Research from Oxford University in England demonstrates that a good laugh with friends helps a person manage pain. The study showed that just watching 15 minutes of a comedy with others increased pain threshold by an average of 10%!

The exertion of a good laugh leaves people both exhausted and triggers a rush of feel good endorphins which the body is able to use to engage pain. The Oxford study is based on ten years of research and study.

In one of the experiments subjects were asked to either watch a 15 minute long clip from TV comedies or a 15 minute clip on how to play golf. Pain thresholds were measured both before and after watching the clips following rigorous work outs. Those individuals who watched the comedies reported a significantly higher pain threshold.

Researchers believe that the endorphin rush, which was limited to those who experienced a true “belly laugh,” provided protection from pain perception. They did find that individuals who experienced only a mild or polite laugh did not receive any pain benefit.

As we know, particularly men in the later stage of advanced prostate cancer experience pain, often sever pain. Pain medications work to some degree, but they have their own negative side effects. Could laughter help curb some of the need for pain medication?

In other words, laughter is the best medicine.

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.