By Julia Gumm
The word ?humor? comes from the ancient Greeks. It refers to the practice of ?humoral medicine,? a school of thought that proceeded from the notion that the four fluids or ?humors? of the body, in balance or not, were responsible for the ups and downs of human health.
These four humors and their corresponding organs and elements were black bile (gallbladder, earth), blood (liver, air), yellow bile (spleen, fire), and phlegm (brain and lungs, water). If a person had a tendency towards excess of one of those humors, it was believed that that was what determined their personality type, or as the term was at the time coined, their temperament- from the Latin temper?mentum, a mixing in proportion.
Someone with excess of black bile was ?melancholic?- introverted, cautious. An extroverted pleasure seeker would be considered ‘sanguine?, made that way by their excess of blood. A ?phlegmatic? soul was a peaceful, quiet type, perhaps made that way by all that phlegm clogging up their throats…and a ?choleric? was an easily angered, bad tempered idealist. A my way or the highway? type, ruled by the yellow bile of the spleen.
So the basic idea was, when someone was out of balance, they were of a ?bad humor. And bad humor lead to bad health. Today, even though we’ve chucked these ancient voodoo notions of pseudo-science out the window, along with the leeches and poultices of arsenic that came along with them, we still acknowledge that there are folks of ?good humor? and ?bad humor. Someone of good humor might be pleasant, affable, friendly and have a good sense of humor in the modern, comedic sense. Someone of bad humor is generally a huge load to have around, and takes themselves and their lives way too seriously to dare crack a grin. These bad humored folks tend to develop things like hypertension, anxiety or addictive behaviours to provide themselves some small level of comfort. And the only comfort for people who are forced to live with these poor wretches is the knowledge that they will probably die sooner, what with all those untempered stress hormones coursing through their tight, highly pressurized arteries.
He who laughs, lasts, as they say. And he who does not hopefully won’t! Ah relax, I’m just kidding. Lighten up, it’s good for you.
So is laughter the best medicine? Is being of a ?good humor,? in a traditional and modern sense, perhaps one of the best things you can do for your health?
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing stimulates your organs and increases blood and oxygen flow to them, which improves function and tone. Also, it raises and then dramatically lowers blood pressure and heart rate, bathing the body in a sense of relaxation. Laughter effectively relieves muscle tension, improves immune function by increasing antibody production, improves healing, ‘shuts off the cascade of stress hormones, increases levels of DHEA (sometimes called the ?hormone of youth?) and stimulates the release of your natural pain relieving, feel-good chemicals- endorphins.
Laughter, like crying and exercise, brings the body to a height of stimulation, followed by a pervading sense of well being and relaxation.
Being ?good natured? is of course, beneficial, and practicing traditional stress relieving activities like meditation and yoga are helpful too, but it appears that the physical act of laughing itself provides the body with intense stimulation and release that those more placid activities can’t provide.
For me, that’s good news. Whenever I go to a meditation class and get a load of the crunchy, hippie dippie folks around me thinking about their spirit animals or whatever, I get a serious case of the giggles. What a relief it is to learn that instead of bottling that up and repeating my mantra, I’d do better to quietly excuse myself, go have a knee-slapper in the car, and drive home to watch old episodes of ?The Golden Girls. If I’m in a bad mood, there’s nothing that gets my endorphins moving like a ?Picture it, Sicily… story.
So whatever does it for you, go on and do it! Maybe you’re missing part of your frontal lobes and therefore don’t recognize the hilariousness of ?The Golden Girls.” That’s cool, there’s no accounting for taste here. The point is to loosen up, be more like a child and roll with what gets you rolling on the floor. Laughter is a wonderful example of the beauty of spontaneity, and the benefits associated with it are proof positive that restraining your feelings (as we’re taught to as part of being ?mature) is not always a good recipe for a healthy, vital life.
Children laugh something like 300 times per day- a whopping 296 times more than us adults. We occupy the same world as kids, what are they seeing that we aren’t? Are our eyes so crusted over with the heartbreak of having our egos bruised, the pain of crushed dreams, the monotony of daily life that we can’t see that the whole thing is all just a big damn joke anyway? And it is. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take life seriously. But there is fun, wimsy, irony or at least, gallows humor to be recognized in practically every situation.
