The Health Angle
Laughter therapy and humor are used in both mainstream and alternative medicine. It can take place in many forms but the idea is to simply make a person laugh loudly for a few minutes at a time. It is especially helpful for children and adults with cancer. How does it work? Dr. Berk and fellow researcher Dr.Tan of Loma Linda University in California have been studying the physiological effects of laughter.
Laughter and humor have the following therapeutic effects on the body
- It activates the immune system: The physiological response produced by hearty belly laughter is the opposite of the response seen in classical stress. There is an increase in the number and activity level of natural killer cells that attack viral infected cells and some types of cancer and tumor cells. Endorphins or the body’s natural painkillers increase with laughter in the body which may increase the strength of the immune system. Dr. Berk also found that laughter lowers cortisol levels which are found when the body is under stress and interferes in proper functioning of the immune system.
- It decreases the ‘stress’ hormones: These constrict blood vessels and suppress immune activity, hence decreasing the risk of blood clots and strokes. Laughter reduces at least four neuroendocrine stress hormones associated with the stress response.
- Humor allows a person to ‘forget’ about physical pain: This includes aches of arthritis and treatment for cancer.
- A belly laugh is the same as internal jogging: Also it may provide good cardiac conditioning especially for those unable to perform physical exercises.
- Frequent belly laugher helps to empty out your lungs of more air: This is beneficial for patients suffering from respiratory disease or emphysema.
- It helps to increase blood oxygen level which in turn reduces tension: White blood cell activity increased from laughter and increases the production of other immune system cells that fight off cancer.
Use our tips to increase the laughter quotient in your life
- Figure out what makes you laugh and do it.
- Surround yourself with cheerful and funny people, laughter is contagious and can connect people in the most trying of times.
- Aim to develop your own sense of humor by sitting in on a laughing club session or reading funny jokes.
- Look at the funny side of situations in daily life.
- Play with kids and think like them-you will feel less tense and more refreshed.
- Enjoy the simple pleasures of life and do something daily which makes you smile.
- Build up a good support network with which you can freely communicate and talk.