Category Archives: Research

The science behind Laughter Therapy

350+ scientific research papers on laughter

The following list was compiled by Don L. F. Nilsen, English Department, Arizona State University Tempe, AZ. You will find more research articles still at

  • Adelswärd, Viveka, and Britt-Marie Öberg. “The Function of Laughter and Joking in Negotiating Activities.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 11.4 (1998): 411-430.
  • Arner, T. D. “No Joke: Transcendent Laughter in The Teseida and The Miller’s Tale.” Studies in Philology 102.2 (2005): 143-158.
  • Askenasy, J. J. M. “The Functions and Dysfunctions of Laughter.” Journal of General Psychology 14.4 (1987): 317-34.
  • Bainy, Moses. Why Do We Laugh and Cry? West Ryde, Australia: Sunlight Publications, 1993.
  • Basil Hall, Laughter as a displacement activity: the implications for humor theory
  • Baudelaire, Charles. The Essence of Laughter. New York, NY: Meridian: 1956.
  • Bell, N. D. “Laughter in Interaction.” Discourse Studies 7.1 (2005): 137-138.
  • Bellert, J. “Humor: A Therapeutic Approach in Oncology Nursing.” Cancer Nursing 12.2 (1989): 65-70.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “After the Laughter: A Concluding Note.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 159-170.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “The Functions of Laughter: Sociological Aspects of Humor.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 91-104.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “The Politics of Laughter: A Cultural Theory of Humor Preferences.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 105-120.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “The Problem of Laughter: Philosophical Approaches to Humor.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 37-50.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. Redeeming Laughter. New York, NY: Walter de Gruyter, 1997.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “The Rhetoric of Laughter: The Techniques Used in Humor.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 51-64.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “Seeing Laughter: Visual Aspects of Humor.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 139-158.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa. “The Structure of Laughter: Semiotics and Humor.” Blind Men and Elephants: Perspectives on Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1995, 65-78.
  • Berger, Arthur Asa, and A. Wildavsky. “Who Laughs at What?” Society 31.6 (1994): 82-86.
  • Berger, Peter L. Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of Human Experience. Hawthorne, NY: Walter de Gruyter, 1997.
  • Berger, Phil. The Last Laugh. NY: Limelight, 1985.
  • Bergler, E. Laughter and the Sense of Humor. NY: Intercontinental Medical Book Corp, 1956.
  • Bergson, Henri Louis. Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. New York, NY: MacMillan, 1924.
  • Bergson, Henri Louis. “Laughter.” Comedy. Ed. Wylie Sypher. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1956, 59-190.
  • Berk, Lee, and S. A. Tan. “Eustress of Mirthful Laughter Modulates the Immune System Lymphokine Interferon-Gama.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine Supplement, Proceedings of the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Sixteenth Annual Scientific Sessions 17 (1995): C064.
  • Berk, Lee, S. A. Tan, and William Fry. “Eustress of Humor Associated Laughter Modulates Specific Immune System Components.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine Supplement, Proceedings of the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Fourteenth Annual Scientific Sessions 15 S111.
  • Berk, Lee., S. A. Tan, William F. Fry, B. J. Napier, J. W. Lee, R. W. Hubbard, J. E. Lewis, and W. C. Eby. “Neuroendrocrine and Stress Hormone Changes During Mirthful Laughter.” American Journal of the Medical Sciences. 298.6 (1989): 390-96.
  • Berk, Lee, S. Tan, B. Napier, and W. Evy. “Eustress of Mirthful Laughter Modifies Natural Killer Cell Activity. Clinical Research 37 (1989): 115A.
  • Berk, Lee, S. A. Tan, S. Nehlsen-Cannarella, B. J. Napier, J. E. Lewis, J. E. Lee, and W. C. Eby. “Humor Associated with Laughter Decreases Cortisol and Increases Spontaneous Lymphocyte Blastogenesis.” Clinical Research 36 (1988): 435A.
  • Berlyne, D. E. “Laughter, Humor, and Play.” Handbook of Social Psychology: Volume 3. Eds. G. Lindzey, and E. Aronson. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1969.
  • Bizi, S., G. Keinan, and B. Beit-Hallahi. “Humor and Coping with Stress: A Test Under Real-Life conditions.” Personality and Individual Differences 9 (1988): 951-956.
  • Black, D. W. “Laughter.” Journal of the American Medical Association 252.21 (1984): 2995-98.
  • Black, D. W. “Pathological Laughter.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases 170 (1982): 67-71.
  • Blumenfeld, E., and L. Alpern. The Smile Connection: How to Use Humor in Dealilng with People. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986.
  • Bonaiuto, Marino, Elio Castellana, and Antonio Pierro. “Arguing and Laughing: The Use of Humor to Negotiate in Group Discussions.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 16.2 (2003): 183-224.
  • Bornstein, M. H., and M. E. Arterberry. “Recognition, Discrimination and Categorization ofSmiling by 5-Month-Old Infants.” Developmental Science 6.5 (2003): 585-599.
  • Boston, Richard. An Anatomy of Laughter. London, England, Collins, 1974.
  • Bouissac, Paul. “A Laughable Theory of Laughter.” High Quality 22 (1992): 8-11.
  • Boyd, B. “Laughter and Literature: A Play Theory of Humor.” Philosophy and Literature 28.1 (2004): 1-22.
  • Braga, S. S., R. Manni, and R. F. Pedretti. “Laughter-Induced Syncope.” Lancet (July 30-August 6, 2005): 366-426.
  • Brody, R. “Anatomy of a Laugh.” American Health. (Dec, 1983): 43-47.
  • Brottman, Mikita. “Risus Sardonicus: Neurotic and Pathological Laughter.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research. 15.4 (2002): 401-418.
  • Brown, G. E., D. Brown, and J. Ramos. “Effects of a Laughing Versus a Non-Laughing Model on Humor: Responses in College Students.” Psychological Relports 48.1 (1981): 35-40.
  • Brown, G. E., K. J. Wheeler, and M. Cash. “The Effects of a Laughing vs. a Non-laughing Model on Humor Responses in Preschool Children.” Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 29 (1980): 334-39.
  • Buckley, Francis H. The Morality of Laughter. Ann Arobr, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2003.
  • Bushnell, D. D., and T. J. Scheff. “The Cathartic Effects of Laughter on Audiences.” The Study of Humor. Eds. Harvey Mindess and Joy Turek. Los Angeles, CA: Antioch Univ, 1979, 62ff.
  • Caron, James E. “From Ethology to Aesthetics: Evolution as a Theoretical Paradigm for Research on Laughter, Humor, and Other Comic Phenomena.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 15.3 (2002): 245-282.
  • Carroll, Noel. “Words, Images, and Laughter.” Persistence of Vision 14 (1997): 42-52.
  • Casadonte, Donald. “A Note on the Neuro-Mathematics of Laughter.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 16.2 (2003): 133-156.
  • Chapman, Antony J. “Humor and Laughter in Social Interaction and Some Implications. Handbook of Humor Research, Volume I. Eds. P. E. McGhee, and J. H. Goldstein. New York, NY: Springer, 1983, 135-157.
  • Chapman, Antony J. “Social Facilitation of Laughter in Children.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 9 (1973): 528-41.
  • Chapman, Antony J., and W. Chapman. “Responsiveness to Humor: Its Dependency upon a Companion’s Humorous Smiling and Laughter.” The Journal of Psychology 88 (1974): 245-52.
  • Chapman, Antony J., and Hugh C. Foot, eds. Humor and Laughter: Theory, Research, and Applications. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1996.
  • Chapman, Antony J., and D. S. Wright. “Social Enhancement of Laughter: An Experimental Analysis of Some Companion Variables.” Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 21 (1976): 201-218.
  • Charland, M. “Normes and Laughter in Rhetorical Culture.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 80.3 (1994): 339-342.
  • Chase, Jefferson S. Inciting Laughter: The Development of “Jewish Humor” in 19th Century German Culture. New York, NY: Walter de Gruyter, 1999.
  • Claassens, L. J. M. “Laughter and Tears: Carnivalistic Overtones in the Stories of Sarah and Hagar.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 32.3 (2005): 295-308.
  • Cleveland, Les. Dark Laughter: War in Song and Popular Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994.
  • Cogan, R., D. Cogan, W. Waltz, and M. McCue. “Effects of Laughter and Relaxation on Discomfort Thresholds.” Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 10.2 (1987): 139-144.
  • Coser, R. L. “Laughter among Colleagues.” Psychiatry 23 (1960): 81-95.
