“Is Laughter Medicinal?”

Is there a hidden secret to beat the economic crunch on health care? Ha Ha Ha! Laughter is one’s best nature’s medicines! Research has shown that laughter offers tremendous health benefits, from strengthening the immune system to increase the pain threshold. Laughter is one of the body’s most common natural responses to stress management, setting in early in a person’s life. A child can laugh before he/she can speak! But how many of us have forgotten how to laugh? Hopefully very few!

laughterThis is “National Humor Month,” it reminds me to talk about how important laughter is and its ability to chase the blues away. Laughter is a real, beneficial preventative medicine which  helps us deal with overarching stress. In particular, cortisol is a stress hormone involved in your body’s responses to anxiety. Laughter can reduce this hormone’s secretion levels and also increase your endorphin levels, which counter stressful reactions and bring about relief and a sense of power. Chronic pain sufferers will benefit dramatically from increased endorphin levels.

Stress kills, and a stressful mind can lead to a stressed mouth: gritting and clenching your teeth lead by stress can break your teeth and dental restorations, breaking down the periodontal structure, leading to an increased susceptibility to gum disease. Stressed pulp can lead to root canals – no laughing matter!

We need to laugh to fight our stress and stay healthy! When you laugh deeply, many groups of muscles get a workout,  including your diaphragm, shoulders, and abs. Have you ever laughed so hard you almost ran out of breath? I love that feeling! University of Maryland researchers have also found that laughter increases blood vessel dilation (a 35% increase in dilation of the brachial artery was observed after 20 minutes of laughter) – increasing blood flow is always a good thing! Japanese researchers have even found preliminary research data showing laughter could potentially reduce glucose levels, a good thing for diabetes sufferers and non-sufferers alike!

Laughing is also an important factor of your dental health, as laughter can increase your blood flow and circulation! When this happens in the oral cavity, saliva flow is stimulated (dry mouth can cause gum recession and halitosis) which prevents problems associated with a dry oral cavity. Blood flow will also keep your gum healthy and prevent periodontitis. When you are about to visit your dentist, bring a comic book or watch a funny movie on your iPod! Think of funny things to talk about with your dentist.Bring a light mood into the dentist’s chair will not only benefit your health, but your stress levels will reduce and you will have a more relaxing, holistic experience.

If you have a serious health condition, dental or otherwise, it is of course always necessary to visit your physician or dental care professional – however, laughter could be just the right preventative medicine you need to lift your spirits or even your physical health! Tell a joke, laugh a little – you’ll live longer!

Leave a Reply