We have heard from the Bible to Reader’s Digest that laughter is good medicine.1 Diverse literature suggests that laughter and a good sense of humour can be beneficial to our health and well-being.2 It is popularly believed, but difficult to empirically prove, that laughter can decrease stress, reduce anxiety, discharge tension, and increase self-esteem.3 We do know that laughter can lead to immediate increases in heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory depth and oxygen consumption, followed by a period of muscle relaxation, with a corresponding decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.4 In lay terms, this is very similar to the positive effects of exercise.
But can laughter lower our blood glucose? The research tells us that yes, laughter CAN lower blood glucose! Japanese researcher Keiko Hayashi, PhD, RN, et al., published their findings that laughter lowered the increase in the rise of two hour post-prandial blood glucose (PPBG) in people with diabetes. The research subjects attended a forty minute lecture after eating a meal on the first day and their PPBG rose on average 6.8 mmol/L. The participants then attended a forty minute comedy show after eating the identical meal. The two hour PPBG rose on average only 4.3 mmol/L. They found this to be statistically significant. Hayashi et al concluded that laughter decreased the PPBG and suggested “the importance of daily opportunities for laughter in patients with diabetes”.5 Translation: rent two comedies tonight and you might have a better blood sugar in the morning!
RN, BSN, CDE
Trisha Porretti was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1992. Because of this diagnosis she changed careers and entered nursing school. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and began her nursing career which includes Med-Surg, Telemetry, and Critical Care. In 2000, she began using insulin pump therapy. From 2001 to 2003 she was the Diabetes Nurse Educator for Pediatric Endocrinology Consultants and the Director of Nursing for their annual camp for children with diabetes. In 2002 she became a Certified Diabetes Educator. From 2003 to the present she has been the Manager of Clinical Services in South Florida for Animas Corporation, a Johnson & Johnson company. At conferences and events throughout the United States, she shares her experiences as a person with diabetes and raises the question “Can laughter lower blood glucose?” She has encouraged and inspired large audiences of both health care providers and patients to laugh—for the health of it!