  • Coser, R. L. “Some Social Functions of Laughter: A Study of Humor in a Hospital Setting.” Human Relations 12.2 (1959): 171-182.
  • Cousins, Norman. “The Laughter Prescription.” The Saturday Evening Post Oct, 1990: 34.
  • Cousins, Norman. “Proving the Power of Laughter.” Psychology Today 23 (1989: 22-25.
  • Cox, Samuel S. Why We Laugh. New York: Benjamin Blom, 1969.
  • Dardick, G. “Learning to Laugh on the Job Principal 69.5 (1990): 32, 34.
  • Darwin, Charles. “Joy, High Spirits, Love, Tender Feelings, Devotion.” The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. New York, NY: D. Appleton, 1924, 196-219.
  • Davidhizar, Ruth, and Margaret Bowen. “The Dynamics of Laughter.” Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 6.2 (1992): 132-137.
  • Davidson, Cathy N. “Laughter without Comedy in For Whom the BellTolls.” Hemingway Notes 3.2 (1973): 609
  • Davis, Jessica Milner. “Taking Humour and Laughter Seriously.” Australian Journal of Comedy. 2.1 (1996): 77-88.
  • de Sousa, Ronald. “When Is It Wrong to Laugh?” The Philosophy of Laughter and Humor. Ed. John Morreall. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1987, 226-249.
  • Debenham, Warren. Laughter on Record: A Comedy Discography. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1988.
  • Delahaye, S. “Death by Laughter in Sade and Maupassant.” French Studies Bulletin 96 (2005): 16-17.
  • Derks, Peter, Lynn S. Gillikin, Debbie S. Bartolome-Rull, and Edward H. Bogart. “Laughter and Electroencephalographic Activity.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 10.3 (1997): 285-300.
  • Devereux, Paul G., and Gerald P. Ginsburg. “Sociality Effects on the Production of Laughter.” Journal of General Psychology “Special Issue on Humor and Laughter” Eds. Mahony, Diana L. and Louis G. Lippman.128.2 (2001): 227-240.
  • Dickie, S. “Joseph Andrews and the Great Laughter Debate.” Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 34 (2005): 271-332.
  • Dillon, K., B. Minchoff, and K. Baker. “Positive Emotional States and Enhancement of the Immune System.” International Journal of Psychiatric Medicine 15 (1985): 13-18.
  • Ding, G. F., and A. T. Jersild. “A Study of the Laughing and Smiling of Preschool Children.” Journal of Genetic Psychology 40 (1932): 452-472.
  • Dixon, N. “Humor: A Cognitive Alternative to Stress?” Stress and Anxiety. Eds. I. Sarason and C. Spielberger. 7 (1980): 281-289.
  • Dobbin, J. Individual Differences in th Appraisal of Stress and the Immunological Consequences: Psychological Moderation of Lymphocyte Activation and Cytokine Production. Ontario, Canada: University of Western Ontario, 1990.
  • Donoghu, E. E., M. W. McCarrey, and R. Clement. “Humor Appreciation as a Function of Canned Laughter, A Mirthful Companion, and Field Dependence–Facilation and Inhibitory Effects.” Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 15.2 (1983): 150-162.
  • Doskoch, P. “Happily ever Laughter.” Psychology Today July/August, 1996): 33-35.
  • Dossey, L. “Now You Are Fit to Live: Humor and Health.” Alternative Therapies 2.5 (1996): 8-13, 98-100.
  • Dudden, Arthur P. The Assault of Laughter. New York, NY: A. S. Barnes, 1962.
  • Dvorakova, Alena. “Laughing at Nothing: Humor as a Response to Nihilism.” British Journal of Aesthetics 45.1 (2005): 106-108.
  • Eastman, Max. Enjoyment of Laughter. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1936.
  • Eckardt, A. Roy. Sitting in the Earth and Laughing: A Handbook of Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1992.
  • Elliot-Binns, C. P. “Laughter and Medicine.” Journal of the Royal Coll Gen Pract 35.8 (1985): 364-65.
  • Elsley, Judy. “Laughter as Feminine Power in The Color Purple and A Question of Silence.” New Perspectives on Women and Comedy. Ed. Regina Barreca. Philadelphia, PA: Gordon and Breach, 1992, 193-200.
  • Erdman, L. “Laughter Therapy for Patients with Cancer.” Oncology Nursing Forum 18.8 (1991): 1359-1363.
  • Falk, Dana R., and Clara E. Hill. “Counselor Interventions Preceding Client Laughter in Brief Therapy.” Journal of Counseling Psychology 39.1 (1992): 39-45.
  • Farley-Hills, David. The Benovelence of Laughter: Comic Poetry of the Commonwealth and Restoration. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1974.
  • Fendt, G. “Apartheid among the Dead; Or, on Christian Laughter in Ann Petry’s `The Bones of Louella Brown.'” Contributions in Afroamerican and African Studies 209 (2004): 111-118.
  • Finnigan, Joan. Laughing All the Way Home: Indigenous Humour of the Ottawa Valley. Toronto, Canada: Deneau, 1984.
  • Flewelling, Ralph Tyler. “The Animal Capable of Laughter.” Personalist 25 (1944): 341-353.
  • Flugel, J. C. “Humor and Laughter.” Handbook of Social Psychology. Ed. Lindzey. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1954, 709-34.
  • Fogarasi, A., J. Janszky, Z. Siegler, and I. Tuxhorn. “Ictal Smile Lateralizes to the Right Hemisphere in Childhood Epilepsy.” Epilepsia 46.3 (2005): 449-451.
  • Foot, Hugh. “Humor and Laughter.” A Handbook of Communication Skills. Ed. O. D. W. Hargie. London, England: Croom Helm, 1986, 355-382.
  • Fox, Kathleen. “Laugh it Off: The Effect of Humor on the Well-Being of the Older Adult.” Journal of Gerontological Nursing 16.12 (December, 1990): 11-16.
  • Francis, L. E. “Laughter: The Best Mediation–Humor as Emotion Management Interaction.” Symbolic Interaction 17.2 (1994): 147-163.
  • Frank, Mark G., and Paul Ekman. “Not all Smiles are Created Equal: The Differences between Enjoyment and Nonenjoyment Smiles.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 6.1 (1993): 6-26.
  • Fridlund, Alan J. “Sociality of Solitary Smiling: Potentiation by an Implicit Audience.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 60 (1991): 229-240.
  • Fridlund, Alan J., and Jennifer M. Loftis. “Relations between Tickling and Humorous Laughter: Preliminary Support for the Darwin-Hecker Hypothesis.” Biological Psychology 30.2 (1990): 141-150.
  • Fry, William F. “Laughter: Is It the Best Medicine?” Stanford MD 10.1 (1971): 16-20.
  • Fry, William F. “The Respiritory Components of Mirthful Laughter.” Journal of Biological Psychology 19.2 (1977): 39-50.
  • Fry, William F., and William M. Savin. “Mirthful Laughter and Blood Pressure.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 1.1 (1988): 49-62.
  • Gallo, Nick. “Lighten Up: Laugh Your Way to Good Health.” Better Homes and Gardens. August, 1989: 31-32.
  • Gavioli, Lauri. “Turn-Initial Versus Turn-Final Laughter: Two Techniques for Initiating Remedy in English/Italian Bookshop Service Encounters.” Discourse Processes 19 (1995): 369-384.
  • Gazella, Katie. “Humor at the University of Michigan: A New Study Investigates What Makes Us Laugh, and Why.” LSA: College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Magazine (Fall, 2005): 41-42.
  • Gelbart, Larry. Laughing Matters. New York, NY: Random House, 1998.
  • Gelkopf, Marc, Shulamith Kreitler, and Mircea Sigal. “Laughter in a Psychiatric Ward: Somatic, Emotional, Social, and Clinical Influences on Schizophrenic Patients.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 185.1 (1993): 283-289.
  • Gelkopf, Marc, and M. Sigal. “It is Not Enlough to Have them Laugh: Hostility, Anger, and Humor-Coping in Schizophrenic Patients.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 8.3 (1995): 273-284.
  • Gervais, Matthew and David Sloane Wilson. “The Evolution of Laughter and Humor: A Synthetic Approach.” Quarterly Review of Biology 80.4 (2005): 395-430.
  • Gierycha, Ewa, Rafal Milnera, and Andrzej Michalskia. “ERP Responses to Smile-Provoking Pictures.” Journal of Psychophysiology 19.2 (2005): 77-90.
  • Giles, H., and G. S. Oxford. “Towards a Multidimensional Theory of Laughter Causation and its Social Implications.” Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 23 (1970): 97-105.
  • Gilligan, B. “A Positive Coping Strategy: Humor in the Oncology Setting.” Professional Nurse 8.4 (1993): 231-233.
  • Gilman, Diane, and Joel Goodman. “Laughing Matters.” In Context 13 (Spring, 1986): 11-13.
  • Glasgow, R. D. V. Madness, Masks, and Laughter. Teaneck, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995.
  • Glasgow, R. D. V. Split Down the Sides: On the Subject of Laughter. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997.
  • Glen, P. “Initiating Shared Laughter in Multi-Party Conversations.” Western Journal of Speech Communication 53 (1989): 127-149.
  • Glenn, Phillip. Laughter in Interaction. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003; reviewed by N. J. Enfield in Linguistics 400 (2005): 1195-1197; reviewed by Salvatore Attardo in HUMOR 18.4 (2005): 422-430.
  • Goldstein, Jeffrey H. “A Laugh a Day.” Sciences 22.6 (1982): 21-25.
  • Goldstein, Jeffrey H. “Therapeutic Effects of Laughter.” Handbook of Humor and Psychotherapy: Advances in the Clinical Use of Humor. Eds. William Fry and Waleed Salameh. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Exchange, 1987, 1-20.