I, like most of us, haven’t had the smoothest ride thus far on Spaceship Earth. But what I have had, held tightly in my breast pocket, is a hell of a sense of humor. Probably an inappropriate one, and I thank my lucky stars because otherwise, I’d have likely succumbed to some stress-induced disease ages ago. So I advise you all to take yourself a wee bit less seriously and literally ?make fun? of your life more often.
And I’ll leave you with a tale of the dangers of holding back your laughter.
So I’m nine years old, and I’m sitting in the cafeteria of my elementary school with my best friend, Susan. We’ve just gotten finished free-styling a genius song denigrating the quality of the school lunch, and I am erupting into fits of laughter. Unfortunately, the fever pitch of my glee struck right at the beginning of forced ?quiet time. ?Quiet time? was a cruel and sadistic ritual exercise in sucking the joy out of small children, enforced by an army of grim, thin-lipped lunch ladies. If you so much as peeped, one of them would be looming behind your back in five seconds flat, close enough that you could feel the icy blackness radiating from their being, threatening to reduce you to nothing but a whimpering little toad.
Laughter had always been a bit of an Achilles heel of mine, seeing as teachers treated silliness like a capital offense, so I was prepared. I had developed a new technique that year, a way to fight the forces of evil without becoming as mirthless as they wanted me to be. I would simply hold my breath. As the laughter rolled up through my body, bursting forth from my diaphragm, massaging my Vagus nerve, I would not force it to cease. I’d simply hold it in, like a burp or a fart at an inopportune time. But I refused to stop finding the funny in this world, I simply would not abide.
That day at lunch, I held my breath. As the giggles poured from out my soul, the pressure build up in my lungs spilled out into my cheeks. Suddenly, everyone was looking at me in horror:
?Julia! Look at your face! Oh my god, what’s wrong with your face?!
Indeed, what WAS wrong with my face? I was hustled off to the nurse, where as I sat waiting for my mother, students peered at me as they walked past, incredulity in their eyes. A strange, angry red rash had exploded all over my cheeks, nose, forehead, chin. Was it a terrible, contagious disease? Or worse, had I developed an allergy to Cool Ranch Doritos? Oh the horror, the terror, the dread.
After a long afternoon at the hospital being poked and prodded like a pincushion by sinister fiends who called themselves ?nurses,? a befuddled doctor finally asked me if I’d been pressing my face up against any fish bowls lately. I couldn’t bear the idiocy. Why would I do a thing like that, and what could it possibly have to do with what is obviously the end of my life, a Dorito allergy? He explained that sometimes kids press their faces up against glass tanks or windows and it creates a suction effect that bursts the blood vessels in their faces. He made sure to add he had never yet seen a case quite as bad as mine.
?Well of course I’m not dumb enough to be sticking my face to fish bowls?, I huffed dismissively. ?Have you checked for cool ranch allergy yet??
?What were you doing right before the rash broke out?? he asked.
I thought about it. The laughter. The lunch ladies. My god, my strategy had backfired. The peals of laughter radiating from out my insides proved to be too powerful for my feathery little blood vessels to withstand without release. What was a benevolent exercise in joy had been morphed into something dangerous and shocking, all thanks to the dictatorial powers that be.
I sheepishly told him what happened. My mother looked at me like I was crazy. I looked at them like they were crazy. If it hadn’t been for the vile agenda of grown-ups everywhere to turn kids into boring, obedient little soldiers, my face would have been just fine. Fine, I tell you!
After that day I vowed to never hold in my laughter again, and let the chips fall where they may. And I have the detention files to prove it!
And that, dear reader, is why you should never hold back your true feelings- especially laughter. Yuk it up, clowns! It’s good for ya!
