Interesting Articles

Laughter: The Best Medicine

“Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.”

“Laughter, it’s said, is the best medicine. And there’s lots of evidence that laughter does lots of good things for us. It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort. It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and nondiabetics alike. It improves your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated and it really is the glue of good marriages. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

Laughter establishes — or restores — a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

Now comes hard new evidence that laughter helps your blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow. In other words, it’s good for your heart and brain, two organs that require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.

At this year’s meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland reported that in a study of 20 healthy people, provoking laughter did as much good for their arteries as aerobic activity. He doesn’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise. But he does advise that you try to laugh on a regular basis. The endothelium, he explains, regulates blood flow and adjusts the propensity of blood to coagulate and clot. In addition, it secretes assorted chemicals in response to wounds, infection or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

“The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said Dr. Miller. “So given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium. And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” (Full article at Psychology Today)


Why Laughter May Be the Best Pain Medicine:

Across all tests, the participants’ ability to tolerate pain jumped after laughing. On average, watching about 15 minutes of comedy in a group increased pain threshold by 10 percent. Participants tested alone showed slightly smaller increases in their pain threshold.”When laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change (and are often lower),” the authors write in the paper.

“These results can best be explained by the action of endorphins released by laughter.” The researchers believe that the long series of exhalations that accompany true laughter cause physical exhaustion of the abdominal muscles and, in turn, trigger endorphin release. (Endorphin release is usually caused by physical activity, like exercise, or touch, like massage.) (Full article at Scientific American)

The study was published Sept. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.


Using Humor to Survive in Concentration and POW Camps

“I would never have made it if I could not have laughed. Laughing lifted me momentarily . . . out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable . . . survivable.” (Victor Frankl)
“Humor, more than anything else in the human makeup, affords an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.” (Victor Frankl)
Bill Cosby once said, “If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it.” Can we really survive anything emotionally if we can keep our sense of humor about it?

The ultimate test of this would seem to have been the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Surely, there was no room for humor in the camps. And yet, psychiatrist Victor Frankl, a prisoner in the camps himself, noted in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, that humor was one of the things that helped people survive in the camps. Finding things to laugh at helped maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in life—even as prisoners saw others dying all around them.

Many survived with the thought that they would one day see a loved one again. Others used their imaginations to create humor. Frankl states that he and another prisoner tried to invent at least one funny story or joke every day. For example, in one joke they created, a prisoner points toward a Capo (a prisoner who also acted as a guard) and says, “Imagine! I knew him when he was only the president of a bank!”

In another frequently told story, a prisoner accidentally bumps into a Nazi guard. The guard turns and shouts, “Schwein!” (which means “pig” in German). The prisoner bows and says, “Cohen. Pleased to meet you.” The joke clearly demonstrates how humor helps reverse who’s in control and who seems to be the superior being. Even in the terrible conditions of the camp, such jokes provided a means of momentarily overcoming extreme adversity.

More recent detainment camp experiences have confirmed Frankl’s observations. Numerous hostages were held for long periods of time by terrorist groups in the 1980s. Terry Anderson, held captive in Lebanon for 2,455 days, describes in his book, Den of Lions, how a sense of humor helped him and his fellow prisoners cope.

“Despite everything, it’s amazing sometimes how much laughing we do. Irish hostage Brian Keenan’s terrible shaggy-dog stories, John McCarthy’s imitations, Tom’s [Sutherland] awful puns and drinking songs, Frank’s [Reed] tales of Boston. Even the idiotic and frustrating things the guards do set us off in giggles. There’s often a bitter touch to it. But not always. Just as often, it’s just a relief to be able to laugh at something.”

Alan Sharansky overcame his fear of a (threatened) firing squad in the former Soviet Union by joking about it. But he was not successful at it at first. The relief was initially very short-lived, if it occurred at all. But he gradually came to see the power that joking gave him. Real mastery over his fears took 15-20 tries. From that point on, he gained control over his fears and stopped being at their mercy.

