Finding Relief From Headaches with Meditation

According to research published in the journal Headache, meditation may help migraine headache sufferers. Researchers have known that stress can be a trigger for headaches but there hasn’t been a whole lot of research done to evaluate meditation and it’s benefits. The researchers set out to develop a study to assess┬áthe feasibility, safety,and effects of a yoga and meditation intervention known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in adults who suffer from migraines.

In the study 19 adults were randomly assigned to 2 groups with 10 of the adults receiving MBSR and 9 receiving standard medical care. The participants attended 8 weekly classes in order to learn MBSR techniques and were told to practice 45 minutes on their own 5 days per week.

The participants in the study were evaluated before and after the trial period using measures such as mindfulness, self-efficacy, and disability. The patients maintained headache logs throughout the trial to document how often the headaches occurred, how long they occurred, and the intensity. The researchers found that MBSR study participants had fewer migraines and when migraines occurred they were less intense. In addition, patients with MBSR had headaches that were shorter and less disabling when compared to patients who did not use MBSR. Further, the patients with MBSR treatment had no adverse effects and had increase mindfulness.

The MBSR participants had 1.4 fewer migraines per month when compared to patients who did not have MBSR. The headaches were also shorter in duration in MBSR patients. The study used a small sample of patients and was too small to detect any statistically significant changes in migraine for patients using MBSR. Studies in the future with larger sample sizes would help to better evaluate the impact of MBSR on adults with migraines. Even so MBSR is a safe option for those with migraine and could be used with medication or on it’s own as a treatment option to try for those headache sufferers.

Source: Rebecca Erwin Wells and et. al. Meditation for Migraines: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2014.

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