Watching a comedy appears to improve blood vessel function, which may help explain why having a good laugh appears to have numerous health benefits. In contrast, investigators found that when viewers watched a disturbing scene from war movies, their blood vessel function appeared to deteriorate, suggesting that mental stress can take its toll on the body. Something “that is easy to do, economical, never been shown to hurt you, is something we should do every day, that is to laugh,” according to Dr. Michael Miller of the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
Previous research has linked laughter to a series of health benefits. For instance, a group of researchers in Japan found that people with type 2 diabetes– the most common form of the disease — had a smaller rise in post-meal blood sugar when they watched a comedy show than when they listened to a humorless lecture. Still other research found that simply looking forward to having a good laugh can boost the immune system and reduce stress.
For the current study, Miller and his colleagues measured blood vessel functioning in 20 non-smoking, healthy participants. Almost all of the volunteers (95 percent) experienced increased blood flow while watching the funny movie, while three quarters (74 percent) had decreased flow while observing the ravages of war onscreen. Overall, average blood flow increased 22 percent while laughing and decreased 35 percent during mental stress. The magnitude of the changes was similar to the benefit that might be seen with aerobic activity, Miller said. That’s not a reason to trade laughing for exercise, he added; the ideal would be to do both.
It’s not clear why laughter had this beneficial effect, but Miller has some ideas. “The endothelium has endorphin receptors so what may be happening after a good laugh is these endorphins are released and activate the receptors, causing an interaction or perhaps just an independent dilation of the endothelium,” he said. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals with morphine-like properties. It’s also possible that mental stress may lead to the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, which may then reduce the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells. This, in turn, could result in constriction of the vessel. “The healthier the vessel, the more it opens up,” Miller said in an interview. For instance, healthy blood vessels are less likely to form clots, he noted. If people have poor endothelial health, they are more likely to experience a worsening of heart disease, Miller added. He explained that when our bodies are stressed, we produce hormones that may cause changes in the endothelium. Previous research suggests that the effects of stress last around 45 minutes, but if stress is unrelenting, it may help permanently alter the blood vessels, Miller said. – American College of Cardiology.
Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec comments on Laughter Boosts Immune System and Helps Fight Cancer:
It is amazing how the simple things in life have the greatest benefits. Like getting to sleep by 8:30 p.m. and waking by 6 a.m. which will tremendously boost your immune system and help to balance your nervous and hormonal system. Laughter is important in any alternative cancer treatment program.
Another simple but very effective way to boost your immune system and balance your hormonal system is to laugh. Isn’t it interesting how our mind affects our body? When people watch comedies, their blood flow increases by 22% and when they watched graphic war movies, their blood flow decreases by 35%. The studies in Japan even show a more balanced blood sugar in diabetics when they watch comedies and laugh. So purchase some “I Love Lucy” DVDs and start improving your health today. Research has shown that the average child laughs hundreds of times and the average adult less than 20 times per day. Could this be tied into aging? Norman Cousins wrote in his book “Anatomy of an Illness” how he healed himself of a chronic degenerative disease by watching comedies and laughing hours each day.