Scientist Lee Berk brought laughers into his laboratory at Loma Linda University in California. Half of the subjects watched a video of a stand-up comedian while the other half, or control group sat quietly in another room. Blood samples were drawn every 10 minutes from both groups. The control group showed no physiological change. The subjects who watched the video showed decreased levels of cortisol, a hormone that suppresses the immune system, and "significant increases in various measures of the immune function." This means laughing activates:
- T cells that battle infection.
- B cells that produce disease-fighting protein.
- Natural killer cells that attack tumors and microbes.
- Immunoglobulin- antibodies that patrol the respiratory tract.
- Gamma-interferon that is key immune system messenger.
Berk concluded that "laughter creates its own unique physiological state with changes in the immune system opposite to those caused by stress." He summed up the benefits of laughter this way: "Blessed are those who laugh, for they shall last." Dr. Stanley Tan and Dr. Berk have shown that laughing lowers blood pressure, increases muscle flexion, and triggers a flood of beta endorphins- natural morphine -like compounds.
Dr. Derks and his colleagues mapped the brain activity of subjects while they listened to jokes.Having discovered that the entire outer layer of the brain is involved when people laugh, they believe it could boost the immune system.
The bottom line to all this research is that laughter increases disease-fighting cells and proteins in the blood and increases our immunity to infections. Even common sense tells us that no one can be anxious and tense while laughing. It is important that we develop the ability to find humor in life.