A New Kind of Medicine and More

9 years 10 months 1 week ago August 10, 2007 Aug 10, 2007 Friday, August 10 2007 Friday, August 10, 2007 4:29:52 PM CDT in News

The Cleveland Clinic now has a laughter leader who is teaching people the benefits of laughter. People would never know by looking at her, but Bettina Ortiz is under a lot of stress taking care of her elderly parents. She's learning to use laughter to cope.

"I had zillions of things on my mind, but I feel much better now much less stress and very happy," Ortiz said.

Karen Fink is a nurse and a laughter leader. Despite how silly her class looks, this type of laughter is not based on humor. They're learning to simulate laughing. But soon the giggles start, and it's contagious. Laughing does more for the body than people realize.

"Helping respiration, helping breathing, helping the cardiac system, blood flow, improving morale. It helps your immune system," Fink said.

Selma Holden is a fourth year medical student. She's learning laughter to help her future patients.

"I think that if you are able to be happy and relaxed, your healing process is accelerated," Holden said.

Laughter releases endorphins which can aid in pain relief. It also reduces the stress hormone cortisol and it might be the first "medicine" to try.

"When you are feeling down or are feeling ill, the best thing to do would be to laugh," Fink said. "It changes your whole perspective." 

Women and Migraines

New research shows women's brains are more excitable, and this may be the reason women suffer from migraines more than men. UCLA researchers say migraines are caused by waves of brain activity known as cortical spreading depression. That depression is thought to trigger intense pain, visual disturbances and other migraine symptoms. Researchers said female lab mice were more susceptible to those waves.

Glaucoma Gene Discovered

Scientists from Iceland claim to have discovered the gene that appears to account for virtually all cases of glaucoma. Scientists identified two common variants that make up the disease. Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide, and researchers say they are at least ten years off from finding a cure.

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