Medical studies have confirmed the powerful effects of laughter on human body. A very good example is the story of Norman Cousins, an editor of literary magazine Saturday Review in New York City, who was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondyliltis, an incurable and fatal spinal column illness of unknown cause 25 years ago.
He tried all sorts of alternative remedies but it did not improve his condition. One day, against the advice of his doctors, he left the hospital and confined himself in his apartment for one month. All he did were just reading humorous stories and jokes, watched comedy movies and read comic books. He laughed and laughed each day for one month. He noticed that every time he laughed, his pain was eased. When he returned to the hospital after one month, to the surprise of the doctor who examined him, he was completely cured. In 1984, the incredible story of Norman Cousins was made into a movie entitled “Anatomy of an Illness”.
What happens to our body when we laugh?
• it increases the salivary immunoglobulin A(S-IgA), a vital immune system protein, which is the body’s first line of defense against respiratory illness according to Dillon Minchoff and Baker (1985).
• it stimulates the immune system and counteracts stress by lowering serum cortisol levels, increasing the amount of activated T-lymphocytes, and increasing the number and activity of natural killer cells according to Lee Berk (Berk, Tan, & Fry, 1989; Berk, Tan, Napier, & Erby, 1989) – Loma Linda University School of Medicine’s Department of Clinical Immunology
• it increases heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and works the muscles in the face and stomach. Shortly after, these levels drop, providing a relaxation response according to William Fry (1971)
Medical Reports showed that:
• women with painful muscle disorder got significant pain relief after a course of humour therapy according to L. Ljungdahl Journal of the American Medical Association 1989
• young girls with burns were shown cartoons during very painful hydrotherapy. Their perception of pain was reduced according to ML Kelly, published in the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis 1984
• heart patients with additional counseling on relaxation, smiling and laughter had fewer repeat heart attacks according to Meyer Friedman and Ulmer (1984) http://www.kevinleesmith.com/KevinLeeSmithHH.html
• laughter leads to a better respiratory movement according to Dr David Garlick. University of NSW School of Physiology.http://www.humourfoundation.com.au/index.php?page=150
• humor reduces stress in cancer patients according to Bennett, Mary Payne. Rush U, Coll. of Nursing, US.
• in May 2003, Japanese researchers found that laughter helps people with Type 2 diabetes. Subjects had less of a spike in post meal blood-sugar after watching a Japanese comedy show than when they listened to a monotonous lecture.http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/2004/01/laughter.html
There are many ways to obtain laughter in our life and one of the best ways is to watch comedy films on a regular basis. Jean Houston, an author and lecturer in the personal growth movement for over 30 years, said that, “at the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities“. According to Alexandra Stoddard, author of The Art of the Possible, “laughter brings release. Laughter brings balance. After a hard cry, I want someone to make me laugh so I can relieve some of the sadness and feel renewed.” Hence, after every hearty laughter, we will feel that it is easy to respond to the challenges of life and we will be inspired to work for the achievement of our aspirations and desires.
Today, Laughter Clubs were organized in about 60 countries all over the world. People has generally accepted the amazing power of laughter and its value as best medicine for people suffering from physical and emotional distress.