Laughing With Others Eases Pain, Study Says

Having a good laugh with friends can help us to deal with pain -- proving laughter really is the best medicine -- a UK study out Wednesday found.

Watching just 15 minutes of comedy with others increased the pain threshold by an average of 10 percent, a team of researchers, led by the University of Oxford, England, discovered.

The exertion of laughing properly leaves people exhausted and triggers the body to release a rush of feel-good endorphins, which manage pain, according to the research.

The study is based on more than 10 years of research in which different experiments were staged to discover what determined people's pain tolerance levels.

In one experiment, subjects were asked to watch 15 minute clips from TV comedies such as "Mr. Bean" and "Friends", and these were contrasted with clips on how to play golf or factual programs. Their pain thresholds were measured before and after using ice packs and painful workouts.

The endorphin rush appears to be limited to a good belly laugh, shared with others, rather than polite laughter, researchers pointed out.

They believe that the fact only this type of laughter releases endorphins may have evolved as a way of encouraging socializing among humans.

Lead author Professor Robin Dunbar, said, "Very little research has been done into why we laugh and what role it plays in society. Using microphones, we were able to record each of the participants and found that in a comedy show, they laughed for about a third of the time, and their pain tolerance rose as a consequence."

He added, "We think that it is the bonding effects of the endorphin rush that explain why laughter plays such an important role in our social lives."