  • Goodman, Joel. “How to Get More Smileage Out of Your Life: Making Sense of Humor, Then Serving It.” Handbook of Research in Humor: Volume 2, Applied Studies Eds. P. E. McGhee, and J. H. Goldstein. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1983, 1-21.
  • Goodrich, A. J., J. Henry, and D. W. Goodrich. “Laughter in Psychiatric Conferences: A Sociopsychiatric Analysis.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 24 (1954): 175-184.
  • Grant, Mary A. The Ancient Rhetorical Theories of the Laughable: The Greek Rhetoricians and Cicero. University of Wisconsin Studcies in Language and Literature 21. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 1924.
  • Gray, Frances. Women and Laughter. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1994.
  • Gregory, J. C. The Nature of Laughter. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1924.
  • Greig, J. Y. T. The Psychology of Laughter and Comedy. New York, NY: Cooper Square, 1969.
  • Grimm, Reinhold, ed. Laughter Unlimited. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1991.
  • Gronnerod, J. S. “On the Meanings and Uses of Laughter in Research Interviews: Relationships between Interviewed Men and a Woman Interviewer.” Young 12.1 (21004): 31-49.
  • Gross, E. “Laughter and Symbolic Interaction.” Symbolic Interaction 2 (1979): 111-112.
  • Grotjahn, Martin. “Beyond Laughter: A Summing Up.” Comedy: Meaning and Form. Ed. Robert W. Corrigan, San Francisco, CA: Chandler, 1965, 270-276.
  • Grumet, Gerald W. “Laughter: Nature’s Epileptoid Catharsis.” Psychological Reports 65 (1989): 1059-1078.
  • Gruner, Charles R. “Audiences’ Response to Jokes in Speeches With and Without, Recorded Laughs.” Psychological Reports 73.1 (1993): 347-350.
  • Gruner, Charles R. The Game of Humor: A Comprehensive Theory of Why We Laugh. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1997.
  • Gruner, Charles R. Understanding Laughter: The Workings of Wit and Humor. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1978.
  • Gruner, Charles R., L. J. Pelletier, and M. A. Williams. “Evaluative Responses to Jokes in Informative Speech With and Without Laughter by an Audience: A Partial Replication.” Psychological Reports 74 (1994): 446.
  • Gurevich, Aaron. “Bakhtin and his Theory of Carnival.” A Cultural History of Humour: From Antiquity to the Present Day. Eds. Bremmer, Jan, and Herman Roodenburg. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 1997, 54-60.
  • Gutwirth, Marcel. Laughing Matter: An Essay on the Comic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.
  • Hageseth, G. A Laughing Place: The Art and Psychology of Positive Humor in Love and Adversity Fort Collins, CO: Berwick, 1988.
  • Halliwell, S. “Greek Laughter and the Problem of the Absurd.” Arion 13.2 (2005): 121-146.
  • Hanly, Sheila. Peek-A-Boo! 101 Ways to Make a Baby Smile. New York, NY: D. K. Publishers, 1988.
  • Harral, Stewart. When It’s Laughter You’re After. Norman, OK: Univ of Oklahoma Press, 1962.
  • Hawakami, K. K. Takai-Kawakami, M. Tomonaga, J. Suzuki, T. Kusaka, and T. Okay. “Origins of Smiles and Laughter: A Preliminary Study.” Early Human Development (2005).
  • Hayashi, T., O. Urayama, K. Kawai, K. Hayashi, S. Iwanaga, M. Ohta, T. Saito, and K. Murakami. “Laughter Regulates Gene Expression in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.” Psychother. Psychosom. 75.1 (2006): 62-65.
  • Hayworth, D. “Social Origin and Function of Laughter.” Psychological Review 35 (1928): 367-384.
  • Hennenlotter, A., U. Schroeder, P. Erhard, F. Castrop, B. Haslinger, D. Stoecker, K. W. Lange, and A. O. Caballos-Bauman. “A Common Neural Basis for Receptive and Expressive Communicatoin of Pleasant Facial Affect.” Neuroimage 26.2 (2005): 581-591.
  • Herth, K. “Laughter: A Nursing Treatment.” American Journal of Nursing 84 (1984): 991-992.
  • Hertzler, Joyce O. Laughter: A Socio-Scientific Analysis. New York, NY: Exposition Press, 1970.
  • Holden, Robert. Laughter–The Best Medicine. London, England: Thorsons, 1995.
  • Holland, Norman N. Laughing: A Psychology of Humor. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ Press, 1982.
  • Holme, Bryan. A Present of Laughter. NY: Viking, 1982.
  • Hong, W. “Learning through Laughter: The Use of Cartoons in Business Chinese.” Journal of Language for International Business 15.1 (2004): 100-116.
  • Humann, Ursula. “Der Witz als Waffe: Lachen and Humor in der Jüdischen Tradition.” Tribüne 126 (1993): 179-187.
  • Hudak, D., A. Dale, M. Hudak, and D. DeGood. “Effects of Humorous Stimuli and Sense of Humor on Discomfort.” Psychological Reports 69.3 (1991): 779-786.
  • Hutcheson, Francis. Reflections on Laughter. New York, NY: Garland, 1971.
  • Ishigami, S, A. Nakajima, M. Tanno, T. Matsuzaki, H. Suzuki, and S. Yoshino. “Effects of Mirthful Laughter on Growth Hormone, IGF-1 and Substance P in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Clin. Exp. Rheumatol. 23.5 (2005): 651-657.
  • Jefferson, Gail. “An Exercise in the Transcription and Analysis of Laughter.” Handbook of Discourse Analysis, Volume 3: Discourse and Dialogue. Ed. T. A. van Dijk. London, England: Academic Press, 1985, 25-34.
  • Jefferson, Gail. “On the Organization of Laughter in Talk about Troubles.” Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversational Analysis. Eds. J. Atkinson and J. Heritage. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1984, 346-369.
  • Jefferson, Gail. “A Technique for Inviting Laughter and its Subsequent Acceptance/Declination.” Everyday Language: Studies in Ethnomethodology. Ed. G. Psathas. New York, NY: Irvington, 1979, 79-96.
  • Jenkins, Ron. Subversive Laughter: the Liberating Power of Comedy. New York, NY: Free Press, 1994.
  • Johnson, Helen. “Counteracting Performaitivity in Schools: The Case for Laughter as a Qualitative and Redemptive Indicator.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 10.1 (2005): 81-96.
  • Joubert, Laurent. Treatise on Laughter. Trans. Gregory David de Rocher. Birmingham, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1980.
  • Juni, Samuel, and Bernard Katz. “Self-Effacing Wit as a Response to Oppression: Dynamics in Ethnic Humor.” Journal of General Psychology Special Issue on Humor and Laughter Eds. Mahony, Diana L. and Louis G. Lippman.128.2 (2001): 117-119.
  • Kaplan, L. “Suspense, Para-Science and Laughter.” Sub-Stance 71-71 (1993): 306-314.
  • Karassev, Leonid V. Filosofia Smekha/Philosophy of Laughter. Moscow, Russia: R.G.G.U, 1996.
  • Kehl, D. G. “Varieties of Risible Experience: Grades of Laughter in Modern American Literature.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 13.4 (2000): 279-395.
  • Kelly, K. “Laughter: A Hearty Har-Har.” US News and World Report (March 21, 2005): 138-155.
  • Killeen, M. “Clinical Clowning: Humor in Hospice Care.” American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care 8.3 (1991): 23-27.
  • Kimata, H. “Reduction of Allergic Responses in Atopic Infants by Mother’s Laughter.” European Journal of Clinical Investigation 34.9 (2004): 645-646.
  • Kotani, K. “Socio-Psychological Activities Associated with Laughter in Older Japanese Females.” Arch. Med. Res 37.1 (2006): 186-187.
  • Kraut, R. E., and R. E. Johnston. “Social and Emotional Messages of Smiling: An Ethological Approach.” Journal of Personality Social Psychology. 37 (1979): 1539-1553.
  • Kreitler, H., and S. Kreitler. “Dependence of Laughter on Cognitive Strategies.” Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 16 (April, 1970): 163-177.
  • Kuhn, C. C. “The Stages of Laughter.” Journal of Nursing Jocularity 4.2 (1994): 34-35.
  • Kuipers, Giselinde. “Where Was King Kong When We Needed Him?: Public Discourse, Digital Disaster Jokes, and the Functions of Laughter after 9/11.” Journal of American and Comparative Cultures 28.1 (2005): 70-84.
  • Kundera, Milan. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. New York, NY: Penguin, 1980.
  • Kushner, B. “Laughter as Materiel: The Mobilization of Comedy in Japan’s Fifteen-Year War.” International History Review 26.2 (21004): 300-330.
  • LaFrance, M. “Felt Versus Feigned Funniness: Issues in Smiling and Laughing.” Handbook of Humor Research I. Eds. P. G. McGhee, and J. H. Goldstein. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1983, 1-12.
  • Labott, S., and R. Martin. “The Stress-Moderating Effects of Weeping and Humor.” Journal of Human Stress 13.4 (1987): 159-164.
  • Lahue, Kalton C. World of Laughter. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966.
  • Lally, Steven. “Laugh Your Stress Away.” Prevention. June, 1991: 50ff.
  • Lamb, Chris. “The Popularity of O. J. Simpson Jokes: The More We Know, the More We Laugh.” Journal of Popular Culture 28.1 (1994): 223-232.
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Allergies: Laughter Therapy improves breast milk’s health effect, reduces allergic skin reactions

