Is laughter the best medicine

By | July 23, 2014

Dr KatariaIs Laughter the best medicine; everyone knows that we all feel good after a good laugh but most of us don’t realise the health benefits that we get from that good laugh.  But we get caught up in the daily functions of our day that we forget how good it feels to have a good laugh. Why is laughter so good for us?  why does laughter make us feel so good?  and is Laughter another form of therapy?

For years experts have been telling us that laughter is the best medicine and this is supported by research that laughter lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles, improves blood circulation, increases oxygen level in the body, elevates mood, brings hope, enhances communication and most importantly boosts the immune system, which is the master key for maintaining good health.  Which is one of the reason many hospitals have adopted laughter therapy as another modality in their arsenal of services.  According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) they support the use of Laughter Therapy as a complementary tool in the treatment of cancer as per their website ” CTCA offers humour therapy sessions, also known as Laughter Clubs or humour groups, to help cancer patients and their families use and enjoy laughter as a tool for healing.”

Laughter YogaBut laughter is also great antidote to stress, pain, and conflict as nothing works faster or more naturally bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.  Which are some of the most common conditions that vast majority of people suffer from which make ask you why we are not taking advantage of such effective and free resource?

In additions laughing increases blood circulation, relaxes your muscles, reduces pain, lowers blood sugar levels, relieves anxiety and helps ward off heart disease.

In 1995 Dr. Madan Kataria, was researching an article called “Laughter: The Best Medicine” for his medical magazine. Impressed by the potential health benefits of laughter, Kataria wanted to make laughing part of people’s daily routine, so he went to a nearby park in Mumbai, where he asked people to join a laughter club. On that first day in the park, four other people, including his wife, joined him. The group stood in a circle and took turns telling jokes, trying to make the other members laugh.

According to Dr Shevach Friedler at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zerifin who looked at women undergoing embryo transfers, where an IVF embryo is put into the womb. In this study they found that just over a third of women entertained by a clown and had a good laugh conceived in comparison to 19% of a group who were not.

One the best things about laugher is that it free and you can do it anywhere.  Quite a few if us pay for relaxation classes, vitamins, visit to practitioners, etc but with laughter you can simply run down to the video store, rent your favourite funny movie and enjoy. What’s more you don’t even need to laugh for real to get the health benefits, studies have found that simulated laughter can have the same results as your brain cannot distinguish the difference between real or fake laughter.  Is it any wonder why people consider laughter as the best medicine around.

The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits. I know what you’re thinking – faking laughter sounds… well.. fake! It’s true, at first, simulated laughing does feel weird. And when you participate in a group, it doesn’t take long before simulated laughter creates ‘real’ laughter. I felt very strange going into my first Laughter Yoga class.

To make matters worse we were in a public park, a popular park. I gritted my teeth and got on with laughing. After a while it didn’t matter, in fact, that bystanders were laughing just added to our laughter. The icing on the cake was when our 9 year old joined in, we had a hoot.

BTW – she still does a couple of the exercise spontaneously at home… it’s funny 🙂

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