Finding humor in the face of death was called “gallows humor” by Freud. His classic example was of a man who was about to be shot by a firing squad, and was asked if he wanted a last cigarette. ”No thanks,” he said, “I’m trying to quit.” Again, the joke helped the doomed man turn the tables and take emotional control in the situation.” (Full article here)

While Laughter Yoga does not use humor to directly illicit laughter, participants often say that after participating in the practice, they find themselves laughing more readily and easily throughout their day. They also report feeling an increased ability to laugh and cope with challenging events as they arise in their lives, and to approach them with a more light-hearted attitude. Practice makes perfect, as they say.


Laughter Therapy Effective for Improving Depression and Sleep

(Source: Geriatrics Gerontology International)

“Depression has been classified as a mood disorder or “affective” disorder. Mood is defined as a powerful, sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly affects a person’s perception of the world and ability to adequately function in society. Mood disorders are among the most common health problems doctors see every day. Mood disorders are divided into two major categories: depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. Depression affects approximately 5 percent of the population at any given time, and about 30 percent of adults will suffer from depression over a lifetime. Women are two to three times more likely to experience depression than men.

Sleep is one of the most mysterious of all human activities. Exactly what happens during sleep is still not completely understood. One of mankind’s oldest complaints, insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. While everyone occasionally experiences a sleepless night now and then without harm, long-term insomnia can be debilitating. Insomnia is not a disease unto itself but a condition associated with a number of different physical and emotional disorders. The incidence of insomnia is higher among people with chronic illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, kidney trouble, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Pregnancy, alcohol intake, stress, and depression are also leading causes of insomnia.

Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort. Medical professionals have recognized that those patients who maintained a positive mental attitude and shared laughter responded better to treatment. Physiological responses to laughter include increased respiration, circulation, hormonal and digestive enzyme secretion, and a leveling of the blood pressure.

A recent study investigated the effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep in elderly adults living in a community dwelling. The study included 109 subjects aged 65 years and older. The participants were divided into two groups with 48 subjects in the laughter therapy group and 61 subjects in the control group. The groups were compared using depression evaluations, mental health examinations and sleep quality tests. At the start of the study, there were no significant differences between the two groups on any of the evaluations. When the study ended, it was found that levels of depression and insomnia had significantly decreased in the laughter therapy group. It was also found that overall sleep quality and mental cognition had improved in the laughter therapy group. These findings suggest that laughter therapy is a useful and cost-effective treatment option to improve depression, cognition and sleep quality in elderly adults.” (Full article at NHI)

11 Ko HJ, Youn CH. Effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep among the community-dwelling elderly. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2011.


Laughter Yoga versus Group Exercise Program: Controlled Depression Study

BACKGROUND: Laughter Yoga founded by M. Kataria is a combination of unconditioned laughter and yogic breathing. Its effect on mental and physical aspects of healthy individuals was shown to be beneficial.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of Kataria’s Laughter Yoga and group exercise therapy in decreasing depression and increasing life satisfaction in older adult women of a cultural community of Tehran, Iran.

METHODS: Seventy depressed old women who were members of a cultural community of Tehran were chosen by Geriatric depression scale (score>10). After completion of Life Satisfaction Scale pre-test and demographic questionnaire, subjects were randomized into three groups of laughter therapy, exercise therapy, and control. Subsequently, depression post-test and life satisfaction post-test were done for all three groups. The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance and Bonferroni’s correction.

RESULTS: Sixty subjects completed the study. The analysis revealed a significant difference in decrease in depression scores of both Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy group in comparison to control group (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). There was no significant difference between Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy groups. The increase in life satisfaction of Laughter Yoga group showed a significant difference in comparison with control group (p<0.001). No significant difference was found between exercise therapy and either control or Laughter Yoga group.

CONCLUSION: Our findings showed that Laughter Yoga is at least as effective as group exercise program in improvement of depression and life satisfaction of elderly depressed women.” (Full article at PubMed.gov)


Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke.” says the Mayo Clinic

“When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why.

