Cannabis is known for giving you the giggles but, did you know that this side effect of medical marijuana is actually a healthy therapeutic practice in itself? Here are a few reasons why it’s still said that “laughter is the best medicine."
#1 - Laughter gives you a natural high
A good belly laugh causes your body to release natural opiate-like chemicals: endorphins. Endorphins are your personal narcotic: pleasure-inducing / pain-blocking neurotransmitters that interact with the opioid receptors in your brain.
#2 - Laughter is good for your heart
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) found that people with heart concerns laughed, on average, 40% less than people of the same age without heart issues. This is credited to the laughter-induced endorphin release, which triggers a chain of heart-healthy events in your body: the endorphins activate receptors on the surface of the cells lining your blood vessels… which leads to the release of nitric oxide… which in turn causes your blood vessels to widen, increasing blood flow, lessening inflammation, inhibiting platelet clumping and reducing the formation of cholesterol plaque.
#3 - Laughter increases your oxygen intake
UMMC researchers also found that laughing introduces additional oxygen into the body. Laughing, in a sense, ‘pumps’ oxygen through vital organs and tissues, which need the oxygen to repair damage, fight infection and keep you feeling healthy.
#4 - Laughter boosts your immune system
Whenever you laugh, you’re decreasing stress hormones and increasing your body’s immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, improving your natural defense system. The increased levels of oxygen from laughing also give your immune system an extra boost.
#5 - Laughter improves your mental health
Whenever you’re stressed out, you’re in “fight or flight” mode and your amygdala commandeers your prefrontal cortex; basically, you're running on knee-jerk reactions. Laughter decreases stress hormones, helping bring you back into your right mind where you can make thoughtful decisions.
Humor also allows you to look at things from a different perspective, creating psychological distance and allowing you to see previously frightening situations in a more realistic and less threatening light. (This explains why so many people prefer to get their news from The Daily Show.)
#6 - Laughter can also improve your memory
A 2014 study conducted at Loma Linda University looked at 20 healthy adults in their 60s and 70s, measuring the effects of laughter on their stress levels and short-term memory. Half of the group watched funny videos for 20 minutes while the other half was asked to sit silently with no entertainment. Afterward, both groups took a short memory test; everyone showed improvement but, the participants who viewed the funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6%, compared with 20.3% in the non-humor group. The humor group also showed considerably lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
“There are several benefits to humor and laughter," explained Gurinder S. Bains, a Ph.D. candidate at Loma Linda University, who co-authored the study. "Older adults need to have a better quality of life. Incorporating time to laugh, through social interaction with friends, enjoying exercise in a group setting, or even watching 20 minutes of humor on TV daily, can enhance your learning ability and delayed recall."
#7 - Laughter relaxes your whole body
Stress not only affects your immune system and your mind, it also causes your muscles to tense and harden into painful knots. One more reason to laugh! A good fit of laughter can relieve physical tension, relaxing your muscles for up to 45 minutes.
#8 - Laugher is good for your social life
Humans are social creatures and laughter is a global language that we all share. Did you know, you’re 30 times more likely to laugh when you’re around other people than when you’re alone? Laughter is socially contagious; it’s difficult not to join in when you’re in a room with someone who is laughing, especially if it's someone you know. And if you don’t know them yet, laughing together is a great way to bond.
So, for your health...
We encourage you to get your laugh on: watch a funny movie or tv show, take a laughter yoga class, or grab some friends and go see some stand-up comedy! If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can even laugh while supporting a great cause at our 1st Annual Cannabis Comedy Benefit! It’s happening on March 26th (a Saturday night!) and all proceeds from the event will go to Grow For Vets, a non-profit organization that provides veterans with free cannabis medicine to help treat their PTSD.
Not only do we have a stellar line up of comics as well as some great local live music, there will also be a raffle drawing and a silent auction with amazing prizes from Pax, Grav Labs, Awakened Topicals and more! For more info or to purchase tickets, check out the event page. We hope to see you there and join in some healing laughter!