“Effect of Different Meditation Types on Migraine Headache Medication Use”, a recently published article in Behavioral Medicine, examines whether or not and to what extent does the combination of spiritual meditation and migraine meditation affects analgesic medication usage.
A large variety of pharmacological interventions such as benzodiazepines, opiates and prophylactic medications have been described to offer partial relief to people that suffer migraine. Reviews have also described a variety of approved non-pharmacological ways to stopping or preventing headaches.
There have been recent randomized controlled trails used to demonstrate the efficiency of meditation-based interventions to treat headache pain. Though it is known that spiritual meditation has been found to reduce the degree of migraines and physiological reactivity to stress, only little is known about how bringing in a spirituality component into a meditation intervention impacts the use of analgesic medicine.
The results from this study support the previous research which suggested that spiritual meditations may actually be more effective for pain tolerance and to cope with migraine than non-spiritual meditation alternatives.
In this study, 92 participants with frequent migraines (more than two per month) that were not familiar with meditation were randomly placed to one of four groups that used a meditation phrase or technique: (1) Spiritual Meditation (exp. “God is love”), (2) Internally Focused Secular Meditation (exp. “I am content”), (3) Externally Focused Secular Meditation (exp. “Sand is soft,”), or (4) Progressive Muscle Relaxation (technique).
After that, the participants practiced the meditation technique they were assigned to for 20 minutes daily for over 30 days while completing daily headache dairies. The severity of their headache, headache frequency and pain medication use were also recorded and assessed.
The frequency of headache decreased significantly in the Spiritual Meditation group compared to the other groups but the severity ratings did not differ across the groups. All four groups showed the decreased use of analgesic medication over time – however, the usage of medication for migraine headaches had a sharper decline in the Spiritual Meditation group compared to other groups.