Health Benefits of Laughter
Cancer is not funny; neither is any other medical illness, regardless of
the severity. Oftentimes, when one is diagnosed with cancer, they are
suddenly ridden with fear, anxiety, and nervousness regarding the battle
ahead. The first plan of action that may come to mind is chemotherapy.
However, as discussed throughout other blog posts, cancer treatment is
not a one-size-fits-all, and rare is the treatment plan that does not
include a variety of therapies.
One of the most vital treatments is commonly referred to as
humor therapy, and it involves lots of laughter and light-hearted conversation.
While humor-globin, a play on the medical term ‘hemoglobin,’
does not actually exist, humor therapy does. This is a complementary therapy
used in conjunction with other medically-rooted therapies and treatments, such as
ultraviolet blood irradiation or
ozone blood therapy.
The goals of laughter therapy include:2
- Boost mood
- Encourage relaxation
- Reduce stress
- Improve quality of life
A look to science reveals how these goals are attainable, and how they
can truly affect cancer patients as they battle their illnesses.
The Science Behind It
Laughter is a unique therapy in that it addresses all aspects of wellness:
the physical, emotional, and mental components.
Physically, endorphins are released during laugh sessions; endorphins are
important as they are “the body’s natural energy booster,
a natural painkiller, [and] a natural mood enhancer.” Laughter reduces stress, and “he less stressed people are, the better
the immune system is at fighting illness. Laughter also sends oxygen to
the brain, which can enhance creativity, increase blood flow and even
help us stay awake.”
For example, “one study did find that laughter can actually improve
immune function, which is important for cancer patients battling the disease
and trying to heal their bodies during cancer treatment. Stress is a definite
detriment to physical and mental health, and lots of laughter is a great
way to combat it.”
How Humor Therapy is Practiced
Laughter therapy can be administered in several ways, natural or otherwise.
For example, laughter and comedy is highly encouraged between a patient
and their loved ones and visitors; if a family member visiting can remind
you of a funny memory from years ago that triggers laughter, this engages
you in positive thoughts and happier times, taking your mind off of what
negativity may surround you. Positivity is contagious, and this brief
fit of laughter can help carry a positive outlook to other facets of the
cancer battle, such as believing that you will get better, or a treatment
will be administered successfully with little pain or side effects.
Other hospitals may enlist in the aid of ‘comedy carts,’ which
“are brightly decorated rolling carts that are filled with toys
and games. Staff and volunteers travel the hospital floors to make bedside
visits to patients to bring cheer and inspire laughter,” thus bringing
the therapy to you directly.4
Humor therapy is also practiced through more formal or structured situations,
referred to as “laughter therapy classes that are akin to exercises
classes. During these group sessions, patients and their families play
a game like "Simon Says" and make laughing sounds that the instructor
calls out. As the participant does the laughter exercises, the brain releases
The Bottom Line
Laughter may not medically rid your body of cancer, nor will it cure it
completely, but laughter is a powerful medicine that can drastically change
your outlook and mental attitude. Laughter is an unofficial medicine that
you have complete control over: you control how often you utilize it and
whom you use it with. It’s a great way to lean on your loved ones,
and to include them in your battle – even younger children can feel
as though they are playing a key role in supporting you and helping you
to feel your best.
With all of the benefits as discussed above, it’s no wonder why we
often hear people say, “laughter is the best medicine.”
 “A Closer Look at Laughter Therapy.”
Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
 ‘Humor Therapy and Cancer.”
 Comulada, Jon. “Did you know positivity is literally contagious?
 “Can Laughter Cure Illness?”
How Stuff Works.