July 27 ~  Laughter Laughter: A Scientific Investigation

"Laughter may or may not activate the endorphins or enhance respiration, as some medical researchers contend. What seems clear, however, is that laughter is an antidote to apprehension and panic." ~ Norman Cousins

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Over 25 years ago, Dr. Norman Cousins in his book Anatomy of an Illness described how watching Marx Brother movies helped him recover from a life-threatening tissue disease.

"Is it possible," he wondered, "that love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence, and the will to live have therapeutic value?" Cousins made it a point to enjoy a hearty belly laugh several times a day. A few minutes of laughter gave him an hour or more of pain-free sleep.

"Funny is an attitude," observed comic Flip Wilson.

Medical studies show that laughter boosts levels of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and suppresses levels of epinephrine, the stress hormone.

According to Arnold Glasgow, "Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects."

In an ABC television interview, Professor Lee Berk, who has studied laughter and medicine for the past 18 years, explained that laughter increased the Natural Killer Cell activity, the cells that destroy viruses and tumors. Laughter increased a disease-fighting protein, B-cells, the source of a disease-destroying antibody, and T-cells which help cellular immune response.

Hearty laughter also exercises the lungs and circulatory system and increases the amount of oxygen in the blood. "He who laughs," said Mary Pettibone Poole, "lasts."

The time is NOW to laugh and be happy. You can do it! Scientist Boris Sokoloff explained, "Like swimming, riding, writing, or playing golf, happiness can be learned."

More COUSINS Quotations

End today, begin tomorrow, with laughter.