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Jokes, The World’s Best Medicine

What were the last jokes that made you roll around on the floor because you were laughing so hard? Was it on a TV show, or part of a stand-up comedy routine, or part of a recent lecture? In any event, do you remember how it made you feel?

It’s likely that joke probably made your day. It either gave you relief from the stress of your day, took your mind off of something that was causing you grief, or it just livened up an otherwise boring discussion. Most importantly though, it allowed you to laugh which as we all know is “the world’s best medicine.”

Is there actually something about jokes and the resulting laughter that can change our health in a beneficial way? What is it about laughter that we love so much? Why are comedies so popular? Why is there such a thing as comic relief and why is it so effective, even in the most serious of plays or dramas?

Laughter releases natural endorphins that act on the same receptors as morphine, which produce the feelings of relaxation and heightened mood. Levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine increase and produce an endogenous anti-depressant effect.

So what action in particular produces these changes: is it smiling, or the physical changes that take place in rate of breathing, in blood pressure, increased heart rate, etc?

Experts believe that it is most likely a combination of physical changes in the body that occur with laughter. Each one of these changes by themselves produce small effects, but together synergistically create these stress relieving and mood improving results.

It’s believed that spontaneous laughter may be better than self-produced laughs, however it may not be a drastic difference. Even a small smile may produce significant changes in blood chemistry. So basically, tell some jokes, smile more, and laugh often!