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The chemistry of laughter

A good bout of laughter can be highly infectious.

There are lots of truth in the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. Various chemical reactions take place in the body when you are having a good laugh, and the scientific study of the psychological, physiological and neurological effects of laughter even has a name attached to it – gelotology!

 The claimed positive effects of laughter:

  • ·         Laughter leads to physiological changes in the body – muscles stretch throughout the face and body, the pulse and blood pressure increase, and breathing is faster and sends more oxygen to body tissues.
  • ·         Laughter is a great reliever of stress, as it helps to regulate the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
  • ·         Laughter and the accompanying positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that help to fight stress.
  • ·         Laughter can stimulate the circulation of blood and aid muscle relaxation, which can assist in reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress.
  • ·         Laughter has been linked to the production of anti-bodies and endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. Laughter has shown the ability to dull pain.
  • ·         Laughter helps to regulate the dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine triggers a feeling of pleasure and is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, motivation, attention and learning.
  • ·         Laughter reduces arterial wall stiffness and improves endothelial function.
  • ·         Laughter also lowers the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • ·         Laughter has been known to improve the lung function of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • ·         Laughter over an extended period of time, such as at a comedy show, can lead to increased energy expenditure (burning calories) and also reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic people.
  • ·         Laughter can raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies and boost the level of immune cells in the body.

 

Learn to laugh more

  • ·          Watch comedy shows and movies; read more funny books
  • ·         Try to spend time with friends that make you laugh.
  • ·         Share jokes and funny stories with those around you.
        

“Laugh, and the world laughs with you!”

 

Sources:

Stress relieve from laughter? It’s no joke. Published online 21 April 2016. Mayo Clinic. (www.mayoclinic.org)

Give your body a boost – With laughter. Published 10 April 2006. WebMD. (www.webmd.com)

Effects of laughter on the human brain. Published 16 September 2015. Livestrong. (www.livestrong.com)

Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful): narrative synthesis. Published 12 December 2013. The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) (www.bmj.com)

 

 

 

 

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