Laughter as Medicine: The Fun Cure for Stress, Pain and Disease

Laugh Your Way to Health and Happiness

Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine. It can relieve anything from stress, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, loneliness, weak immunity, fatigue, heart disease, and more.

Tension and stress melt away when you laugh because laughter loosens the body; a good, long laugh can relax your muscles for roughly an hour. Not only that, it reduces stress hormones, improves blood flow and vessel functions (great for cardiovascular health), and raises endorphin levels (these produce a sense of happiness, well-being, and even pain relief). Recent studies have even shown that laughter increases the “Natural Killer Cells,” B cells and T cells, which fight diseases, viruses, and tumors.¬† From a social and psychological standpoint, laughter also does wonders. It helps diffuse difficult situations, shifts our perspective when we feel stressed or overwhelmed, and — in its ability to create bonds and instill joy, positivity and connectedness — it also encourages relationship-building. Here are some innovative ways people have harnessed the power of laughter as a means of promoting good health and healing:

  • Over 30 years ago, professor and author Norman Cousins asked, “Is it possible that love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence, and the will to live have therapeutic value?” In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, he explains that the answer is a resounding “yes!” This influential best-seller chronicles how humor and laughter allowed Cousins to overcome a life-threatening tissue disease.
  • In order to provide compassionate and effective healthcare, Dr. Patch Adams encouraged medical students to foster real, heartfelt connections with their patients, utilizing humor and play to stimulate healing and recovery. Adams believes that laughter is an integral part of proper patient care, and in 1971 founded the Gesundheit! Institute – a free hospital located in West Virginia. One of its core principles involves “humanitarian clowning,” a practice that the Institute has taken to refugee camps and orphanages worldwide, including those in Bosnia, Macedonia, and South Africa.
  • Known as the “Giggling Guru,” Dr. Madan Kataria formed an influential movement called “Laughter Yoga,” promoting self-triggered laughter as a means of curing nearly any ailment of the mind or body. Laughter Yoga is practiced by a quarter of a million people worldwide, with 6,000 clubs in India . Learn more here, and try this fun, contagious practice¬† with friends!

For further reading on the power of laughter, check out these titles:

Gesundheit! Bringing Good Health to You, the Medical System, and Society through Physician Service, Complementary Therapies, Humor, and Joy (Patch Adams M.D.)
Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by a Patient (Norman Cousins)
The Healing Power of Humor (Allen Klein)
Laughter Therapy (Annette Goodheart)

**Movies, books, comics, stand-up, your friends — whatever gets you laughing, give it a try! It’s a free and powerful tool for joyful healing.

** If you enjoyed this post, please click “Like” below. We also LOVE¬† your comments!! Have you tried Laughter Yoga?

With loving blessings, Connie

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