It's the best medicine; the more we use it, the better off we are and it's absolutely free, LAUGHTER.

It's the best medicine; the more we use it, the better off we are and it's absolutely free, LAUGHTER.

Researchers tell us the benefits of humor and laughter are many. Laughter contributes to our physical, mental and social well-being. Apart from the amusement and humor, it also strengthens our immune system, boosts our energy, diminishes pain and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. Dr. Robert Provine, psychology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (David Weems' son-in-law) has done extensive research and written numerous books and articles on the subject. Mort Walker, a Camp Crowder GI and creator of the comic strip "Beetle Bailey," said that seven days without laughter makes one weak. We should laugh 15 minutes a day in three second bursts, according to one researcher. Dr. Michael Purinton has listed 36 good reasons to laugh.

LAUGHTER reduces your stress, makes others wonder what you are up to, makes people want to be around you, oxygenates the blood, adds life to your years, adds years to your life, helps you put wrinkles in the right places, burns calories, is good for you, reduces your tension, stimulates your immune system and reduces your blood pressure.

Laughter is even biblical: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." The Irish say "A good laugh and a long sleep are the best medicine in the doctor's book."

Laughter makes others think you know what they are up to, makes life's problems easier to bear, makes you feel good all over, makes you more alert, eases your pain, causes your brain to release a natural pain killer, makes other people feel better, brings tears which cleanse the eyes, helps your employer see you as more human, helps your boss see you as more creative and flexible, causes others to listen more carefully to you and improves your memory.

According to William James, "We don't often laugh because we are happy. We are happy because we laugh." Lord Byron tells us to "Always laugh when you can."

LAUGHTER makes you forget about your problems for a while, puts a twinkle in your eye, puts a smile on your face, puts a smile on someone else's face, helps you take life a little less seriously, will reduce the time you need in therapy, makes dealing with idiots easier, makes your children see you as a not-so-bad parent, helps you see your children as not-so-bad kids, helps you deal with politicians, bureaucrats and nasty neighbors, is contagious, and it is free.

Years ago, I read that it only takes a few muscles to smile but many muscles to frown. Why not smile and laugh and save the difference? This is the only prescription this doctor is qualified to give.

Roy Shaver writes a weekly column for the Daily News.