Health
October 18, 2019
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Laughter is the best medicine

By: George Malkemus
May 17, 2019

The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze.  Humor and laughter can cause a domino effect of joy and amusement, as well as set off a number of positive physical effects.  Humor and laughter strengthen our immune systems and help us recover from illness, as well as bring joy into our lives.

What does the dentist of the year get?     A little plaque!  

Health benefits of humor and laughter

Laughter improves our mental and physical health, increasing our capacity to fight disease.  Laughing relaxes the body and reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, arthritis, and ulcers. 

A good hearty laugh can help:

 * Reduce stress

 * Lower blood pressure

 * Elevate mood

 * Boost immune system

 * Improve brain functioning

 * Protect the heart

 * Connect you to others

 * Foster instant relaxation

 * Make you feel good.

During the summer of 2005, while going through the stressful treatment for colon cancer involving chemotherapy and radiation, my next-door neighbor Kathy brought me over twenty comedy movies.  Her kindness made me smile and the movies made me laugh, improving my mental attitude and physical health.  I have been cancer free now for over 10 years.  Thanks Kathy.

What do you call a depressed dentist?   A little down in the mouth!

Laughter lowers blood pressure

People who laugh heartily on a regular basis have lower standing blood pressure than the average person.  When people have a good laugh, initially the blood pressure increases, but then it decreases to levels below normal.  Breathing then becomes deeper which sends oxygen enriched blood and nutrients throughout the body.

One study showed that laughing causes the blood vessels to expand, thus lowering blood pressure.  While monitoring the blood flow and pressure of healthy volunteers, half the group watched a movie that was filled with violence and suspense while the other half a ‘very funny movie.’  Those who watched the suspense film experienced an immediate constriction of the blood flow.  Those who watched the comedy had the opposite experience.  Their bloods vessels opened up, helping protect them from a stroke or heart attack.  

In addition, it was concluded that watching a funny movie may have as much positive effect on the arteries as 20 minutes of jogging.  This doesn’t mean you should become a couch potato, but if you are going to lie around, you will be better off watching a comedy than a R-rated violent movie.

Laughter protects the heart

Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a study at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The study 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. In another study, the Center for Preventative Cardiology found that people with healthy hearts were 40% more likely to laugh at jokes and funny situations than those with heart disease. The most significant finding of the studies was that people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations.  They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility. Historically, research has shown that distressing emotions (depression, anger, anxiety, and stress) are all related to heart disease.  A good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at stressful situations helps reduce the damaging physical effects of distressing emotions. 

What was the dentist doing in panama?   Looking for the root canal.

Laughter gives our bodies a good workout

Laughter can be a great workout for your diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles.  It massages abdominal organs, tones intestinal functioning, and strengthens the muscles that hold the abdominal organs in place.  Not only does laughter give your midsection a workout, it can benefit digestion and absorption functioning as well.  It is estimated that hearty laughter can burn calories equivalent to several minutes on the rowing machine or the exercise bike.

What do you call a bear with no teeth?  A gummy bear.    What did the dentist see at the North Pole?   A molar bear.

Laughter improves brain function

Humor improves mental health.  Laughter stimulates both sides of the brain to enhance learning.  It eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows people to retain more information.

Why did the guru refuse Novocain at the dentist?      

He wanted to transcend dental medication!

Laughter relives stress

Humor is a powerful emotional medicine that can lower stress, dissolve anger and unite families in troubled times.  Mood is elevated when humor is found in difficult and frustrating situations. Laughing at ourselves during difficult situations helps us realize that the seemly present earth-shaking event is really only a small thing in the total scheme of life.  Looking at a problem from a different perspective can make it seem less formidable and provide opportunities for greater objectivity and insight.  Humor also helps us avoid loneliness by connecting with others who are attracted to genuine cheerfulness.  And the good feeling that we get when we laugh can remain with us as an internal experience even after the laughter subsides.

How do you clean a tuba?  With a big tuba toothpaste!

Force yourself to laugh

Laughter seems like it should be a spontaneous act.  But for many of us, laughter does not come easily.  Try forcing yourself to laugh for one minute and see how it improves your mood.  The next time you are totally frustrated, say stuck in traffic, or your mind is stuck on some upsetting thought, try forcing yourself to laugh.  Though it seems weird, you will feel much better after a forced laugh. 

Keep laughing and you will live a longer happier life.  The old saying that “Laughter is the best medicine,” definitely appears to be true!

Rodney Dangerfield went to the dentist, “Doctor, I have yellow teeth, what can I do?”   “Wear a yellow tie.”  No respect!

Enjoy Life and Keep Smiling and Laughing! And Remember to Be Kind to your Dentist, he has fillings, too!

George Malkemus has a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park for at 2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200. Call 585-8595, or email info@ malkemusdds.com.  Visit Dr. Malkemus’ Web site at http://www.malkemusdds.com