Do you know your orbicularis oris from your levator anguli oris?

smileAlthough there are many sources who will tell you that it takes more muscles to frown then smile – no-one actually know the exact number of muscles required to smile or frown.  Cranial Nerve VII (Facial nerve) controls upto 43 facial muscles although some people can have upto 40% less facial muscles than others.

What the research does show us is that laughter can help with lowering blood glucose levels, improving good cholesterol, lowering inflammation and even effect gene expression.

Research from Japan showed that laughter was linked to lower blood sugar levels after a meal.  On 2 consecutive days participants were given identical meals and then watched a monotonous lecture or a comedy show.  Both diabetic and non-diabetic participants had lower blood sugar levels after laughing from the comedy show than they did when they listened to the humourless lecture (Diabetes Care 2003; 26:1651-1652.)

Another study in the US looked at the effects of mirthful laughter on high risk diabetic patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia.  All the patients received routine medical care but half were also asked to watch a video that they found funny for at least 30 minutes every day.  All the patients had their blood tested every 2 months for a year.

After just two months, the patients in the laughter group showed better “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) than the patients in the non laughter group. By the end of the year the levels of good cholesterol had increased by 26% in the laughter group compared to only 3% in the non laughter group.  After four months the laughter group also had lower levels of inflammatory and ‘stress’ chemical markers.  After one year some of the markers had decreased by 66% in the laughter group compared to 26% in the non-laughter group. (122nd Annual Meeting American Physiological Society).

To A Happy 2014 full of laughter!