Is laughter really the best medicine?

TEMPE, AZ - Is laughter really the best medicine? We've all heard it said hundreds of times in our lives, but can there really be anything to that old adage?

Dr. David Kassel, the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation for Banner Desert Hospital, says that laughter does appear to have some physical effect on the body, but it's hard to say how beneficial those effects actually are.

"Endorphins get released, the brain is in a happier mode, they may help arteries relax, meaning they may carry more blood flow to critical organs," said Dr. Kassel. "Unfortunately, whether that is a significant feature that helps somebody, that's something we just don't know."

The folks that attend the monthly laughter group at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts , in Tempe, can't speak on the medical benefits, they just know that they certainly feel better afterward.

Debbie White, who has been coming to the group meetings for two years said, " I've had some problems sleeping, but when I leave here I go home and, right to sleep."

Linda Scharf, a Certified Laughter Leader, started the group a few years ago after recognizing the benefits she got from laughter therapy during her recovery from cancer treatments.

"Emotionally it was such a lift and physically it always made me feel very energized, at the same time you feel relaxed," said Scharf.

As for laughter being the best medicine? Linda simply points out that, "with laughter, there are no bad side effects."

The laughter group meets on the second Friday of every month at 1100 E. Apache in Tempe.

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