Laughter is often called the best medicine. Is it really? When you read through this article, you would realize it is not an empty statement.
We don’t learn to laugh; it is all coded in our DNA. New borne has capacity to laugh. Laughter may appear us natural, but humans are only living being which can express such complex response. Don’t agree? OK let’s make you laugh with this World’s funniest joke –
Two friends had gone into the jungle. One of them collapses and didn’t seem to breathe. Other friend calls emergency services – “My friend seems dead? Please help. What should I do?” Operator replies – “Calm down. We can help. First make sure if he is dead or not.” A gun shot is heard after some silence. Back on phone, friend says, “Ok what now?”
🙂 Thanks to smileys, we can share laughter online 🙂
Why do we laugh?
Laughter is a very complex involuntary body response. It requires same skills as required to solve problems. Laughter can be triggered by physical stimulus like tickling or psychological like humor, joy or relief and even negative emotions like embarrassment. Laughter is contagious; laughter can ignite laughter, which also makes it an adaptation in social humans. Studies shown people are more likely to laugh when in social setting rather when alone. Laughter is social signal of dominance – bosses more likely to laugh first and office shall follow.
What happens when we laugh?
When you laugh, you make sound and your body moves. Over fifteen facial muscles interplay to help you laugh. Your respiratory system is as if jogging and makes you pant. Hiccups and tears may follow for body response for want of oxygen. You may experience muscle contractions throughout the body including stomach, diaphragm, limbs and back. Ever noticed abdominal muscles ache on burst of laughter? Laughing heartily means literally the same; laughing may cause heart to contract rhythmically.
Laughter: Health Benefits
Health benefits of laughter include reduction of stress hormones and blood pressure, as well as increased blood flow and oxygenation. Laughing provides a natural workout to a number of muscle groups, can defend against illness, and even increase the response of beneficial tumor and disease-killing cells throughout the body. Laughter has also been shown to increase memory, intelligence and creativity. Laughter may help you skin, hair, body digestion and even sex.
Laugher promotes blood circulation
Laughter has been show to be extremely healthy for the blood vessels. It has an effect in dilating the inner lining of the blood vessels, called endothelium, which causes better blood flow. This also causes better oxidation of the blood, which leads to more oxygen reaching the cells and brain. It is also beneficial for the heart, as it brings more oxygen to it. Laughter has a protective effect against heart and blood vessel disease as well as against abnormal blood pressure, because the blood vessel dilating effects help regulate blood pressure and normal blood flow to both the brain and the heart. It may also have an effect in reducing chances of blood clots forming, as a healthy blood flow and blood pressure are preventive against blood clots, which are known to cause strokes and heart attacks. It also activates a lot of muscles, and in addition to dilating the blood vessels, it provides better oxidation of the blood, which are all traits found in physical activity such as aerobic exercise.
Laughter is one of the best natural pain-killers in this world. According to a recent study, laughter can lower risks of a heart attack by a LOT. Laughter also reduces stress, therefore lowering blood pressure. That’s a whole lot of health benefits just from laughing!
Laughter for stress relief
Often have you felt relieved when you laugh. Laughing at oneself is body response to come out of embarrassing situations. Did you notice difference on your body after watching a comedy movie verses action thriller? You feel body light after good round of laugh, while stress makes you feel constricted. Laughing is good way to come out of stress.
Some research has shown that laughter is able to reduce the amount of stress causing hormones, such as coritsol and epinephrine in the blood. It can also have the psychosomatic effect of reducing stress thereby reducing tension and many negative effects of stress. In the psychological sense, laughter may also distract from stress-causing thoughts and worries.
Laughter for sound sleep
Laughter releases Endorphin in body which is linked with healthy sleep. Engaging in laughter therapy or laughter yoga has its side effects – peaceful sleep! So cut your caffeine and indulge in laughing for insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Laughter helps regulate blood sugar
It has been noted that laughter can lower the level of blood sugar. This is probably linked to better circulation and muscle activation, as the blood sugar gets rapidly expanded by this activates there is a drop in blood sugar levels. A study done on diabetics was performed by letting them watch a comedy after a meal, and then measuring their blood sugar levels. The study noted a significant drop in blood sugar levels.
Laughing increases your immunity
Laughter has been shown to increase the amount of specific white blood cells, called T cells which produce immune cells which battle disease. By doing this, laughter can help maintain a healthy and functional immune system, and reduce chances of disease. Stress hormones suppress immunity. Laugher provides safety value controlling flow of these hormones.
Laughter releases Happiness hormone
Laughter may stimulate the release of a specific neurotransmitter called endorphin. Endorphin is called the “happiness hormone”, because it is often secreted when people heel happy and at ease. Endorphin helps lower stress levels, and relaxes the muscles.
Laughter for better mood and disposition
Laughter has been shown to be an effective tool to better the mood. Some research done on people who were feeling depressed and down shows that just a few minutes of laughter every day can lift their mood and better their disposition and outlook towards the world. Laughter also shifts perspective, and brakes negative loops of though (when you just seem to see no end to negative things). Laughter stimulates the release of endorphin, which is the body’s natural happiness hormone. It also breaks current patterns of thought, which is enough to lift the spirits. A better mood has been shown to be very important to overall health, and people who laugh more generally have a better health status then those prone to sadness.
