|Are you finding what you're looking for Ma'am?|
We at Life in Parkinson's Wake like to poke fun at pretty much anything within poking distance of Parkinson's. If you can't find anything funny about Parkinson's, just follow us and skate a little closer to the periphery of the truth. Research shows us the health benefits are just as good. That is why we are known to “goof it up” around here. It just feels good - and now we know why.
For those who missed it, last weekend Linda Loma University researchers provided more compelling evidence that laughing provides tangible, measurable cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. So much so, that in many quarters, laughter is being referred to as more of a legitimate treatment option than ever before.
Consider the following findings rounded up from a number of research efforts:
- Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful (belly) laughter.
- Anticipating a laugh reduces the level of stress hormones.
- "HAML" [humour associated mirthful laughter] may be another non-pharmacological lifestyle intervention to provide health, wellness [and] adjunctive therapeutic benefits,"
- Specifically, the study showed that endorphin and human growth hormone levels rise in expectation of an upcoming positive experience - that is, even before the event occurs while other studies have shown that a daily 30-minute exposure can produce profound and longer-lasting changes in these measures.
In one of Prof. Lee Berk’s studies he looked at 20 healthy older adults in the 60s and 70s measuring their stress levels in short-term memories. One group was asked to sit silently, not talking, reading, or using their cell phones while the remainder watched funny videos (Bill Gates And Steven Jobs cuddling? I’m not sure, they don’t specify what the funny videos were. Following a break, the “humour group” performed approximately 20% better in recall activities in the nonregular group the humour group also displayed lower levels of cortisol, stress hormone.
In a study published in Journal of Holistic Nursing, patients were told one-liners after surgery and before painful medications was administered. Those exposed to humour perceived less pain when compared to patients who didn’t get a dose of humour as part of their therapy.
We also came across a few studies that piqued our interest:
- “Repetitive Laughter Effects Rival Repetitive Exercise - So Why the Hell Am I Getting up at 5am for Rowing Practice?”,
- “The Mirthful Laughter and Bacon Regime - Your Best Shot at Happiness?”
- “Husbands Who Think They’re Funny - Feigned Spousal Laughter And Its Physiological Effects”.
In the beginning, this blog gig was just that, a “gig” - an outlet my wife suggested (maybe thinking if I had an audience online, maybe she wouldn't have to endure so much of my stupid humour at home), The Blog project was also pursued with the remote possibility that occasionally I might stumble upon some socially useful musing on life with Parkinson’s that I could share with the world.
Though we might be a pair of individuals careening towards a more professional "patient/clinician" relationship, it would seem that the field of healthcare is not quite ready for us. There are currently no regulations on “laughter therapy”, the entire field is aching for regulation and education.
While the scientific field is catching up to the field of laughter therapy, dissemination of information at the practitioner level is woefully lacking. For example, there is a complete absence of information regarding recommended dosages for laughter therapy. Is there a rating system for laughter content? As an aspiring practitioner, how do I prescribe laughter therapy? How can I control who views what content? And for what duration?
For example, You, right now, in the absence of a specific comedic prescription, do you feel like this entry contains the right comedic dosage for what ails you? How many times a day are you reading this blog? Does your laughter originate from the belly or from the diaphragm?
All indicators seem to point to a significant change in our business model. In fact, this would be our first business model. We are slowly moving towards a user pays site model. We believe that all provincial health authorities will be approving humour as a billable treatment within months.
There are several issues to be worked out regarding treatment options and billable features. Several studies did conclude that the strongest comedic health effects resulting from humour associated with happiness and joy, as opposed to humour based on embarrassment and anxiety. While I cannot offer specifics just yet, I can confidently state that we will be committed to providing multiple treatment options: our regular fare, suitable for most situations and ages. The second treatment option will be based on humour that is drawn from the embarrassment and anxiety vein. If you grew up surrounded by three or more siblings, still have visible scars from the dinner table of your youth, or were tickled the point of incontinence, then this treatment model is diffinitely for you.
Hey, what do you say we just leave things the way they were? I mean, they weren’t that bad, were they? Me fumbling through my first blog, posting with the regularity of a constipated Sinimet junkie, snorting lines of Metamucil behind closed doors. You, plunging headfirst into my Blog searching for nuggets of anything with a shred of therapeutic value, like a New York City freegan working his favorite dumpster? Sounds like a winner to me :))
So if you’re willing to keep me on retainer in my old amateur status, I’m willing to stick with you. Just remember that you are fully responsible for your own dose, and monitoring any possible complications with other medications you are taking. In short, I am back to my old shtick - spewing whatever nonsense I feel like, without any complications, repercussions, or censoring.
Life is good - at least on those days that I am the dog :-)