Sunday, 19 November 2023 04:53

Spontaneous laughter linked to significant health benefits

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Researchers have discovered that laughter may indeed be the best medicine after all. A new study published in PLOS One has found that spontaneous laughter can significantly reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to positive effects for overall health.

When human bodies respond to stress, whether it’s physical (e.g. disease) or psychological (e.g. anticipating a threat), a system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is activated. The stress hormone, known as cortisol, is released as part of this.

Some studies suggest that spontaneous laughter can reduce levels of cortisol. Genuine laughter is intuitive, with brain pathways specific to laughter even developing before brain pathways for speech. Laughter and humor has been found to be beneficial for health, such as by increasing pain tolerance and improving general well-being in various medical settings.

Although many studies have proposed that laughter can decrease cortisol levels, these studies often had recruited only a small number of individuals, creating a difficulty in drawing definitive conclusions.

To clarify this further, researchers Caroline Kaercher Kramer (based at the University of Toronto, Canada) and Cristiane Bauermann Leitao (based at the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil) conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies.

This process involved pooling together relevant literature and scrutinizing them as a whole, in order to robustly evaluate the impact of spontaneous laughter on the stress response, as measured by cortisol levels.

Kramer and Leitao focused on randomized controlled trials (where participants are randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the control group) and quasi-experiments (a true experiment but without random assignment).

Four randomized controlled trials and four quasi-experiments were selected, published from 1989 to 2021, containing data from a total of 315 participants who were on average around 39 years old.

Laughter was induced by participants in the experimental group watching a comedy movie (five studies), undergoing laughter therapy conducted by a trained laughter therapist (two studies), or undergoing a self-administered laughter therapy (one study). The control group completed non-humorous usual activities.

Cortisol levels were measured through blood or saliva samples, and the change in cortisol levels before and after laughter was compared across the experimental group and the control group.

This is what the researchers found. Analysis of the data revealed an overall significant reduction in cortisol levels (31.9%) which was induced by laughter, compared to the control group.

Upon further investigation, the authors discovered that even a single laughter session (lasting 9 to 60 minutes) induced a significant reduction in cortisol levels (36.7%), as compared to the control group.

Interestingly, there was no impact of the duration of laughter on cortisol levels.

“The impact on [the] HPA axis found in our analyses suggests that genuine laughter holds positive effects for overall health as the excessive/prolonged cortisol secretion associated with chronic HPA-axis stimulation has negative implications for both physical and psychological diseases including obesity, depression, and chronic pain,” concluded Kramer and Leitao.

The authors reinforced how their results supported other research demonstrating the benefits of laughter and reduced cortisol.

Laughter has been found to have a cardioprotective effect (in other words, it protects the heart) by reducing the chances of developing coronary heart disease. The results also support literature which has highlighted potentially positive metabolic effects of reduced cortisol levels, for instance the increased stimulation of hair follicles, which ultimately leads to hair growth.

A few limitations are to be noted, one of which is that there are differences in the methods of inducing laughter between the studies. The time that cortisol levels were measured in participants varied between the studies, and may also have influenced the results.

The study, “Laughter as medicine: A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies evaluating the impact of spontaneous laughter on cortisol levels”, was authored by Caroline Kaercher Kramer and Cristiane Bauermann Leitao.



December 08, 2023

P&G, others’ exit from Nigeria paves way for ‘investors partnering with politicians’ - Atedo Peterside

Atedo Peterside, president and founder, Anap Foundation and Anap Jets, said investors who cherish the…
December 04, 2023

Nigeria’s electoral system so corrupt that ‘it's impossible for honest people to contest polls’ -…

Babangida Aliyu, a former governor of Niger state, says Nigeria’s corrupt electoral system has made…
December 08, 2023

3 things Taylor Swift just said as 'Person of the Year' that every leader should learn

On Wednesday, Time Magazine named Taylor Swift its Person of the Year, because, well, of…
December 02, 2023

Man suffering from headaches for 5 months discovers chopsticks stuck in his skull

A Vietnamese man who had been suffering from severe headaches and even loss of vision…
December 07, 2023

Gunmen waylay Kogi Election Tribunal officials, cart away petition documents

Kogi State Police Command yesterday confirmed that gunmen attacked the secretary of the state governorship…
December 08, 2023

Son of Israeli war cabinet minister killed in Gaza, IDF says

Master Sgt. (Res.) Gal Meir Eisenkot, 25, a combat soldier in the 551st reserve commando…
December 04, 2023

Google AI unveils Translatotron 3: A breakthrough in real-time speech translation

Researchers from Google AI have unveiled Translatotron 3, an innovative AI model that revolutionizes speech-to-speech…
November 20, 2023

Lackluster Nigeria held to 1-1 draw by Zimbabwe in World Cup qualifiers

Nigeria continued their stumbling start to the African 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign on Sunday…
Nothing to show. You must configure the data source of the widget.

NEWSSCROLL TEAM: 'Sina Kawonise: Publisher/Editor-in-Chief; Yomi Lawal: Director/Editorial Adviser; Prof Wale Are Olaitan: Editorial Consultant; Helen Aidenojie: Advert Manager; Femi Kawonise: Head, Production & Administration; Afolabi Ajibola: IT Manager; Contact us: [email protected] Tel/WhatsApp: +234 811 395 4049
Copyright © 2015 - 2023 NewsScroll. All rights reserved.