This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Empathy---Critical
in Normal 2.0

 

  The Herman Trend Alert

June 24, 2009

Laugh your Way to Health

In his classic book, "Anatomy of an Illness", Norman Cousins describes his process of self-healing---when all his healthcare professionals had given up hope. Diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis, he said, "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep".

Now recent studies presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine confirm other healing properties of laughter. Not only can laughter reduce stress, which can damage the heart, but it can also lead to improved blood flow, which helps prevent high blood pressure.

In both studies, groups of healthy adults watched either a comedy or a documentary film. In one study, during the films, the researchers monitored subjects' carotid arterial blood flow---the main arteries that bring blood to the brain and face.

People who watched the comedy had greater amounts of blood moving through their arteries. Decreased arterial blood flow is often associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.

The second study found that watching comedies improved dilation (expansion) of the blood vessels); constricted blood vessels can be a cause of high blood pressure. "Not only did comedies improve vascular dilation, but watching a documentary about a depressing subject was actually harmful to the blood vessels," said Takashi Tarumi, lead researcher on the second study. "[Watching] these documentaries constricted blood vessels by about 18 percent".

In both studies, the positive effects of laughter lasted for 24 hours.

Add to this evidence, the results of a 2006 study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center. This study showed that laughter, along with a healthy sense of humor, is good for your heart. The Maryland researchers found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

Our forecast: we will continue to discover these types of low-tech, non-pharmaceutical ways to heal human bodies. Those discoveries, combined with high-tech advances in personalized medicine will improve life spans and quality of life.


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