You might have heard this before. It is a popular saying, yet only a few people have serious thoughts about it. Besides, who would think that laughter has anything to do with health and wellness? But the saying “Laughter is the best medicine” is no laughing matter. In fact, a number of research and studies has shown credible evidence that support this idea.
It doesn’t take much effort to have a few laughs every now and then. We laugh when we see some embarrassing moments, something incongruous, exaggerated, or outright ridiculous. We unconsciously allow ourselves to be entertained and get a sense of relief. It actually feels good and invigorating, not knowing that our entire system reacts positively to the simple habit of laughing.
Doctor Michael Miller of the Center of Preventive Cardiology in Maryland at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found out that healthy dose of laughter prevents fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries. Our blood vessels have protected linings called the endothelium. When we experience stress, it undergoes an inflammatory reaction that causes cholesterol build-up, which would eventually lead to cardiac arrest.
A few good laughs a day are enough to maintain a healthy heart. Recent studies conducted on the subject show that those who had histories of heart problems are unable to express genuine laughter, a good outlet for stress. The other group who enjoys laughing with their friends, watching funny movies, and getting humor from simple things never had a heart attack.
Ever wonder why happy people seldom visit the doctor’s office? If you happen to ask one, he’d probably tell you what doctors have been studying for years – laughter. An experiment was conducted to prove how laughter leads to a chain of reactions that prevents immunosuppressive effects of stress and diseases. Subjects were presented humorous materials and their reactions were recorded using the echoencephalogram.
Findings revealed how brain functions shifted from analytical to emotional activity when they got the punch line. There was an increased brain activity and delta waves culminating in an emotional response known as laughter. Laughter activates the whole brain instead of being focused on one area and stimulates the release of endorphins and other pleasure and relaxation-inducing hormones. It alleviates stress and further enhances the immune system to fight against infections. No wonder happy people are also healthy people.
So when you hear someone say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” you’re not supposed to laugh at it. But just to lighten things up, go ahead and share a hearty laughter. It costs you nothing and saves you a lot of trouble.