Laughter for pain relief
Next time you are hurt and feel the pain, go back, find something humorous and make yourselves laugh. You would notice reduced pain. Pain is response of brain towards discomfort in body. Laughing with its complex response diverts brain activity from discomfort.
Laughter stimulates the blood vessels to expand as well as stimulating the secretion of endorphin. This can contribute to pain relief, as endorphins are natural pain-killers, secreted by our bodies in moments of stress and pain to relieve and block pain. Research has shown that people suffering from chronic pain notice a significant drop in pain levels after they have had a good laugh. Laughter also distracts people from pain, thereby easing the stress caused by pain and discomfort.
Stress, fear and depression can amplify perception of pain. Laughter therapy or laughter yoga can work wonders in pain management. It leads to relaxation of mind and body just like meditation.
Laughter aids digestion
Laughter increases brain activity and stimulates release of various hormones. These hormones are responsible for various body functions including digestion. It stimulates release of enzymes which helps in digestion of food.
Laughter can also help in release stress on gastrointestinal system like bloating, stomach spasms, Laughter is like stretching or workout for your internal body organs. It helps in movement of food in the digestive tract. Studies have shown impact of laughter on bile secretion and liver functioning.
Laughter as your muscle exercise
Laughter activates many muscles in the body, among them facial muscles, the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Laughter rapidly contracts the muscles thereby exercising them. It has also been noted that after laughter the muscles tend to relax more.
How to lose weight by laughing?
Yes you can reduce weight by laughter. Laughter is good body workout in which many muscles are involved. You can choose jogging for 15 minutes or laugh 100 times a day; both have equal effect on body in terms of blood circulation and calories lost. Research shows that laughing 10-15 minutes a day can help you shred couple of kg of body weight. More importantly you can indulge in this workout anywhere at home, office, while watching TV or reading!
Increase your mental capabilities with Laughter dose
A research done on students has noted that after exposure to comedy or humor during the teaching hours there has been a rise in test scores. Laughter can lead to mental unwinding and thereby increase the mental capabilities and memory. Humor and creativity have been shown to work in similar ways, and some parts of the brain activated during laughing are the same ones that get activated during creative labor, so it can be theorized that laughter can boost creativity as well.
Laughing clears of lung cavities
Eating a hot pepper can cause hiccups, coughing, running nose or bring tears. Laughter can do the same. Laugher works great in clearing your respiratory tract from mucus. It also helps keep your respiratory tract health.
Laughter and skin
Research shows that people who laugh more have good looking, youthful and radiant skin. Laughing improves skin tone. Laughter offers very good work out for your facial muscles and facial skin. It improves blood circulation to your skin. Laughing can remove aging signs like wrinkles and dark circles.
Laughter for hair growth
Laughter increases circulatory system, which means you hair roots get more blood and more nutrients which aids hair growth. Further have you read of stress due to hair loss? Loss of hair is one of the causes of stress in women and capitalists have build multi-billion dollar hair cosmetics business on this fear. Why not just laugh, be happy and prevent this hair loss?
Laughter and sex
Sharing adult humor is considered part of sexual indulgence and foreplay. Laughter helps in increase blood circulation to your genitals and promotes reproductive health. Laughter is good for sperm production and increases chances of conceiving. Laughter helps brain activity by creating neuropathways which provides sensation and pleasure of sex.
Laughter treats infant atopic eczema
Research shows that laughter increases melatonin levels in nursing mothers. Melatonin rich breast milk reduces allergic response in atopic eczema in infants and help in treating them.
Laughter in treatment of cancer
In Patch Adams movie, actor Robbie Williams tries to cure cancer patients with his laughter therapy. Today research shows that laughter therapy indeed helps recovery after chemotherapy and increases chances of curing cancer. A research has found positive impact of laughter therapy in increasing immunity of patients suffering from gastrointestinal cancer and undergoing treatment.
Laughter is the Breast medicine
Eileen Kaplan, author of “Laughter is the Breast Medicine” survived from breast cancer. She shares how laughter and positive attitude can cure breast cancer; infact we would like to generalize it for any disease.
Side effects of Laughter
Yes, there are some side effects of laughing, often when you can control it. Fainting, spasms, hiccups or ever seizures have been reported caused due to uncontrollable or excessive laughing. However none of these should prevent you from indulging in laughter therapy or laughter yoga.
Increasingly medicinal practitioners have been using laughter therapy to increase recovery of their patients. Body has power to heal itself and laughter just stimulates this positive energy. So here is our advice for increasing laughter in life:
- Find something which makes you happy and laugh often. Just do it.
- Laughter is contagious. Enjoy company of funny and humorous friends.
- Enjoy company of children. They laugh 300 times a day, as compared to adult who laughs only 15-20 times a day.
- Develop your own sense of humor and make others laugh. It helps you laugh yourselves!
These are just some of the benefits of laughter, and many are being still discovered. Much research over the years has shown that people who laugh more generally have better health, better mood and are simply more functional then people who spend more time mopping around. Also, laughter has virtually no bad consequences, and can only provide benefits. It is also free and you can get it anywhere and at anytime.Image Credits: David Shankbone