Is Laughter Really the Best Medicine?
Laughter isn’t ‘medicine’, but it’s the best medicine. According to Dr Gulshan Sethi, head of cardiothoracic surgery at the Tucson Medical Center and faculty at the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine, laughter activates the body’s natural relaxation response.
Well, that’s handy.
It’s like internal jogging, providing a good massage to all internal organs while also toning abdominal muscles.” Laughter has been known to lessen our response to stress and most importantly it is contagious.
Need a laugh? Watch the movie ‘Patch Adams’ – it’s about this topic!
Laughter has been known to help develop resiliency against bad outcomes. It makes us more open to admitting our errors and move on therefore pursuing more positive quests in life. Laughter also has been known to alleviate pain. It is not a pain-killer, but studies have shown that it changes our viewpoint in dealing with pain, due to endorphins being released by our bodies. Remember when you last laughed?
Further findings have shown that the body’s pain tolerance is higher right after laughing than in a more contained (boring) environment.
Laughter also scares the hell out of depression. Our brain is meant to answer to positive feelings, like a smile, a grin, and a good and hearty laughter. When we smile for example, the cerebrum also discharges dopamine, a neurotransmitter that generates that emotion… “joy”.
And it goes both ways…
When dopamine arrives we feel happy and the happy feeling just goes round and round inside our brain. Also, positive moods improves our health. A broken spirit or a broken heart can lead to depression.
The immune system and the brain is an integrated system. Our feelings and moods affect that system.
Negative feelings brings forth chemical reactions that can affect our body by adding stress into our system and lowering our immunity. On the other hand, happy thoughts and emotions produces neurochemical changes that lower the immunosuppressive effects of stress.
Depression decreases our ability to laugh. Laughter decreases feelings of depression.
Maybe that’s the reason why wellness centres that are focused on happy hormones are becoming more and more relevant as stress levels and depressions skyrockets in our community. Research show that laughter therapy are beneficial in dealing with depressions, altering family dynamics in a therapy setting, and even psychiatric issues.
Laughter and humour are one of the most ‘underrated’ medicines out there. The benefits go far and beyond what we expect and the most important thing is, it’s free. So before popping a pill, why not try to laugh first. Even if it’s forced, it’s definitely hilarious. Have fun with it!