Medical Experts Agree That Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine


It turns out that the old adage is true: Laughter really is the best medicine. Medical experts say it works wonders for your mental and physical health, with an ever-expanding body of research pointing to its healing powers. According to doctors, laughter can aid in respiration, maintain heart health, and manage stress, among other benefits. When we laugh, we take a lot of deep breaths, which allows the body to take in more oxygen than it would otherwise, relaxing muscles. Laughing also has a positive effect on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, helping it release nitric oxide, which is known to relax the arteries that carry blood away from the heart. Relaxed arteries allow smooth passage of oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. Studies have shown that a mere 20 seconds of laughter has the ability to double the heart rate for 3-5 minutes — it’s a form of "jogging for the innards.” Laughter also decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and alters the activity of dopamine, the body’s reward hormone. Lower cortisol and stress brought on by laughter also relieve muscle tension. Approximately 20 minutes after laughter, physiological measures such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscular tension, drop below baseline levels. The act of laughing leads to the release of endorphins in the brain, which helps to control pain. Scientists still don’t understand why we laugh, but they say it's something that all humans need.