Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction May Help With Migraines

Among the 36 million people that suffer from migraines, there is a high demand for non-pharmaceutical treatments. There are preventative drugs available to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines as well as medications to treat them. However, migraine sufferers have many reasons to avoid medications, not the least of which are side effects that some experience. It turns out that Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may be an effective and safe alternative to migraine treatment.

What is MBSR?

Although it has roots in, and draws from the traditions of, Buddhism, mindfulness-based stress reduction is a scientific program designed to help people manage pain as well as personal life issues. It was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts. MBSR uses a combination meditation, yoga and breathing techniques to help people become more acutely aware of their bodies, thoughts and feelings. The idea is to become of aware of sensations, including stress and pain triggers that we may not be aware of. There are now over 1000 certified MBSR instructors in the US. They teach an eight week workshop that includes weekly meetings and home based assignments designed to teach mindful meditation, body scanning and simple yoga poses.

Study Shows Promise

Research into MBSR has exploded over the last decade and it shows the program to be effective against depression, anxiety and stress as well as the relief of some symptoms and for the overall improvement of quality of life.

Researches from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Harvard Medical School decided to study MBSR’s effect on migraines. In the study, 19 participants, all migraine sufferers, were put through the eight week MBSR program. Aside from the weekly meetings, the participants were encouraged to use mindfulness techniques in their day-to-day activities. The study included a control group and all participants were instructed to keep a migraine diary. The result of the study was that the participants experienced 1.4 fewer migraines each month. In addition, those migraines were shorter and less severe. Participants also reported that the MBSR exercises led them to feel more in control of their migraines.

The research team concluded that MBSR can be an effective form of therapy for people with migraines. They also conceded that their test sample was small and called for further study of MBSR applications for migraine patients.

The doctors and staff at Houston Headache Institute are experts at treating all sort of headaches and migraines. We offer a wide range of treatments, both medicinal and alternative. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We will provide you with an expert diagnosis and develop a treatment plan for your specific needs.

Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the co-founder of the Houston Headache Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi’s medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.

Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.