- Increases playfulness and creativity
- Enhances relationships and connection
- Boosts immunity
- Energizes and relaxes
- Cathartic – good for releasing and letting go
- Reduces blood pressure
- Increases cellular oxygen levels
DR NORMAN COUSENS
The benefits of laughter have long been recognised and one famous case study involved Dr Norman Cousens. He was diagnosed with an extreme form of arthritis in the 1960’s. He was in a lot of pain, bed-ridden and told that he had little chance of surviving. Being a doctor, he devised a program for himself incorporating large doses of intravenous Vitamin C, a positive attitude, and regular laughter induced by watching Marx Brothers films.
“I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anaesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” His incredible story is told in the book and film – Anatomy of an Illness.
The biochemistry of laughter is pretty much the opposite of the biochemistry of stress. Namely, laughter boosts endorphin levels and reduces adrenalin and cortisol levels. Endorphins produce pain relief and feelings of well-being. Adrenalin is linked to our sensation of fear, and cortisol increases blood sugar and supresses the immune system. Laughing also boosts the number of antibody producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells, thus boosting the immune system.
- The Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert – this is a lovely book which reads more like a detective novel than a science book. It looks at the history of the search for endorphin receptors (endorphins are one of the key molecules produced when we laugh).