Thursday, February 18, 2010


A merry heart doeth good like medicine. Proverbs 17:22

What is the effect of laughter on the body and health? I love to laugh but I will admit I haven't laughed as much as I used to. Maybe that's not helping. Maybe my outlook needs to get a little brighter.

Maybe,  just maybe it's as good for the body as it is for the soul.

What does it do?

Laughter and Cortisol.

Laughter reduces cortisol in the body. It's been proven that chronic stress and the cortisol that pulses through the body on a continual basis does great harm. Laughter returns the body to it's relaxed state. 

Also, elevated levels of cortisol in your body suppress the immune system. So it stands to reason that..........

Laughter and the immune system.

Laughter must increase immune function. The science that studies laughter and it's effect on the immune system is psychoneuroimmunology. The positive emotion of laughter creates neurochemical changes that buffer the effects of stress and disease. By incorporating a healthy dose of laughter into your life every day your body opens itself up to it's natural healing resources. Your body will be working with you.  

Laughter releases endorphins.

Endorphins are the bodies natural painkillers and laughter produces a sense of well-being. People who laugh seem to be more tolerant of pain. Now, I'm not telling anyone to throw out their medication and turn on the Three Stooges but seeing the funny side of life can't hurt. In a recent study at Stanford they showed people comics while in an MRI machine and found that stimulates the part of the brain that releases dopamine; the feel good chemical.

Oxygen levels and a few calories burned.

Laughter improves the function of your blood vessels by reducing blood pressure and your heart rate and it enhances blood oxygen levels. The University of Maryland School of Medicine that laughter is linked to the healthy function of blood vessels. It appears to cause the lining of the blood vessels to expand or dilate to increase blood flow. What an amazing study! An added plus is that if you laugh for 10 minutes a day you burn 40 calories! Hey......every calorie helps!

So while it takes 72 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile, laughter is a little easier on your body. It's contagious and it feels good not only to you but everyone around you.

Researchers really are trying to prove that laughter is the best medicine. So maybe I should try a little research of my own. I'm a pessimist by nature. Cynical to the core but I do have a dry sense of humor. I also love physical humor. I need to remember how much I love to laugh. So tonight, instead of whining, I'm going to take my medication and not think twice. I'm going to put on a movie that will make me laugh. I'm still a cynic but tonight I'll be a laughing one.



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