Laughter Therapy – An Effective Treatment

Almost all of us have heard that “Laughter is best Medicine! ” How true is this statement? A study conducted shows that 20-25 minutes of laughter every day is healthy for the body. This can make you feel fresh, energetic and young for the whole day. What makes us laugh? When we laugh, the zygomatic major muscle is stimulated and 15 facial muscles contracted. In the meantime, the epiglottis partly closes the larynx and air intake becomes irregular. A noise usually accompanies this struggle to get enough oxygen to enter the system. This condition is what we call a burst of laughter.

What is laughter therapy? Laughter therapy is a form of therapy that encourages people to use the natural, physiological process of laugher to release painful emotions like anger, fear, helplessness, depression and stress. How laughter caused the body healthy? Laughter provides a full-scale workout for your muscles and unleashes a rush of stress-busting endorphins. In this modern era, we tends to have a busy lifestyle and dealing with lots of stresses in works and life. Hence laughter is perhaps the only medicine that comes for free but does miracles for us since it helps us to be healthy in many ways.

It helps us relieve stress, strengthen and improving our immune system, and helps blood vessel functions better. There are many other benefits of laughter therapy other than stated above such makes it easier to cope with life and its challenges, enhancing the social skills and improve communication, build in self-confident or self-esteem, and lastly makes you looks young and healthier. Most diseases are related to stress and tension depressions. An estimated 80 percent of all doctors’ visits and medication prescribed today are for stress related illnesses.

A person who having a stress and tension depression might having various problems in their body such as high blood pressure, heart troubles, diabetic and digestion problems. Laughter is a powerful stress buster due to the releasing of opposite emotions that you would have when you are under stress. This then will melt the negative factors, relaxes the nerves and tired muscles. In addition, it makes the brain become more active than usual. Laughing relates to the curing of high blood pressure, heart troubles, diabetic and digestion problems because muscular tension is released when you laugh.

This results in better digestion and enhances the heart rate and blood flow. The increasing of blood supply to various body parts cause the blood vessels carrying blood in our body expands. Laughter also helps in keeping the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine low because when we laugh, our mind stops the thought process, we do not think of anything. Laughter released endorphins into the blood streams. What are endorphins and its function? Endorphins are like life-savers for your body. It is well-known with its’ highly efficient to reduce pain and it is more efficient than morphine.

It is also naturally occurring feel-good chemicals. However, endorphin just acts as a temporary pain-killer. It also helps eliminate those negative feelings and stressful emotions by making you ‘feel happy’ without any drug or alcohol factor included. This “feel good hormones” are released and it is a “self-manufactured natural opiate that has been scientifically shown to carry messages of attachment and bonding (the scientific terms for love), and to stimulate feelings of caring and forgiveness in addition to acting as a natural painkiller.

Endorphins create a positive state of mind and boost optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. ”(American School of Laughter Yoga, 2012). In the late 1970s, a research on laughter therapy was conducted by Dr Lee Berk from Loma University Medical Centre, California. “In 1989, Berk studied the effects of laughter in 10 healthy males. Five experimental subjects watched an hour-long comedy while five control subjects did not. Blood samples taken from the 10 subjects revealed that cortisol (the hormone our body releases when under stress) in the experimental subjects had decreased more rapidly in comparison to the control group.

Berk’s research has also shown that the level of natural killer cells (a type of immune cell that attacks virus and tumour cells) is increased through laughter. These same cells are suppressed if the body suffers consistent long-term stress”. (The observer, 2006) Another research conducted by the researchers at the University of Michigan proves that, “20 seconds of laughter could be as good for the lungs as three minutes spent on a rowing machine”. (The observer, 2006) On top of that, laughing often is known to strengthen and improving the immune response. However, laughter does not come easily to everyone.

The question is now; does faking laughter have the same beneficial effect as real laughter? A group of scientists successfully proving that even faking laughter can also bring a visible change. This is because our body cannot actually differentiate between real and fake laughter. (The observer, 2006) Hence, as a results the more you laugh the more you become resistant to infection and illness due to the increasing of the concentration of circulating antibodies in the blood stream and increasing the concentration of circulating white blood cells in the immune reaction to fight foreign proteins. Jackie Chew,2001).

How does the laughter may results in boost in immune function? “The body experiences a boost in immune function by the elevated levels of activated T cells (T lymphocytes), and an increase in the antibody, IgA (immunoglobulin A), which fights upper respiratory tract insults and infections. Disease-fighting proteins increase in gamma interferon, a blood chemical that transmits messages in the nervous system and stimulates the immune system. An increase in IgB (immunoglobulin B) brings defense against the entry of infectious organisms through the respiratory tract. (Jackie Chew,2001). I strongly clarifies that the foundation of laughter therapy relates to positive thinking. This is to support healing process throughout the treatment. It is proved scientifically that if a person entertains negative thinking in their life especially while they are ill; For example, if they fall prey to depression and anger about their illness, then it results in weakening of their immune system and then it takes more time and high doses of medications to cure that person.

However, if the person entertains positive thinking, it indirectly helps a person improve his or her immune system and become healthy again as soon as possible. Laughter therapy is highly encouraged for someone that has deadly diseases such as cancer, AIDS, some mental disorders to fight the disease, the treatment of which requires a patient to have a strong immune system. Can laughter cure the illness? Laughter alone is not a cure. However, it promotes mental and physical health and alleviates several conditions. As I stated above, positive thinking must come together with laughter to enhance the process of curing the illness.

There is few examples show that laughter helps in many ways such as; people with eczema note improved complexions after consistently watching comedies movie which cause hard laughter while as for allergy patients report lesser symptoms of itchiness and swollen when they laugh regularly. (Discovery Health,2011). In 1964, “Anatomy of an illness” was published by Norman Cousins. This book is regarding the story of Norman Cousins’ ankylosing spondylitis( a painful disease causing the disintegration of spinal connective tissue) was completely reversed by humour treatment.

