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Mesothelioma Nurse Thinks That Laughter Can Be the Best Medicine

Mesothelioma Patient Beyond Comfort Zone

“Laughter is the best medicine.”  The origin of this quote is thought to be the Old Testament Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine.  But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”  The role of laughter in helping people feel better has long been held to be true. When dealing with mesothelioma and all the treatments, there is often not much to laugh about.  Patients are told to remain positive, but this is often very difficult.

How important is a good, hearty laugh?  According to research, laughter can affect us both physically and emotionally.  Physically, laughter can increase our intake of oxygen, stimulates our heart, lung and muscles, and increases the endorphins released by the brain. Laughter can give you a relaxed feeling by activating your stress response and soothing tension by stimulating circulation and reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress.

One of the most important effects of a good laugh is on the immune system. The important role that the immune system plays in health and disease is being explored and there are many opportunities for targeting the immune system for future treatment of diseases.  Laughter helps the immune system by releasing neuropeptides that help fight stress. Laughter can also relieve pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.

Author Norman Cousins, in his book “Anatomy of an Illness,” noted that 10 minutes of laughter, watching a funny movie or TV show, allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep.

A study from the University of Kentucky showed that in a group of women who laughed at a funny movie, those who had laughed out loud had higher levels of natural killer cell activity to help fight diseases, compared to the group who quietly watched.

There isn’t too much downside to laughing. The diagnosis of mesothelioma is not a laughing matter, but trying to find the humor in certain situations can help your overall physical and mental health.

As Dick Van Dyke sang in Mary Poppins, “I love to laugh, loud and long and clear.  I love to laugh it’s getting worse every year.  The more I laugh the more I fill with glee, and the more the glee, the more I am a merrier me.”

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