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Laugh Yourself Silly to Heart Health

March 15, 2010

Seriously! Laughter really IS the best medicine. That old adage is now backed by medical studies that have shown that good belly laughter can reduce stress hormones, decrease pain, lower blood pressure, and even boost the immune system. So quit trying to be so serious all the time. It's not good for you!

Laughing is the best medicineNorman Cousins, the political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate wrote a book about how Marx Brothers films and humorous stories helped him ease the pain he had been suffering from a disease that attacked the connective tissues of his body.

He was laughed at though (but not in a good way), until in 1989 when the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article by Swedish scientist Lars Ljungdahl. Entitled "Laugh If This Is a Joke," he argued that "a humor therapy program can increase the quality of life for patients with chronic problems" and "laughter has an immediate symptom-relieving effect for these patients, an effect that is potentiated when laughter is induced regularly over a period."

American humorist Mark Twin suggested, "The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that's laughter."

Studies have shown that even the anticipation of laughter can boost endorphins. In a paper presented to the American Physiological Society, Lee S. Berk of Loma Linda University, reported some very surprising and significant neuroendocrine/hormone effects from the expectation of "mirthful laughter".

Berk said the results of their study builds on their earlier work and may constitute a real construct for what is the 'biology of hope.'"

So take some time to do something that will make you laugh – spend time with funny friends, go to a party, play with your kids and pets, watch a movie or TV show, see a play, call someone on the phone who makes you giggle. Children laugh 400 times per day, adults only laugh 15 times per day. It's called FUN. Try it!