Laughter Really IS the Best Medicine

Laughter Really IS the Best Medicine

The average child laughs up to 400 times a day while the average adult laughs between six and eight! There are tremendous benefits to the simple act of laughing. As the psychologist Arnold Glasgow puts it: “Laughter is the tranquilizer with no side effects”. Scientists have found that laughter reduces levels of the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) and increases the “feel good molecules” in our brains (beta-endorphins) and human growth hormone (which assists in healing, immunity and growth). Laughter strengthens the immune system, decreases healing time, increases pain tolerance, and diminishes food cravings. In fact, laughter can help prevent disease and enhance feelings of wellbeing and general satisfaction in life. For example, laughter can help decrease the risk of heart disease. One recent scientific study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations and tended to display more anger and hostility than those who do not suffer heart disease. Another study by the oak Crest Health Research Institute found that laughter can help to increase HDL (“good cholesterol”) and lower inflammation within the cardiovascular system.

When we are faced with difficulties in life, laughter can provide a physical and emotional catharsis; allowing us to let go of negative emotions like guilt, anger, and sadness, and focusing us on optimism and accomplishing the tasks at hand. It has been said: “An optimist laughs to forget, a pessimist forgets to laugh”. Laughter can be a very important tool in overcoming stumbling blocks and maintaining a positive outlook through the journey towards achieving optimal health and wellbeing.

Here are some techniques to help you build laughter into your life:

• Find the things which consistently make you laugh (a TV program, a certain movie, your favorite comic strip, etc). Incorporate these opportunities for humor into your daily life.

• Laugh with friends. Laughter is contagious; we have a “detector” in our brains which responds to the laughter we hear by triggering neural circuits in the brain which then generate more laughter. In fact, you’re about 30 times more likely to laugh in social settings than when you’re alone.

• Try to find the humor in every situation. One of the predominant theories on what makes something humorous is that we laugh when things are incongruous; when we’re expecting one thing to occur, and a completely different outcome occurs. Doing or saying something incongruous in a situation which is frustrating or stressful may actually make you laugh. Try this the next time you’re stuck in traffic on your way to an important interview: Shout as loudly as you can “I love life!”. The incongruity of saying something positive while you’re upset gives you a chance to laugh at yourself and the situation. Think about how you’ll view the situation when you’re looking back on it- will you be able to laugh at yourself, or someone else involved in the situation? Think about recounting the story to your friends in a humorous manner.

• Fake it ‘till you make it: research shows that fake laughter provides many of the benefits of authentic laughter. Even if you’re feigning a chuckle, your body will release those “feel good” endorphins and neurotransmitters and will decrease those stress hormones. In addition, a fake laugh often leads to the real thing.

Bottom Line: Laughter can be a powerful heeler, an aid in maintaining health and preventing disease… Incorporate daily laughter into your life and reap the benefits today!

Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND at 201-757-5558 or, through email at dr*******@ve*****.net.

Dr. Leat Kuzniar ND
Dr. Leat Kuzniar ND

Dr. Kuzniar is a board member of the New Jersey Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is also a member of the Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She currently holds a State of Vermont Naturopathic Physician license (as New Jersey does not yet offer licensing for Naturopathic doctors).