I love Golden Girls…
Glad to see your frontal lobes are intact, Lauren. Who’s your favorite character? I’m definitely a Dorothy, though I admire Blanche…
I’ll butt in here and say I’m utterly in love with The Golden Girls. I actually took a quiz and I’m a Dorothy too! I My grandmother Cecilia is actually from Sicily and she is just like Sofia, and her sister Angela is my Aunt Josie to a T. It’s spooky and I love it. It’s a running joke in our family how similar they are. Their bickering is hilarious, but it turns mean quick. Especially when one insults the others “sauce” They even fear the Mafia and when certain “uncles” visit the curtains are always closed and the lights off….True Story right there.
That. Is awesome.
I loved this post and your adrenal fatigue one a couple of weeks ago. Have u noticed that when you are low/experience symptoms of adrenal fatigue, etc that it is harder to laugh and find humor in things that you normally would? It seems that way with me and I hate that it’s that way.
Hell yes. Totally sucks, right? One thing that I think was wearing me out though, was the inherent un-funniness of my life at the time. So sometimes the best thing I could do was lie almost comatose in front of the tube watching Roseanne or Golden Girls episodes as a form of therapy. A chuckle or two was inevitable, so it was better than nothing. My healthy self positively makes scenes over the hilarity of things like messing with a waiter or random, off the cuff remarks that aren’t intended to be all that funny, so it was a far cry from my normal self, but it was a start. Don’t expect too much from yourself. It’s like the eating bit. Don’t expect yourself to easily digest lots of roughage and stuff. Treat your funny bone the same way. Spoon feed it it’s old, easy favorites and let yourself be free to feel as much as you can;)
Great advice! Really love your posts. It’s so refreshing to see someone write great info and you can totally tell that they’ve been through it and really understand it by your writings.
Well I’m really glad to be of help! I clawed my way through a year of that crap without the foggiest idea what the hell I was doing or how to do it, I just figured it out as I went. It’s really a cool thing for me to be able to provide accessible, effective advice for folks goin’ through the same garbage.
Great post in memory of Jonathan Winters. He made me laugh a lot!
good read, this is the best reason for reading 180 Degree health and loving Mattie cakes. He’s fucking funny as hell. :-)
Great article, but bile doesn’t come from the spleen. ;-)
Hey, I know that and you know that but the ancient Greeks didn’t know that. They also didn’t know, apparently, that blood is produced in the bone marrow, not the liver.
But it is interesting to note that the spleen is of great importance to the lymphatic system, lymph being a sorta yellowy, clearish fluid full of white blood cells and wastes and fats. I think the Greeks were saying “bile” to refer generally to bodily fluids they had yet to give names to.
You know, because they associated the spleen with “yellow bile.” Knowwhatimsayin?
One of the most fun summers I had was a few years ago when I went and visited my Mom in Colo (my Dad was in Atlanta with the military at the time). My Great Grandma had just passed on and one of my aunts stayed with my Mom and me and my kids after the funeral and post funeral stuff.
My aunt is very high energy and soooooo funny! I remember watching Meet the Fockers with my Mom and Aunt after the kids had gone to bed. And we laughed and laughed and laughed….it was soooo good for us! We ate treats too!
It’s been forever since I’ve seen The Golden Girls! I’m going to watch an episode tonight. One of my other favorites is Malcolm in the Middle and Mr Bean. I need to watch more of this stuff. Funny movies and shows are goooooood therapy!
Thank you for another awesome article Julia! :)
Here’s the episode listing for easy choosing:
In the two-parter “Sick and Tired” I wanna advise Dorothy to hit the cheesecake harder:)
great post! kind of unrelated but this just crossed my desk:
maybe the truth is coming out!
Yeah that’s a great book.
My personal is a live improv match! Never heard of Golden Girls…
hey i’m looking for any leads on helping someone reverse recently diagnosed IBS and long time sufferer of ulcerative colitis. i know the basics are sleep, eat when hungry, eat what you want but gravitate towards whole foods, low mental stress, etc…
but does anyone here have first hand stories to help me springboard off of?