Whether you’re guiltily guffawing at an episode of “South Park” or quietly giggling at the latest New Yorker cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects. Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.” (Full article at the Mayo Clinic)

Neuroendocrine and Stress Hormone Changes During Mirthful Laughter

“Positive emotional activities have been suggested as modifiers of neuroendocrine hormones involved in the classical stress response. To detect changes in these components during a mirthful laughter experience, the authors studied 10 healthy male subjects. Five experimental subjects viewed a 60 minute humor video and five control subjects did not. Serial blood samples were measured for corticotropin (ACTH), cortisol, beta-endorphin, 3,4-dihydrophenylacetic acid (dopac)–the major serum neuronal catabolite of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, growth hormone, and prolactin.

Repeated measures analysis of variance showed that cortisol and dopac in the experimental group decreased more rapidly from baseline than the control group (p = 0.011, p = 0.025, respectively). Epinephrine levels in the experimental group were significantly lower than the control at all time points (p = 0.017). Growth hormone levels in the experimental group significantly increased during baseline (p = 0.027) and then decreased with laughter intervention (p less than 0.0005), whereas, the controls did not change over time (p = 0.787). ACTH, beta-endorphin, prolactin, and norepinephrine levels did not significantly increase. The mirthful laughter experience appears to reduce serum levels of cortisol, dopac, epinephrine, and growth hormone. These biochemical changes have implications for the reversal of the neuroendocrine and classical stress hormone response.” (Full article at the U.S. National Library of Medicine)


Manage Stress with Laughter

Is there a science behind laughter therapy? Yes, there certainly is. In fact, laughter techniques have been used for thousands of years in Eastern countries, in particular India.

What is Psycho-neuroimmunology?

“Psycho” refers to how our minds process information, “neuro” refers to how the nervous system reacts to this though process, and “immunology” refers to how our immune system responds to the marriage of thought and emotion or feelings.

Very simply put, when you have a thought coupled with an emotion or feeling, your body automatically produces chemicals and hormones. You will either produce immune-enhancing and stress-relieving hormones, or you will produce ones that increase your heart rate, tighten muscles, restrict blood flow and break your immune system down.

Stress Hormones

Researchers are now saying laughter can bring balance to all the components of the immune system. Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. It provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system, increase the number of blood platelets (which can cause obstructions in arteries) and raise blood pressure.

When we’re laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase, as do Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies. The adrenal glands produce two primary hormones, DHEA and cortisol. Both are considered the major shock absorber hormones in the body. They buffer us to stress and the negative impact it can have on both mental and physical function.

Long-term stress can have a serious impact on the adrenal glands and cause them to shrink and reduce production. This causes cellular damage, which sets off a chain reaction affecting all parts of the body, as well as accelerating the aging process.

Laughter also increases the concentration of a natural antibody, IGA, in the salivary glands (immunoglobulin A), that defends against infectious organisms entering through the respiratory tract.

Aerobic Benefits

What may surprise you even more is the fact that researchers estimate that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Laughing can be a total body workout!

During laughter, blood pressure is lowered, and there is an increase in vascular blood flow and in oxygenation of the blood, which further assists healing. Laughter also gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. That’s why you often feel exhausted after a long bout of laughter–you have just had an aerobic workout!” (Full article at LiveStrong, Official Partner of the Lance Armstrong Foundation)


Laughter and Cancer

For people living with cancer, it may seem strange to find humor when facing such serious issues. Yet, laughter can be helpful in ways you might not have realized or imagined.

Laughter can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter can be a natural diversion. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind. Laughing can also induce physical changes in the body. After laughing for only a few minutes, you may feel better for hours.

When used in addition to conventional cancer treatments, laughter therapy may help in the overall healing process.

According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to:

  • Boost the immune system and circulatory system
  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles throughout the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
  • Ease digestion/soothes stomach aches
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

Laughter therapy may also help to:

  • Improve overall attitude
  • Reduce stress/tension
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve sleep
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Strengthen social bonds and relationships
  • Produce a general sense of well-being”

(Full article at Cancer Treatment Centers of America)


American Cancer Society and Laughter

Overview

“Although available scientific evidence does not support claims that laughter can cure cancer or any other disease, it can reduce stress and enhance a person’s quality of life. Humor has physical effects because it can stimulate the circulatory system, immune system, and other systems in the body.” (Full article at the American Cancer Society)


Laughter is Best Medicine for Your Heart

“Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The study, which is the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease, found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

“The old saying that ‘laughter is the best medicine,’ definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart,” says Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We don’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack.” (Full article at University of Maryland Medical Center)


The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on Stress and Natural Killer Cell (NKT) Activity

CONTEXT:  A recent survey of rural Midwestern cancer patients revealed that humor was one of the most frequently used complementary therapies. Psychoneuroimmunology research suggests that, in addition to its established psychological benefits, humor may have physiological effects on immune functioning.

