Laughter is the Best Medicine Humans were designed to laugh. Laughter is nature’s stress buster. It lifts our spirits with a happy high that makes us feel good and improves our behavior towards others.

Just a few generations ago happy healthy humans spent 20 minutes a day or more in laughter. Now adult daily laugh time is down to 5 minutes or less in many countries. This is one of the worst aspects of ‘modern life’.

We all know that laughter makes us feel good. A regular 20 minute laughter session can have a profound impact on our health and wellbeing. Laughter is gentle exercise. It fills your lungs and body with oxygen, deep-clears your breathing passages and exercises your lungs. This is really important for people who don’t get regular aerobic exercise.

When we laugh our bodies release a cocktail of hormones & chemicals that have startling positive effects on our system. Stress is reduced, blood pressure drops, depression is lifted, your immune system is boosted & more. Western science is just starting to discover the great effects of laughter.

Eleven years ago Dr Madan Kataria, an Indian doctor and student of Yoga was writing a paper for a medical journal titled ‘Laughter is the best medicine’.

Convinced of the medical benefits of laughter and Yogic breathing exercises, Doctor Kataria was searching for a way to bring these benefits to modern man. You can’t prescribe 20 minutes of laughter a day, and for best effect a range of different types of laughter should be combined.

In a flash of inspiration Laughter Yoga was born. Thanks to Doctor Kataria, countless people all over the world today enjoy the benefits of a daily dose of laughter practicing Laughter Yoga at laughter clubs or at their workplace.

Laughter Yoga combines laughter exercises and yoga breathing to give you the health benefits of hearty laughter.

Laughter exercises almost always lead to real laughter, especially when practiced in a group.

Laughter Yoga is practiced around the world at laughter clubs, laughter studios, in the workplace and in many specialized applications including schools, government departments, military & police, hospitals & hospice and more. There are more than 5000 laughter clubs and studios in more than 50 countries with new venues opening daily.

Laughter Yoga has been featured on most major networks including CNN. ABC , BBC, NHK Japan, Channel 7 & 9 Australia, ZDF Germany and print publications including TIME Magazine, National Geographic, New York Times, London Times, LA Times, The Guardian, Wall Street Journals and many more.

Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.

The physiological response produced by belly laughter was opposite of what is seen in classical stress, supporting the conclusion that mirthful laughter is a eustress state — a state that produces healthy or positive emotions.

After exposure to humor, there is a general increase in activity within the immune system, including:

  • An increase in the number and activity level of natural killer cells that attack viral infected cells and some types of cancer and tumor cells.
  • An increase in activated T cells (T lymphocytes). There are many T cells that await activation. Laughter appears to tell the immune system to “turn it up a notch.”
  • An increase in the antibody IgA (immunoglobulin A), which fights upper respiratory tract insults and infections.
  • An increase in gamma interferon, which tells various components of the immune system to “turn on.”
  • An increase in IgB, the immunoglobulin produced in the greatest quantity in body, as well as an increase in Complement 3, which helps antibodies to pierce dysfunctional or infected cells. The increase in both substances was not only present while subjects watched a humor video; there also was a lingering effect that continued to show increased levels the next day.

The results of the study also supported research indicating a general decrease in stress hormones that constrict blood vessels and suppress immune activity. These were shown to decrease in the study group exposed to humor.

For example, levels of epinephrine were lower in the group both in anticipation of humor and after exposure to humor. Epinephrine levels remained down throughout the experiment.

In addition, dopamine levels (as measured by dopac) were also decreased. Dopamine is involved in the “fight or flight response” and is associated with elevated blood pressure.

Laughing is aerobic, providing a workout for the diaphragm and increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen.

Laughter brings in positive emotions that can enhance – not replace — conventional treatments. Hence it is another tool available to help fight the disease.

Experts believe that, when used as an adjunct to conventional care, laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process. For one thing, laughter offers a powerful distraction from pain.

In a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, patients were told one-liners after surgery and before painful medication were administered. Those exposed to humor perceived less pain when compared to patients who didn’t get a dose of humor as part of their therapy.

Perhaps, the biggest benefit of laughter is that it is free and has no known negative side effects.

So, here is a summary of how humor contributes to physical health.

Muscle Relaxation – While you laugh, the muscles that do not participate in the belly laugh, relaxes. After you finish laughing those muscles involved in the laughter start to relax. So, the action takes place in two stages.

Reduction of Stress Hormones – Laughter reduces at least four of neuroendocrine hormones associated with stress response. These are epinephrine, cortisol, dopac, and growth hormone.

Immune System Enhancement – Clinical studies have shown that humor strengthens the immune system.

Pain Reduction – Humor allows a person to “forget” about pains such as aches, arthritis, etc.

Cardiac Exercise – A belly laugh is equivalent to “an internal jogging.” Laughter can provide good cardiac conditioning especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercises.

Blood Pressure – Women seem to benefit more than men in preventing hypertension.

Respiration – Frequent belly laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in resulting in a cleansing effect – similar to deep breathing. Especially beneficial for patient’s who are suffering from emphysema and other respiratory ailments.