Laughter May Really Be the Best Medicine for Pain, Study Says [VIDEO]
Laughter Produces Endorphins, Which Raises a Person's Pain Threshold, Study Says
To be fair, if you're staring down the barrel of a wicked headache or a round of cramps, you're almost certainly going to opt for some actual medicine. But a new study reveals that the old cliché about laughter being the best medicine for what ails you isn't totally off the mark, either.
And they're not just talking about emotional pain.
A group of Oxford University researchers studied a large group of male and female college students to test what kind of physical reaction laughter causes.
Professor Robin Dunbar and his fellow scientists had the students watch funny videos, alone and in a group. Their laughter was measured, and then pain was introduced to the experiment, with the students wearing frozen cooling sleeves or tightening blood pressure monitors, the New York Times reports.
The thought was that, if laughter, like exercise, produces endorphins, the subjects' pain thresholds should increase, as endorphins are natural opiates that allow humans to manage pain more effectively.
The result: pain thresholds did go up after the students watched funny videos, but not after they watched documentary films.
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Dunbar and his team concluded that laughter caused a physical reaction that led to an increase of endorphins, and therefore a boost to the pain threshold.
The researchers also found that this process happened at a higher level when people watched the funny videos together instead of alone, which may mean that exercising in a group might also release more endorphins and achieve a higher pain threshold than exercising alone, and, obviously, could be potentially more beneficial to your health.
But back to the laughter thing, we're just wondering … if we get our biggest belly laughs from watching episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, does that mean we can write off our cable bill as a medical expense?
In the meantime, allow us to suggest a little comedy to boost your pain threshold today, via the FunnyorDie.com classic video, The Landord, which still makes us laugh without fail: