Laughter is the best medicine - PIH Health

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Published on March 30, 2017

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Girls laughing, eating watermelon

Girls laughing, eating watermelonApril Fools’ Day kicks off National Humor Month, created to spread awareness of the therapeutic benefits of laughing. It may sound like a barrel of monkeys, but research suggests that a good laugh may just be the punch line for good health.

The Science behind Your Funny Bone

When you experience something pleasurable, such as hearing a good joke or seeing a funny movie, your brain activates a series of neurons called a reward pathway. The reward pathways triggered by humor cause a sense of euphoria and can lead to a reduction in stress.

Chronic high levels of stress interrupt sleep, suppress the immune system and can cause a host of health issues, from depression and anxiety to heart disease and diabetes. Humor, on the other hand, does the opposite. Studies show that in addition to easing stress, laughing may reduce muscle tension, decrease blood pressure, lessen pain, improve your immune system, boost morale and enrich your quality of life. Recent research also suggests a link between humor and preventing memory loss.

Laugh Therapy Is No Laughing Matter

Today, humor therapy is often used as part of an integrated regimen to treat chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and asthma. Convinced about the benefits of laughter for older adults, a hospital in Washington, DC even created a “Laugh Café” where seniors meet for hour-long laugh sessions.

So if you’re looking for an easy way to help improve your health, don’t forget to laugh. Hang out with funny people, read a humorous book or see a silly movie. While humor is contagious, its only temporary side effects are shortness of breath and a sore belly but it can provide a host of long-term benefits.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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