A new study shows that laughing can have highly positive effects on your healthMirthful or joyous laughter is considered to a eustress or a positive stress which involves very complicated activities in the brain that can have a positive impact on your overall health. The idea of humor and associated laughter benefiting the health of a person was first suggested in the 1970s by Norman Cousins. After he was diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease, he documented how he used laughter to treat himself after getting medical approval. He would later publish the results of his personal research in the well known New England Journal of Medicine. He is highly recognized as one of the most decorated architects when it comes to mind body medicine.

Positive effects of laughter on the body

A psychoneuroimmunology researcher and a preventive care specialist, Dr. Lee S. Berk has been picking up from where the cousins left off. And for nearly three decades now, they have been studying and researching the response of human body to mirthful laughter. According to their findings, laughter assists greatly in optimizing most functions of the body systems. The research team was the first one to establish the benefits of laughter in optimizing body hormones in endocrine system and this includes decreasing epinephrine and cortisol levels that can lead to reduction of stress. Besides this, the researchers have also proved that laughter has very positive impacts when it comes to modulation of immune system components. This includes enhancing the production of antibodies in the body and activating the protective cells of the body especially T-cells and Natural killer cells thus killing tumor cell activities.

How mirthful laughter affects the body

According to their study findings, repetitious mirthful laughter that they referred to as laughercise makes the body to easily respond similarly in moderation of physical exercise.  Laughercise was found to enhance a person’s mood, decreasing stress hormones, lowering systolic blood pressure and bad cholesterol, enhancing immune activity and raising the levels of good cholesterol in the body. Berk explained that they are now realizing that people’s everyday emotions and behaviors modulate the body in so many ways. The latest research he undertook extensively analyzed the critical role played by laughter in the body.

During the study, the researcher recruited 14 healthy volunteers for three weeks where the effects of distress and mirthful laughter/ eustress were studied. They majorly aimed at researching on the role of laughter on key hormones which control appetite. The subjects were each to watch a 20 minute video random which was either humorous or distressing in nature. After a week, the subject then watched the other video. Viewers were distressed substantially and equally by the distressing video while the other humorous video guaranteed the viewers maximum humor response. This was a ground breaking study and formed the basis for other future studies on the impact of laughter on the body.