See why Laughter is Good Medicine for Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Lifting your spirits and health, laughter is good medicineA good laugh can do amazing things, like brighten a day or dissolve tension. Actually, laughter is good medicine, according to those who specialize in it.

Benefits of Laughter

Laughter has been found to provide copious benefits to the body. Laughter is good medicine because it offsets pain by freeing endorphins, making us feel happy. It also expands blood vessels by releasing nitric oxide, which has an immense benefit for cardiovascular health.

Laughter has been proved therapeutic because of its ability to decrease anxiety: it helps melt troubles away.

Laughter can also improve communication and the quality of relationships. It can form bonds between people.

Laughter is good medicine for Adrenal Fatigue, specifically, because it also decreases output of epinephrine and cortisol from the adrenal glands. This actually lowers stress hormones, as opposed to anger, which raises them.

Laughing Away the Negative Effects of Anger

While laughter has a good medicinal effect, anger has been found to be extremely harmful or even deadly. A study performed at Duke University found that when people are at an increased risk for heart conditions, eruptions of anger could result in a stroke or a heart attack.

In Australia, researchers have shown that the potential for a heart attack in the couple of hours following an outburst of anger was eight and a half times an individual’s normal rate. Researchers in Europe found similar results: they discovered that the number of irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, and strokes rose after feelings of anger.

Laughter is good medicine for diabetes too, because blood sugar regulation can also be greatly affected by feeling angry. In general, anger can lead to decreased immunity and may cause you to become sick more often or for longer periods. But a dose of medicinal laughter could help.

Laughter is Good Medicine for Stress

Anger can actually worsen health, so keep in mind that laughter is good medicineThe body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) system functions to defend the body against the effects of anger and stress. By using its two major components—the neuroendocrine and metabolic systems—it produces a cascade of responses to stress.

The metabolic portion of the NEM system is made up of organs including the liver and pancreas. Metabolic stress response systems include metabolism, detoxification, and inflammation components that collectively work to stabilize blood sugar and ensure that there are enough caloric reserves to allow the body to power through the day without significant depletions of its energy reserve.

The neuroendocrine portion of the NEM system is comprised of the heart, brain, thyroid, adrenals, autonomic nervous system, and the GI tract. Neuroendocrine responses to stress are defined as neuroaffective, cardionomic, and hormonal. These responses regulate your body’s functions to cope with stress and reduced energy. Symptoms arising from dysregulation or overuse of the neuroendocrine system include brain fog, gastric bloating, diarrhea, constipation, irregular menstrual cycles, low libido, and ineffective body temperature regulation.

In times of stress, the NEM system—comprised of both the metabolic and neuroendocrine systems—functions to ensure homeostasis, or internal balance. Laughter is as good medicine for stress relief because it helps to regulate stress hormones and neurotransmitters and increases your metabolism (without the use of external sources, such as donuts and sweets to) provide the energy boost.

The body uses the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis as a means to process stress. The brain processes stress signals and sends hormones and neurotransmitters to the targeted organs, by way of the HPA axis. Should there be an additional threat, these organs are ready to respond with a variety of mechanisms. The neuroendocrine components are activated when the HPA axis is stimulated. Key hormones involved include norepinephrine, within the central nervous system, and both norepinephrine and adrenaline outside the central nervous system.

Outside of the central nervous system, primary organs that function as headquarters for stress responses are the adrenal glands. These glands release more than 50 hormones that assist the body and the NEM system in effectively fighting stress, under the direction of the HPA hormonal axis.

The most important of these hormones is called cortisol, which suppresses the immune system, fights inflammation, maintains normal levels of blood sugar, and more. In times of high stress, cortisol output is increased. However, when excessive or chronic stress occurs, the adrenals are eventually unable to keep up with the demand. This condition is known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Research has found that anger increases stress hormones in the body, namely epinephrine and cortisol. For those who suffer from AFS, the increase of the latter hormone is of particular concern because cortisol is produced in the adrenals. Since the adrenal glands are already struggling—or in the case of Adrenal Exhaustion, are already unable to keep up with the cortisol demands—due to chronic stress, anger exacerbates the problem. Anger can therefore cause the condition and symptoms to worsen. Thus, laughter is good medicine for those recovering from AFS because the most important step is to remove stressors.

Adrenal fatigue has both physical and mental effects, while laughter is good medicine for both body and soulOne of the main stressors that can lead to AFS is anger. Laughter is good medicine for those who suffer from anger, Adrenal Fatigue, or both, since it can help to dissipate stress.

For those with Adrenal Fatigue, it is therefore recommended that you watch more light hearted and comedic television shows, rather than intense dramatic or action oriented shows. Dramatic shows can often stimulate the body, trigger anger and stress hormones, and make the adrenals worse. Comedy shows are often more relaxing and de-stressing.

Laughter is good medicine for heart symptoms as well. The cardionomic response to stress prepares the lungs, vessels, and heart to be ready for anything. Those with Adrenal Fatigue may experience high blood pressure, palpitations of the heart, irregular beating of the heart, and trouble breathing. Anger can exacerbate these symptoms, but laughter promotes normal heart rhythm and beating and decreases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Laughter as Healing Medicine

Our body is designed to fight stress using our NEM stress response system. But in AFS, excessive or chronic stress overloads the body’s capabilities. Laughter is good medicine because it assists the body in fighting stress, promotes general health, and leads to happiness. So find ways to incorporate more laughter into your daily life. It’s healthy, free, and most importantly, it works.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Lifting your spirits and health, laughter is good medicine