Breastfed babies with eczema experienced milder symptoms if their mothers laughed hours before feeding them, according to a study by Hajime Kimata at the Moriguchi-Keijinkai Hospital in Osaka, Japan.

Hajime Kimata from the Moriguchi-Keijinkai Hospital in Osaka, Japan, says laughter improves breast milk's health effect, reduces allergic skin reactions
Hajime Kimata from the Moriguchi-Keijinkai Hospital in Osaka, Japan, says laughter improves breast milk's health effect, reduces allergic skin reactions

He showed breastfeeding mothers either a feature length Charlie Chaplin movie or bland footage of weather information, and took samples of breast milk at regular intervals afterwards. Two milk feeds later, he also measured their babies’ allergic reactions to dust mites and latex. Those infants whose mothers had laughed had markedly reduced reactions (Journal of Psychosomatic Research, vol 62, p 699). All participating babies and some of the mothers suffered from mild atopic eczema – the most common type.

Kimata also found significantly higher levels of melatonin in the laughing mothers’ milk. The hormone is associated with relaxation, and levels are reduced in people with eczema.

“It would be good to investigate if 15 minutes of laughter a day can reduce allergies in mothers and infants in the long term,” says Michael Miller of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, who studies the effect of laughter on heart disease.

Appetite Loss may have a new treatment option

Dr. Lee S. Berk, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunology researcher at Loma Linda University’s Schools of Allied Health (SAHP) and Medicine, along with his colleague Dr. Jerry Petrofsky at Loma Linda University, and their team have recently completed a new study:

14 healthy volunteers were recruited to a three-week study to examine the effects that eustress (mirthful laughter) and distress have on modulating the key hormones that control appetite. During the study, each subject was required to watch one 20-minute video at random that was either upsetting (distress) or humorous (eustress) in nature. The study was a cross-over design, meaning that the volunteers waited one week after watching the first video to eliminate its effect, then watched the opposite genre of video..

For a distressing video clip, the researchers had the volunteer subjects watch the tense first 20 minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan. This highly emotional video clip is known to distress viewers substantially and equally.

For the eustress video, the researchers had each volunteer choose a 20-minute video clip from a variety of humorous options including stand-up comedians and movie comedies. Allowing the volunteers to “self-select” the eustress that most appealed to them guaranteed their maximum humor response.

During the study, the researchers measured each subject’s blood pressure and took blood samples immediately before and after watching the respective videos. Each blood sample was separated out into its components and the liquid serum was examined for the levels of two hormones involved in appetite, leptin and ghrelin, for each time point used in the study.
When the researchers compared the hormone levels pre- and post-viewing, they found that the volunteers who watched the distressing video showed no statistically significant change in their appetite hormone levels during the 20-minutes they spent watching the video.
In contrast, the subjects who watched the humorous video had changes in blood pressure and also changes in the leptin and ghrelin levels. Specifically, the level of leptin decreased as the level of ghrelin increased, much like the acute effect of moderate physical exercise that is often associated with increased appetite.
Berk explains that this research does not conclude that humor increases appetite. He explains, “The ultimate reality of this research is that laughter causes a wide variety of modulation and that the body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise. The value of the research is that it may provide for those who are health care providers with new insights and understandings, and thus further potential options for patients who cannot use physical activity to normalize or enhance their appetite.”

Appetite Loss may have a new treatment option. For example, many elderly patients often suffer from what is known as “wasting disease.” They become depressed and, combined with a lack of physical activity, lose their appetite and jeopardize their health and well-being. Based on Berk’s current research, these patients may be able to use laughter exercises as an alternative, initially less strenuous, activity to regain their appetite.

A similar loss of appetite is often seen in widowers, who typically suffer depression after the loss of a spouse. This often results in decreased immune-system function and subsequent illness in the surviving spouse. Chronic pain patients also suffer from appetite loss due to the chemical changes in their body that cause intolerable discomfort.

While laughter may seem unimaginable in the face of deep depression or intense chronic pain, it may be an accessible alternative starting point for these patients to regain appetite and consequently, improve and enhance their recovery to health.

Berk’s current research expands the role of laughter on the human body and whole-person care, but also complicates an already complicated emotion. He acknowledges, “I am more amazed by the interrelatedness of laughter and body responses with the more evidence and knowledge we collect. It’s fascinating that positive emotions resulting from behaviors such as music playing or singing, and now mirthful laughter, translate into so many types of [biological] mechanism optimizations. As the old biblical wisdom states, it may indeed be true that laughter is a good medicine.”


Blood pressure: laughter and music could lower blood pressure just as much as cutting salt

Researchers at Osaka University in Japan assigned 79 people between the ages of 40 and 74 to one of three groups. Thirty-two were assigned to a music group where they listened to music and sang with music therapists. Thirty participants participated in laughter yoga, which combines breathing exercises with laughter stimulated through playful eye contact, plus watched a traditional Japanese comedy show called Rakugo. Each session took place for one hour twice a week for three months. The remaining 17 were controls who neither listened to music nor participated in the laughter sessions.

At the end of the study, which was presented at the American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions, those who listened to music experienced a 6 mmHg decrease in blood pressure. Those in the laughter group had a decrease of 5 mmHg.

The beneficial effects of laughter and music are likely due to stress reduction. Lead author Eri Eguchi, a public health researcher at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Medicine, says that the participants’ cortisol level, a stress marker, decreased as well just after the intervention sessions.

“Also, people with intervention may be more motivated to modify their health behaviors,” Eguchi added. “The data showed that the amount of exercise increased in the intervention group, but not in non-intervention group.”

Researchers aren’t sure if the interventions will persist on a long-term basis, and more study is needed to further evaluate the findings.


Cardiovascular health: laughter helps blood vessels function better

A 2005 research at the University of Maryland Medical Center showed that laughing boosts your blood flow.  Researchers say it may reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Volunteers were shown funny and disturbing movies to test the effect of emotions on blood vessels Using laughter-provoking movies to gauge the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.

When the same group of study volunteers was shown a movie that produced mental stress, their blood vessel lining developed a potentially unhealthy response called vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow. That finding confirms previous studies, which suggested there was a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels.

The results of the study, conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, were presented at the Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology on March 7, 2005, in Orlando, Florida.

The endothelium has a powerful effect on blood vessel tone and regulates blood flow, adjusts coagulation and blood thickening, and secretes chemicals and other substances in response to wounds, infections or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

“The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, so, given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” says principal investigator Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “At the very least, laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium.”

The study included a group of 20 non-smoking, healthy volunteers, equally divided between men and women, whose average age was 33. The participants had normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Each volunteer was shown part of two movies at the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum. They were randomized to first watch either a movie that would cause mental stress, such as the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan” (DreamWorks, 1998), or a segment of a movie that would cause laughter, such as “King Pin” (MGM, 1996). A minimum of 48 hours later, they were shown a movie intended to produce the opposite emotional extreme.

Prior to seeing a movie, the volunteers fasted overnight and were given a baseline blood vessel reactivity test to measure what is known as flow-mediated vasodilation. For that test, blood flow in the brachial artery in the arm was restricted by a blood pressure cuff and released. An ultrasound device then measured how well the blood vessel responded to the sudden increase in flow.

Volunteers watched a 15-minute segment of the movie while lying down in a temperature-controlled room. After the movie was shown, the brachial artery was constricted for five minutes and then released. Again, ultrasound images were acquired. Changes in blood vessel reactivity after the volunteers watched a movie lasted for at least 30 to 45 minutes. A total of 160 blood vessel measurements were performed before and after the laughter and mental stress phases of the study.

There were no differences in the baseline measurements of blood vessel dilation in either the mental stress or laughter phases. But there were striking contrasts after the movies were seen. Brachial artery flow was reduced in 14 of the 20 volunteers following the movie clips that caused mental stress. In contrast, beneficial blood vessel relaxation or vasodilation was increased in 19 of the 20 volunteers after they watched the movie segments that generated laughter. Overall, average blood flow increased 22 percent during laughter, and decreased 35 percent during mental stress.

Several volunteers had already seen “Saving Private Ryan,” says Dr. Miller, but even so, some of them were among the 14 with reduced blood flow.

“The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains and muscle tension associated with exercise,” says Dr. Miller. “We don’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but we do recommend that you try to laugh on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.”

Dr. Miller says this study was not able to determine the source of laughter’s benefit. “Does it come from the movement of the diaphragm muscles as you chuckle or guffaw, or does it come from a chemical release triggered by laughter, such as endorphins?” he asks. Dr. Miller says a compound called nitric oxide is known to play a role in the dilation of the endothelium. “Perhaps mental stress leads to a breakdown in nitric oxide or inhibits a stimulus to produce nitric oxide that results in vasoconstriction,” says Dr. Miller.

The current study builds on earlier research Dr. Miller conducted on the potential benefits of laughter, reported in 2000, which suggested that laughter may be good for the heart. In that study, answers to questionnaires helped determine whether people were prone to laughter and ascertain their levels of hostility and anger. Three hundred volunteers participated in the study. Half of them had suffered a heart attack or had undergone coronary artery bypass surgery; the other half did not have heart disease. People with heart disease responded with less humor to everyday life situations than those with a normal cardiovascular system.

Dr. Miller says certain factors in the earlier study may have affected the results. For example, he says it may be that people who have already had a coronary event are not as laughter-prone as those who do not have heart disease.

He says the current study sought to eliminate that uncertainty by using volunteers whose cardiovascular system was healthy. The results of the brachial artery blood flow measurements, which are precise and objective, appear to make the connection between laughter and cardiovascular health even stronger, according to Dr. Miller.

