There’s been something funny going on at Loma Linda University and there are two doctors right in the middle of it. We’re talking about Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan, and they’ve been studying the effects of laughter on the human immune system. To date, their published studies have shown that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle range of motion, and boosts immune system function. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being. This exciting research was featured in the September / October 1996 issue of the Humor and Health Journal.
We all know that a good laugh leaves us feeling great. That wonderful, euphoric, post-laugher feeling is a type of “positive stress” that produces healthy and positive emotions. After a good laugh, your immune system also seems to “turn it up a notch”.
Your body steps up production of natural killer cells that attack viral infected cells and some types of cancer and tumor cells.
Your body activates more cancer fighting T cells.
Your body increases the antibodies that fight upper respiratory tract insults and infections.
Your body produces more gamma interferon, an antiviral protein that “turns on” the various parts of your immune system.
Laughing is good exercise. It provides a workout for your diaphragm and increases your body's ability to use oxygen while it brings in positive emotions that can actually reduce pain. In a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, patients were told “one-liners” after surgery and before painful medication was administered. Those exposed to humor perceived less pain when compared to the others. Imagine that… a medicine that’s free and that has no bad side effects. The pharmaceutical companies haven’t quite figured out, as yet, how to get those two qualities into a single pill, but in the meantime a good laugh will get you by.
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