Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Laughter The Best Type of Medicine as shown by The Minions

“Laughter is the best medicine” — a traditional belief that laughter has beneficial effects upon one’s health. It is believed to have been originated in the late 20th century, with earlier expressions of laughing and being fat, and laughing and being well. Some say this famous quote is derived from the Proverbs 17:22, ‘A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.’ The impact that laughter has on one’s Mental and Physical Health is tremendously important and significant in people’s lives.

“Laughing is an involuntary, physical reaction in humans, consisting typically of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system.”  

Quoted by Melinda Smith and Jeanne Segal from Helpguide.org

Mental Health 

Sign of Good-Will

According to a 2010 study by the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, laughter and smiling are generally a message of goodwill. As humans, we use facial expressions with bared teeth to suggest friendliness and sociability.

Reduces Distressing Emotions

Laughing has been investigated by researchers to reduce Anxiety, Anger, Stress, Relieve Pain and be a Natural Antidepressant. Laughter therapy has been proven to improve anxiety in patients with Parkinson’s disease. It helps nursing students reduce their anxiety and depression, and it improves menopausal women’s self-esteem and depression. In a 2015 study, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found cancer patients improved their negative mood states by having 60-minute laughter therapy sessions, three times a week. Bernard Saper, the author for Psychiatric Quarterly, suggests one’s ability to maintain a sense of humor and laughter can become positive coping mechanisms to help them through difficult times.

Form of Therapy

The success of laughter on blood pressure and other illnesses has led to a unique kind of therapy called “Laughter Yoga.” Madan Kataria, the founder of the Laughter Yoga School, expressed, “You don’t need any jokes, any humor, or any comedy. You don’t even need to be happy. What we do is a laugh in a group and initiate laughter as a form of bodily exercise, but when we have eye contact with others, this laughter becomes real and contagious.”

Physical Health 

Reduces Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is one of the most dangerous side effects of stress which could result in heart disease and stroke. Researchers have suggested that laughter brings down blood pressure. In a three-month-long study, 2011 researchers at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions exposed 79 participants to either Music or Laughter therapy. The results showed that the Music therapy brought down the blood pressure by 6 mmHg, while the Laughter therapy brought down the blood pressure by 7 mmHg (mmHg means millimeters of mercury; this is the reading of blood pressure on a sphygmomanometer).

Immune Booster

During the flu season, it is a good practice to have some laughing therapy as it boosts your immunity. In a study with college students, researchers found out when the students were watching funny movies, it increased salivary IgA (sIgA). Salivary IgA is an antibody that plays a critical role in mucosal immunity. They also found small examples of increased natural killer cells (NKs) found in the body which is a type of lymphocyte that is easy to test for in the blood.

Burn Calories

Having a giggle every day would actually help with weight loss. As suggested in a 2014 study by the International Journal of Obesity found that laughter can burn calories. In a group of 45 participants split into two groups, half watched film clips intended to evoke laughter for approximately 10 minutes, and the other half who watched film clips unlikely to stimulate laughter. Both groups attached to a “calorimeter” that measures energy expenditure and heart rate. They determined that those who laughed during their viewing burned up to 10 calories in 10 minutes, as compared to those who did not laugh, who didn’t burn any calories.

A child and their mother laughing together. Source: google.com

To sum it up, laughter is indeed the best medicine since it brings benefits to your mental and physical health, such as sending a sign of good-will to people around you. It is a form of therapy, reduces your blood pressure and even helps burn calories. In stressful situations, like students during finals week, laughing can help elevate the pressure out of a stressful situation. Even though laughter wouldn’t elevate all the stress in certain situations, it can definitely help reduce your anxious minds to help you positively think clearly during these situations.

Author: Mitali Singh

Mitali Singh is currently a senior at Singapore American School and this is her second year reporting for The Eye. Living all 17 years of her life in Singapore, she tries not to spend her time debating whether to binge-watch TV shows or watching past vine compilations (rip vine). Rather she would spend her time towards her passion to write and tell stories of others, which she is excited to continue this year by producing more sophisticated content. So, if you have any interesting stories from your life or even vines you would like to share, she can be contacted at singh772234@sas.edu.sg.

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