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Humor therapy (sometimes
called therapeutic humor) uses the power of smiles and laughter to aid healing.
Humor therapy helps you find ways to make yourself (or others) smile and laugh
more. When you think of humor therapy, picture clowns in the children's ward of
a hospital cheering up sick children. Some hospitals now have humor carts that
provide funny materials for people of any age. Many nurses have learned the
value of providing a good laugh to those they care for.
have been researching the relation between the mind and the body, especially in
connection with the body's ability to heal (a field called
psychoneuroimmunology). Laughter appears to change brain chemistry and may
Humor may allow a person
to feel in control of a situation and make it seem more manageable. It allows
people to release fears, anger, and
stress, all of which can harm the body over time.
Humor improves the quality of life.
Anyone can use humor
therapy, either preventively or as part of treatment for any disease. People
commonly use it in the treatment of long-term (chronic) diseases, especially
those that are made worse by stress (such as heart disease and
asthma). Chronic diseases have a negative effect on
mood and attitude, which can make the disease worse. Humor therapy helps reduce
the negative effects of feeling unhealthy, out of control, afraid, or helpless,
which are common problems for those with cancer or chronic diseases.
Humor therapy is also valuable as a preventive measure for the caregivers
of people with chronic diseases. Caregivers are at high risk of becoming sick
themselves, and humor therapy can help release the stress that comes from being
a caregiver. Caregivers and those they care for can practice humor therapy
together, and they both are likely to have better health as a result.
Humor therapy is completely
safe. Your doctor is likely to approve of any efforts you make to use humor
therapy, even if he or she is not aware of specific medical benefits that may
result. Because it is inexpensive, risk-free, and readily available, there is
little reason not to try practicing humor therapy.
your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking
about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical
treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and
rely only on an alternative therapy.
June 29, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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