I’m sure you have heard the popular saying “laughter is the best medicine”. Many people understand laughter to be an action that is performed when they are happy and something that makes them feel good, but laughing is so much more than that. Laughter is a contagious emotion and a natural medicine.
Before I delve further, I would like to relate to you the story of Norman Cousins. Norman Cousins was a renowned journalist and world peace advocate, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative and debilitating disease of the spine, in 1964 (Although it is now thought that his illness was more likely a different form of reactive arthritis and not really ankylosing spondylitis). The doctors told him he had few months to live. However Cousins was an optimist, he checked into a hotel room and spent hours watching comedy movies. The result, Cousins was eventually cured of his illness and went on live for 26 years longer than the doctors expected.
Laughter alone can’t cure an ailment, but it provides manifold physical and mental health benefits to the body. It can also be used to alleviate several disease conditions.
How then does laughter improve your health? Whenever you laugh you set of mechanisms in your body that enhances your physiological and psychological health. Some of them are;
• Laughter also boosts the immune system, by increasing the number of antibodies in the bloodstream. There are other benefits of laughter to body. So now, let’s find out the diseases that laughter can treat.
The first disease on the list is cancer. I know you might be wondering how laughter can help in treating cancer, but relax you are about to learn something interesting.
Secondly, the act of using laughter to improve overall health and wellbeing is called the laughter therapy. Laughter therapy has been used in the treatment of cancer, how so? Laughter induces physiological and biochemical changes in our body that have an astounding effect on the development of cancer.
At the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), this laughter therapy is extensively used. They offer humor therapy sessions or laughter club , to help cancer patients and their families use and enjoy laughter as a way to enhance the healing process. The patients don’t even need to fInd anything funny to genuinely laugh about, because the therapy uses fake or forced laughter, which works. This is because whenever the patient laughs the brain releases endorphins, which acts as the body’s natural painkiller, and mood enhancer.
Depression is a mental illness, that negatively affects thoughts feelings and actions. Depressed people normally have negative thoughts and are emotional weighed down. However depression can be prevented, treated and diagnosed with laughter therapy.
There are many methods for treating depression, but laughter therapies are fast gaining ground as an effective treatment. Laughter yoga or laughter exercises is one of the ways laughter is used to treat depression. Laughter yoga incorporates yoga techniques, breathing exercises and playful laughter to treat depression and other mental or emotional problems.
Laughing with other people is one of the best way to combat depression with laughter as it improves our mood through social connection and an increased feeling of belonging. Laughing with friends can decrease feelings of alienation and lowers our risk for depression.
Laughter and humor has also been shown to improve the condition of people with eczema.
In a clinical study of 20 patients with atopic eczema, dermicidin (DCD)-derived peptide, an anti-microbial peptide found in the sweat gland, was found to be decreased in these patients. However, after viewing a humorous video, the patients had increased level of DCD.
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder characterized by irregular sleep patterns and the inability to sleep properly. Laughter can be used to treat insomnia in many people. Laughing causes the body to produce more melatonin, a hormone released by the brain that helps you sleep better.
Scientific research has also shown that laughter can improve sleep patterns and is an effective treatment for insomnia. Guffawing in the evening, or just before going to bed will help you have sound night rest.
Laughter is a great way to deal with PTSD it can uplift your spirit and help you vanish negative thoughts. Laughter therapy is also used to treat PTSD in people who have been in difficult circumstances, like soldiers or abused people.
I hope you’ve learned something worthwhile today and that you determined to increase your daily dose of laughter. Remember “a laughter a day keeps the doctor at bay”.
Thanks for reading.
Originally written by Nwokolo Collins