Humor Therapy - Laugh your way to health and wellness


Humor therapy, sometimes called therapeutic humor or laugh therapy, employs laughter to stimulate the body's own natural healing and coping mechanisms and to improve the quality of life. It is believed that laughter causes changes in the brain chemistry, helps the body cope with pain and naturally boosts the body's immune system.
 
Scientists have determined that there is a relationship between the mind and body. The scientific field of study associated with this research is called "psychoneuroimmunology."  
 
Humor therapists believe that people who focus on negative aspects of life experience more stress and more ill health, while people who focus on the more positive aspects of life and are able to find humor in adversity tend to experience less stress and better health.
 
The History of Humor Therapy
 
Humor as a medicine has a long history. It is mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 17:22): "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
 
According to the American Cancer Society, "as early as the thirteenth century, some surgeons used humor to distract patients from the pain of surgery."
 
Modern humor therapy is attributed to the experience of Norman Cousins who was the editor of the "Saturday Review" in the 1930s who became ill after a stressful trip to Russia He hired a nurse to read humorous stories to him and he watched comical movies. He, also, took massive doses of Vitamin C. He believed that laughter relieved his pain and improved his ability to sleep.
 
He authored a book about his experience called "Anatomy of an Illness." 
 
In 1989, the Journal of the American Medical Association acknowledge the benefits of laughter therapy for patients with chronic illnesses and relief of some symptoms.
 
Health Benefits of Humor Therapy
 
Humor therapy appears to have a broad range of positive effects on the overall health of the body by stimulating its own healing abilities.
 
The best known study on the effects of humor therapy was conducted by Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California and its results were published in the September/October 1996 issue of the Humor and Health Journal.
 
It causes an increase in the level of cancer-fighting T-cells (T lymphocytes), Gamma-interferon (an immune system booster) and B-cells, all of which work to fight disease. 
 
It increases the levels of IgB (immunoglobulin B) and Complement 3, which helps the body eliminate damaged or diseased cells.
 
It triggers an increase in the production of the antibody IgA (immunoglobulin A), which fights respiratory infections.
 
Dopamine and epinephrine levels, associated with blood pressure and heart rate, are lowered, which indicates it may be help in cases of anxiety and hypertension.
 
When people laugh, the oxygen level increases, the heart rate elevates and blood circulates more effectively throughout the body. Furthermore, it releases endorphins, which are natural-pain killers in the brain that help the body cope with pain and stress.
 
It lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles and stimulates the function of internal organs. 
 
Humor therapy is acknowledged by the American Cancer Society as a complementary therapy for cancer patients.
 
Humor therapy improves people's emotional well-being and seems to help people feel more control of their situation and release negative emotions like anger and fear.
 
Humor therapy can be applied at no cost, in unlimited supply and it has no known negative side effects.
 
How is Humor Therapy Performed?

Humor therapy can be performed in a formalized setting. When people are subjected to extended stays in hospitals or other health care facilities, humor therapy may take place in these settings. But, humor therapy can be performed informally by anyone in virtually any place.
 
Humor therapy is similar to pet therapy. Hospitals around the U.S. incorporate laughter therapy into their treatments. Some hospitals employ clowns in the children's ward. Some hospitals provide carts of humorous materials for people of all ages.
 
Humor therapy is, also, recognized outside the clinical setting. In India, laughing clubs have gained popularity. Comedians, humorous speakers and comedic films, books and music are employed to get people to laugh.
 
Regardless of where or how it is performed, the objective of humor therapy is to get the patient to laugh and smile.
 
Why Should You Use It?
 
Everyone can benefit from humor therapy. In healthy people, it is a disease preventative. 
 
People who are affected by chronic or stress-related conditions such as heart disease, asthma, anxiety disorders, digestive disorders and cancer may benefit most.
 
It is used to help improve the quality of life for people who suffer from terminal illnesses. It can, also, help to maintain the health of people who act as caregivers for sick people to keep from becoming sick, themselves.
 
Humor therapy is very safe and is almost without controversy among those in the allopathic medical community. Humor therapy is without risk, it's easy and inexpensive to employ. So, there is no reason not to use humor therapy every day.
 
Reference: 
 
"Humor Therapy," American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/MindBodyandSpirit/humor-therapy
 


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