An asthma sufferer decided to take her breathing problems into her own hands by trying an alternative treatment method – laughing.

Lynette Webbe, 59, suffered with breathing problems for years before she decided to laugh in the face of the lung condition.

A year on she said her doctor has noticed a huge difference in her health – and thinks the NHS should refer other patients to her classes.

[Related story: Not sure if you really have asthma? See an expert]

"I went for a check-up recently and was told that my health was much better and I believe laughter is the reason,” said Lynette, from Pill in South Wales.

"It opens up the lungs, so I can breathe more easily, and gets endorphins pumping around the body.

"Physically I feel much better and leave my classes feeling amazing."

Laughter workshops

Lynette, whose laughter workshops combine story-telling with dancing, singing and telling jokes, said: "I see my classes as a fun way of shaking off the cobwebs.

Asthma laughter

"Laughter is like a medicine that doctors can't provide.

"I think it's important to laugh and play.

"It's good for stress as well and if you can get rid of that and anxiety, you can prevent bad mental health too.

"I'd really like doctors to start referring patients to me to treat."

Personal problems

Lynette had her fair share of personal and health problems until she decided to laugh in the face of her illness.

She said: "After years of mixing with the wrong crowd as a teenager, then losing my parents and my sister, I got so depressed I started to drink and self-medicate.

"Another year I was diagnosed with cardio-vascular disease and had to be fitted with the first of three pacemakers.

"For years I struggled to breathe and my lungs kept getting infected.

"After smoking since I was 13 I was told I had asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"In 2009, I was made redundant from a job I loved.

"I was caring for old people and working with dementia patients at the time.

"Suddenly I was stuck at home on my own as my kids had left and felt so lost.

"In that same year I lost my niece after she died from a blood clot.

"I think losing her made me realise it was time to turn my life around."

Natural treatments

In January 2013 Lynette got in touch with mental health charity, Mind, who counselled her.

Asthma laughter

That year she also looked for a natural treatment for her depression and anxiety issues and was referred for laughter yoga classes.

She said: "They involved breathing and relaxation exercises.

"I found laughing increased my blood flow and opened up my lungs.

"I felt happy and left feeling much better."

Lynette was so impressed by the workshops that in 2014 she started helping to run classes in her local area. Then earlier this year she opened up her own classes.

She has been travelling around offering sessions ever since.

Clapping, dancing and jokes

She said: "My classes combine breathing exercises, laughter, clapping, dance and jokes, to help people de-stress, have child-like fun, and leave feeling energised.

"People come and make each other laugh.

"When we run out of jokes I tell everyone to start fake laughter.

"Basically, fake it until you make it, but you do laugh and this makes you feel better.

Asthma laughter

"I believe my workshops make people feel amazing.

"I've been working with people with Alzheimer's and after a class everyone was happy and smiling.

"We dance at my classes so people get some exercise.

"Everyone tells stories, which make them realise we've all got problems and things can get better.

"I share my story as I think this helps people feel they can share.

"People leave feeling less alone.

"My workshops gave me a reason to get up and go out.

"Now they're giving others one too."