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Rx: Laughter

I recently attended the Emerging Tools for Innovative Providers Conference on Spirituality and it's impact on Healthcare, held at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA. In attendance were healthcare providers of all backgrounds, including doctors, nurses and administrators, chaplains, psychologists and researchers from Adventist Health, Duke University, Loma Linda, Azusa Pacific, UCLA and UC Davis to name a few. The overall goal of ETIP is to explore the significant spirituality and health care research accumulated over the last 25 years and how it impacts patient care and outcomes.

One of the key contributors, Dr. Lee Berk, spoke about the power of humor and laughter - and the research that substantiates what we intuitively know to be true: laughter is good medicine.

Highlights from Dr. Berk's findings include:

A sense of humor mitigates depression. Porterfield, Journal Of Research in Personality. 1987; 21 (3): 306-317

Laughter decreases stress hormone cortisol and increases the multiplication of agranulocytic white blood cells, or leukocytes. Berk, LS. Clinical Research 1988; 36::435A

Laugher reduces stress and improves Natural Killer Cell Activity. Bennett, MP. Alternative Therapies, 2003; 9(2): 38-44

Propensity to laugh may contribtue to cardio protection. Clark A. International Journal of Cardiology, 2001; 80: 87-88

Humor is recognized as an element of spiritual coping in breast cancer patients. Johnson, P. Oncology Nurses Forum 2002; 29 (4): 691-695

Stress scores decrease after watching comic flims. Laughter brings uplifting and fulfilling feelings. Toda M. Biomedical Research 28 (2) 115-118, 2007

Laughter and smiling is used in the treatment of dementia. Takeda M. Bio Med Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:28

Humor and Laughter play a role in patient-physician communication, patient care, education, and reducing stress in professionals. Bennett H. Humor in Medicine, 2003. vol 96:12

If you would like additional research on the power of laughter, please contact us.