One of the most well known side effects of using cannabis is experiencing bouts of endless giggles. While some may perceive the giggles as pure silliness, it turns out that laughing is not only fun—it’s great for our health too. Dr. Lee Berk has spent three decades studying how laughter affects the body and mind, and he has discovered a myriad of both short and long-term health benefits. He considers regular laughter a healthy lifestyle activity right along with a good night’s sleep, healthy diet and regular exercise.
At HelloMD, we believe that laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s one of the reasons we decided to host Laughter Haven: An Evening of Cannabis and Comedy on October 5th in San Francisco. Come and join us with newly minted Netflix star Mike Winfield and top cannabis brands.
Laughing can relax your whole body and mind, create social connections and foster uplifting feelings that require no explanation. While many people find inspiration for laughter from a funny movie or comedy show, some explore the path of Laughter Yoga, which offers guided techniques to encourage more laughter in your life with the goal to build and grow happiness, health and peace for yourself and those around you.
According to Berk, our mind, hormone system and immune system are in constant communication, which means our mood and mindset have a real impact on our ability to fight off disease. In their 2009 research study at Loma Linda University, researchers Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan found significant health benefits that stem from laughter, including lower stress levels, lower inflammatory response and increased “good” cholesterol levels, all of which point to increased cardiovascular health and immune system response.
1. Lowers blood pressure
Laughing gets our blood pumping, which improves blood flow and works the cardiovascular muscles, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
2. Reduces stress
Dr. Berk found laughter shuts down the release of stress hormone cortisol and triggers the release of feel-good chemical dopamine. The contraction and release of muscles during laughter also soothes tension and helps your body relax and de-stress.
3. Boosts the immune system
Experiencing lower levels of stress and anxiety naturally boosts our immune system by taking us out of the fight-or-flight response and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Laughter also boosts our T-cell levels, special immune system cells that help fight illness.
4. Relieves pain
Laughter releases endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers, easing chronic pain while lowering stress and anxiety. Endorphins can also be released by other fun activities like cardiovascular exercise, listening to music, eating chocolate and having sex!
5. Stimulates organs and oxygenates brain
When we laugh, we expand and contract our ab muscles (toned abs are another side bonus!) and stimulate our heart and lungs. With every snort and guffaw, our deep breaths are sending extra oxygen to our brain, muscles and organs. The extra stimulation of blood and oxygen circulation helps aid muscle relaxation and eases stress.
6. Induces a meditative brain state
Laughter induces gamma brain wave frequencies, the fastest frequency, usually seen among experienced meditators and associated with “feelings of blessings” among monks. Berk says these gamma waves bolster recall and memory by improving the ‘synchronization’ of your neuronal activity.
7. Improves your mood
Increasing positive thoughts and decreasing stress helps fight depression and anxiety, resulting in happy vibes and good moods.
8. Enhances overall well-being
Having a positive outlook increases overall health and makes it easier to deal with difficult challenges and situations. Basically laughter creates a positive, upward spiral to health.
9. Creates social connection and joy in life
Need we say more?
Photo credit: Flickr