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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Laughter and humor as complementary and alternative medicines for dementia patients

Masatoshi Takeda*, Ryota Hashimoto, Takashi Kudo, Masayasu Okochi, Shinji Tagami, Takashi Morihara, Golam Sadick and Toshihisa Tanaka

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Suita, Japan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:28  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-28

Published: 18 June 2010

Abstract

Background

The number of dementia patients has increased worldwide, with an estimated 13.7 million dementia patients in the Asia Pacific region alone. This number is expected to increase to 64.6 million by the year 2050.

Discussion

As a result of advances in research, there several pharmacological therapies available for the treatment of dementia patients. However, current treatments do not suppress the disease process and cannot prevent dementia, and it will be some time before these goals are realized. In the meantime, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an important aspect in the treatment of dementia patients to improve their quality of life throughout the long course of the disease. Considering the individuality of dementia patients, applicability of laughter and humor therapy is discussed. Even though there are many things that need to be elucidated regarding the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of laughter and humor, both may be good CAM for dementia patients if they are applied carefully and properly.

Summary

In this debate article, the physiological basis and actual application of laughter and humor in the treatment of dementia patients are presented for discussion on the applicability to dementia patients.