The Best Medicine

From the August 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Laughter: the only medicine that is contagious. Few things in life are more satisfying than a really good belly laugh! But is it possible there could be more to laughter than simple mirth?

Medical studies have revealed that laughter actually boosts levels of endorphins (which are the body’s natural painkillers) and increases the production of T-cells (which help ward off viruses, including cancer). As a way to relieve stress, laughter is beneficial in that it suppresses levels of epinephrine—the “stress” hormone.

Studies also show that exposure to humor increases levels of antibody immuno-globulin, which fights upper respiratory tract infections. Laughter stimulates the immune system, and helps antibodies penetrate infected cells. Chuckles also help lower dopamine levels (which are associated with high blood pressure).

Aside from its outstanding benefits to the immune system, laughter is considered a great cardiovascular workout that will lower your heart rate, blood pressure and improve coordination of the brain (stimulating alertness and memory). Did you know that it’s possible for all 400 muscles of the body to move during laughter? One doctor even stated that 20 seconds of guffawing gives the heart the same workout as three minutes of hard rowing! That’s quite a workout!

Amazingly, adults only laugh about 15 times per day—compared to children, who laugh nearly 400 times a day! Relearning to smile and laugh like you did when you were a child could have a valuable effect on your future health and well-being. As it says in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”