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What Makes Laughter the Best Medicine?

laughterLaughter has a real beneficial effect on your physical health, according to research. In the study, subjects were observed as they watched both serious movies and comedies. During the comedies, their arteries dilated and their blood pressure dropped, suggesting that laughter can in fact be a powerful medicine indeed.

The study looked at 20 healthy participants with an average age of 33. The results showed for the first time that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. It appears to cause the endothelium, which is the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.

The study also showed that the opposite effect occurred when the subjects watched suspenseful films, suggesting a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels.

A separate study also found that viewing a humorous film may be helpful for the study and treatment of local IgE production and allergy in the reproductive tract.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
It’s said that children laugh 100 times a day, sometimes more. But by the time we reach adulthood, we’re lucky if we laugh even a handful of times in a 24-hour period. This is a shame considering a good laugh can not only melt away stress almost instantly, but it has numerous beneficial impacts on your physical health, including a potential to help allergies and your heart.

The study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore mentioned above is one of the most groundbreaking in terms of laughter’s role in your health.

It actually shows that laughing may help reduce your risk of heart disease in ways similar to exercise.

A Laughter “Workout”

The researchers examined the connection between blood vessels' ability to expand (vasodilation) and laughter. If vasodilation is poor, it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. The study involved 20 adults who watched clips of a violent movie and a humorous movie and had their vasodilation tested.

They found that:

• Blood flow was significantly reduced (by about 35 percent) in 14 of the 20 volunteers who saw the stressful film.

• Blood flow significantly increased (by 22 percent) in 19 of the 20 volunteers after watching the funny movie.
The improvement in blood flow experienced by most all participants after laughter was equal to the improvements seen after a 15- or 30-minute workout!

Why Else Should You Laugh More?

The University of Maryland researchers believe laughing causes your body to release beneficial chemicals called endorphins, natural “pain killers” that contribute to your sense of well-being and may counteract the effects of stress hormones and cause blood vessels to dilate.

Previous research has even found that just anticipating laughter can increase your endorphin levels, whereas laughing may help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation in your body, which is linked to a variety of diseases.

Japanese researchers have also found a role for laughter in helping people with type 2 diabetes, as there was a significantly smaller spike in blood sugar after a meal when diabetics watched a popular comedy show compared to listening to a boring lecture.

Other benefits of laughing include:
• Relaxation and reduction in muscle tension
• Lowered production of stress hormones
• Improved immune system function
• Reduction in blood pressure

• Clearing your lungs by dislodging mucous plugs
• Increasing the production of salivary immunoglobulin A, which defends against infectious organisms that enter through your    respiratory tract
• Aerobic effects that increase your body‘s ability to utilize oxygen
• A rapid ability to disregard aches and pains or to perceive them as less severe

Laughing is Only One Part of Staying Positive

When you laugh, you’re helping yourself to stay positive, and that is really the name of the game when it comes to your health and happiness. People with a positive outlook are typically easy to spot; they’re the ones who are quick to smile and laugh, don’t take themselves too seriously and are generally a joy to be around.

They’re also the ones who are most likely to be leading great lives, as research has proven that happy people live longer, are healthier, are more successful, enjoy more fulfilling relationships, earn more money, and are liked and respected more.

But even happy people know they don‘t get to be happy all the time, so they learn to appreciate brief moments, little victories, small miracles, and the personal interactions that bring real happiness. And when they do face a setback, they know how to quickly address their negative emotions using tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

For most people, though, it is very difficult to define what truly makes you happy. So I want to reiterate a definition that you can grasp and apply to your life with greater ease.

Happiness can be identified as “whatever gets you excited.” Happiness is that which makes you jump out of bed in the morning with eager anticipation to start your day. Once you identify that activity, whatever it is, you can start focusing your mind around that so you can structure you life to do more of it.

As you begin to do this, you’ll find you have an easier time laughing and smiling more often, and this is quite contagious. The more you are happy, the easier it becomes and the better you’ll feel.

Even if you‘re not feeling happy today, fake it. In experiments, people who were manipulated to smile actually felt happier.

Besides, what have you got to lose? Put a smile on your face and find reasons to laugh each and every day. Who knows, you may just start to enjoy life after all.