I saw this paper while selecting items for the database and had to share it. This study found that laughing at a comic film increases melatonin excretion into breast milk and babies fed this milk suffer fewer atopic eczema symptoms. Sounds like the treatment for atopic eczema could suddenly become fun!
Hajime Kimata, the author showed videos to two groups of mothers of children with atopic eczema. One group of mothers had atopic eczema themselves while the other group was healthy.
The laughter group giggled their way through a DVD of ‘Modern times’ a Charlie Chaplin film and controls had to sit though a weather report. All the mothers watching the Charlie Chaplin film had raised levels of melatonin in their breast milk afterwards and their babies showed definite signs of lessening allergy if they fed after the comic film. The effect was more noticable in mothers who were atopic themselves, perhaps because their levels of melatonin were lower at the start. The change in the size of reactions to skin tests in the babies was small but significant, according to the paper. Kimata didn’t measure melatonin in the babies so it is not clear what changes in melatonin they experienced.
A number of things spring to mind. Is ‘Modern times’ most effective? or is there a better film. And what’s the optimum dose?
Melatonin is an interesting chemical. It is associated with circadian rhythms, that’s why people take it to try and combat jet lag. It also stimulates the immune system. It can be produced in the skin as well as the brain and in the skin it is responsible for levels of pigmentation and hair growth. The link with atopic eczema has been known for a while and melatonin has been tried as a treatment for several skin conditions. On balance I think giggling would be more enjoyable, but maybe less effective.
You don’t need to laugh to improve melatonin levels. Its found at low levels naturally in many foods, including wine, grapes, walnuts, grains, rice and… milk. Has anyone considered making cows giggle?
‘Laughter elevates the levels of breast milk melatonin by Hajime Kimata is published in Journal of Psychosomatic Research vol 62 p. 699
Wikipedia entry on melatonin