Having Asthma Is Something to Smile About

Millions of persons have asthma and to put it bluntly there is nothing funny about having a breathing difficulty.. Yet, the science of psychoneuroimmunology has shown that smiling can reduce your symptoms.

Studies of smiling have demonstrated that smiling during the common cold season reduces the incidence of colds significantly. The smile does two things:

Smiling sends a message to your limbic (stress) system that this is no danger, no tiger. Then you avoid the negative chemicals that the stress system sends out which actively reduce your immunity.

A second effect of smiling is that it signals the pleasure brain to put out the good chemicals that raise your immune factors. The positioning of the facial muscles does this, and we see negative effects when the face is paralyzed from trauma.

Keeping a sad dour face can lower your immunity. Some actresses who have played sad depressed roles on stage for long periods of time have been forced to quit because of frequent infections. Numerous studies have proven that depression significantly lowers your immunity and your overall health.

No question that keeping a happy smiling face while having an asthmatic attack will make a lot of people wonder about your mental state. But maybe with humor you won’t get that attack.

How can you feel happy when you are struggling to breathe properly?

The key is to cultivate a happy affect. Look, you don’t need to feel funny and happy all the time. But if you laugh and feel joy 90% of the time, you will build up the good chemicals to keep you healthy.

Mr. F Amos sustained a bad back accident. Being disabled, he now had time to watch TV and his favorite was the Comedy Channel. While getting his therapy treatments he started to tell about the funny scenes he had seen. His therapists obviously enjoyed his stories; they became warmer and friendlier to him. Since they enjoyed hearing these funny stories, Mr. Amos began checking out other sources of humor, and was writing them down, and even rehearsing the funny episodes or jokes. It was obvious that the therapists enjoyed taking care of him. Did he get well faster because the therapists gave him extra attention? Or, did his laughing so much reduce the pain and speed healing? Best of all, when he came with his funny stories, his therapists would tell him tales they knew too!

You can develop a humor habit. Here are some exercises from my book that work well:

  • Practice memorizing short shopping lists using humor.
  • Rent comedies and write down funny scenes to describe to others.
  • Find comedy web sites and blogs and record the best ones to tell your friends.
  • Your public library has humor DVD, books and tapes you can borrow.
  • Once a week pretend you are a TV writer and write a funny TV show.

You see a funny episode on TV. You carry it in your mind to tell your friend next evening. Instead of stress thoughts or anxiety thoughts, your thoughts dwell on laughter.

A new therapy for asthma and allergy is to spend time BEFORE the allergy. The reason for this is that, before you had the allergy, you didn’t sneeze around dust. Now you do. Something in your chemistry changed. Maybe we can change it back? The more you visualize with all your senses, plus humor, the more your body will produce the before the allergy chemistry. You didn’t have it when you bought your first car-therefore visualize with all your senses that activity WITH Humor.

Unfortunately, in my own clinical practice, it is difficult to prove exactly how effective smiling and humor can be in asthma, since as a physician I utilize all the therapeutic tools I have available. Do my asthmatics do well because they practice humor? Or is it because I clear their sinus and postnasal drip with pulsatile irrigation? No question that clearing up a sinus condition is highly beneficial to asthmatics. Hence, it is difficult to tell whether the pulsatile irrigation contributed 40%, the drugs 30%, and the smiling 30%.

However, just as it is evident that clearing the nasal drainage is therapeutic, so is it evident that smiling and humor can help the asthma.