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Observations placeholder

Heart disease and the healing effect of laughter



Type of Spiritual Experience


Humour appears to have a positive effect on the heart and the circulatory system. There are a large number of papers on this subject on Pubmed – use ‘humour’ or ‘mirthful laughter’ as a keyword. See also the entry for Norman Cousins

A description of the experience

Am J Cardiol. 2010 Sep 15;106(6):856-9.  Effect of mirthfullaughter on vascular function.  Sugawara J, Tarumi T, Tanaka H;  National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

In contrast to the well-established scientific evidence linking negative emotional states (e.g., depression, anxiety, or anger) to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, much less is known about the association between positive emotional states (e.g., laughter, happiness) and cardiovascular health.

We determined the effects of mirthful laughter, elicited by watching comic movies, on endothelial function and central artery compliance. Seventeen apparently healthy adults (23 to 42 years of age) watched 30 minutes of a comedy or a documentary (control) on separate days (crossover design).

Heart rate and blood pressure increased significantly while watching the comedy, whereas no such changes were seen while watching the documentary. Ischemia-induced brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation (by B-mode ultrasound imaging) increased significantly after watching the comedy (17%) and decreased with watching the documentary (-15%). Carotid arterial compliance (by simultaneous application of ultrasound imaging and applanation tonometry) increased (10%) significantly immediately after watching the comedy and returned to baseline 24 hours after the watching, whereas it did not change significantly throughout the documentary condition. Comedy-induced changes in arterial compliance were significantly associated with baseline flow-mediated dilation (r = 0.63).

These results suggest that mirthful laughter elicited by comic movies induces beneficial impact on vascular function.

 PMID: 20816128

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps