Laughter is truly the best medicine says new research
A new study has shown that laughter may be one of the simplest exercises that has similar effects on the body as pumping iron in the gym. Researchers have named “Laughercise” as significant elevators of mood, stress busters, immunity boosters and blood pressure and cholesterol reducers. It can also stimulate appetite for the malnourished. US scientists led by Californian physician Dr Lee Berk had earlier shown the beneficial effects of laughter on mood, stress, immunity, cancer, blood pressure and cholesterol. In this new study Dr. Berk and colleagues have again shown the benefits of laughter which are akin to repetitive exercises. “The parallel between moderate exercise and mirthful laughter is uncanny,” said Dr. Berk.The study included 14 healthy volunteers who for three weeks were asked to watch two 20-minute videos designed to be either distressing or humorous. Distressing video was taken from the Second World War movie Saving Private Ryan. The laughter video had various options including performances by stand-up comedians and scenes from comedy movies. All participants saw both videos with a week’s gap in between to ensure their effects
did not overlap. The scientists then checked on their blood pressure and other parameters. They also checked the blood levels of two appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin. The results showed that distressing videos had no effects on the hormones but watching the humorous clip both caused changes in blood pressure and led levels of leptin to decrease as those of ghrelin went up. Similar findings are seen after moderate physical exercise. Berk said, “When leptin goes down, it increases appetite…When ghrelin goes up, it increases appetite.”Dr. Berk said, “The ultimate reality of this research is that laughter causes a wide variety of modulation, and that the body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise. The value of the research is that it may provide for those who are healthcare providers with new insights and understandings, and thus further potential options for patients who cannot use physical activity to normalize or enhance their appetite.” “The second application is for wellness,” he added while saying that laughing while working out may also help in improving your psyche as well as health in general. news news-medical.net ~ Loma Linda University (LLU) is a Seventh-day Adventist educational health-sciences institution with more than 4,000 students located in Southern California. Eight schools comprise the University organization. More than
55 programs are offered by the schools of Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Religion and Science and Technology. Curricula offered range from certificates of completion and associate in science degrees to doctor of philosophy and professional doctoral degrees. Students from more than 80 countries around the world and virtually every state in the nation are represented in Loma Linda University’s student body. LLU also offers distance education. sources: news-medical.net & llu.edu ~ Laughter is an audible expression or the appearance of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy (laughing on the inside). It may ensue (as a physiological reaction) from jokes, tickling or other stimuli. It is in most cases a very pleasant sensation. Laughter is found among various animals, as well as in humans. Among the human species, it is a part of human behavior regulated by the brain, helping humans clarify their intentions in social interaction and providing an emotional context to conversations. Laughter is used as a signal for being part of a group — it signals acceptance and positive interactions with others. Laughter is sometimes seemingly contagious, and the laughter of one person can itself provoke laughter from others as a positive feedback.This may account in part for the popularity of laugh tracks in situation comedy television shows.
Laughter is anatomically caused by the epiglottis constricting the larynx. The study of humor and laughter, and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body, is called gelotology. Laughter is an audible expression or appearance of happiness, an inward feeling of joy or humor (laughing on the inside). It may ensue (as a physiological reaction) from jokes, tickling, and other stimuli. Strong laughter can sometimes bring an onset of tears or even moderate muscular pain. Recently researchers have shown infants as early as 17 days old have vocal laughing sounds or laughter. Early Human Development 2006 This conflicts with earlier studies indicating that infants usually start to laugh at about four months of age. Robert R. Provine, Ph.D. has spent decades studying laughter. In his interview for WebMD, he indicated “Laughter is a mechanism everyone has; laughter is part of universal human vocabulary. There are thousands of languages, hundreds of thousands of dialects, but everyone speaks laughter in pretty much the same way.” Everyone can laugh. Babies have the ability to laugh before they ever speak. Children who are born blind and deaf still retain the ability to laugh.Provine argues that “Laughter is primitive, an unconscious vocalization.” And if it seems you laugh more than others, Provine argues that it probably is genetic. In a study of the “Giggle Twins,” two exceptionally happy twins were separated at birth and not reunited until 43 years later. Provine reports that “until they met each other, neither of these exceptionally happy ladies had
known anyone who laughed as much as she did.” They reported this even though they both had been brought together by their adoptive parents, whom they indicated were “undemonstrative and dour.” Provine indicates that the twins “inherited some aspects of their laugh sound and pattern, readiness to laugh, and perhaps even taste in humor.” WebMD 2002. Norman Cousins, who suffered from arthritis, developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. “When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.” He wrote about these experiences in several books. Research has noted the similarity in forms of laughter among various primates (humans, gorillas, orang-utans…), suggesting that laughter derives from a common origin among primate species, and has subsequently evolved in each species. A very rare neurological condition has been observed whereby the sufferer is unable to laugh out loud, a condition known as aphonogelia. Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally. (Frontal lobe is blue, temporal lobe is green.) Modern neurophysiology states that laughter is linked with the activation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which produces endorphins after a rewarding activity. Research has
shown that parts of the limbic system are involved in laughter. The limbic system is a primitive part of the brain that is involved in emotions and helps us with basic functions necessary for survival. Two structures in the limbic system are involved in producing laughter: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The December 7, 1984 Journal of the American Medical Association describes the neurological causes of laughter as follows: “Although there is no known ‘laugh center’ in the brain, its neural mechanism has been the subject of much, albeit inconclusive, speculation. It is evident that its expression depends on neural paths arising in close association with the telencephalic and diencephalic centers concerned with respiration. Wilson considered the mechanism to be in the region of the mesial thalamus, hypothalamus, and subthalamus. Kelly and co-workers, in turn, postulated that the tegmentum near the periaqueductal grey contains the integrating mechanism for emotional expression. Thus, supranuclear pathways, including those from the limbic system that Papez hypothesised to mediate emotional expressions such as laughter, probably come into synaptic relation in the reticular core of the brain stem. So while purely emotional responses such as laughter are mediated by subcortical structures, especially the hypothalamus, and are stereotyped,
the cerebral cortex can modulate or suppress them.” A positive link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels was first reported in 2005 by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center with laughter causing the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand such to increase blood flow.Drs. Michael Miller (University of Maryland) and William Fry (Stanford), theorize that beta-endorphin like compounds released by the hypothalamus activate receptors on the endothelial surface to release nitric oxide, thereby resulting in dilation of vessels. Other cardioprotective properties of nitric oxide include reduction of inflammation and decreased platelet aggregation.The association between laughter and endothelial dilation was recently confirmed by other investigators. Late 19th century or early 20th century depiction of different stages of laughter on advertising cards. Common causes for laughter are sensations of joy and humor, however other situations may cause laughter as well.A general theory that explains laughter is called the relief theory. Sigmund Freud summarized it in his theory that laughter releases tension and “psychic energy”. This theory is one of the justifications of the beliefs that laughter is beneficial for one’s health.This theory explains why laughter can be as a coping mechanism for when
one is upset, angry or sad.Philosopher John Morreall theorizes that human laughter may have its biological origins as a kind of shared expression of relief at the passing of danger. Friedrich Nietzsche, by contrast, suggested laughter to be a reaction to the sense of existential loneliness and mortality that only humans feel.For example, this is how this theory works in the case of humor: a joke creates an inconsistency, the sentence appears to be not relevant, and we automatically try to understand what the sentence says, supposes, doesn’t say, and implies; if we are successful in solving this ‘cognitive riddle’, and we find out what is hidden within the sentence, and what is the underlying thought, and we bring foreground what was in the background, and we realize that the surprise wasn’t dangerous, we eventually laugh with relief. Otherwise, if the inconsistency is not resolved, there is no laugh, as Mack Sennett pointed out: “when the audience is confused, it doesn’t laugh” (this is the one of the basic laws of a comedian, called “exactness”). It is important to note that the inconsistency may be resolved, and there may still be no laugh. Due to the fact that laughter is a social mechanism, we may not feel like we are in danger, however, the physical act of laughing may not take place. In addition, the extent of the inconsistency (timing, rhythm, etc.) has to do with the amount of danger we feel, and thus how intense or long we laugh. This explanation is also confirmed by modern neurophysiology. ~ GoodNews International
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