Laughter as medicine is not a new concept, but in this age of rising health care costs, it deserves a closer look. The benefits of laughter are well documented, as outlined in this article from the Mayo Clinic. Laughter has been shown to be therapeutic in many diseases: heart disease; diabetes; stroke; depression and cancer. It has been studied as a component of treatment in infertility, PMS, PCOS, and pain management after GYN surgery. In almost every instance where laughter has been studied, it has been shown to provide benefits, mostly through decreasing stress and increasing blood flow.
Are there risks involved? Most people would say “no,” but a recent article from the British Medical Journal prompts a note of caution. The BMS reviewed over 5,000 studies and noted some serious consequences of prolonged or excessive laughter. These include such conditions as asthma, emphysema, cardiac arrhythmia, syncope, headache, herniation and urinary incontinence.
As with any therapy, the benefits must be weighed against these potential risks, so some moderation of mirth may be warranted. Where the benefits of humor do outweigh the risks and laughter is indicated as therapy, writing the prescription can be complicated. Humor is by no means universal, and varies with age, gender, religion, ethnic background and geographic region.
Given these wide variations, prescription laughter is best dispensed by a competent and experienced professional, someone who is well-versed in your personal health history and general background and attuned to any potential cross reactions. Humor as medicine may be too important to be left in the hands of amateurs. Cheap medicine may not be the best medicine after all. If you feel you are in need and would benefit from serious laugh therapy, please feel free to contact our office at wahamiltonobgyn.com or take two Stooges and call me in the morning (540-373-4700).
Heard any good jokes lately?