It has often been said that laughter is the best medicine with more and more research into the health benefits of laughter showing that it is indeed good for you! Many doctors are now prescribing laughter therapy to their patients who are overburdened with stress and need a quick pick-me-up.
It is a known fact that laughter truly is a globally recognized language. Regardless of what color, creed, race, or religion an individual is, virtually everybody has a sense of humor and laughter takes place in every culture known to mankind.
Laughing is good for the body, the mind and the spirit and having a good laugh encourages the growth and development of healthy personal and working relationships. Laughter also is believed to play a role in creativity and provides a much-needed break from stress that is building up.
Health Benefits of Laughter Therapy
Laughter is excellent for the heart and circulatory system and it increases the flow of blood in the body and makes it easier for both nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to all organs including the brain. In this way, laughter has the same positive effect, as does deep breathing.
Laughter is often fondly referred to as “an internal jog” as it provides exercise for the heart on the inside in much the same way that jogging provides external exercise for the heart. This makes it excellent exercise for those who have a difficult time walking, running or even moving about on their own.
Incidentally laughter also helps to lower blood pressure but it appears to benefit women more than men for reasons that escape even those who study laughter!
Effects of Laughter Therapy on the Body
Engaging in a good laugh on a frequent basis increases the concentration of immunoglobin A, which helps to strengthen the immune system and ward off infections. Immunoglobin A is present in saliva.
Laughter therapy makes it possible for the diaphragm and the lungs to have a good aerobic workout, which is always good. Laughing also sufficiently empties the lungs of air, which is very cleansing to the respiratory system.
Laughter therapy works in concert with the immune system because it increases the quantity of natural killer cells that are available to attack cells that cause viruses in the body, as well as cancer cells and cells that lead to tumors. Laughter also encourages the activity of T lymphocytes (or T cells).
Laughter Therapy for Stress Management
Laughter helps to decrease the amount of stress hormones that are present in the human body.
The body contains neuroendocrine hormones that wake up to action whenever a person is suffering from a great deal of stress. Once these hormones sense the level of stress they cause the blood vessels to begin to constrict and this serves to suppress the workings of the immune system, which can make it possible for any number of bacteria or viruses to find their way into the body.
There are a number of different stress hormones but four in particular – cortisol, dopac, epinephrine and the growth hormone are decreased when a person engages in a fit of laughter.
As well as helping to control pain, laughter therapy also raises the level of a chemical called endorphin in the brain. Laughter also serves to lower how much dopamine is in a person’s brain. Dopamine is connected to the “fight or flight” response a person gets when they sense trouble or harm could come to them. Blood pressure often rises in relation to stressors.