A new study published last month in the journal Headache suggests meditation and yogic breathing can help mitigate migraine pain — specifically a routine called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) that combines elements of meditation and yoga.
The study involved 19 patients afflicted by chronic migraine pain being divided into two groups. One group of 10 were instructed in the methods of the MBSR intervention. These patients attended weekly classes and were instructed to meditate 45 minutes on their own, five days a week. The other nine patients received standard medical care including prescriptions and follow-up visits. All study participants were asked to keep headache journals and to record the frequency of migraine incidents, as well as pain levels and the time duration of each headache.
Results showed that the MBSR participants had trends of fewer migraines and were less severe, also the headaches were shorter in duration and less disabling compared to the group receiving standard medical care.
Despite the fact that Stress/anxiety is a well-known trigger for headaches (and research supports the general benefits of mind/body interventions for migraines), surprisingly there hasn’t been much research to evaluate specific standardized meditation interventions.
Although this is a very small study, hopefully it will lead to some further larger trials to confirm what I consider an important part of migraine treatment, which is the management of Stress/anxiety without using medication. This is an area we focus on at the clinic using various approaches including relaxation techniques, counselling, CBT or neuromodulation systems such as EEG biofeedback or HEG pIR ( see previous post).