Researchers Explore Meditation's Capacity to Treat and Reduce Migraines

The results of a new study suggest that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can help reduce the severity and length of migraines in chronic adult sufferers. 

A pilot study suggests that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) could help reduce the severity and length of migraines in chronic adult sufferers. Researchers at Harvard and Wake Forest knew that MBSR had been shown to treat other forms of recurring pain, yet had never been tested on migraines. They conducted a preliminary experiment featuring 19 migraineurs: nine received normal treatment, ten were prescribed MBSR. The researchers' conclusions, published in the appropriately titled journal Headache, were that MBSR is a safe and feasible treatment for adults with migraines.

The meditating migraineurs experienced shorter (by 3 hours) and less severe headaches, though it's emphasized that these results not be taken as gospel because the subject sample size was so small. Still, the researchers took these initial figures as a promising sign and encourage the formation of a broader study to assess the value of MBSR to migraine sufferers.

What's more certain is mindful meditation's ability to reduce stress, or at least help people compartmentalize it. As stress is often cited as a key cause of migraines, it's not a stretch to assume MSBR could be used to treat them. We'll keep an eye on the next big study. In the meantime, don't be afraid to give mindful meditation a test trial.

After all, what do you have to lose aside from a migraine?

For more on the science behind meditation, check out this clip from ABC News anchor Dan Harris' Big Think interview:


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Photo credit: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

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