Monday, July 11, 2005

LAUGHTER as Medicine!!!

Greetings! We added a new member to our household a week ago - a 10 week old puppy! A BIG puppy, a Golden Retriever. Well, Riley, as he has been named, is very loving, but is hated, unconditionally, by our 3 cats! The cats decided to protest against this intruder in any way they could. So, one brought home a present for the Humans - a live mouse. Watching my son and daughter-in-law crawling on the floor, trying to rescue this 2 inch mouse, tickled my funny bone! As I laughed (and yes, the mouse was caught and released, unharmed but probably very happy to be away from the cat and the big entities) I remembered just how important laughter is to us. So, I did some research about "laughter as medicine". From a variety of great sources, I bring the following to you.

1) First of all, since we have been talking a lot about communication, here is a joke called the "Polish Divorce" that I hope that you will like.

POLISH DIVORCE

A Polish man moved to the USA and married an American girl. Although his English was far from perfect, they got along very well until one day he rushed into a lawyer's office and asked him if he could arrange a divorce for him - "very quick."
The lawyer said that the speed for getting a divorce would depend onthe circumstances, and asked him the following questions:
  • LAWYER: "Have you any grounds?"
  • POLE: "JA, JA, acre and half and nice little home."
  • LAWYER: "No," I mean what is the foundation of this case?"
  • POLE: "It made of concrete."
  • LAWYER: "Does either of you have a real grudge?"
  • POLE: "No, we have carport, and not need one."!
  • LAWYER: "I mean, What are your relations like?"
  • POLE: "All my relations still in Poland."
  • LAWYER: "Is there any infidelity in your marriage?"
  • POLE: "Ja, we have hi-fidelity stereo set and good DVD player."
  • LAWYER: Does your wife beat you up?"
  • POLE: "No, I always up before her."
  • LAWYER: "Is your wife a nagger?"
  • POLE: "No, she white."
  • LAWYER: "WHY do you want this divorce?"
  • POLE: "She going to kill me."
  • LAWYER: "What makes you think that?"
  • POLE: "I got proof."
  • LAWYER: "What kind of proof?"
  • POLE: "She going to poison me. She buy a bottle at drugstore and put on shelf in bathroom. I can read, and it say, 'Polish Remover'."

I love this joke for it really demonstrates how fragile we humans are when we try to communicate!

OK, are there any statistics linking laughter with health? Many of the sites I visited used the following quotation from Voltaire.

VOLTAIRE said “The Art Of Medicine Consists Of Amusing The Patient While Nature Cures The Disease.”

Well, as we who manage a chronic disease daily know, the symptoms are hard to define and communicate; normal daily living is difficult; what is there to be humorous about?

That's were we get to the concept of choice. As you will see below, the benefits of laughter are there; so, why not find something to laugh about each day, and reward yourself? It is free, and fun!

Humor even has long-term effects that strengthen the effectiveness of the immune system. In healthcare, humor therapy can help relieve stress associated with disease and illness.

Many sites used the following "statistics" about laughter and its effect on the body's health (I'd love to see who researched the child's laughing).

  1. Children laugh 400 times a day while adults laugh only 15 times.
  2. Endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, are released during deep heartfelt laughter.
  3. IgA (an antibody), killer T-cells, and tolerance to pain are increased with laughter while serum cortisol (a hormone secreted when one is under stress) is decreased with laughter.

Even the bard Shakespeare believed in the healing qualities of laughter and wrote in The Taming of the Shrew, "And frame your mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life."


There are a number of components of laughter that have been proposed as means by which health is improved.

  • Vigorous laughter is stimulating. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation.
  • This benefits the immune system, brings oxygen to the blood, increases alertness, and exercises the skeletal muscles.
  • Following laughter there is a brief period during which blood pressure drops and heart rate, respiratory rate, and muscle activity decrease, resulting in relaxation--a welcome respite in our busy and sometimes stressful lives.

So, laugh, laugh, laugh. I'm sure that you can find ways to bring laughter into your daily life. In future blogs we will discuss ways to add some humor. And, if you know of any great ideas about humor, please share them with us.

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