Modulation of neuroimmune parameters during and following the humor-associated eustress of laughter may provide beneficial health effects for wellness and a complementary adjunct to whole-person integrative medicine therapies. (Berk, Lee S., PhD., et al. Modulation of Neuroimmune Parameters During the Eustress of Humor-Associated Mirthful Laughter. Alternative Therapies, March 2001, Vol. 7, No. 2)

Mirthful laughter can trigger an increase in activated T cells that had helper/suppressor receptors, an increase in the numbers of natural killer cells. There was also an increase in IgA antibodies, IgG, and IgM. Presented in an interview with Dr. Lee S. Berk. (Dunn, Joseph R., PhD, Ed. New Discoveries in Psychoneuroimmunology Humor & Health Letter. p 2-7. Vol III. No 6, Nov/Dec. MS: 1994.)

Kathleen Dillon of viewing humorous videotapes. Salivary levels of IgA were temporarily boosted after students viewed a humorous film. (Ornstein, Robert, PhD and David Sobel, MD. The Healing Brain. p 154-156. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1987.)

Humor and Laughter stimulate the production of helper T-cells (one type of cells that appears to be attacked by the AIDS virus). (McGhee, Paul E., Ph.D. Emotion: The Key to the Mind's Influence on Health.)

Humor/laughter can stabilize blood pressure, massage inner organs, strengthen immune system function, improve digestion, and may help you live longer. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 104-105. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Outlines benefits including strengthening the immune system, helping with stress and pain management, increasing lung ventilation, lowers blood pressure, and is good preventive medicine. (Neylsen-Cannarella, Sandra L., PhD. The Immunology of Humor. Vol 26, No. 4, p. 28-34. January. WA: Spectrum, 1998.)

Studies: boosts production of immune enhancers, decreases production of stress hormones (e.g., raises IgA levels, lowers levels of cortisol, increases levels of natural killer cells, may help to combat specific diseases). (Hafen, Brent Q., et al. Mind/Body Health. p 550-560. MA: Simon & Schuster, 1996.)

Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California have been studying the effects of laughter on the immune system. Eustress or good stress is created by laughter. An aerobic exercise, laughter can trigger an:

  • Increase in T Cell activity
  • Increase in IgB that helps antibodies attack dysfunctional/infected cells.
  • Increase in natural killer cells

(Fawcett, Carole., Stress Management Consultant/Laughter Coach. Laughter Facts.)

Study: participants who watched a funny film had temporarily boosted immune system function. “We need to laugh often.” (Ornstein, Robert, PhD, and David Sobel, MD. Healthy Pleasures. p 28. MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1989.)

Mirthful laughter can increase: natural killer cells, T-cells, B-cells (make antibodies) and Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), It increases the concentration of immunoglobulin A in the saliva, and brings balance to all the components of the immune system. (Bartekian, Vatche. Laughter Can Cure What Ails You. Ask Men website.)

Cousins, Norman Extensive research on laughter therapy began after the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by Norman Cousins in 1976. Later, in 1979, this article became the first chapter of his book, Anatomy of an Illness. In it he explained how he was diagnosed in 1964 with ankylosing spondylitis (auto-immune condition) and the benefits to him of laughter. Gallozzi, Chuck. Benefits of Laughter.

Humor and Laughter increase level and activity of natural killer cells, reduce pain, lower levels of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, dopac) in the blood, and temporarily lower blood pressure. (McGhee, Paul E., Ph.D. The Physical Health Benefits.)

Laughter diminishes the secretion of cortisol and epinephrine, while enhancing immune reactivity. In addition, laughter boosts secretion of growth hormone, an enhancer of these same key immune responses. The physiological effects of a single 1-hour session viewing a humorous video has appeared to last up to 12-24 hours in some individuals. (Expectation of Laughter Boosts Endorphins 27% and Human Growth Hormone 87%.

Laughter increased two hormones:

  • Human growth hormone (HGS), which helps with immunity.
  • Beta-endorphins, the family of chemicals that alleviates depression.


Laughter can raise levels of salivary gamma globulin IgA, increase the activity of natural killer cells, promote internal jogging, and stimulate selected cardiovascular benefits. (Dossey, Larry, MD. Healing Beyond the Body. p 136-149. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2001.)

IgA (salivary immunoglobulin type A) is higher in people with a stronger sense of humor, in those who are experiencing positive emotions, and in those who are experiencing love. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 273-274. GA: Bard Press, 1994, 2000.)

Refer to the Immune System and the Brain for additional information.

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