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There is an old saying, "Your day goes the way the corners of your mouth turn!".

Medical research is showing that whenever we laugh we release a wave of chemicals through the body including the endorphins which are also released during healthy exercise. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-relaxant and stimulate feelings of well-being. Solomon wrote in Proverbs that "A merry heart does good like a medicine; but a broken spirit dries up the bones".

Research shows that suppressed anger or feelings of intense hatred or frustration disturb the natural, healthy functioning of the immune system, while laughter, joy and happiness have been found to help boost the immune system. Both physically and psychologically, it is as if laughter acts as a ‘safety valve’ for the discharge of nervous energy. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "Joy, temperance and repose, Slam the door on the doctors nose".

Laughter helps us to wipe the slate clean and inspire a fresh perception. Laughter inspires lateral thinking – finding solutions to problems which might have been missed otherwise. Laughter is a good antidote to the over seriousness that may occur during times of stress and anxiety. The psychologist Alan Watts wrote, "The whole art of life is in knowing how to transform anxiety into laughter".

Victor Borge, the American entertainer, once wrote, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people". The comedian Alan Alda put it another way: "When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing one another".

A Ho-ho-holistic relaxation opportunity:

  • As long as there are tests there will be prayer in public schools.
  • Dixon's Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
  • The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
  • Sex is like air; it's not important unless you aren't getting any.
  • George Carlen:" Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac."
  • Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.
  • Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear.
  • Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.
(New Orleans, Louisiana)—The following are excerpts from a recent news release from The American Physiological Society:

The connection between the body, mind and spirit has been the subject of conventional scientific inquiry for some 20 years. Medical researcher Dr. Lee and his colleagues discovered that the anticipation of "mirthful laughter" had surprising and significant effects. Two hormones—beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that elevates mood state) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with optimizing immunity) increased by 27% and 87 % respectively in study subjects who anticipated watching a humorous video. There was no such increase among the control group who did not anticipate watching the humorous film.

In another study, they found that the same anticipation of mirthful laughter reduced the levels of three detrimental stress hormones. Cortisol (termed "the steroid stress hormone"), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac, (the major catabolite of dopamine), were reduced 39%, 70% and 38%, respectively (statistically significant compared to the control group). Chronically released high levels of these stress hormones can be detrimental to the immune system.

According to new studies, the authors conclude that mirthful laughter may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.

In describing himself as a "hardcore medical clinician and scientist," Dr. Berk says, "the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope. Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment."
 

 
 

Laughter can help with the following:
 
 
Mental  Stress
 Looking forward to an upcoming comedy show, or something that you know will make you laugh, can have some of the same benefits as experiencing laughter itself. A small study of men showed that those who were promised the chance of watching their favorite comedies experienced half the depression, 20% less anger and 15% less fatigue.

The authors concluded that "We believe this biology of hope underlies recovery from many chronic disorders. Treatments that take advantage of the effects of this hope may go a long way to stimulating immune responses and hasten recovery.". [Society for Neuroscience conference. 2001, San Diego, California, USA]

  Poor Sense of Humor

Risks

  Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack
 Using laughter-provoking movies to gauge the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.

When the same group of study volunteers was shown a movie that produced mental stress, their blood vessel lining developed a potentially unhealthy response called vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow. That finding confirms previous studies, which suggested there was a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels. [Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology on March 7, 2005, in Orlando, Florida.]
 
 


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GLOSSARY

Anxiety:  Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.

Cardiovascular:  Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

Diabetes Mellitus:  A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.

Dopamine:  A neurohormone; precursor to norepinephrine which acts as a stimulant to the nervous system.

Endorphins:  Natural polypeptide opiate-like substances in the brain. One function of endorphins is the suppression of pain.

Hormones:  Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.

Immune System:  A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.

Metabolism:  The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.

Steroid:  Any of a large number of hormonal substances with a similar basic chemical structure containing a 17-carbon 14-ring system and including the sterols and various hormones and glycosides.