Friday, March 29, 2013

Mirthful Laughter and Adrenalin

More and more studies are showing positive effects from mirthful laughter, especially on substances such as cortisol (more about that in another blog) and epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenalin in the USA). When the human organism is subjected to some types of stressors such as bright lights, noise, high levels of excitement, high ambient temperature or physical threat, adrenalin is released in an effort to help the body respond to the stressor(s). Both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, adrenalin is a key component of the fight-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to stressors. While the regulating of a variety of functions in the body by adrenalin can be initially helpful, when its secretion continues beyond what is absolutely needed to handle the stressor, adverse effects can be seen in the brain and body.  No doubt you’ve experienced some of these or know someone who has (e.g., racing heart or irregular heartbeat, higher blood pressure, anxiety, shaking or tremor, and headache). Enter mirthful laughter. Studies published in the American Journal of the Medical Science reported that participants who had a mirthful laughter experience while watching a 60-minute humor video, showed reduced serum levels of adrenalin. This biochemical change, therefore, has implications for helping to reverse the classical stress hormone response. Had a stressful event or a stressful day? Spend some recovery time in mirthful laughter!

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