Artwork: Happy Sesen
Patients, doctors and health-care professionals are all finding that laughter may indeed be the best medicine.
Laughing is found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, increase muscle flexion, and boost 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.
Laughter is infectious. Hospitals around the country are incorporating formal and informal laughter therapy programs into their therapeutic regimens. In countries such as India, laughing clubs -- in which participants gather in the early morning for the sole purpose of laughing -- are becoming as popular as Rotary Clubs in the United States.
Humor is a universal language. It's a contagious emotion and a natural diversion. It brings other people in and breaks down barriers. Best of all it is free and has no known side reactions.