OBJECTIVE:  To determine the effect of laughter on self-reported stress and natural killer cell activity.DESIGN:Randomized, pre-post test with comparison group.

SETTING:  Indiana State University Sycamore Nursing Center, which is a nurse-managed community health clinic in a mid-sized, Midwestern city.

PARTICIPANTS:  33 healthy adult women.

INTERVENTION:  Experimental subjects viewed a humorous video while subjects in the distraction control group viewed a tourism video.

RESULTS:  Stress decreased for subjects in the humor group, compared with those in the distraction group (U32 = 215.5; P = .004). Amount of mirthful laughter correlated with postintervention stress measures for persons in the humor group (r16 = -.655; P = .004). Subjects who scored greater than 25 on the humor response scale had increased immune function postintervention (t16 = 2.52 P = .037) and compared with the remaining participants (t32 = 32.1; P = .04). Humor response scale scores correlated with changes in NK cell activity (r16 = .744; P = 001).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:  Self-reported stress and arousal (Stress Arousal Check List), mirthful laughter (Humor Response Scale), and immune function (chromium release natural killer [NK] cell cytotoxicity assay).

CONCLUSION:  Laughter may reduce stress and improve NK cell activity. As low NK cell activity is linked to decreased disease resistance and increased morbidity in persons with cancer and HIV disease, laughter may be a useful cognitive-behavioral intervention.” (Article via U.S. National Library of Medicine)


Laughter and High-Risk Diabetic Patients

The Study

“A group of 20 high-risk diabetic patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia were divided into two groups: Group C (control) and Group L (laughter). Both groups were started on standard medications for diabetes (glipizide, TZD, metformin), hypertension (ACE inhibitor or ARB)) and hyperlipidemia (statins). The researchers followed both groups for 12 months, testing their blood for the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine; HDL cholesterol; inflammatory cytokines TNF-α IFN-γ and IL-6, which contribute to the acceleration of atherosclerosis and C-reactive proteins (hs-CRP), a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Group L viewed self-selected humor for 30 minutes in addition to the standard therapies described above.

Results

The patients in the laughter group (Group L) had lower epinephrine and norepinephrine levels by the second month, suggesting lower stress levels. They had increased HDL (good) cholesterol. The laughter group also had lower levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6 and hs-CRP levels, indicating lower levels of inflammation. At the end of one year, the research team saw significant improvement in Group L: HDL cholesterol had risen by 26 percent in Group L (laughter), and only 3 percent in the Group C (control). Harmful C-reactive proteins decreased 66 % in the laughter group vs. 26 percent for the control group.

Conclusion

The study suggests that the addition of an adjunct therapeutic mirthful laughter Rx (a potential modulator of positive mood state) to standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase “good” cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that mirthful laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome. Further studies need to be done to expand and elucidate these findings.In describing himself as a “hardcore medical clinician and scientist,” Dr. Berk says, “the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope. Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment.” (Full article at Science Daily)


Fight Diabetes with Sweet Laughter

“A Japanese study finds a chuckle after a meal may help lower your blood sugar. 

A chuckle may help the body process blood sugar, according to research from Japan. A study of type 2 diabetes—the most common form of the disease—found that laughter was linked to lower blood sugar levels after a meal. Over two days, participants were given identical meals. On one day, they watched a humorless lecture, and on the next they watched a Japanese comedy show. The group of 19 people with diabetes and five without had their blood sugar monitored during the study.Afterward both diabetics and non-diabetics alike had lower glucose levels after laughing through the comedy show than they did when they listened to the monotonous 40-minute lecture. The study was published in Diabetes Care.

Keiko Hayashi, of the University of Tsukuba, Japan, who led the study says that he cannot yet explain the laughter-glucose connection. It could be that laughter affects the neuroendocrine system, which monitors the body’s glucose levels. Or it may be an effect of energy used by the stomach muscles.