With a one in five thousand chance of recovery, Cousin decided to infuse himself with self-designed could produce two hours of pain free sleep. This is proven through the blood samples testing that shows his inflammation level was lowered after the treatment. (Annonymous,2004) Do you believe that laughter is not only an effective stress-reliever, and strengthen and improving the immune system but can improve the cardiovascular function? Laughter may help protects you against a heart diseases such as heart attacks.

According to the study at the University of Maryland Medical Center, it indicates that laughter may help prevents heart disease. It is found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a varieties of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease. In addition, another research was conducted by researchers from University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore on the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health after watching laughter-provoking movies such as “King Pin” (MGM, 1996) and a movie that would cause mental stress such as “Saving Private Ryan” (DreamWorks, 1998).

The results obtained from the research shows that “the blood vessel lining developed a potentially unhealthy response called vasoconstriction which reducing blood flow when watching a movie that produced mental stress”. (Annonymous,2005). In other words, it proves the previous research that there was a link between mental stress and the blood vessels narrowing. As for the group of people that watching a laughter-provoking movie, the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels called endothelium dilates or expand in order to increase blood flow.

As the blood flow increase, the oxygenated blood is also increases. What is endothelium? “The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. It also plays an important role in development of cardiovascular disease. ” (Annonymous,2005). “Not only did comedies improve vascular dilation, but watching a mental stress movie was actually harmful to the blood vessels,” said Takashi Tarumi, lead researcher on the study. “This movie constricted blood vessels by about 18 percent. To conclude the results obtained from this research, an average lood flow increased 22 percent during laughter, and decreased 35 percent during mental stress. According to the principal investigator Michael Miller,M. D. , director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, “laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease”. (Annonymous,2005). On top of that, laughing can be easily proving can improve the cardiovascular function through a scenario of laughing hard.

It is noticeable that you will go all red in the face. It shows how laughing works in improving heart health and keeping good blood circulatory. Lastly, laughter offsets the impacts of mental stress which is harmful to the endothelium due to low stress level. Besides all the benefits of laughter on our physical health such as relieve stress, strengthen and improving our immune system, and helps blood vessel functions better, laughter also bring benefits on our social life. Then, indirectly improve our mental health through the improvement of mood and enhances resilience.

As quoted from Paul E. McGhee, Ph. D. , “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health. ” It shows that we ourselves are the one that is responsible for our own life. Laughter makes it easier for us to cope with life and its challenges because it gives us a better perspective. For example, we tend to think more efficient by thinking out of the box in order to solve any sort of problems. “It shrinks the hurts of everyday life to a smaller.

Other than that, it allows us to stand above an issue, acknowledge it, and treat it lightly in the awareness that we are touched by the issue but not contained by it. ” (American School of Laughter Yoga, 2012). As we all know, people who laugh do not worry as much as people who do not laugh, and as such enjoy life more. This is because laughter makes their circumstances or problems seem less serious and therefore tolerable. A playful approach to everyday matters is a key factor in keeping healthy. Why is it so? Daily tasks are less burdensome when we laugh while doing them.

Do you ever notice that people that doing their works with no laughter and full of stress might end up with less productive results compare to those who doing it with laughter and stress less? This is because laughter also can boost and improve our quality of life. On top of that, it makes our life worth living when you are stress less and at the same time enjoying the company of other people more. As a results, you are able to keep continue to learn the social skills and improve communication skills with people surrounds us in order to keep a good relationship with everyone.

Fun communication strengthens the relationships by triggering positive feelings and establishes emotional connection. Laughter causes the release of oxytocin. What is oxytocin? It often called the empathy hormone and it helps bond individuals and groups together. A positive bond is created when we laugh with one another. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, frustration and disappointment in life. Fun communication also adds more joys and happiness in other’s life. With laughter, it allows people to be more open with each other since it breaks down the instinctive barriers between people.

Hence, it also allows them to trust each other. Lastly, laughing for no reason makes certain individual to be more likeable because of minimizes our need to gain self-confidence by analyzing and judging other people. Overall, a good relationship with everyone defuses conflicts between colleagues, friends or family members which may leads to serious depression and stresses. Lastly, laughter therapy enables us to look young and healthier is also benefits of laughter therapy due to as many as 15 facial muscles work together to help you smile and laugh.

How it helps to make you look younger? The blood flow around the face is increases, then bringing the circulation into even the smallest of capillaries. It is proven that women that more likely to laugh in various situation have an even skin tone and less wrinkles compared to those same age but having a stressful lifestyle. As quoted by Yadov, “laughing is language of God. So, live happily ever laughter”. In conclusion, laughter therapy brings to many benefits to us in many ways as discussed.

In the long term, laughter therapy teaches us that we do not just have to laugh when we are happy. As quoted by Anon, “Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit. ” It supports the statement of psychologist William James, “We don’t laugh because we’re happy. We’re happy because we laugh. ” So, laughing in the face of anger, stress or anxiety. If possible, try to laugh at least two or three times every day, even without a reason. Then notice how it lightens up your mood, boosts your confidence, makes you joyful, improves your concentration, akes you less stressed, and guarantee a healthy life to you. In addition, since it is infectious, so you can expect to see those around you benefiting from a good giggle too. People practicing laughter therapy are not nuts even most might think it is. Hence, if you are undecided to do so, remember this: children laugh about 400 times a day whereas adults manage a miserable 15 and children lives in stress less life. The decision is in your hand. Be not afraid of changes especially for the better changes. Lastly, choosing to laugh does not change your life. It changes you.

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