doctors and health-care professionals are all finding that
laughter may indeed be the best medicine.
is found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones,
increase muscle flexion, and boost immune function by raising
levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins
called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying
antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins,
the body's natural painkillers, and produces a general sense
is infectious. Hospitals around the country are incorporating
formal and informal laughter therapy programs into their therapeutic
regimens. In countries such as India, laughing clubs -- in
which participants gather in the early morning for the sole
purpose of laughing -- are becoming as popular as Rotary Clubs
in the United States.
is a universal language. It's a contagious emotion and a natural
diversion. It brings other people in and breaks down barriers.
Best of all it is free and has no known side reactions.
humor in a situation and laughing freely with others can be
a powerful antidote to stress. It is also a very good coping
mechanism when you are suffering from deadly diseases such
as cancer. Many people find that maintaining a sense of humor
at such occasions are useful for good quality of life. Our
sense of humor gives us the ability to find delight, experience
joy, and to release tension. This can be an effective self-care
tool. Scientific evidence on the effectiveness of humor as
a therapy is now overwhelming.
many years medical professionals have recognized that those
patients who maintained a positive mental attitude and shared
laughter responded better to treatment. Physiological responses
to laughter include increased respiration, circulation, hormonal
and digestive enzyme secretion, and a leveling of the blood
pressure. Many report a general sense of euphoria after vigorous
laughter. But until the New England Journal of Medicine in
1979 published the Norman Cousins case study, few considered
the therapeutic uses of humor.
first documented case of humor positively affecting disease
was in 1964 when Norman Cousins, published "Anatomy of
an Illness". Medical professionals were for the first
shown that humor biologically reversed Cousins' ankylosing
spondylitis, a painful disease causing the disintegration
of the spinal connective tissue. Given a one in five hundred
chance of recovery, Cousins decided to infuse himself with
humor treatments. With Cousins' self-designed humor treatments,
he found that 15 minutes of hardy laughter could produce two
hours of pain free sleep. Blood samples also showed that his
inflammation level was lowered after the humor treatments.
Eventually Cousins was able to completely reverse the illness.
Cousins later documented his story in a book he called "Anatomy
Of an Illness."
interest in humor's effects has grown so much that the field
has a name -- psychoneuroimmunology, the study of how psychological
factors, the brain and the immune system interact to influence