Increased blood sugar can cause major complications for diabetics. If glucose is not kept in check, diabetics are more at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, and blindness. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin to control the body’s glucose levels.” (Full article at Psychology Today)


Laughter Lowered the Increase in Postprandial Blood Glucose

Keiko Hayashi, RN, PHD1, Takashi Hayashi, BAG2, Shizuko Iwanaga, RN3, Koichi Kawai, MD, PHD3, Hitoshi Ishii, MD, PHD4, Shin’ichi Shoji, MD, PHD5 and Kazuo Murakami, PHD2

“Negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and sorrow are known to be factors that elevate the blood glucose level (1). Conversely, positive emotions such as laughter have been reported to modify the levels of neuroendocrine factors involved in negative emotions (2,3) and to modulate immune function (3,4). However, there have been no studies on the effects of laughter on blood glucose level. The purpose of this study was to clarify changes in the blood glucose level after laughing episodes in patients with diabetes.

A 2-day experiment was performed in 19 patients with type 2 diabetes not receiving insulin therapy (16 men and 3 women, age 63.4 ± 1.3 years, BMI 23.5 ± 0.7 kg/m2, HbA1c, 7.2 ± 0.1% [means ± SE]) and 5 healthy subjects (2 men and 3 women, age 53.6 ± 3.5 years, BMI 24.3 ± 1.6 kg/m2, HbA1c 4.8 ± 0.1% [means ± SE]). On both experimental days, they consumed the same 500-kcal meal (79.9 g carbohydrate, 21.0 g protein, 7.8 g fat, and 1.0 g fiber). On the first day, they attended a monotonous lecture (40 min) without humorous content. On the second day, as part of an audience of 1,000 people attending MANZAI (a Japanese cross-talk comedy) (40 min) in a civic hall, the subjects laughed. Blood glucose was measured from the fingertip by enzyme colorimetric assay using a blood glucose self-measurement apparatus. The subjects estimated their laughter level on a scale of 0–5, and most of them considered that they laughed well (level 4 or 5). Self-monitoring of blood glucose was performed before food intake (fasting blood glucose [FBG]) and 2 h after the meal was started (2-h postprandial blood glucose [PPBG]).

The results are presented as means ± SE. In the patients, the mean 2-h PPBG was 6.8 ± 0.7 mmol/l higher than the FBG after the lecture and 4.3 ± 0.8 mmol/l higher after the comedy show. The difference in the mean increase between the lecture and comedy show was 2.5 ± 0.7 mmol/l (P < 0.005). In the healthy subjects, the mean increases were 2.0 ± 0.7 and 1.2 ± 0.4 mmol/l after the lecture and comedy show, respectively, and the difference was 0.8 ± 0.5 mmol/l (P = 0.138).

These results suggest a significant suppression of the increase in 2-h PPBG by comedy show in patients with diabetes, suggesting that laughter ameliorates the postprandial glucose excursion in the presence of insufficient insulin action. This favorable effect of laughter may include the acceleration of glucose utilization by the muscle motion during the comedy show. However, it is possible that positive emotions such as laughter acted on the neuroendocrine system and suppressed the elevation of blood glucose level.

In conclusion, the present study elucidates the inhibitory effect of laughter on the increase in PPBG and suggests the importance of daily opportunities for laughter in patients with diabetes.” (Full article via American Diabetes Association)


Laughter Yoga Checks Diabetes

“It has been scientifically proven that Laughter Yoga keeps the blood sugar levels regulated and prevents the progression of diabetes. It lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles, improves blood circulation, increases oxygen level in the body, elevates mood, brings hope, enhances communication and most notably it boosts the immune system, the master key to good health.” (Full article via Laughter Yoga International)


Approaches to Creativity and Discovery

“Should we take creativity seriously at a time of global financial and environmental crises? Not if we want to find solutions, argues Professor Julian Evans (UCL Chemistry).

