Taking 'Laughter Therapy' to the Next Level
Dr Lee Berk of Loma University Medical Centre, California, has been conducting laughter therapy research since the late 1970s. In 1989, Berk studied the effects of laughter in 10 healthy males. Five experimental subjects watched an hour-long comedy while five control subjects didn't. Blood samples taken from the 10 subjects revealed that cortisol (the hormone our body releases when under stress) in the experimental subjects had decreased more rapidly in comparison to the control group. Berk's research has also shown that the level of natural killer cells (a type of immune cell that attacks virus and tumour cells) is increased through laughter. These same cells are suppressed if the body suffers consistent long-term stress.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have also calculated that just 20 seconds of laughter could be as good for the lungs as three minutes spent on a rowing machine. Other health benefits have been found.
The benefits of laughter have been recorded as far back as the Old Testament. The Book Of Proverbs 17:22 states ''Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.''
Some laughter therapists have found that just making the noise of laughter without finding anything funny to laugh at is enough to improve health. The body cannot differentiate which is which. I have been interested in humour since a child and find it to be the next best thing to being in love, and have come up with two inventions that give a large dose of laughs without the need of wit to start it off. The first is based on two warnings I got as a child not to put alcohol into a 'Soda Stream', and not to drink alcohol through a straw. I decided that I would try both at the same time to see what happened. Wine was put into the Soda Stream, which then added CO2. When drunk through a straw hysterical laughter ensue, and when the laughter subsides you feel much better than you did before you started.
The second way to achieve hysterical laughter is to blow one lung full of cigarette smoke into a party balloon, and then to hyperventilate with the balloon. Again laughter ensues and you feel much better for the experience. Both of these methods of improving emotional well being are legal at the moment, although I have had balloons confiscated by the British police on several occasions. (The Masonic Lodge is not the most fun filled religion that I have come across.) However, if you do not drink or smoke I do not recommend that you start by using these laughter makers, just put on an old 'Monty Python' film.