Laughter Medicine

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laughter medicine healthierliving

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. Mark Twain, 1835 — 1910

Could comedy be the contemporary GP prescription for the common cold?

Just start thinking about laughing and notice what happens…We’ve all heard of the benefits of laughter, yet it’s not just humour that lessens tension, but also just anticipating laughter. Research at the 2008 Annual Meeting or the American Physiological Society showed that anticipating the idea of watching a comedy actually correlated with a decrease in the stress hormones cortisol by 39% and adrenaline by 70%.

Here are just some of the benefits of your laugh fest:

– lifts self-esteem

– promotes overall psychological wellbeing

– builds group identity, solidarity and cohesiveness (when laughing with others)

– fights depression

– boosts energy

– strengthens problem –solving and creative thinking

– heightens levels of immunity-boosting HGH (human growth hormone)

– relaxation

– increases pain tolerance

– decreases pro-inflammatory and increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines

– decreases blood pressure

-dissolves distressing emotions. It is impossible to feel anxious, angry or sad when you are laughing

-humour shifts perspective, allows you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light

Laughter moves lymph and oxygenates your organs. At the biophysical level, lymph fluid is moved around your body by the convulsions you experience while laughing; so it boosts immune system function and helps clear out old, dead waste products from organs and tissues. The lymph system doesn’t have a separate pump so your body needs exercise for it’s circulation. To keep lymph in check, choose either to run for 20min or have a short stitching giggle fit.

Laughing increases body oxygenation at the cellular level. By laughing, you take in huge amounts of oxygen and you repeat this process in a sort of temporary hyperventilation session. This is the natural result of laughter, and if you watch someone laugh, you will notice these biophysical effects – a natural high!

It’s cool to note that cancer cells are destroyed in the presence of oxygen. As science has it, many parasites and bacteria don’t survive well in the presence of oxygen, and to the extent that you can circulate extra oxygen throughout your body, you can help prevent, or in some cases treat, these diseases.

The harder you laugh, the harder the effect. If you can find a way to put yourself into a state of rolling, uncontrollable, outrageous laughter, you’re going to get a damn good physical workout from it too. In fact, the next day, you may even find your stomach muscles are sore. Coughing and laughing are some of the most direct ways to exercise your corset-like transversus abdominal muscle. Have you ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt and your facial muscles were exhausted? That’s some serious exercise, and it’s the kind of exercise in which we should all engage in on a regular basis.

If you have a similar sense of humour, do your health and abs a favour and check out two of my favourite comedians, Louis CK and Rhys Darby.


Louis CK – Pot

Rhys Darby – Army Days