September 14, 2011
Is Laughter Really The Best Medicine?
A new study has revealed that laughter might actually be the best medicine after all.
Oxford University researchers found that volunteers were able to withstand 10 percent more pain when they spent 15 minutes watching comedy videos beforehand.
The team split two groups of volunteers up for the study, one group who watched the videos, and another who watched "boring" programs before.
The scientists found that the group who watched 15 minutes of "boring" programs were less able to bear pain.
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, who led the research, said uncontrollable laughter releases chemicals called endorphins into the body which helps dull pain.
The team was unable to measure endorphin levels directly because that would have involved the volunteers having to undergo a spinal tap for the experiment.
The researchers tested the volunteers by placing a bag of ice on their arms to see how long they could withstand it being there.
"Very little research has been done into why we laugh and what role it plays in society," Dunbar said in a press release. "Using microphones, we were able to record each of the participants and found that in a comedy show, they laughed for about a third of the time, and their pain tolerance rose as a consequence."
"We think that it is the bonding effects of the endorphin rush that explain why laughter plays such an important role in our social lives."
The researchers published their findings online in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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