I Love to Laugh
Dr. Bryan Stephens
There is a Mary Poppins song that I heard the other day with my daughter called “I Love to Laugh.” I think most of us would agree laughter is good and I always personally enjoy a great laugh too. I mean full on cheek cramping, tears in your eyes, stitch in the side type of laughter is what I really enjoy. One of the best parts is that while I wipe the tears from my eyes and recover from the endorphin high, my body also undergoes psychological and physiological changes to improve my health.
You read that correctly.
Mora-Ripoll and Ramon actually researched the health benefits of laughter and discovered “laughter has shown physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits.” One main way that laughter addresses these factors is through the alterations of stress a person feels with laughter. Physically, it can help lower blood pressure and decrease the amount of stress hormones released by the body. This decrease in stress hormone plays a big part in the inflammation being lowered and affects everything from heart function to immune function. It has been noted that laughter helps decrease the level of glucocorticoids released in the body which are responsible for down regulating your natural killer (NK) cells. Put simply, laughter lessens a hormone that inhibits your innate immune system, so you are more efficient protecting yourself from disease. As we have discussed in our 12 Minutes to Health about stress and the immune system, less stress = less swelling= higher immune system performance.
Another area researchers are looking at is how humor and laughter can affect pain stimuli and pain tolerance. While more information is currently needed, there were a few articles that noted decreased pain-levels after humorous stimuli was performed. They did note that it is currently unclear whether humor alone was sufficient or if laughter itself was needed in order to lower pain thresholds.
So I guess it turns out that the old saying is true: laughter is the best medicine.
Mora-Ripoll, Ramon. “The Therapeutic Value of Laughter In Medicine”. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine . Nov/Dec2010, Vol. 16 Issue 6, p56-64. 9p.
Martin, R. A. (2001). “Humor, laughter, and physical health: Methodological issues and research findings.” Psychological bulletin, (127)4, 504-519.
We love to help our patients in McKinney stay healthy! We are here to relieve back pain, neck pain and headaches while also teaching about how our diet and stress effects our over all health. When you take the time to reduce your stress it can improve your health. Our Doctors, located near the corner of Eldorado Pkwy. and Ridge Rd., want to help you know how to be healthy by making good choices on diet, movement and mental health. So remember, Love to Laugh for a healthier you!