What really is the best medicine?

We’re very lucky to live in the 21st century. This is the time of computers and airplanes. The time of self-cleaning ovens and lawn mowers you don’t have to push.
The time of television and ballpoint pens. The time of Saran Wrap and skyscrapers. The time of aerosol spray cans and airbags. The time of higher education and longevity.
Think about it—if we had been born 100 years earlier, our life expectancy would have been only 47.
Lifestyle accounts for some of our longevity. We know better than to indulge in the rich foods our parents ate. Instead, we eat salmon, skim milk, salads, and fruit for desert.
We exercise. We take vitamins. We stay involved as we age. But that isn’t the whole story.
Much of our longevity stems from the wonderful advances in medicine—penicillin, the Salk polio vaccine and other vaccines for infectious diseases, better and safer anesthetics, heart transplants, and a huge variety of drugs available to combat almost every illness.
Millions of dollars have been poured into research. And yet, some researchers are telling us that the best medicine is not drugs but laughter.
Drs. Lee Berk and Stanley Tan from California’s Loma Linda University Medical Center say that laughter can benefit your health and improve the quality of your life.
They found there are two types of stress—good stress and bad stress. Laughter is good stress. In fact, laughter works much like exercise to reduce stress.
Laughter is one of the body’s safety valves, allowing our immune systems to work more effectively.
Dr. Tan says “neuro-hormones act like an orchestra, each instrument makes a particular note. Laughter makes the entire orchestra more melodious or balanced.
“In other words, laughter brings a balance to all the components of the immune system.”
In addition to boosting your immune system, laughter can take the place of anti-depressant drugs, bring oxygen to your blood, relax muscles, and increase alertness.
Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins—the body’s natural pain killers.
Humour even may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a new study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Laughter is sometimes called “internal jogging.” It increases the activity of the heart and stimulates circulation.
Even anticipating a funny event may be enough to trigger a healthy response. And, according to Berk, the positive changes also lasted long after the laughter subsided.
With all that research staring you in the face, do you really laugh enough? Most adults laugh about 15 times per day while children laugh about 400 times a day.
So if you want to live longer, laugh! And why not get started today.
Rent a funny video, read a humorous book, go to the circus, have coffee with an upbeat friend and tell jokes. Do anything that will keep you laughing for an hour or so.
Or simply laugh. Even fake laughter causes the body to respond as though the laughter is real.
And always remember that, in spite of the great medical advances of the past century, the best medicine is free and has no side effects. So whatever else you do for your health—laugh!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit her www.visit-snider.com

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