Other researchers in the study included Charles Mangano, R.D.M.S; Young Park, M.D.; Radha Goel, M.D.; Gary Plotnick, M.D. and Robert A. Vogel, M.D., all from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and a Veterans Affairs Merit award to Dr. Miller.

Watch a video with Dr Miller on how to prevent heart disease.


Complementary medicine: Laughter Therapy cuts health costs 23 per cent

New research in Japan has shown that laughter therapy is an efficient low-cost medical treatment that cuts health costs. Geneticist Kazuo Murakami considers that laughter is a stimulant, which can trigger energy inside a person’s DNA potentially helping cure disease. “A laughing therapy has no side-effect, meaning it is an epoch-making treatment for clinical medicine,” he said. “If we prove people can switch genes on and off by an emotion like laughter, it may be the finding of the century which should be worth the Nobel Prize or even go beyond that.”

Geneticist Kazuo Murakami considers that laughter is a stimulant, which can trigger energy inside a person's DNA potentially helping cure disease.
Geneticist Kazuo Murakami considers that laughter is a stimulant, which can trigger energy inside a person's DNA potentially helping cure disease.

His research is published in the January 2006 edition of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, a US academic journal. The ministry of economy, trade and industry believes that laughter therapy could be used as preventive medical care. With the ministry’s financial support, Osaka Sangyo University in western Japan formed a joint venture with researchers, firms and doctors in 2004 to provide elderly people with a complete medical care program combining physical training and laughter therapy.

According to project officials, the 92 participants polled said their combined annual medicare costs fell 23 per cent after they joined the program.



Dr. Kazuo Murakami is one of the top geneticists in the world and Professor Emeritus at the University of Tsukuba, Japan

Complementary medicine: Laughter Therapy encourages and empowers people to actively participate in their health care

Dr. Gita Suraj Narayan, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Work and Community Development, University of Kwazulu-Natal (and a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher!) recently proved that Laughter is a powerful form of complementary Medicine through her research and a series of Community Outreach Projects.

Dr. Gita Suraj Narayan is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Work and Community Development, University of Kwazulu-Natal.
Dr. Gita Suraj Narayan is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Work and Community Development, University of Kwazulu-Natal.

Dr Suraj-Narayan was inspired by the founder of Laugher Yoga, Dr Madan Kataria, to carry out research exploring the Bio Psycho-Social Impact of Laughter Therapy on Stroke Patients and to empower rural communities using laughter yoga with cognitive restructuring as an alternate form of therapy.

The study, which commenced in September 2008 comprised 120 laughter therapy sessions using various laughter techniques, pranayama (deep yogic breathing exercises) and cognitive restructuring conducted on stroke patients between the ages of 40 to 90 in the Verulam Frail Care Community.

Initially, some of the stroke patients viewed laughter therapy with skepticism. However by their fourth session, they were more receptive to this form of therapy, said Dr Suraj-Narayan. Significant findings of the study included:

  • a reduction in post-stroke depression resulting from direct damage to emotional centres in the brain, compounded by frustration and difficulty adapting to new limitations. These included anxiety, panic attacks, flat effect (failure to express emotions) and apathy, often characterized by lethargy, irritability, sleep disturbances, lowered self esteem and withdrawal, and a reduction in stroke-related pain.
  • enhanced mobility and the ability to walk without walking aids.
  • endorphins released as a result of laughter helped in reducing the intensity of pain.
  • in some cases laughter therapy helped patients recover from cognitive deficits resulting from stroke including perceptual disorders, speech problems, and problems with attention and memory.
  • improved communication and relations between the patient and significant others.

“Stroke patients viewed laughter therapy as a safe medium to overcome their problems. They developed a zeal and enthusiasm to do things for themselves. For older stroke patients it had given them inner joy and offered them a renewed sense of purpose to live,” said Dr Suraj-Narayan.

Observing the positive effects laughter therapy has on stroke patients, Dr Suraj-Narayan said she attained “super-sensuous joy” and a sense of fulfillment knowing that this therapy made a profound difference in the lives of people who were vulnerable.

In another study last year, Dr Suraj-Narayan also conducted laughter yoga combined with cognitive restructuring with patients suffering from stress, sugar diabetics, asthma, depression and high blood pressure.

“After exposure to laughter therapy over a four-month period I found a reduction in stress levels, depression, sugar diabetes and blood pressure among some of the participants. Because laughter improves the lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood some of the participants reported a reduced frequency of asthmatic attacks and in the use of nebulisers,” said Dr Suraj-Narayan.

The laughter exercises conducted by Dr Suraj-Narayan stimulated heart and blood circulation equivalent to any other standard aerobic exercise. According to Dr Suraj-Narayan a belly laugh is equivalent to “internal jogging.” Laughter provides a good cardiac conditioning especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercises.

“Laughter therapy may be used as a supplementary treatment to patients who are already on medication for their ailments. It should not be used as a substitute for medication,” said Dr Suraj-Narayan. She plans to develop an integrated model of laughter therapy incorporating individual, group and community development which can be used within the School of Social Work and Community Development and other related disciplines.

Dr Suraj-Narayan discovered laughter is an excellent medium to minimize the negative impacts of contemporary issues facing rural and urban communities. She has conducted several community outreach projects using laughter therapy aimed at breaking down the barriers of social isolation, discrimination, oppression and concomitant depression, as well as to expose people to a light-hearted but effective way of enhancing their sense of well-being and reducing stress and burnout.

She says laughter also encourages and empowers people to actively participate in their health care.


Where Is Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa?


Diabetes: mirthful laughter raises good cholesterol, lowers inflammation

Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, has paired with Stanley Tan, MD, PhD an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute, Loma Linda, CA, to examine the effect of “mirthful laughter” on individuals with diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic syndrome characterized by the risk of heart attack, blindness and other neurological, immune and blood vessel complications. They found that mirthful laughter, as a preventive adjunct therapy in diabetes care, raised good cholesterol and lowered inflammation.

The Study
A group of 20 high-risk diabetic patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia were divided into two groups: Group C (control) and Group L (laughter). Both groups were started on standard medications for diabetes, hypertension (ACE inhibitor or ARB)) and hyperlipidemia (statins). The researchers followed both groups for 12 months, testing their blood for the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine; HDL cholesterol; inflammatory cytokines TNF-α IFN-γ and IL-6, which contribute to the acceleration of atherosclerosis and C-reactive proteins (hs-CRP), a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Group L viewed self-selected humor for 30 minutes in addition to the standard therapies described above.

The patients in the laughter group (Group L) had lower epinephrine and norepinephrine levels by the second month, suggesting lower stress levels. They had increased HDL (good) cholesterol. The laughter group also had lower levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6 and hs-CRP levels, indicating lower levels of inflammation.

At the end of one year, the research team saw significant improvement in Group L: HDL cholesterol had risen by 26 percent in Group L (laughter), and only 3 percent in the Group C (control). Harmful C-reactive proteins decreased 66 % in the laughter group vs. 26 percent for the control group.

The study suggests that the addition of an adjunct therapeutic mirthful laughter Rx (a potential modulator of positive mood state) to standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase “good” cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that mirthful laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome. Further studies need to be done to expand and elucidate these findings.

In describing himself as a “hardcore medical clinician and scientist,” Dr. Berk says, “the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope. Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment.”


Education: laughing leads to learning

Numerous studies point to the fact that laughter produces psychological and physiological benefits that help students learn.

Modern research in the field of positive psychology shows that 90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by your external world but by the way your brain processes the world. If you change your formula for happiness and success, you can change the way it affects reality.

We now know that 75% of job success is defined by:

  • optimism level (Hom and Arbuckle, 1988)
  • social support level
  • ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat (Estrada, Isen and Young, 1997)

If you can raise someone’s positive level in the present, then their brain experiences a happiness advantage: it will perform significantly better at that level than when it is at a negative, neutral or stressed level. Intelligence, creativity, energy levels rise, every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than at negative, neutral or stressed. You are 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19% faster and more accurate at coming with the correct diagnosis.

This has a lot to do witht he fact that dopamine (which floods into your system when you are positive) has two functions: not only does it make you happier, it turns on all the learning centers in your brain allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way.

When you find a way of becoming positive in the present then your brain works even more successfully as you are able to work harder, faster and more intelligently. The Laughter Therapy exercise program available to you on this website is therefore an important part of the happiness toolkit.


Happiness research: how to improve your happiness levels

Experts believe they have found the essential ingredients to make a person’s life happier. In an unusual three-month experiment, six specialists from a variety of disciplines worked to improve the happiness levels of a typical UK town. The experts tried and tested 10 simple measures in the quest for happiness. They found successful strategies included nurturing a plant, smiling at strangers and cutting television viewing by a half.

Jury deliberations: laughter plays key roles in group communication and group dynamics

Laughter can play key roles in group communication and group dynamics — even when there’s nothing funny going on. That’s according to new research from North Carolina State University that examined the role of laughter in jury deliberations during a capital murder case. The researchers were given access to the full transcript of jury deliberations in the 2004 Ohio trial of Mark Ducic, a white male charged with two murders and 30 additional counts, largely related to drug violations.

