, we just have to be open to them. Many things in life are hilarious, and some can be made to be funny because of the sheer ridiculousness of a situation. The moral of this report is laugh hard, laugh often, and laugh loud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

 

Laughter Yoga (October 2008). Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition pg 88 Retrieved from   EU online library

 

Emotional Laughter (December 2006). Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition pg 26 Retrieved from EU online library

 

General article (November 2005). Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition pg 70 Retrieved from EU online library

 

General information article (January 2007). Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition pg 76 Retrieved from the EU online library

 

General information (2011). Laughter is the best medicine. Retrieved from www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

 

Michelle W. Murray (July, 14, 2009) Laughter is the “Best Medicine” for Your Heart Retrieved from www.umm.edu/features/laughter.htm

 

Mike Adams (April 28, 2005). Laughter is good medicine for reducing stress, enhancing brain chemistry. Retrieved from www.naturalnews.com/007551.html

 

Marshall Brain (2011). How laughter works Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/human-biology/laughter.htm

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses so far.

  1. sotb0rlando says:

    I always feel better after a good joke or a funny movie. I find that laughing instead of crying freaks some people out. Great article. Jeremy

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