Laughter as a Complementary Therapy

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In the article Laughter and humor as complementary and alternative medicines for dementia patients, laughter is introduced as CAM, as complementary therapies that control symptoms and improve well-being and quality of life:

Laughter as a CAM

… To facilitate the better management of these chronic diseases [such as Alzheimer], recent attention has focused on the use of CAM, together with Oriental and traditional medicines [17]. CAM is defined by the American Cancer Society as ‘…supportive methods used to complement evidence-based treatment. Complementary therapies do not replace mainstream treatment and are not promoted to cure disease. Rather, they control symptoms and improve well-being and quality of life'[18]. In contrast, alternative therapies, or alternative medicine, involve non-mainstream treatments that are sometimes used by patients instead of orthodox treatments. Examples of CAM include music therapy, drama therapy, aromatherapy, animal-assisted therapy, gardening, horse riding, exercise, bathing, herbal medications, acupuncture, moxibustion, shiatsu, and yoga among others [19]. However, these therapies have not been well defined. Some are simply based on legend or belief, whereas others are traditionally applied but without any scientific basis.

It is widely accepted that a patient’s emotional state will affect the course of the disease. Human emotional behavior can be either negative or positive. Negative emotional behavior is accompanied by disgust, fear, or alarm, which induces a prompt, narrowed response to the stimulus responsible for the life crisis. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response is the general outcome of negative emotions, in which the sympathetic autonomic nervous system is dominant. Conversely, in safe and relaxing situations, positive emotional behavior is associated with joy, play, and humor, with predominant functioning of the parasympathetic system, which induces responses of extended open behaviors that are helpful in learning new behavioral patterns. Laughter associated with a pleasant feeling is often observed under positive emotional conditions.

Laughter has a unique position in CAM. The benefits of laughter have been recognized historically. As stated by Bertrand Russell, ‘Laughter is the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug. Laughter is a universal medicine’. Laughter has been regarded as beneficial for human health for a long time, with some of the benefits attributed to laughter including improved immunological [20] and endocrinological [21] responses and increased pain tolerance [22]. Laughter therapy, humor therapy, laughter meditation, and laughter clubs all have unique implications as group programs and as self-management techniques. For practitioners to implement credible programs and effectively teach self-management techniques, further empirical research on the physical, psychosocial, and placebo effects of laughter and humor needs to be conducted.

Joke Of The Day For Dementia Patient Caregivers

“Doctor Ryan tells his patient, Muriel, ‘Well I have good news and bad news…’
Muriel responds, ‘Tell me Doc. What’s the bad news?’
You have Alzheimer’s disease.’
‘Good heavens!’ exclaims Muriel, ‘ So, what’s the good news?’
‘You can go home and forget about it.’ Says Dr Ryan”

Joke quoted from
Photo courtesy of

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