Here is a summary of the research:

“Laughter is one way of dealing with ambiguity and tension in situations where a group is attempting to make consequential decisions and informal power dynamics are in play,” Keyton says. “There are very few opportunities to see group decision making, with major consequences, in a public setting,” Keyton explains. “It is usually done in private, such as in corporate board meetings or judicial proceedings. But laughter is something that occurs frequently, and not only because something is funny. Nobody in the jury was laughing at jokes.”


Life expectancy: sense of humour reduces mortality

Researchers at NTNU and St. Olav’s Hospital in Norway have found the first evidence in history that proves that a sense of humour reduces mortality. In January in a particular year, all patients with chronic kidney failure in Sør-Trøndelag County were invited to participate in the study. The patients were very ill and had to receive dialysis at least once a week, some every day, to purify the blood for substances that the kidneys would normally filter out into the urine. Without the dialysis, they would die. Approximately 80 per cent of these patients provided answers to questions regarding their age, gender, education, quality of life, and sense of humour.

If the patient belonged to the half that scored relatively high on sense of humour, the risk of dying within two years was reduced by 30 per cent. The figures appeared after making considerations to aspects that could be caused by other health issues, the general quality of life, and other conditions.

No other patient characteristics could predict life or death within two years as strongly as the score for sense of humor.

Not everyone buys that view

“I’m very skeptical,” says William Breitbart, psychiatry chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “Of course, Art Buchwald would be the poster boy for that idea.” Humorist Buchwald, who entered a hospice in January 2006, was expected to die within days of untreated kidney failure. He lived for another year, though, and never stopped joking.

Still, Breitbart says that in 22 years of treating cancer patients, “I’ve met a lot of funny people who died of cancer pretty quickly.” He says stage of disease and aggressiveness of tumors matter far more than a person’s sense of humor.

But someone who can see humor in bad side effects of chemotherapy might stick it out for more treatment, “and that could be a way that humor affects survival.”


Our Own Opinion

’tis very clear: it’s not the sense of humor. It’s the attitude.


Where Is St. Olav’s Hospital, Norway?


Mental Health: forced laughter is a mood enhancer, boosts psychological wellbeing

“Forced laughter is a powerful, readily available and cost-free way for many adults to regularly boost their mood and psychological wellbeing,” said Charles Schaefer, psychology professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Professor Schaefer also found that self-imposed smiling is a mood enhancer. But howling like a wolf for a minute didn’t do anything – except make a racket, Professor Schaefer and his research colleagues reported in two separate studies in Psychological Reports.

His findings come from two experiments he conducted on 39 college students and Teaneck residents. While additional studies with larger samples are needed to bolster his conclusions, Professor Schaefer said, these initial results are important enough to warrant attention.

Professor Schaefer said he uncovered the salubrious effect of artificial laughter in a study of 17 Fairleigh Dickinson students. He first asked them questions that measured their mood. Then he directed them to laugh heartily for a minute, and tested them again. On average, test subjects reported feeling significantly better after 60 seconds of fake merriment.

Why would phony laughter work? Because your body doesn’t know it’s fake, even though your brain might, Professor Schaefer said. “Once the brain signals the body to laugh, the body doesn’t care why. It’s going to release endorphins, it’s going to relieve stress as a natural physiological response to the physical act of laughing.”

Intrigued, Professor Schaefer designed a second study to compare the effects of forced laughter with continuous smiling or howling.

He directed 22 study participants to smile broadly for 60 seconds, laugh heartily for 60 seconds and howl for 60 seconds. Laughing and smiling both helped boost their spirits, but howling didn’t, he found. Forced laughter was the best medicine. “One minute of forced laughing showed a significantly greater improvement than one minute of smiling,” Professor Schaefer said.

How did test subjects know exactly what to do?

“My research assistant and I would demonstrate,” Professor Schaefer said.

“We stood before them and laughed hysterically and then howled. I instructed them to imagine a wolf howling at the moon. When they saw a senior professor howling, it took away some of their natural self-consciousness.”

Neuroscience: analysis of 1,200 laughter episodes proves laughter is good for you

Based on an analysis of 1,200 laughter episodes, psychology professor Robert R. Provine, of the University of Maryland, concludes that:

Dr Robert R. Provine is a neuroscientist. He works at the University Of Maryland.
Dr Robert R. Provine is a neuroscientist. He works at the University Of Maryland.
  • Less than 20% of laughter is related to jokes;
  • People are more likely to laugh in groups than when alone;
  • Women laugh more often than men;
  • Most laughter is in the context of regular conversation, rather than in attempts to stimulate laughs;
  • Speakers laugh more than listeners;
  • Males are leading producers of humor; females are the leading laughers;
  • Laughter produces activities in cells that attacks viruses and tumor cells, hence frequent laughers are healthier than frequent frowners;
  • Bad feelings lead to bad habits, people with bad feelings frown more and laugh less;
  • People who look at the bright side of things, laugh more often and are healthier;
  • Laughing is contagious; those who laugh or smile, make others laugh or smile.

Doris Bergen, professor of educational psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, says that while laughter is an innate characteristic, our reasons for laughing vary at different ages. Children, for example, laugh unconditionally while adults laugh for some reason or purpose.

Babies start giggling as a result of physical interaction from games such as peekaboo. Even at that early age, a baby laughs if she anticipates her father approaching her, but watches him tumbling and falling down.

When children get to preschool age, they begin understanding riddling patterns. They laugh at riddle-telling, regardless of whether they understand the point of the riddle.

Young children are estimated to laugh over 300 times a day – a reason why they seem to have more obvious fun than adults who average 20 times daily.

Not so long ago, laughter was considered an unsocial, sinister behavior. In the eighteenth century, Lord Chesterfield, writing to his son, said, “. . . there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter.”

According to Oliver Goldsmith, laughter was the expression of “the vacant mind” and John Ray likened it as “the hiccup of a fool.”

Today we have come a long way. Laughter is accepted as a natural, social behaviour. In fact, having a good sense of humour is regarded as a thoroughly desirable attribute by almost all of us, including human resource managers.

Recent surveys indicate that laughter can enhance the quality of our conversations and productivity. It makes people feel closer to each other.

In his book, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, Provine says that laughter is the oil in the social machine, helping human interactions run more smoothly.

Provine reveals laughter is 30 times less likely to occur when a person is alone than when a person is with others.

We tend to think of laughter as being tee-hee or ha-ha or ho-ho sorts of sounds, but studies conducted by Vanderbilt psychologist Jo-Anne Bachorowski and Cornell psychologist Michael Owren indicate otherwise: laughers produce many different kinds of sounds, including grunts and snorts.

Bachorowski and Owren studied the way 97 young adults laugh in different kind of social pairings as they watched humorous scenes from films such as When Harry Met Sally or Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

In their research, published in the September 2000 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, the investigators found interesting gender differences in laughter sounds, with males tending to grunt and snort more often than females.

Women produced more musical laughter than men. These song-like laughs are “voiced,” meaning that they involve the vocal folds, the tissues in the larynx involved in producing vowels and related sounds.

On average, men and women produced the same number of laughs, but men tended to laugh a “bit longer” than women.

A person’s laughter was found to be dependent on the sex of his or her companion. When paired with friends of either sex, men laughed significantly more than men who were tested alone or with a male or female stranger.

Women, one the other hand, produced more laughs in the company of a male friend than females tested alone, with a female friend, or with a male stranger.

Laughter is greatly influential. In a study presented at the 138th Acoustic Society of America meeting, Bachorowski and Owren studied the impact that laughter sounds have on emotional responses in listeners.

In a quite room, undergraduate students listened to a set of 70 laughs over headphones. Fifty of the laughs (25 produced by males and 25 by females) were voiced. The remaining 20 laughs (10 produced by males and 10 by females) were unvoiced, sounding more like pants or cackles.

The students were asked to rate the laugh samples in terms of their friendliness, sexiness, how interested they would be in meeting the laugher, whether they thought the laugh should be included in a laugh track, and the extent to which it elicited a positive emotional response.

Regardless of the rating scheme, the researchers found that listeners were more likely to rate comparatively stereotypical, song-like laughs more positively than the other types.

“These results support the notion that one important function of laugh acoustics is to influence the emotional responses of listeners,” the researchers conclude.

The science of laughter is in its infancy, but one thing is clear: laughter is good you.

Read a very in-depth article by Dr Provine on his research on laughter, published in the American Scientist 84. 1 (Jan-Feb, 1996): 38-47.


Pain 10% more bearable after laughing with friends

Laughing with friends for around 15 minutes boosts a person’s pain threshold by an average of 10%, an international study has found.

A research team led by evolutionary anthropologists from Oxford University in the UK has concluded that the endorphins released by a big belly laugh in a social setting can make pain more bearable.

Noting that previous studies had found laughter was more likely when in a group than when alone, the researchers conducted experiments where groups of participants watched comedy clips, including Mr Bean, or live comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A control group was shown factual videos like golf tournament footage.

After viewing, the participants were given pain tolerance tests such as seeing how long they could withstand cold, a tight blood pressure cuff or do strenuous exercise.

“We tested the hypothesis that social laughter elevates pain thresholds both in the laboratory and under naturalistic conditions. In both cases, the results confirmed that when laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change (and are often lower),” the researchers wrote in their paper, which was titled “Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold” and published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“These results can best be explained by the action of endorphins released by laughter.”

Read the full article here.

