The Healing Power of Laughter
By Jerry Brownstein
We all know that laughter feels good, and now science is proving that it is incredibly beneficial for our health. Researchers at Loma Linda University in California have found that laughing significantly reduces the effects of the stress hormone cortisol. At the same time, it stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins - the “happy hormones” that strengthen our immune system and make us feel good.
In 1979 Norman Cousins wrote “Anatomy of an Illness” which described his miraculous recovery from a fatal disease by constantly watching funny movies while taking large doses of vitamin C. That was the spark which led conventional science to explore this phenomenon. Now they are proving that laughter has the potential to be a very enjoyable and effective form of therapy in the treatment of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and more.
Head researcher Dr Lee Berk puts it this way: “It’s simple - the less stress one has the healthier they are. Humor reduces the destructive action of hormones associated with stress such as cortisol, and this makes the immune system work better.” Berk went on to say that “Laughter also creates brainwave frequencies that are similar to those observed in a meditative state.”
It is well known that meditation reduces stress, so the fact that laughter promotes the same type of brain waves is more proof of its value. The results of the study also showed that the changes in the brain caused by laughter helped people to have better memory. This opens the door for further research into the use of laughter in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases.