Meditation May Help People with Migraines

There have been many studies linking meditation to help increase happiness, relieve stress, curb anxiety and also provide relief from chronic pain.  There are other benefits detailed in our blog and other sources, however a new study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal finds that MBSR- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction meditations may improve migraine outcomes.

The research was conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and looked at just under 90 patients that had recurring migraines, and tested which types of interventions offered the maximum relief. 

Currently, there is no one cure for migraines, only treatment options that can help alleviate conditions.  There are many sources for this, however meditation has not been a top line item.  Wake Forest conducted a study by splitting participants into two groups to test the effect of meditation on migraines.  One group received migraine education, which was titled "classes to learn information that may help headaches without medications."  This group was given information on headaches, triggers to the conditions of headaches, stress handling approaches, pathophysiology as well as treatment approaches.  The second group received meditation and yoga classes.  This included take-home material to listen to as well as additional resources.  2 hours per week over an 8 week span was the timeframe for each group. 

After the study at 8 weeks, both groups reported a reduction in migraines that was similar to each other.  However, the group practicing meditation, or MBSR, experienced an increase in quality of life and a decrease in depression symptoms.  These effects lasted up to 36 weeks based on researchers discussions with participants.  

It would be a jump to conclude the MBSR will cure migraines  Based on the study, MBSR combined with education around migraines are both beneficial, and even better together.  Mindfulness is not a cure-all for migraines, but it is a helpful and readily available tool to make things better, or at a minimum more bearable.  

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