Laughter: Physical Health Benefits
1. Immune System Enhancement:
Dr. Lee Bark and fellow researcher Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University have been studying the effects of laughter on the immune system. Laughter has been found to increase both types of immunity in the body:
A.The cellular immunity is increased due to the increase in the number of infection fighting T-lymphocytes. Also belly laughter increases the number and the activity of natural killer cells that attack viral infected cells and some types of cancer cells.
2. Muscle Relaxation:
B.The humoral immunity is enhanced because of increased production of IgA (antibody which fights upper respiratory tract infections), IgB, gamma interferon and complement 3.
A good laugh results in generalized muscle relaxation.
3. Reduction of Stress Hormones:
Laughter reduces at least four of the neuroendocrine hormones associated with stress response viz. epinephrine, cortisol, dopac and growth hormones.
4. Pain Reduction:
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. The released endorphins also produce a sense of well being. Besides that laughter distracts the patient from his pain, allowing him to sleep and perform the daily activities with greater comfort.
4. Cardiac Conditioning:
Laughter can provide good cardiac exercise especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercises. It acts as an “internal jogging”.
5. Blood Pressure Lowering:
Women seem to benefit more than men in preventing hypertension.
6. Improved Blood Flow:
In a study participants’ blood vessels were monitored both before and after being shown comedies and drama. The researchers found that those who watched the comedy had blood vessels that behaved normally, while those who watched the dramas had vessels that tended to tense up, limiting the blood flow.
7. Positive Effects in Respiratory Ailments:
Laughter is seen to especially benefit patients suffering from emphysema and other respiratory disorders.
8. Brain Balancing:
Humor serves to integrate and balance the activity of both the cerebral hemispheres. Laughter has remarkable positive effects valuable in relieving depression. A recent study has revealed that even smiling deliberately (just by contracting the zygomaticus muscle) elevates the mood in depressed patients.
9. Blood Sugar Level Lowering in Diabetes:
One study found that people with diabetes who watched comedies after a meal have lower blood sugar levels than those subjected to a lecture.