The Power of Laughing

Hello again….time really does fly! Between taking care of my family and our wonderful patients, filming a video, as well as lecturing in Las Vegas and Hawaii ( mostly work folks) and assuming my new role as President Elect of the AACD, I’ve had a full plate for someone who is trying to diet.  For the many who have enjoyed the insights and insider information into dentistry and anti-aging, I promise to catch up as well as get back on schedule .

Recently, I came accross a terrific article in Scientific American that shows psychological and medical evidence demonstrating the benefits of smiling.  It has been well known in the literature from Norman Cousins, as well as Sigmund Freud, that humor relaxes you when you are anxious and makes you psychologically more resilient.  However, there has been no scientific evidence to show improvements in curing disease. New research is showing a better correlation. According to the article, “laughter does produce short-term changes in cardiovascular function and respiration, boosting heart rate, respiratory rate and depth, as well as oxygen consumption.” Furthermore, the article reports that laughing at a funny film or TV show demonstrates a decrease in blood concentrations of “cortisol” which is well known for increasing LDL ( the “bad” cholesterol) and weakening the immune system.

In addition, in a recent study by researchers , Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, has paired with Stanley Tan, MD, PhD,  an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute, Loma Linda, CA. After prescribing a daily “dose” of humor–30 minutes of a funny sitcom or video–to diabetes patients ( who were standardly medicated) and not doing so with a control group , they are reporting 26% increase in HDL levels ( “good” cholesterol) and a 66% decrease in C-reactive protein -both well known markers in heart disease. The control group showed only 3% and 26% improvements respectively. Given the strong relationship of cardiovascular problems with diabetes, they are anticipating the use of humor in creating enhancements in the care of both diseases from an emotional and biochemical point of view.

What a difference it would make if laughter could be used to prevent and treat two of the biggest killers in our society!

It’s exciting to know that there are plenty of healthy medical reasons to smile. Could this be a small key to the fountain of youth? It is starting to look that way.

By the way, if you need some humorous reasons to laugh , go watch a funny movie or an old rerun of the Honeymooners or Seinfeld. Also, there is great article on the Art of Smiling by Tina Su , who has a great blog worth subscribing to.

Of course, if you or a friend need some help with your smile or your giggle, the Flax Dental team is always at your service. According to he latest  research, it could help save your life.

Keep smiling right,


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Posted in: Mouth Body Connection


  1. Thanks for this reminder about the healthful benefits of smiling Dr. Flax. I notice that you’re also a reader of Tina Su’s blog. She is an inspiring writer, isn’t she?

    Comment by Louise Desmarais on June 29, 2009 at 7:49 am

  2. Hugh – That was a great blog and just what I needed to read today. I know you have been so busy…Bob and I hope to see you soon.

    Comment by Michele Lowe on June 29, 2009 at 8:10 am

  3. I want my 30 minute “laugh-in”! Sure beats the alternative, right? Wonder if “Happy Hour” could be under doctor’s orders? Somehow, though, I don’t think that kind of mix is the healthy solution.

    Comment by Edi Sprouse on June 30, 2009 at 7:50 am

  4. I’ve always known that for me personally, laughing is the best way to relieve stress. The first thing I do when I come home is find something to laugh about. I am glad there is now proof of the benefits of laughing and that my loud outbursts actually have a purpose besides just awakening my family!

    Comment by Tracey on June 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  5. Smiling warms the heart and makes the world go round
    Tina Su has a treasure of good advice ( thanks for turning me on to her)


    @Louise Desmarais

    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 1, 2009 at 12:53 am

  6. Glad that cheered you up
    Will be seeing Bob at the AGD Meeting in Baltimore
    Hope you can plan a trip to Atlanta soon

    Keep smilin


    @Michele Lowe

    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 1, 2009 at 12:56 am

  7. Happy Hour sure seems to be what the doctor ordered—will insurance cover that? 🙂
    Might be a great name for a comedy club!
    Just stand up comedy with videos of classic old guys like Carson, etc

    Keep smilin


    @Edi Sprouse

    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 1, 2009 at 1:00 am

  8. Tracey

    Glad you found a new excuse to smile
    Life has plenty of things to keep us laughing
    Sure helps the day go better–and healthier

    Keep smilin-and laughing



    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 1, 2009 at 1:04 am

  9. Great article again! Smiling is not something that comes easy to me (crooked tooth) but I can certainly feel the difference when I can really smile or laugh about something. The work you do is not just correcting your patients’ teeth or giving them a nice smile, it is a big change on their personality. Years of counselling sessions to build up confidence and self esteem in a couple of dental visits!

    Comment by Carla on July 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

  10. That was very nice Hugh. The most wasted of all days is one without laughter_ E.E.Cummings

    Comment by Massoudah on July 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  11. If the world truly realized their potential just by smiling more, there would be fewer sick people. I’d rather see comedians get more business than therapists. My dad always said that “Laughter is the best medicine”. Guess he’s looking down from heaven with a smile on his face.

    Keep smilin’right


    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 3, 2009 at 6:27 am

  12. Massoudah

    Completely agree. I’d have to be asleep or dead if I weren’t laughing. Life doesn’t always have to be so…..serious.
    Thanks for visiting and see you soon.

    Keep smilin’ right


    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 3, 2009 at 6:31 am

  13. I find the research about laughing very interesting. I know if I was the patient I would much rather watch a funny show or do something to stimulate laughter, rather than take medication any day. I have known laughter is good medicine for a long time.

    Comment by Lori Beckum on July 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm

  14. Lori

    You hit it on the head. If we can feel better, you look better. The good news is that you get healthier in so many ways. Our medical system is geared do everything with a “quick fix” pill. How dumb is that?

    Keep smilin’ right


    @Lori Beckum

    Comment by Dr.Flax on July 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm

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