A Q&A; Discussing The Positive Effects Of Laughter
Is laughter the best medicine? Come on, really? The idea that there are positive effects of laughter dates back centuries. In the Bible, we learn from Proverbs 12:22 that “A cheerful heart is good medicine” and Mark Twain is quoted as saying “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
For decades, researchers have explored how humor helps patients relieve stress and heal. And more and more research is finding that the healing powers of laughter are no joke.
Is Laughter The Best Medicine? This University Of Maryland Study Says So
The study, which involved volunteers watching a stressful film clip followed by a funny one, found that following the funny clip respondents experienced increased blood flow by more than 20%. After watching the stressful film, blood flow actually decreased by 35%. Interestingly, the increased blood flow experienced from laughter is about that which you can expect from aerobic exercise.
The study concluded that there is a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels, and laughter offsets these negative effects on your vascular system.
In other studies a link has been found between laughter and the body’s ability to fight disease. Studies show that people who cope with stress by using humor have higher levels of a substance called salivary immuno-globin A (S-IgA) which fights bacteria and virus.
Is Laughter The Best Medicine? The Health Benefits Of Laughter May Run Much Deeper
Today there are many health and well being experts who view disease and poor health as symptoms of a deeper metaphysical problem. What a revolutionary perspective; to see pain as merely a symptom of something deeper.
So what do they see as the problem? The increased loneliness and depression that more and more people are facing. Depression has become so widespread, that an estimated 35 million U.S. adults are now likely to experience it during their lifetime. And depending on the study you refer to, people with loneliness, depression, and isolation are between 3-10 times more likely to die prematurely.
Laughter or Vitamin H, as it’s also known, is the perfect antidote to depression and loneliness and the negative health consequences they bring. One of the less talked about positive effects of laughter is that it helps promote intimacy, which is often what people with depression and loneliness lack. Laughter not only lowers people’s barriers to one another, it also relaxes the mood and increases the feeling of relatedness. As Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.”
Is Laughter The Best Medicine? Laughter Promotes Intimacy According to Dr. Dean Ornish, author of Eat More, Weigh Less and the founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California, anything that promotes intimacy between people is healing. Other examples he gives include: sexual intimacy, friendship, altruism, compassion, service and forgiveness. These free us from suffering and disease and give us a better health prognosis.
For that reason, he suggests they’re also the most selfish things we can do for ourselves. During a TED presentation given by Dr Ornish, he speaks of a lecture he attended by a famous yoga teacher when he was in medical school. During the lecture one student asked “Swami, what is the difference between illness and wellness?” The yoga Swami went up to the board and wrote the the two words and said “the difference is “I” and “We”, implying that when we are together, we are stronger in health and mind.Is Laughter The Best Medicine? Yes!
If the difference between Illness and wellness really is “I” and “We,” then just by reaching out more to the people around you, you can keep yourself in better health for longer. And why not reach out with a laugh to get your blood pumping at the same time?