Mindfulness and meditation have scientifically been shown to reduce stress, manage anxiety, enhance self-awareness and lengthen your attention span. A new study has also found these practices to be helpful in the management of migraines. In fact, researchers found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) mediation exercises could improve migraine outcomes.
Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre studied 89 migraine sufferers, who experienced anywhere from four to 20 migraines per month, to see what interventions could ease the pain and provide relief.
According to mindbodygreen (mbg), researchers looked at which treatment would be more effective: Migraine education or MBSR. To do this, participants were split into two groups, with one group receiving migraine education classes where they were taught “information that may help headaches without medications”. This group was given facts on headaches, pathophysiology, triggers, stress as well as treatment options.
The second group, on the other hand, received mindfulness, meditation and yoga classes as well as mindfulness audio meditation exercises to listen to at home. Both groups attended these classes for two hours a week over a period of eight weeks.
By the end of the treatment period, both groups reported a similar reduction in their migraines but, according to mbg, participants in the MBSR group actually experienced an increase in their quality of life as well as a decrease in their depressive symptom. So, while both methods proved to help migraines, the MBSR exercise actually improved participants overall wellbeing.
“Mindfulness-based stress reduction did not improve migraine frequency more than headache education, as both groups had similar decreases; however, MBSR improved disability, quality of life, self-efficacy, pain catastrophising, and depression out to 36 weeks, with decreased experimentally induced pain suggesting a potential shift in pain appraisal,” researchers said. “In conclusion, MBSR may help treat total migraine burden, but a larger, more definitive study is needed to further investigate these results.”
Researchers found these positive effects to last roughly eight months, thanks to follow-up conversations with participants, which shows how powerful mindfulness and meditation can be when practised regularly. As with all studies, more research is needed in this area in order to prove a definitive correlation.