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Friday, 15 July 2016

Laughter the Best Medicine - the many Health benefits of Positive Amusement

In Nigeria today laughter has somewhat become a high selling commodity perhaps due to the need to wade through the economic hard times. Laughter they say is the best medicine; you’d also have heard the saying – “laugh and grow fat”.

Yes, in the midst of the daunting challenges the average Nigerian goes through on a daily basis, he still manages to smile and laugh. Sometimes I believe that the average Nigerian has been coerced to develop even a morbid sense of humour as well all in the bid to pull through, which is rather a backlash of an abuse of the same ‘drug’ called laughter. Yet, laughing is one of the highly beneficial behaviours you can partake for yourself. But in utilising the healing ingredients inherent in laughter, it must be of a positive amusement. Scornful laughter never gives you any benefits health wise; healing is found only in a genuine hearty disposition.

Laughter is curative

Suffice it to say that Nigeria is a place where you have more comedians than medical doctors. No wonder, this might just be the reason for this queer development – the need to carry on successfully. But seriously speaking, scientific studies abound to prove the existence of immense healing powers in the simple act of laughter. After all, the scriptures still go to corroborate this when it says “a cheerful heart makes good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” In a remarkable instance of how highly efficacious the laughter ‘drug’ can be, in the book The Anatomy of an Illness, we are able to read the amazing story of a cancer patient who was given only six months more to live. But almost like a miracle, he was able to apply the magic of laughter to get rid of his cancer!

It is indeed healthy to cultivate this natural habit if you do not yet have it. Studies have proven that for instance - children laugh an average of 10,000 times per week while the adults laugh an average of five times per week. And so if we were to remain as children for the rest of our lives we would probably live longer and healthier. It is important to note that children are full of innocence and have less stress, except there is a perpetrated cause of distress brought upon them by ‘wrong’ parenting or from the society at large; even at that, they worry about nothing. Laughing stimulates the entire immune system; it elevates depression and alkalises the entire body.

Babies know better

We ought all to learn more from children as we pay attention to them; they are the experts on playing, and taking life easy as well as laughing. Laughter is capable of reducing your stress hormones while increasing your immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. By so doing your resistance to disease is given a boost. Studies prove that when you laugh, the action triggers the release of endorphins which are your body's natural feel-good chemicals. Everybody has them; you just have to wake them up; and what do they do for us? Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being all over you; and they can even temporarily relieve pain as well.

Michael Miller, M.D. is director of the Centre for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, and a professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Maryland. She says “We don’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack.”

Healthy amusement is therapeutic

Perhaps laughter, albeit forced or tension induced, could have been what has been keeping the Nigerian on through these long periods of near hopelessness. Dr. Miller further stated that “The ability to laugh – either naturally or as learned behaviour – may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer. We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list.”

And so in all honesty, you do have a tough antidote to many of your health problems both as a healing balm as well as a preventive remedy. You are therefore advised to locate avenues through which you can load yourself with a large dose of laughter every day. Do it as often as you can even if you have nothing to laugh about – experts say. You are definitely bound to feel better and also be healthier.

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