“Laughter is the best medicine”. “Laugh, and the world laughs with you”. You probably know these phrases right? The first phrase refers to laughter being the best medicine, but is it really? You would be surprised to know that medical research has discovered how hormone levels can be affected in response to laughter. In fact, laughter has been known to shut down the stress hormones such as cortisol, dopamine and an adrenaline. These hormones are released at times of concern about something or when we are afraid. This forms part of our fight or flight mechanism that is built into all of us. In ancient times, living through stressful periods was not as devastating to our health as it is now. In those days, people were much more active, so during periods of stress, the abundance of stress hormones was offset by exercise and other activity. Today this is not the case. Now we simply stress, and with a lack of exercise, this has led to serious health problems.
In 1992, Dr. W Fry wrote in the journal of the American medical Association that laughter is selective in what it shuts down. These reports noted that endorphin proteins (a natural morphine like substance seems to remain constant during laughter. This continues even as stress hormones are being shut down. A recent study at the Maryland medical center in Baltimore concluded that laughter, along with an active sense of humor, protects us against heart attacks. In fact, the research found that people who had heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in various situations when compared to people of the same age without heart disease.
The importance of laughter has also been noted in various religious books. In Proverbs 17 verse 22 it is written, “A cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries the bones. In the Koran it is stated, “blessed is he who makes his companions laugh”. From reading these wise words, we can understand how important it is to find happiness and to keep our minds in a positive frame. The questions we need to ask ourselves are; how does laughter affect our health? What are the chemical reactions that are caused by laughter and how do these affect our immune system and overall health? Is there a correlation between laughter and the levels of toxicity?
These are surprising questions. Who knew that laughter could be such a serious matter? The fact is that laughter is very beneficial, and it can cause physical changes in the human body which can help us to heal quicker. All we have to do is appreciate humor for what it is and to stop taking ourselves so seriously. With all the suffering and hardship that is happening around the world, it is no use for us to add to it. Instead, we should stand back and appreciate how lucky we are to have what we have, and to live in a society where we are free to do as we choose. So be happy, it will do wonders for your health.