A Daily Dose of Laughter
A new report published at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society in San Diego suggests that not only is laughter good for you, but even the anticipation of laughter has beneficial effects. Researchers at Loma Linda University had a group of men watch funny videos. I was encouraged but not surprised to see that the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline decreased during--and as much as 30 minutes after--watching the videos. But I was surprised and delighted to see that stress hormones decreased before the videos started, while participants were waiting to watch funny video bits that they themselves had selected earlier. In fact, adrenaline decreased 70% while just waiting to be amused! A previous study by the same researchers demonstrated anticipation of laughter caused beneficial elevations in levels of the mood-elevating hormone, beta endorphin, and the immunity enhancing human growth hormone. All of this data gives new importance to getting a daily dose of the giggles.
In THE SOURCE, you will find a discussion of the healing properties of laughter in the chapter on mind-body medicine called Power Mind, Boundless Energy. I point out that one study conducted in Japan and published in a peer reviewed journal in the U.S. found that nursing mothers who laughed while watching the Charlie Chaplin movie, Modern Times, had higher levels of the beneficial hormone melatonin in their breast milk, which reduced their babies' previously diagnosed allergic skin reactions to latex and dust. This small study offers a wonderful window into the mysteries of human nature. It's clear to me that laughter is a built in healing mechanism.