Didn’t Matt say when you do RBTI they say give up all pork and traces of it for colitis? You could try that.
thank you all, and i will talk to my friend about trying these ideas out, but im looking for one or two people who have found success in at least drastically improving their colitis/ibs that i can talk to. the reason being is my friend believes the doctors that there is no cure, and is considering the option of surgery (mostly transplant at this time) because the colitis is getting pretty awful. i feel the best bet is talking to someone with a similar case as her’s who has seen improvements to get her to understand that there are other, most likely way more effective options.
I would gravitate towards well-cooked, low-fiber, low-residue foods to start as well. Kid food, basically.
Don’t forget the kefir enemas.
Where did you learn of this? Is it mentioned on Matt’s blog?
That sounds like a potential for exacerbation of symptoms.
Definitely low-fiber. The Ayurvedic herbal blend “Triphala” is worth trying, too. Pretty cheap.
I second the ‘Triphala’ as a less invasive treatment. If she has diarrhea she needs to know that it can make you poop. I used a combination of Triphala, probiotics, and marshmallow root to treat my post antibiotic IBS. I took the triphala for 3 weeks. I took the marshmallow root as needed for pain (if she doesn’t make enough mucus it can be a problem, marshmallow root increases mucus production throughout the body including the gut.) The bugs were needed because all of mine were killed by antibiotics. I hope she feels better soon.
The only other thing that I can think of is a fecal transplant, but I don’t know where one can get that.
Thanks for thsi post Julia. Now I undertsand why I feel sorry for people who can’t laugh at funny shows like Family Guy :)
Well I gotta tell you, I may be missing part of my frontal lobes. Because I have never found Family Guy to be funny. This appears to be the wrong crowd to tell that to…
I think Family Guy may be more a male humor thing, because I don’t find it funny either. I think the Simpsons is much better.
Could be, generally. Though I know plenty of chicks who are always walking around quoting Quagmire and Brian. And I know guys who definitely don’t. But yeah, generally you could be right. I like Beavis and Butthead and South Park and Ren and Stimpy and all of that low brow tripe, I just do not think Family Guy is funny. Maybe I think it’s too obvious or something.
Wow! I’m rather surprised to read that Julia. Judging by the humor you have shown in your posts, I would’ve thought you would be able to appreciate the humor of Family Guy. The whole point of its humor is its creator (Seth McFarland) being able to dissect our Pop Culture (everything form movies to TV commercials and even Politics). Oh well…
I’m like, able to see the humor in it. But the delivery and the characters just don’t strike the right chord with me. I’m finicky about my funny, that’s a fact. I’ve noticed a divide amongst South Park and Family Guy fans. I passionately love South Park, I think that show is a masterpiece. But a lot of people I know who are into Family Guy seem to think South Park is too moralistic or something, or so I’ve noticed. Thoughts? And are we really discussing the merits of various cartoons on a health blog?
I like family guy and south park. But there will never be another Beavis and Butthead. That cartoon really spoke to me. It was like poetry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiztNZ3KdvA
Oh, that’s a great clip. I agree, Beavis and Butthead is without peer. I was just singing this song the other day, I can barely get it out without laughing. Just forward it to the 30 second mark.
Nothing wrong with discussing the merits of various cartoons on a health blog, much better than discussing the merits of a raw vegan diet vs a paleo diet (as if they are the only two diets humans should choose from) :D
Yes, there will never be another Beavis and Butthead, unfortunately that was proven to be when Mike Judge gave us the god awful King of the Hill (YIKES!!).
I’m more of a Simpsons gal too.
Haha I love family guy! And American dad. And I’m definitely female :)
I have been RRARFing for about a month. My temps have gotten into the 98 at times and then others will drop back to 96. I still wake with low 97.’s.
When I was low carbing the Giardia infection seem to cease and now is back with a vengence. My gastritis is still an issue. Is this something I can expect in the begginging until the food starts feeding me more then the giardia? Or do I need to get rid of the Giardia before I can heal my adrenals. I found reference to long term Giardiasis will cause adrenal fatigue or is it adrenal fatigue that allows the Giardia to take over in the first place?
Of course all references I find everywhere else say no sugar, no simple starch, low fat. None of which worked for me in the past.