Pain management: laughter helps relieve pain for kids having medical procedures

Using Icy Waters, Researchers Replicated Pain from Medical Procedures. Laughter Helped.

Margaret Stuber, M.D., from the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center says that laughter helps children tolerate pain longer
Margaret Stuber, M.D., from the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center says that laughter helps children tolerate pain longer
A 2007 research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center showed that laughter could help dull the pain that children and adolescents have when they’re getting painful medical procedures. It can actually also dull the pain associated with many medical procedures.

Here is the research protocol:

Eighteen healthy children aged seven to 16 – 12 boys and six girls – with a mean age of 12 participated in the study. An ice chest was fitted with a plastic mesh screen to separate crushed ice from a plastic mesh armrest placed in 50 degree water. Water was circulated through the ice by a pump to prevent local warming. Participants placed a hand in the cold water to a depth of two inches above the wrist for up to three minutes maximum. Hands were warmed between tests with warm towels.

Researchers documented how long each child kept their hands in the cold water, noting how many times the child laughed and smiled during the process.

Those children and adolescents who showed the greatest signs of laughter were able to keep their hands in the cold water for significantly long periods of time. While further research is needed, this study gives clear indications that laughter should be looked to for pain management.



Where is the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center?



Pregnancies (IVF): laughter helps raise conception rate from 20 per cent to 35 per cent

After introducing clown therapy to patients having in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), doctors at Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zerifin said their conception rate rose from 20 per cent to 35 per cent.
“To our surprise we found a significant difference between the women who were exposed to clowning,” said Dr Shevach Friedler, a trained mime artist and fertility doctor at the centre.

Some 33 of the 93 women entertained for 10 to 15 minutes by the professional clown conceived, compared with 18 patients among the same group who did not receive a performance, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Prague heard.

US scientists found that a build-up of stress can play a major role in preventing a woman from ovulating.

Pregnancies (IVF): women who laughed almost twice as likely to become pregnant

Researchers found that women who laughed during their recovery from the embryo transfer were almost twice as likely to become pregnant (this was done using clowns to make the women laugh).

In a study of 219 women undergoing IVF published in Fertility and Sterility, an Israeli team led by Shevach Friedler found that the odds of success were greater among women who were entertained by a professional “medical clown” just after the embryos were transferred to their wombs.

Overall, 36% became pregnant, as compared to 20% of women who’d had a comedy-free recovery after the transfer procedure.

Friedler said he got the idea for the study after reading about the potential physiological impact of laughter as a “natural anti-stress mechanism”.

“Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are incredibly stressed,” said Friedler, who is based at Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zrifin, Israel.

To test the idea, the research team had a medical clown visit their fertility clinic periodically over one year. Of the 219 women in the study, half underwent embryo transfer on a day the clown was at the clinic.

During recovery from the procedure, each woman had a 15-minute visit from the clown, who performed a specific routine created by Friedler – who has studied movement and mime – and a colleague.

The researchers found that, compared to women who came to the clinic on a “non-clown” day, those who’d had a laugh were more than twice as likely to become pregnant, when other factors such as age, type of infertility and the number of embryos transferred, were taken into account.

Friedler said more studies were needed to see if other stress-reducing techniques might be useful, noting that it wasn’t clear if the clown intervention had actually worked to curb stress. Researchers also don’t know what role emotional stress might play in IVF success.

Friedler said that if studies at other centres back up his findings, fertility clinics elsewhere might take up the tactic. “After all, this is one of the least hazardous interventions in our field,” he said.


Psychology on laughter: the capacity for human laughter preceded the capacity for speech

The following points are made by Jaak Panksepp (Science 2005 308:5718):

1) Research suggests that the capacity for human laughter preceded the capacity for speech during evolution of the brain. Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain [1] and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along. Recent studies in rats, dogs, and chimps [2,3] are providing evidence that laughter and joy may not be uniquely human traits.
Continue reading Psychology on laughter: the capacity for human laughter preceded the capacity for speech

Psychophysiology: just the expectation of a mirthful laughter experience boosts endorphins

There’s no doubt that laughter feels good, but is there real neurophysiology behind it and what can you do about it?
In a paper being presented in an American Physiological Society session at Experimental Biology 2006, Lee S. Berk of Loma Linda University, reports that not only is there real science and psychophysiology, but just the anticipation of the “mirthful laughter” involved in watching your favorite funny movie has some very surprising and significant neuroendocrine/hormone effects.

Dr Lee Berk of Loma Linda University says just the expectation of a mirthful laughter experience boosts endorphins
Dr Lee Berk of Loma Linda University says just the expectation of a mirthful laughter experience boosts endorphins
According to Berk: “The blood drawn from experimental subjects just before they watched the video had 27% more beta-endorphins and 87% more human growth hormone, compared to blood from the control group, which didn’t anticipate the watching of a humorous video. Between blood pulls, the control group stayed in a waiting room and could choose from a wide variety of magazines,” he explained.

Berk said that the strong difference between the two groups in terms of human growth hormone (HGH) and beta-endorphin blood levels was maintained from just prior to the beginning of video watching, throughout the hour of viewing and afterwards, also.

“We believe the results suggest that the anticipation of a humor/laughter eustress (positive stress) event initiates changes in neuroendocrine response prior to the onset of the event itself,” Berk said. “From our prior studies, this modulation appears to be concomitant with mood state changes, and taken together, these would appear to carry important, positive implications for wellness, disease-prevention and most certainly stress-reduction,” he noted.

In the current experiment, Berk and his colleagues studied 16 healthy and fasting males, who hadn’t exercised for at least a day and were not taking supplement medications. The test subjects had chosen a favorite video. Three days before the experiment, all the subjects were told which group they were randomly selected to be in, experimental (video watching) or control (no video watching). All subjects had blood drawn just before the video watching experiment began (baseline), four times during the hour-long experiment, and three times afterward.

“One of the keys in this kind of experiment is to set the baseline and control environment carefully,” Berk said. “In this case, the control group basically sits in a ‘neutral’ room waiting to have their blood drawn, and on the tables there is a wide variety of magazines that they can browse, because you don’t want to bias what they do or watch. Time and behavior have proved me right with this approach,” he added.

Berk said the results of this “anticipatory mirthful laughter experience, which is a kind of eustress or ‘positive/good stress’ event, builds on our earlier work and may constitute a real construct for what is the ‘biology of hope.'” Earlier experiments showed that viewing a favorite funny video can offset symptoms of chronic stress, which can suppress various components of the immune responses, particularly those related to anti-viral and anti-tumor defenses. In addition, there appears to be a rebalancing of the Th1/Th2 immune response which suggestively could lead to reduction of autoimmune issues.

“Mirthful laughter diminishes the secretion of cortisol and epinephrine, while enhancing immune reactivity. In addition, mirthful laughter boosts secretion of growth hormone, an enhancer of these same key immune responses. The physiological effects of a single one-hour session viewing a humorous video has appeared to last up to 12 to 24 hours in some individuals,” Berk noted, ” while other studies of daily 30-minute exposure produces profound and long-lasting changes in these measures.

In addition, Berk noted: “An area we will pursue is the modulation and change in Th1 and Th2 cytokine and inflammatory immune responses to the anticipation and experience of the positive mood state changes associated with mirthful laughter.”

Future research in this area with more subjects “needs to elaborate these findings in psychoneuroimmunology understanding and the mechanism linkage modulation between anticipatory positive behaviors and neuroendocrine and immune responses,” Berk said. “It may sound corny but we in the health care medical sciences need to ‘get serious about happiness’ and the lifestyle that produces it, relative to mind, body and spirit and its biotranslation,” he added.

“Why do you think Reader’s Digest has claimed that ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ for so many years?” Berk concludes.

Name of research: “Beta-Endorphin and HGH increase are associated with both the anticipation and experience of mirthful laughter.” Research was by Lee S. Berk, Department of Health Promotion and Education, School of Public Health and Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Loma Linda University; Stanley A. Tan, Oakcrest Health Research Institute, Yucaipa; and James Westengard, Dept. of Pathology, School of Medicine; Berk is associated with all three institutions.


Where Is Loma Linda University?



Relationships: homegrown laughter may be what ailing couples need most

Robert Provine, Ph.D., says that homegrown laughter may be what ailing couples need most. Uniquely human, laughter is, first and foremost, a social signal–it disappears when there is no audience, which may be as small as one other person–and it binds people together. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

Robert Provine says that homegrown laughter may be what ailing couples need most.  Laughter is first and foremost a social signal that  binds people together.
Robert Provine says that homegrown laughter may be what ailing couples need most. Laughter is first and foremost a social signal that binds people together.

Dr Provine is a neuroscientist who found that laughter is far too fragile to dissect in the laboratory. Instead, he observed thousands of incidents of laughter spontaneously occurring in everyday life, and wittily reports the results in Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (Penguin Books, 2001).

Laughter establishes–or restores–a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, who literally take pleasure in the company of each other. For if there’s one thing Dr. Provine found it’s that speakers laugh even more than their listeners. Of course levity can defuse anger and anxiety, and in so doing it can pave the path to intimacy.

Most of what makes people laugh is not thigh-slapper stuff but conversational comments. “Laughter is not primarily about humor,” says Dr. Provine, “but about social relationships.”

Among some of his surprising findings:

– The much vaunted health benefits of laughter are probably coincidental, a consequence of it’s much more important primary goal: bringing people together. In fact, the health benefits of laughter may result from the social support it stimulates.

