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Humor In Medicine

            Have you ever heard the phrase, “ Laughter is the best medicine?” Surprisingly, that’s true, so let me help you discover some of the things laughter can do for you.
             Norman Cousins is generally credited with starting the scientific study of humor some 20 years ago. Anatomy of an Illness tells how watching comical movies helped him recover from an illness that was predicted to be fatal. Norman made it his mission to laugh 100 times a day. With this he recovered and taught us about the healing effects of humor.
             Medical studies indicate that laughter boosts levels of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Studies also show that laughter increases the cells that attack viruses, foreign cells and cancer cells. Plus it decrease your stress level and fights depression. Laughter exercises your heart by raising and lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
             It also makes your lungs stronger and gets your blood flowing going. One doctor says that 20 seconds of hard laughter gives your heart the same workout as 3 minutes of hard rowing. Let us think about this for a moment, you could laugh with friends for 20 seconds or work up a sweat on a rowing machine. Which would you choose?.
             Healthcare workers with a sense of humor also benefit from reduced stress and have a better understanding of their patients. Norman Cousins writes in his book about how he would play jokes on his nurses just to get in a good laugh. Laughter benefits both patients and nurses, plus it is fun too.
             Now that you know how healthy humor can be, let me share with you why we need more humor in hospitals. Many mental institutes have humor rooms, with comedy carts full of costumes; gag props, closed-circuit comedy television channels, and visits from clowns to increase the use of laughter. This could benefit all of us if we were in the hospital. If you have ever been in a hospital for more than a couple of days you know how depressing it can be.

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