We don’t seem to laugh as much as we use to, and I mean that for both individuals and society. So much of what was once comedy on television has become back handed attempts at making fun of opposing political views or politicians.
The days of humorist, comedians, and entertaining public figures have faded into the background while our conversations, newscasts, and college campuses seem dominated with angry, outspoken, and offended complainers.
An ancient proverb in the Bible reminds us that “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV). 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.”
Laughter is truly therapy and here I simply wish to share the story of Dr. Lee Berk and his research…
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).
If you would like to view a CNN video clip of Dr. Lee Berk and this research please visit here.
Want to learn more about my involvement with Therapeutic Laughter? Visit here.