  • Laughter plays a big role in mating. Men like women who laugh heartily in their presence.
  • Both sexes laugh a lot, but females laugh more–126 percent more than their male counterparts. Men are more laugh-getters.
  • The laughter of the female is the critical index of a healthy relationship
  • Laughter in relationships declines dramatically as people age.
  • Like yawning, laughter is contagious; the laugher of others is irresistible.

One of the best ways to stimulate laughter–and it’s probably the most ancient way–is by tickling. Tickling is inherently social; we can’t tickle ourselves. We tickle to get a response. Or to entice ticklee to turn around and become tickler.

Not only do most people like tickling–ticklers as well as ticklees–most recognize it is a way to show affection. What’s more, adolescents and adults prefer to be tickled by someone of the opposite sex.

Tickling is probably at the root of all play and it is inherently reciprocal, a give-and-take proposition. In other words, it exactly represents the basic rhythm of all healthy relationships. Not to mention is triggers sexual excitation in adults.

But tickling declines dramatically in middle age. People begin a gradual “tactile disengagement,” reports Dr. Provine. Tickle, touch, and play, so critically intertwined, all go into retreat, although these behaviors are at the root of our emotional being.

So the next time you have an argument with your mate, don’t walk out of the room and slam the door. Try tickling your partner instead. (Most ticklish areas, in descending order: underarms, waist, ribs, feet, knees, throat, neck, palms.)

It won’t make problems go away. But it can set the stage for tackling them together.

Seniors: laughter therapy is a useful, cost-effective and easily accessible intervention that has positive effects on depression, insomnia, and sleep quality

Research Title: Effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep among the community-dwelling elderly

Aim of the research: To investigate the effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognitive function, quality of life, and sleep of the elderly in a community.

Methods: Between July and September 2007, the total study sample consisted of 109 subjects aged over 65 divided into two groups; 48 subjects in the laughter therapy group and 61 subjects in the control group. The subjects in the laughter therapy group underwent laughter therapy four times over 1 month. We compared Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Short-Form Health Survey-36 (SF-36), Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) between the two groups before and after laughter therapy.

Conclusion: Laughter therapy is considered to be useful, cost-effective and easily accessible intervention that has positive effects on depression, insomnia, and sleep quality in the elderly.

Click here to download the abstract for this research

Skin Allergies: Research says laughter may alleviate allergic symptoms

A Japanese study suggests that laughter can alleviate allergies such as dermatitis, which causes inflammation of the skin. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Kimata, H., Journal of the American Medical Association 2001 Feb 14; 285(6):738.), Dr. Hajime Kimata of Unitika Central Hospital, Japan, studied the effects of laughter on patients allergic to dust mites, cedar pollen and cat dander. The patients, 15 women and 11 men, were allergic to house dust mites and took no medication 72 hours before watching the film. After watching the movie, Kimata injected dust mite allergen into the skin of the patients to see if the movie had any effect on the size of their hives. He found a significant reduction in the size of their hives, an effect that lasted for two hours. There was no change in the size or the duration of their hives after the patients watched an 87-minute video featuring weather information.

Dr. Hajime Kimata of Unitika Central Hospital, Japan, says laughter may alleviate allergic symptoms
Dr. Hajime Kimata of Unitika Central Hospital, Japan, says laughter may alleviate allergic symptoms
“There’s more than psychology going on here, there is pyschoneuroimmunology,” says Lee Berk, director of neuroimmunology at Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine in California. “The allergic response is what we call the Th2 side of the immune system.

The Th2 side of the immune system produces cytokines, the hormones of the immune system. And what we’ve found over the years when we looked at mirthful laughter and classical stress hormones, that laughter lowers cortisol, which is the body’s powerful steroid, which can shut down the immune system.” “What’s important here is when cortisol increases it shuts down the Th1 side of the immune system and allows the Th2 side to crank up,” Berk explains. “And the Th2 side is responsible for producing IgE antibodies, which are the sign of an allergic response. But laughter down regulates cortisol, which turns on the Th1 side and suppresses the Th2 side. From a mechanistic standpoint, this study makes a lot of sense.”

Kimata was influenced by the author Norman Cousins’ 30-year-old research suggesting that laughter and a positive attitude can help reduce pain. Cousins suffered from a life-threatening joint disease and reported that 10 minutes of laughter helped reduce his pain.

Kimata said exactly how humor might have reduced the welts is not known. But Dr. Margaret Stuber, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California-Los Angeles, said his premise “makes a lot of sense from a scientific standpoint.”

Our Own Viewpoint

Scientific studies have proven that allergies are caused not only by physical allergens but also by a negative state of mind. Though nothing is certain yet, one knows that stress does play a major role in triggering these symptoms and bringing on debilitating physical conditions accompanied by mental upset.

We are subjected to constant (or chronic) stress that results in the continuous release of stress-related substances into the body. Without time to dissipate, the stress ‘cocktail’ can reach toxic concentrations and attack the body, resulting in a wide variety of stress-related illness including respiratory allergies which affect the breathing pattern and can at times lead to severe condition of breathlessness.

The Laughter Therapy exercise program has a profound positive impact on allergies, with many practitioners reporting complete disappearance of all symptoms of asthma, skin and other allergies. Though not an intervention for countering physical causes of allergies, laughter is a definite tool to remedy stress. It can help in reducing the risk factors by boosting the immune system, encouraging deep breathing and flushing the lungs of stale air and generating a feeling of wellness.

“Oxygenation through deep breathing boosts the immune system and can rid the body of chronic illnesses.” –Dr. Sheldon Hendler, MD, Medical Researcher Cell Oxygenation, Author “The Oxygen Breakthrough”


Social Skills: Laughter acts as a social lubricant by enhancing a sense of group identity among strangers.

Professor van Vugt says that this study may have important implications for the way charities or organisations could increase the level of received donations.
Professor van Vugt says that this study may have important implications for the way charities or organisations could increase the level of received donations.
A study from psychologists at the universities of Kent and Liverpool has revealed that laughter increases altruism towards strangers, a finding which may have important implications for charities and other fundraising bodies.
The study, conducted by Professor Mark van Vugt, Charlie Hardy, Julie Stow and Professor Robin Dunbar (University of Liverpool), was designed to examine if laughter acts as a social lubricant by enhancing a sense of group identity among strangers.

For the study, participants watched a funny or serious video clip before playing an altruistic game with strangers. The study revealed that after watching the funny clip subjects who laughed a lot were more likely to give their money to strangers. Further research suggests that this may be due to the effects of laughter on endorphins (naturally produced neurotransmitters that improve people’s mood).

Professor van Vugt, a member of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes and an expert on human altruism and co-operation said: ‘This study may have important implications for the way charities or organizations could increase the level of received donations. For example, Comic Relief – which in itself is a worthy event supporting many great causes – demonstrates how laughter can have a tremendous effect on giving.’

Professor van Vugt also pointed out that humans may have evolved the capacity for laughter to quickly release positive emotions in order to facilitate group bonding – group living enabled our ancestors to cope better with a hostile environment.
‘From the perspective of increasing altruism in society,’ he said, ‘it is obvious that laughter deserves serious attention from both scientists and policy makers.’


Weight Loss: Laughing 10-15 minutes a day would burn 2.2 kilograms a year

Researchers from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, recruited 90 respondents to measure and test how laughter can burn up calories. The respondents were not informed that the real reason was to calculate their laughter because the researchers wanted genuine laughter to come out from the respondents. They were asked to watch five different comedy clips and were told that they were being tested for their emotional reaction to different shows. Result: those laughing burned 20 per cent more kilojoules. Laughing 10-15 minutes a day would burn 2.2 kilograms a year the researchers reported.
Continue reading Weight Loss: Laughing 10-15 minutes a day would burn 2.2 kilograms a year

Women benefit most from laughter, says research

IT IS a known fact that laughter is good for your health, but a recent study has shown that it is women who apparently benefit most from living life with a laugh.

Scientists from the University College London took saliva samples from 3000 men and women and measured levels of hormones and proteins linked to heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure. At the same time, the volunteers were asked how happy, content or excited they felt at that particular time.

Laugh and be happy. It will make you healthier

The scientists found that among women, but not men, happiness correlated with lower levels of the hormones and proteins, suggesting that happy women are more likely to be healthier.

Researcher Dr Andrew Steptoe says: “Our findings add to evidence that happiness and other positive emotions are associated with biological responses that are health-protective.”


Workplace Efficiency: Laughter Yoga Enhances employees morale, resilience, and personal efficacy beliefs.

This study measured the impact of a purposeful aerobic laughter intervention on employees’ sense of self-efficacy in the workplace. Participants were 33 employees of a behavioral health center. They met for 15-minute sessions on 15 consecutive workdays and engaged in a guided program of non-humor dependent laughter.
Continue reading Workplace Efficiency: Laughter Yoga Enhances employees morale, resilience, and personal efficacy beliefs.

Workplace Stress: The Efficacy of Laughter Yoga on IT Professionals to Overcome Professional Stress

In an observational study of 200 healthy normotensive IT call- center workers in Mumbai, India, 20-minute laugh-yoga sessions were associated with significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, Madan Kataria, M.D., reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting.
Continue reading Workplace Stress: The Efficacy of Laughter Yoga on IT Professionals to Overcome Professional Stress