Did you know humor is healing? It’s true -- but you don’t have to take our word for it. Science has proven it again and again!
Here’s what an expert, Dr. Francisco Contreras, M.D., has to say about the healing aspects of humor:
“Joy is vital to the recuperation of health…One bout of anger will diminish the efficiency of your immune system for six hours, but one good laugh will increase the efficiency of your immune system for twenty-four hours.”
Dr. Contreras, serves as director, president and chairman of the Oasis of Hope Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico. A distinguished oncologist and surgeon, Contreras is renowned for combining conventional and alternative medical treatments with emotional and spiritual support to provide patients with the most positive treatment experience possible. He teaches that “Fear and other negative emotions are detrimental to the immune system” and he’s convinced that “Depression and anxiety are open invitations for cancer to have its way with a patient.” In a forward he wrote for the book, “Healing Through Humor,” by Charles and Frances Hunter, Dr. Contreras stated:
“When we are able to help a person smile and laugh, I know that we increase the possibility of recovery markedly. One of my goals is to help patients get to a place where they can stare cancer right in the eyes and say, ‘You cannot rob my joy.’ For me, laughter therapy is not a warm fuzzy activity that is a nice service to offer patients, if time allows. It is an essential part of our treatment program.”
“Science has definitively confirmed the potent healing factor of laughter. Whether studies were conducted in Japan (1) or Loma Linda, California (2), objective results indicate that patients who experience laughter receive a boost to their immune system as measured in the elevation of natural killer cell activity and immuno-globulin” [a complex group of proteins that serve as antibodies in your immune system]. There are so many objective clinical trials that support the healing power of humor that it surprises me that few doctors take advantage of this ‘medication…Positive emotions invoked by humor have healing effects.”
It’s interesting to note that Dr. Contreras’ father, the late, Dr. Ernesto Contreras, Sr. opened the Oasis of Hope Hospital and initiated what would become a healing tradition known as the Total Cancer Care Approach. He is also recognized in multiple publications as a pioneer in body, mind, and spirit medicine. Dr. Ernesto Contreras, Sr. was also friends with Dr. Patch Adams, the medical doctor whose life story was made into a movie, thus bringing the world’s attention to the importance of compassion, love and humor in the treatment of patients. Dr. Francisco Contreras gave the following descriptions of his father, Dr. Ernesto Contreras, Sr., and Dr. Patch Adams:
“Dad and Patch are two birds of a feather. When I had the pleasure of spending time with Patch, I saw that holistic healing was no joking matter to him. He was dead serious. If you saw the movie and wondered if Patch is the same in real life, the answer is--the movie presented a tamed-down version. The depth of Patch’s knowledge and his commitment to humanity awed me. I was surprised to see that his doctor’s bag was full of different clown noses and teeth that he allowed me to try on, causing us both to laugh.”
“My Father is the only physician I have met that would arrive at the hospital toting a guitar and a joke book. His career spanned sixty years. He was recognized with the Alternative Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award, but his biggest reward was each day that he could build a meaningful, healing relationship with his patients. I believe that the laughter with patients was not only healing for them but it was the key to the longevity of his career. One clinical study indicated that both patient and physician benefit from sessions of laughter. I don’t doubt that to be true.”
The next time you enjoy a big hearty belly laugh, think of it as a boost to your immune system and an extra dose of good health. Just to get you started, watch this adorable baby’s laughter, then JOIN IN! It’s contagious (and good for you)!
Here’s to your health!
Note: All Dr. Contreras quotes in this article can be found in the forward he wrote for the book, “Healing Through Humor,” by Charles and Frances Hunter (often referred to as the “Happy Hunters”). Drawing from two lifetimes of joyful ministry, the authors compiled some fun and funny jokes, musings, anecdotes, and mind twisters to inspire happy hearts and bring healing to mind, body and soul. You’ll definitely want to check out their book. Get ready for a good laugh and, if needed, a happy healing!
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