High blood pressure is nothing to laugh about, unless you use laughter to control it. Laughter is the best medicine, according to a popular saying, but there are always people who say, “Sounds good, but proves it.” Science has shown that humor and laughter can help with many health problems, including high blood pressure. Will adding laughter to your day change things in a big way? Most likely not, but the results can be great, and it’s hard to think of a more fun way to lower your blood pressure.
Some researchers disagree. A review of the research on laughter and medicine was written up in a study that was published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. After reading a lot about laughter, the author came to the conclusion that ” laughter has shown psychological, physiological, spiritual, social, and quality of life benefits” and that ” there is enough proof to recommend that laughter has certain optimistic, calculable effects on certain aspects of health ” that would make it “appropriate for laughter to be used as a complementary/alternative medicine in the prevention and treatment of illnesses.”
How Laughter Lowers Blood Pressure
How does laughing make your blood pressure go down? You might be curious about how laughing can make your blood pressure go down. Here’s one explanation based on science: There are chemicals called catecholamines that can raise blood pressure and change the way the heart beats. You can help your heart if you block or lessen the effect of catecholamines. Research has shown that laughing can lower the amount of catecholamines in the body, which is good for the health of the heart and blood pressure.
Here’s what I mean. In a study done at Dillard University in New Orleans, a researcher looked at what laughing does to the production of catecholamines. Forty-eight diabetics who had recently had a heart attack were split into two groups and watched for a year. One group was given standard cardiac therapy and told to watch something funny for 30 minutes every day. The other group just got the standard therapy.
Researchers checked both groups’ blood pressure and catecholamine levels once a month. Overall, patients who used humor every day had lower blood pressure, fewer episodes of arrhythmia, and lower levels of catecholamines than those in the other group. Also, only two of the twenty-four people in the humor group had another heart attack, while ten of the twenty-four people in the control group had another heart attack.
Laughing can also help your blood flow and open up your blood vessels, which can help lower your blood pressure. Dr. Madan Kataria, who started Laughter Yoga International, says that laughter yoga as a form of laughter therapy can help lower blood pressure, ease depression, and help control allergies, asthma, arthritis, and other conditions. A doctor from India named Dr. Kataria came up with the idea for laughter yoga. He started the first Laughter Club in 1995, and now there are more than 6,000 of them all over the world.
Laughter yoga is a mix of laughing for no reason (unconditional laughter) and yogic breathing, as well as chanting and clapping. The idea behind Laughter Yoga comes from the fact that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and fake laughter, so it gets the same health benefits from both. The important thing to take away from this isn’t that you should find the closest Laughter Yoga club right away, but that it shows how laughter can help people heal. In fact, a scientific study done in India found that both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels went down when people did Laughter Yoga.
Get Ready to Laugh
Are you ready to write yourself a note telling you to laugh every day? But you can use other forms of media instead of a prescription pad. For instance:
Do you like to watch any particular comedies? If you can’t watch them live, tape them so you can watch them later.
DVDs and videos
Do you have a collection of your favorite movies, comedy shows, or comedians? You don’t have to buy them; you can just borrow them from the library.
Laughter therapy is so much easier now that you can find almost tens of thousands of funny websites and videos, like those on YouTube, on the Internet. Not sure where to start? Just type “laughter web sites” into a search engine and let the fun begin. You’ll find more funny sites than you can think of.
There’s an app for just about everything, including making you laugh. Laugh at life by putting funny apps on your iPhone, iPad, or other device.
Whether you drive, take a bus, train, or walk to work, make sure your iPod, car DVD player, or radio is playing something funny. Make it a point to do something funny to start and end each workday.