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Health & Mind
                                       
A Newsletter For Hospital Staff and Patients

 
           Volume I,  Number I                                                                          Fall Issue         
Laugh   For Life 
    Laughter is more than a physiological response triggered by the brain. It is a stress reducer, a disease fighter, and a muscle relaxer. It is also a muscle exerciser. When you let out a hearty laugh, your chest and thorax contract. Your face muscles, shoulders, abdomen, diaphragm, heart, and lungs all get a workout. Your blood pressure rises 80 points, and your pulse doubles. If laughter continues for ten seconds, the heart rate doubles as much as it would after ten minutes of rowing.
    Laughter causes many positive effects on the body. It enhances deep breathing, bringing more oxygen into the body. It is also a great stress management technique. Laughter not only allows you to forget your troubles, but it enables you to release feelings of fear, embarrassment and anger.
    Its health benefits go even further than this. Laughter provides cures and relief from many illnesses. It relieves headaches and lowers hypertension. It reduces inflammation of the joints and spine (symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism), by relaxing muscles. Laughter also decreases the chance of heart disease and may even increase a person's life span.
    Recent theory speculates that laughter strengthens the immune system. When laughter is triggered, the brain secretes larger amounts of endorphins, the body's own morphine-like painkillers. One study theorizes that laughter inhibits the brain's ability to produce cortisone, a hormone which slows down the immune system.
    The Norman Cousins' case is one of the most well known examples of how laughter helps cure disease. When this newspaper editor was told he had a crippling disease of the spine with a 1/500 chance of survival, he filled his days with various sources of comedy. After watching Marx Brothers' movies, and reading all the funny books he could find, he achieved a full recovery. Although Norman Cousins followed his doctor's orders and self-administered large doses of vitamin C, he attributed part of his recovery to laughing.
    The field of medicine has followed Norman Cousins' idea, and many hospitals use laughter in their eveyday routine. St. Joseph's Hospital in Houston has a "Living Room" equipped with funny books, magazines, and comic performers.  Nurses report that patients are more relaxed, more responsive, and less demanding.  St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica also takes advantage of the helpful effects of humor.  They offered their patients a humor channel on closed circuit TV.
    More and more hospitals are following these ideas.  It is not uncommon to see nurses wheeling carts with comic video tapes and calling upon the assistance of laugh mobiles.  New York babies' Hospital even has its own clown on staff. Dr. Tricky and Schmutz, Stubs, the Clown, and Disorderly Boredom help children cope with their illnesses.
 

To Our Readers:

    I would like to introduce our first issue of Health & Mind, a progressive newsletter dedicated to the health issues of today. The goal of this newsletter is to inform readers about subjects from new illnesses affecting only a few, to common, everyday health matters, that affect many. For example, our first issue will cover diagnosing the mysterious Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, coping with stress, and learning the health benefits of laughter. Our articles strive to explain the physiological aspects of each subject. Once readers understand the chemistry of an illness, ways to cope and suggested cures are listed. Finally, support groups and pertinent literature will be recommended for further, more intensive reading.
    Health and Mind will be available four times a year, and, at the request of readers, will be mailed directly to their homes. Once readers are on our mailing list, further information can be requested. Health & Mind is supported by the public relations department of South hospital. Our staff writers, having access to doctors and hospital personnel, will be able to convey the latest information. In an effort to serve your health needs better, we hope to give insightful, informative views on today's health matters.
                         Carol Neuberger, Editor