Science of Laughter Therapy
An ancient proverb in the Bible reminds us that “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Laughter is God’s natural medicine for the pressures of life, our battle against disease, and struggle to balance off the toll of daily stress.
Abraham Lincoln, during the heaviness of the Civil War, asked his advisers “Gentlemen, why do you not laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me day and night, if I did not laugh, I should die.” Too often we find ourselves in our own big battles, but like Lincoln’s advisers, we naturally neglect the natural balm of laughter.
Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University, released the results of a twenty year study that found first time heart attack victims who were prescribed a similar diet and drug regiment, with the exception that half of the group added a daily 20 to 30 minute period of laughter.
Half were told to watch a funny sitcom on television, a comedy, or to spend the time reading a humorous joke book, as long as the 30 minute period was focused on humor and being able to laugh.
Of the group who were prescribed laughter, only 8% suffered a second heart attack. While the group who were not prescribed daily laughter had a 42% recurrence rate of a second heart attack!
On a CNN medical report television program, Dr. Lee Berk said it best when he commented that had he invented a pill that got these remarkable results, he would be on his way to Stockholm, Sweden for the Noble Peace Prize in Medicine.
While laughter offers no guarantees as the ultimate cure-all, we do know that the medical and psychological benefits of laughter have been cited in the top medical research journals. Here is my top 10 list of such benefits that have been mentioned in these journals:
1. Reducing cortisol, a stress hormone that locks up metabolism and hordes fat. (American Journal of the Medical Sciences)
2. Increases endorphins, the body’s opiate feel-good hormone. (American Journal of the Medical Sciences)
3. Eases muscle tension, good for rheumatism. (Southern Medical Journal)
4. Increases the body’s T-Cell count, immune system cells that kill bacteria. (Journal of
5. Increases the body’s Lymphocyte Blastogenesis, helps the immune system work faster. (Journal of the American Medical Association)
6. Improves respiratory conditions, aids in ventilation and helps clear mucus plugs.
(Journal of the American Medical Association)
7. Increases blood circulation and rise in oxygen and nutrient levels. (Journal of Biological Psychology)
8. Improves blood vessel functions and circulation. (University of Maryland)
9. Increases catecholamines, which boost mental alertness and responsiveness. (Journal of the American Medical Association)
10. Reduces the rate of cellular decay. (Journal of the American Medical Association)