Also, my sleep is still not good and I wake in the middle of the night with what seems like a low blood sugar thing. I eat as much as I can. The gastritis is causing me to feel full easier than I should.
About the Giarda, have you tried wormwood?
I thought wormword was for round worms?
Many years ago, I tried everything. Because I suspected all my issues were from parasites. I only suspect it is mostly Giardia now because of yellow stools and gastritis. But I have seen many wierd things in the stools. I just want the food to feed me and not them.
There’s a blend of wormwood, male fern, black walnut leaves, cassia and cloves on the market that people with all sorts of critters have had success with.
DianeJ, have you had a stool sample done? If a doc determined you had Giarda, you could be treated with tinidazole and nitazoxanide, from what I understand. If you do in fact have a years old parasitic infection, I would go to a physician and get a round of drugs to take ’em out. Getting a test could also show that you don’t have parasites and you could have that worry out of your mind and look for other possible causes. Being worn out can make you more susceptible to illness, fo sho. But even healthy people can get sick sometimes, and letting it linger can wear you out, too. Either way, treatment for parasitic infections seems to be pretty straightforward, so I’d get it checked and treated first.
Thanks. I didn’t think conventional Dr believed you when you say you have parasites. Would I need to go to a natural path Dr?
I so a protocol that involved taking digestive enzymes on an empty stomach an hour before meals. I was thinking of trying that first. It seems safer than anything else for now.
No no, a conventional doctor absolutely will do a fecal sample. I had a million and ten things wrong with me the other year, and my doc was all over my stool…
Just play up your symptoms like crazy, talk lots about digestive upset and diarrhea and say that it followed a raw food phase or something. Parasites are a real live condition that real live doctors treat with approved medications that are totally effective. They’re also not something to fuck around with, so if I were you, I’d go poop into a jar stat and get that thing to a lab.
I’ve had a regular doc check my poop before. :)
Also, wormwood is good (although I took it for a parasite cleanse, wherein I had fictional parasites)…..but I have read that it’s important not to take wormwood for a long time. It’s potent, so make sure you find out the maximum time you can take it. I’ve seen information that says not to take it anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks at a time.
I hope you feel better soon!
Yeah, wormwood is pretty hardcore. Some claim it’s psychoactive in high doses. It’s what absinthe is made from. Don’t try that at home, kids!
I forgot to add that a gastroenterologist might be the best doctor to see for poop checks. They specialize in that. Mine actually gave me a card to put 6 different poop samples onto for them to analyze. They might do it differently for parasites though.
Gosh, this is TMI, but I hope it helps. :D
Lemme just add, if you walk into your doctor’s office dead set on having parasites and you know because you have a couple vague symptoms + you read stuff on the internet that says you prolly have them, your doctor will be less likely to believe you, this is true. You’re better off telling him your symptoms, telling him all the reasonable, rational stuff you’ve done to eradicate them and wondering aloud if you may have a parasitic infection. But don’t walk in there straight up and say “I have parasites.” Doctor’s hate that shit.
Thanks everyone for the information. I made an appoiintment with my Dr. I have had issues with mentioning things I read on the internet before, so I try and keep the internet out of the conversation as much as possible.
I did try do digestive enzymes an hour before meals yesterday, as well as, garlic pills. I slept much better last night and my stomach doesn’t feel as inflamed as it usually is.
I don’t know that it will erradicate what I have, but it is definitely helping with the symptoms.
I LOVE that photo. :-) It is perfect.
Oops, there are lots of photos on this page! I meant the photo of you being awesome. I have made that same face many a time!
Shows guaranteed to make me laugh even though I’ve seen them a zillion times: I Love Lucy, Friends, Golden Girls, Two and a Half Men (with Charlie) and The Big Bang Theory. There are probably more, but these pop into my mind immediately. I try to watch something funny daily. Its so healing.
Loved Golden Girls. I’m a Blanche, but my close friend is definitely Dorothy.
Adrenal fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems. The term often shows up in popular health books and on alternative medicine websites, but it isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis.
Right. And that means what?