Laughter helps against loss of appetite

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Study: Laughter is said to help reduce appetite and lower blood pressure.

(04/27/2010) Have you laughed heartily today? Laughter and happiness help to bring the emotions into high gear. People just feel good when they laugh. But laughter also has health benefits. A US study found that laughing also helps people with anorexia. Because, according to the researchers, laughter increases the concentration of appetite-promoting hormones in the blood. While laughing, the amount of ghrelin that stimulates the appetite in the blood increases, while the level of leptin decreases. Many people are familiar with the opposite phenomenon: if you are very sad, many people have little "desire" to eat. Loss of appetite primarily affects patients who suffer from depression, have little social contact and hardly move. Elderly patients are particularly affected.

The researchers at Loma Linda University in California each showed healthy subjects an emotionally filling film clip and a funny clip during the study. Before the study participants saw the two film clips, the concentrations of the hormones leptin and ghrelin were measured in the blood. When watching the emotionally moving film "The Soldier James Ryan", no change in the blood was found. On the contrary, when watching a funny video clip: the level of leptin dropped, while the proportion of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin increased. As in previous studies, other positive effects could also be observed: the body's immune system was strengthened and blood pressure was lowered.

With the results, the researchers hope to use laugh therapy to help patients suffering from chronic loss of appetite. Laughter therapy could also help people suffering from chronic pain or depression. Naturopathy has known laughter therapy for a while. Stress therapy can also reduce stress hormones and emotional stress. Today: just laugh again. (sm)

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Image: Rainer Sturm,

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Video: Morning Rounds: The boy with no appetite


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