In an article based on the Presidential Lecture to the Chemical and Physical Society first published in Sophia, he proposes that there is an intimate connection between laughter and creativity. Is he serious?” (Full article via UCL)


Making Work Fun

By Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

A funny thing is happening in American companies these days. From very small companies to Fortune 500 corporations, businesses are learning to put fun to work. The word is out that employees who enjoy their jobs work more effectively and are more productive, and companies are reexamining a long-held assumption that has formed the core of the American work ethic. That assumption is that work and play don’t mix.” (Full article here)


Laughing in the Midst of Stress

“Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me day and night, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.” (Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War)

“If it weren’t for the brief respite we give the world with our foolishness, the world would see mass suicide in numbers that compare favorably with the death rate of lemmings.” (Groucho Marx)

In the book, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson in the film) says, “When you lose your sense of humor, you lose your footing.” Another character says about McMurphy, “He knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you, just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.” This is great wisdom from someone who lives in a psychiatric institution.

Your sense of humor is one of the most potent tools you have to cope with those days when life seems determined to deal you enough stress to make you crazy. The above quote from President Lincoln occurred when Lincoln read something to his advisors that he found very funny, but they didn’t laugh, presumably because of the seriousness of the situation they were dealing with. Lincoln was convinced that it was precisely because the situation was so serious that he needed to laugh.

The same situation occurs with many cancer patients who simply cannot find the resources within them to laugh—because of the seriousness of the situation they or their loved one are dealing with.  In a recent keynote for a Cancer Survivors Day Celebration, I came across a woman with breast cancer who accidentally discovered the emotional trap her cancer had led her into.  She had had a double mastectomy, and had two prosthetic breasts.  One day, three weeks after her surgery, she went to her front porch to pick up her morning newspaper.  As she bent over to pick it up, one of her breasts popped out.  And the family dog, thinking this was a new toy, grabbed it and was running around the yard with it in his mouth.  She ran after the dog, shouting, “You come back here with my breast.  You give me my breast!”

When she realized what she was saying, she stopped and looked around to see if anyone else was up that early and heard her.  To her great relief, no one else was up.  But when she realized what she had been shouting, and thought about what the neighbors would have thought had they heard her, she started laughing and couldn’t stop.  She was laughing so hard that tears were coming out of her eyes.

When she finally stopped laughing, she realized that laughter was what had been missing from her life.  She could not remember laughing since her diagnosis of cancer.  And she was determined to never let another day go by without having some laughter in her life.  She realized that she needed to laugh, even when she didn’t feel like laughing.  The laughter itself boosted her spirits and made it easier to face the tough days.” (Full article here)

While Laughter Yoga does not use humor to directly illicit laughter, participants often say that after participating in the practice, they find themselves laughing more readily and easily throughout their day. They also report feeling an increased ability to laugh and cope with challenging events as they arise in their lives, and to approach them with a more light-hearted attitude. Practice makes perfect, as they say.


Job Stress Strains a Woman’s Heart, but No One Knows Why 

Cambridge, MA – A new study has found that women under a lot of stress at work were almost 40% more likely to have a cardiovascular event over a 10-year period than their counterparts who reported low job strain [1]. Dr Natalie Slopen (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA) and colleagues publish their findings online July 18, 2012 in PLoS One.

The higher likelihood of a CVD event applied to both women with high job strain—defined as a highly demanding job but with low control—and those with active job strain—defined as high demand but with high autonomy. This finding is surprising, senior author Dr Michelle A Albert (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA) told heartwire, since most prior research—much of which has been conducted in men—has not found an increased CVD risk in those with “active” jobs.

There’s a large proportion of the relationship between high job strain and CVD risk that we don’t quite understand. “Both the high-strain and the active-strain women have an almost 40% elevated risk of total CV events. I would expect the high strain [to be associated with increased risk] based on studies involving men, but the active-strain group is not a group where a lot of studies involving men have indicated there is a relationship with cardiovascular events.”

Another major surprise was the finding that >70% of the relationship between job strain and cardiovascular events “cannot be explained by traditional risk factors for CVD or anxiety/depression,” said Albert. “There’s a large proportion of the relationship between high job strain and CVD risk that we don’t quite understand,” she noted.

“But we can’t get rid of job stress, and we can’t get rid of our jobs, so we have to find ways to cope.” We know that coping plays a very important role in minimizing health effects of stress in the mental-health literature. But we don’t know as much about it in the CV health literature, because there aren’t terrific data, certainly for women.

She recommends that to help cope with stress, people should ensure they get plenty of exercise, carve out time for relaxation activities, “and not allow jobs to interfere with private time. Because we live in the electronic age, we spend a lot of time on our electronic devices ‘off the clock,’ and we should try to avoid this.” And a social support network is very important too, she adds.

Employers also need to take some responsibility for ensuring their employees are not overburdened, she believes: “They need to realize the productivity of their employees seriously drops if people are stressed out.” And doctors, too, should remember to ask their patients about job strain, she emphasizes.”

(Full article via HeartWire)


Fertility: Laughter Helped Raise Conception Rate from 20 Percent to 35 Percent

“After introducing clown therapy to patients having in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), doctors at Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zerifin said their conception rate rose from 20 per cent to 35 per cent.”

“To our surprise we found a significant difference between the women who were exposed to clowning,” said Dr Shevach Friedler, a trained mime artist and fertility doctor at the centre.”

“Some 33 of the 93 women entertained for 10 to 15 minutes by the professional clown conceived, compared with 18 patients among the same group who did not receive a performance, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Prague heard.

US scientists found that a build-up of stress can play a major role in preventing a woman from ovulating.” (Full article link)


The Effect of Medical Clowning on Pregnancy Rates After In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer

Shevach Friedler, M.D., Saralee Glasser, M.A., Liat Azani, M.Sc, Laurence S. Freedman, Ph.D., Arie Raziel, M.D., Dvora Strassburger, Ph.D., Raphael Ron-El, M.D., Liat Lerner-Geva, M.D., Ph.D.

“This experimental prospective quasi-randomized study examining the impact of a medical clowning encounter after embryo transfer (ET) after in vitro fertilization (IVF) found that the pregnancy rate in the intervention group was 36.4%, compared with 20.2% in the control group (adjusted odds ratio, 2.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.36–5.24). Medical clowning as an adjunct to IVF-ET may have a beneficial effect on pregnancy rates and deserves further investigation.” (Full article link)


Laughter And Fertility: Laugh Yourself Pregnant

“Laughter is all the rage today. In 1979 Norman Cousins wrote a book, Anatomy of an Illness, claiming to have cured himself of cancer by laughing himself well. People were skeptical, but now thirty years later there is a big laughter therapy movement worldwide. There are laughter yoga classes, laughter clubs, clown therapy and even hospital clowns, often medically trained like doctor and clown Dr. Patch Adams. Medical clowns usually work with very sick children to help them cope with the procedures they have to endure.

And now Israeli researchers have shown that medical clowns’ humor can help women having fertility treatment get pregnant. The researchers developed a program to help patients in an infertility clinic destress and relax. They arranged for clowns dressed as chefs to visit the women and do a routine. They found that women’s chances of getting pregnant from an embryo transfer almost doubled after if, immediately afterwards, they had a visit from a clown! The clown’s visit was only a short one of about 15 minutes, and yet it had this amazing effect of increasing the conception rate of the women in the study from 20% to 35%! And this wasn’t even the purpose of the study – it was just a side-effect!

See how you can benefit from laughter too. In between treatment sessions why not try a laughter yoga class or watch your favorite funny movies. It can’t hurt and it will certainly help you relax. And while you are actually lying there having your fertility treatment you can listen to your favorite comedians on your iPod. You can just tell your doctors you are laughing yourself pregnant!” (Full article link)


Want to add More Laughter to Your Life?

In addition to the scientific and health benefits, participants often say that after practicing Laughter Yoga, they find themselves laughing more readily and easily throughout their day. They also report feeling an increased ability to laugh and cope with challenging events as they arise in their lives, and to approach them with a more light-hearted attitude. Evolution has given us the wonderful gift of laughter, and with Laughter Yoga we’re able to cash in on it’s benefits whenever we feel we could use it most.

To schedule a Laughter Yoga workshop for your corporate office, hospital, school, nursing home, wellness retreat or other setting, you may contact me using this handy form or directly at 617.529.0090 or info (at) livetolaugh (dot) org.


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