It is often said that 'laughter is the best medicine', and now, a new research has proved this notion a little further, by showing that a mighty laugh can act as a good stress-buster.
According to University in California researchers, anticipating a good laugh is good for health. When a person is stressed out, his body constricts blood vessels, elevates the production of potentially damaging stress hormones, and raises blood pressure.
Short periods of stress are normal and not dangerous, but over long periods of time stress weakens the immune system and makes heart problems more likely.
In a research, which was conducted in 2005, Lee Berk at Loma Linda University in California and his colleagues had found that laughing lowers blood pressure. But the biochemical mechanism within the body remained unclear.
Now, the same team of researchers has revealed part of the answer.
Back in 2006, the research team found that merely anticipating laughter boosted the production of mood-elevating hormones called ß-endorphins and the immunity-enhancing human growth hormone by 27 percent and 87 percent respectively.
This led the team to wonder whether the link between lowered blood pressure and laughter could be the result of laughter somehow interfering with the production of stress hormones.
To test this, they worked with a group of 16 men. Half were told that they were going to watch a humorous video that they themselves had selected earlier; the other half were told that they were going to sit in a room with magazines.
The researchers, then, monitored the men for levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, and for dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) - a metabolite of dopamine that helps to produce adrenaline - throughout the experiment.
In the analysis, the researchers found that levels of all three stress chemicals decreased before, during and after the men viewed their videos. Thirty minutes after the videos were watched, cortisol was down 67 percent adrenaline was down 35 percent, and DOPAC was down 69 percent.
Astonishingly, the scientists found that cortisol, adrenaline and DOPAC decreased by 39 percent, 70 percent, and 38 percent respectively before anything funny was seen.
"It would seem that merely having a merry heart in anticipation of the happy experience lowered stress levels... they dropped before videos were even watched" Nature quoted Berk, as saying.
The study has been presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society in San Diego, California.