Is Laughter a Real Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicine? | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Is Laughter a Real Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicine?

New significance to RA, medicine, and laughter

If you’ve been on the blog more than five minutes, you know I love to laugh.  When I was a kid, I remember Dick Van Dyke singing that with Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. When they laughed, a funny thing happened: they floated “higher than air.”  

Maybe you’ve heard it said: Laughter is good medicine. Did you know that actually comes from the Bible? I can hardly believe the second part! “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones,” Proverbs 17:22. Gives new meaning to “funny bone.”

“Lol” found to be Rheumatoid Arthritis medicine

Last week, I was doing this pain in the neck pain threshold research. I saw this “mirthful laughter” study. I think “mirthful” means you have to “lol” / laugh out loud. Apparently laughing really hard is even better for you – just like Dick and Julie said!

Inflammatory cytokines were measured in the blood of RA’ers before and after watching Rakugo. Rakugo is a type of Japanese standup comedy in which the person sits. But is still funny.  As long as you speak Japanese.

Anyway, there was a measurable effect to the laughter on the cytokines of the RA patients tested. It is interesting that they divided the patients into two groups: those with easier to control RA and those they called the “difficult-to-control” (recalcitrant Rheumatoid Arthritis). The way in which laughter affected RA patients’ inflammatory chemistry was dependent upon their RA disease activity. “The difficult-to-control RA group is under more stress than the easily controlled RA group and mirthful laughter can be used as a means to improve mental condition.”

It was not all good though. Seems those with tough to control RA have it tough all the way around. Certain pro-inflammatory cytokines were increased with mirthful laughter. Still, I feel like my four year old watching Blue’s Clues shouting “A clue. A clue. I found a clue.” Why would this tough-type RA respond differently to laughter?  Would that help us know why recalcitrant RA responds differently to treatment?

Bonus: We spent about an hour watching Rakugo videos looking for a funny one to post here. All of the ones in English were painfully unfunny. So, we spent about 3 hours watching animal videos until we found one that made us laugh out loud.  See the elephant jumping on a trampoline video below. 

Helpful links:

Recommended reading:

 

Elephant Jumping on Trampoline

You know I ♥ elephants!

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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19 thoughts on “Is Laughter a Real Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicine?

  • February 12, 2010 at 11:27 am
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    Thanks for the giggles. I don’t know if anyone else watches the Bonnie Hunt Show but at the end of her show, she always posts videos similar to this-just to lighten people’s days. It’s kinda of a low key talk show which I find very relaxing and helps to alleviate stress. Don’t know what it’s doing for my cytokines though! Hopefully something positive! LOL But everyone needs laughter.

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  • February 12, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    thank you ! ,,,,thats the best medicine i’ve found yet,, gave me a good belly laugh

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  • February 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm
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    My husband and I watched the Disney Pixar movie “UP” and got a wealth of good belly laughs. Watching animated movies is not something we’ve done since being emptynesters, but now I plan to do it more often. Laughing helps my mood which gives me a temporary reprieve from my troubles.

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    • February 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm
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      Great recommendation. We saw Up last night! Watch Monsters versus Aliens – it’s even better. Did you see Monsters, Inc? Or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? We watch Cars once a month since I have a four yr old, but everyoneon else watches, too.

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      • February 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm
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        I haven’t seen these, but I will soon. Thanks!

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  • February 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm
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    Last weekend there was an “I Love Lucy” marathon. I haven’t laughed or smiled like that in so long. And it felt good to laugh like that. And didn’t Lucy have RA? I don’t know how she did it, but she was great. And such a simple show brightened my whole weekend. BTW I think or at least feel I am in that difficult to control RA group. LOL

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    • February 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm
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      She did, but I think she was like many & had ups & downs (flares & remissions). I also read she was very private about it, so we don’t know much.

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  • February 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm
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    i know laughter is the best medicine, thats y i laugh a lot when i m not in pain n i also love to laugh. my school is a place where we ppl laugh a lot with friends. thats y love to go to school.

    Reply
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  • February 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm
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    Oh, that baby is precious. You just can’t help but laugh at his “evil look” — and then his instant shift into sheer joy as his family bursts in the laughter.

    I suppose there are all kinds of scientific reasons that laughter “is the best medicine.” But I think mainly it’s this: While we’re laughing, our minds are filled ONLY with whatever it is that’s making us laugh. And it feels GOOD to laugh; it’s a sudden, total release of tension. You can’t laugh spontaneously and retain a bad mood; you have to stop laughing, reach out and wrap that bad mood or misery back around yourself, quick, before anyone sees. But that’s just for hard-core grumbly types. Most of us will revel in laughter and yearn for more. Laughter cancels out pain, even if it’s just for a few moments.

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  • February 16, 2010 at 1:40 am
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    TOO funny! I sure want that baby too! I laughed so hard the dogs got out of bed and gave me the evil eye for waking them lol.

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  • April 10, 2010 at 9:35 am
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    Thanks for this Kelly – Great timing – I needed a laugh this morning – unfortunately the link to the Evil Eye baby won’t work anymore…………….however the other links do.

    I was wondering while I am here if anyone else has taken Laflunomide? I have been on it for about 6 months and had no problem until a few days ago. At first I thought it was the RA – but now I am not so sure. I have the pleuracy (sp?) type feeling but for the past 3 days have had dizziness and have had trouble taking a deep breath – no other ‘side effect’ type things but starting to wonder if I am having a reaction to the med………………(yeah I am probably on the wrong post here but not sure how much longer I am going to be up this morning.
    I won’t let it go for very long – have an appt on Monday and if it’s worse before then I will take care of it………just wondered if you or anyone else has had experience with this med.

    Thanks for the belly laughs – 😀

    Reply
  • April 10, 2010 at 10:04 am
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    Aww, Video no longer available due to copy right issues with Disney! I was looking forward to this. Everyone needs laughter.
    Cindy……may someone tickle your funny bone today 🙂

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    • April 10, 2010 at 10:11 am
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      Cannot believe this: I watched it 2 days ago! I’ll ck on this right away. I wonder if his parents sold it to Disney? It was just a family YouTube video. Wow.

      Edit: Ok, there’s still lots of links to the funny baby video online. Here’s one – click here. I’m going to try to find a different video for my post since there’s a possible problem. One site I found claimed the family won money on America’s Funniest Videos, so that could be cause for Disney’s claim.

      Reply
  • May 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm
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    Laughter DOES make a difference. Some days it’s just “if we don’t laugh we’ll cry…” but still. If you need a good laugh about side effects (and weight gain from meds like prednisone) I invite you to watch this clip from one of my presentations. I’ve lived with RA since age 24, 27 years now.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm
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    Something I find interesting: I was starting to see a little improvement until I had a really difficult situation arise. I cried for several days over this stressful situation – someone was very unhappy with me and made me very sad. While all of that was going on, my hands, feet, and ankles stayed swollen and tight. I could barely walk, I stayed in such pain. Here’s the interesting bit – I was able to get away and relax. My family and I laughed and had a great time all weekend; I got my mind off my worries. My joints relaxed, swelling went down a bit. I do find that after a good comedy or laugh-filled visit with friends I’m in better physical condition. Great article – and thank you for sharing the Bible verse. I love that one!

    Reply
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