As the number of proven medicinal benefits of cannabis continues to increase, we investigate one that is often overlooked: getting the giggles. Cannabis seems to encourage laughter, to the extent that this has become a cliché. Laughter is said to improve health. So what’s the science behind the connections?
Cannabis Stimulates Brain Areas Associated with Laughter
Studies show that cannabis stimulates blood flow to the right frontal and the left temporal lobes, areas of the brain which are also associated with laughter. In this way, it could be that over-activity in these cortical regions, thanks to THC, invites laughter. Could that explain why we laugh so hard even at stupid things while high? Science hasn’t revealed the extent to which that increased blood flow is directly responsible for stimulating laughter, but it’s certainly a target for future studies.
Cannabis Improves Moods
THC binds to receptors in the brain that modulate neural signaling, leading the blissful, happy effects we feel while high. A few reports, like these 2005 and 2007 studies, even suggest that cannabis compounds may promote neurogenesis in some areas of the brain for an anti-anxiety and anti-depression effect. And here’s another way to think about it: scientists have noted that the brains of depressed subjects show decreased activity in areas of the brain associated with humor, and if cannabis is able to replenish that activity, finding a good laugh is going to be easier.
Despite the promising results of these studies, there’s a shortage of clinical trials analyzing these effects in human brains. But there’s certainly enough there to speculate a chemical link between laughter and the THC in cannabis.
Laughter is Infectious
Many of us know that laughter is contagious (as are yawns) but may not realize the extent to which the demeanor of other people affects us. For example, when someone around you is stressed or angry, you may develop symptoms of stress as well. Likewise, if someone near you is joyous, you may likely share in their celebration. This happens because of mirror neurons which fire in the brain when we observe – and are empathetic to – the actions and experiences of others. Researchers suggest that these mirror neurons may be biologically responsible for feelings of empathy (and perhaps even autism) and may have played a key role in the development of language, as well.
Knowing that laughter is contagious and that cannabis consumption is largely a communal activity, it makes sense that when you and your friends are getting high together, you’ll be more likely to catch the laugh bug if your friends have it, too. It’s one of those one-person-laughs-so-everyone-else-laughs sort of things.
Cannabis and Laughter is a Powerful Combo
Cannabis’s medical potential is well-documented and has even been shown to reduce opioid dependency, which is a growing epidemic among Americans. It can also be used to increase focus, improve sleep and treat many mental illnesses, making Mary Jane an excellent thing to have in your total-health toolbox. Additionally, when we consider the fact that marijuana makes us laugh, we realize just how powerful of a combo it is. That’s because laughter itself is great for our health!
Here are just a few reasons laughter is good for you:
- Reduces stress and tension
- Strengthens the heart
- Boosts immune system functioning
- Burns calories
- Improves personal connections
- Helps you live longer
Anyone who’s ever been high or even been around someone who is high knows just how easily laughter can come to a stoned mind. And though science is vague in regards to why exactly that is, many speculate a number of factors including more abstract thinking patterns, increased dopamine production and reduced sensitivity to negative stimuli. But whatever the reason is that marijuana makes us laugh, I’d say the side-effect is well-worth having.