Updated: Sep 30
Extract from https://askthescientists.com/
Laughter is a universal language. You learn to laugh at around 17 days of age—and continue to guffaw, chuckle, and giggle throughout your lifetime. And that’s a good thing because laughing as medicine may be more than a fun adage.
While it’s no substitute for modern medicine, evidence proves laughter is good for you. It also helps to share a laugh. It’s a great way to connect with others. Laughter can ease tense situations, help form friendships, and ultimately, just make you feel good.
The Mechanisms of Laughing
Let’s say you just heard a really funny joke. Instantly, the corners of your mouth go up to form a smile. You emit a series of “ha-ho-ha-hos” while slapping your knee. Your chest might hurt from laughing. It’s even possible you have tears running down your cheeks. And if it was a really, really good joke, you might even start to blackout.
Your body reacts the moment your brain processes something as funny. The zygomaticus major—the strong muscle that stretches across your cheek—contracts your mouth into a smile. The rest of your 20 facial muscles are stimulated into action, causing your eyes to shut and your cheeks to involuntarily move back and forth. Tear ducts are activated.
Laughing as Medicine—The Physical Benefits
It’s no joke that laughing can be good for your health. For starters, your immune system benefits from ample laughs in a day. People who laugh have an increase in T cells and natural killer cells (NK cells). These powerful members of the immune system help fight off invaders and keep you healthy. Laughter can also reduce stress and improve NK cell activity, thereby helping support your immunity.
Laughter is also good for your heart. Has your body ever felt sore after a good laugh? Researchers have discovered that intense laughter gives your body a short burst of aerobic exercise. A hard laugh can increase your heart rate, respiratory level, and oxygen consumption. While laughing isn’t a good substitute for regular exercise, a hearty chuckle does provide physical perks.
The physical benefits of laughter don’t end there. When it comes to pain tolerance, laughing as medicine is no joke. As you laugh, endorphins may be released into your bloodstream, giving you a calming feeling. Laughing also requires your body to take deeper breaths, which can help relax your muscles.
Laughing is also key to memory. Teachers who incorporate humor into their lectures create a less stressful learning environment. Students were more likely to remember key points from a lecture where the teacher interjected jokes about relevant topics. The findings suggest contextual humor can help you retain information.
Unstress and Build Connection with a Good Laugh
Individuals who laugh 15 or more times a day can increase the number of antibodies in their system. A daily dose of giggles and smiles can help support your immune system while limiting the physical effects of stress.
The social benefits of laughter are endless. And they aren’t just reserved for the deep belly laugh. Simple acts of kindness or courtesy—including a heartfelt smile—can replicate the feelings of laughter. You can elevate the general mood of the people around you simply by laughing and smiling.
A Good Dose of Laughter
Exercise can help keep your body in motion. A healthy diet can give your body the right nutrients. And a good dose of laughter is excellent to keep your spirits up, improve mood, and naturally make you feel better. So, it’s important to maintain a healthy, humorous perspective on life.
That makes the answer to the original question ‘is laughing as medicine a ridiculous, joke-worthy concept?’ a resounding no. Even if it won’t replace modern medical practices, laughter can be part of your healthy lifestyle.
Everyone finds different things funny. But if you can increase the amount of laughter in your life, you’ll be better able to deal with stressful situations, increase creativity, support your health, and have a more positive outlook to take on your day.
Edited by BeLife. Sep 2020