The Healing Benefits of Laughter

"Laughter completely engages the body and releases the mind. It connects us to others, and that in itself has a healing effect." --Marlo Thomas

Laughter is amazing. I love laughing and being silly -- at appropriate times, of course.

Laughter... the best medicine? Unsure about the best medicine, but certainly an amazing release that has many proven health and healing benefits -- and not just limited to better mental health or reduced body stress. We need to bring more laughter into our lives.

Have you heard the story of the dog that walked into the bar and found... oops, side-tracked by a bad joke that had me chuckling when I heard it -- and that chuckling, laughing, guffawing is good!

We need to embrace our inner child!! We adults barely laugh about a dozen times a day, but children? Children tend to laugh more than 400 times daily.

Here are a few groaners for you to enjoy and laugh at before we get to the core of this article.

  • Yesterday I saw a guy spill all his Scrabble letters on the road. I asked him, "What's the word on the street?"

  • A woman in labor suddenly shouted, "Shouldn't! Wouldn't! Couldn't! Didn't! Can't!" "Don't worry," said the doc. "Those are just contractions."

  • A mathematician wanders back home at 3 a.m. and proceeds to get an earful from his wife: "You're late! You said you'd be home by 11:45!" "Actually," the mathematician replies coolly, "I said I'd be home by a quarter of 12."

  • I watched a documentary on LSD the other day. Just wow... the visuals! I think from now on, I am going to watch all documentaries while on LSD.

  • What did the man on psychedelics say to his sober friend? "I can literally see what you're saying -- and it's truly beautiful"

Are you Feeling Better Yet? Check out These Amazing Benefits from Laughter

For the brain:

  • Laughter activates the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system in the brain.

  • Laughing releases catecholamines, dopamine, and norepinephrine-neurotransmitters that make the brain feel sharper and brighter.

  • Laughter produces some of the pharmacological properties of powerful drugs like morphine -- without any of the dangerous side effects.

  • Laughing seems to increase our tolerance for pain.

  • Laughter (using humor therapy) seems to increase our cognitive functions, including learning ability, delayed recall, and visual recognition.

  • Laughter takes our focus away from anger, guilt, stress, and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other mere distractions.

For the body:

  • Laughter is heart-healthy: it increases heart and respiratory rates -- as well as oxygen consumption -- before moving into a state of relaxation.

  • Laughter lowers blood pressure.

  • Laughter exercises our lungs while breaking up the muscle tension in our faces.

  • Laughter strengthens our abdominal muscles when we have intense laughter.

  • Laughter affects our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) -- reducing our "fight-or-flight" feelings while encouraging calming, expanding, and relaxing parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity.

  • Laughter may help break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.

  • Laughter increases serum levels of vitamins A and E.

  • Laughter also has been shown to increase our immunity through natural killer (NK) cell activity. NKs play important roles in fighting viruses and combating cancer.

  • Laughter lowers levels of the stress hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine, and dopac.

  • Laughter seems to lower heart attack risk; there's an inverse association between coronary heart disease and propensity to laugh.

  • Mirthful (joyful) laughter has been shown (in one study) to raise good cholesterol and lower inflammation.

Final Thoughts on the Healing Power of Laughter

Even the Mayo Clinic endorses laughter: "When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. "

All these benefits of laughing point to the theory that laughter promotes longevity. Laughter reduces our fears and anxieties -- which helps promote healing and a more positive outlook.

Laughter is not only good for ourselves, but for others. Laughter and humor help build community. Who hasn't ever shared a joke with friends, family, colleagues? Laughter helps us connect with others.

The key is bringing more laughter in your life. Obviously watching comedies, reading and sharing jokes, and viewing funny YouTube videos are all ways to add humor to your life. You can also try reframing any negative or frustrating situations into something you can laugh and joke about.

You might also try Laughter Yoga, which combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing techniques.

Personally, I find my nightly cannabis concoction (for sleep and pain relief), adds much laughter to my evening (and beyond). Read this great post: 7 Reasons Cannabis and Laughter Can Improve Your Health.

Finally, like many other things in life -- you can fake out your body and brain by simply laughing. The body cannot distinguish between real and fake laughing, so fake it until you make it!

Quotes About Laughter
  • "Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects." - Arnold H. Glasgow

  • "The human race has one really effective weapon, and it is laughter." - Mark Twain

  • "A day without laughter is a day wasted." - Charlie Chaplin

  • "The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed." - Bennett Cerf

  • "There is little success where there is little laughter." - Andrew Carnegie

  • "Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face." - Victor Hugo

  • "It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either." - Wayne Dyer

  • "Laughter is God's blessing." - Joseph Prince

  • "Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God." - Karl Barth

Additional Laughter Resources

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.