Yoga and education can help improve migraines, new study shows

  • Activities such as meditation and yoga can help with the burden of migraines 
  • In a study, yoga and meditation, as well as headache education, fared well  
  • The findings showed that both sets of activities led to fewer migraine days


Mindfulness meditation may help treat the total burden of migraine, according to a new study.

The research published in JAMA Internal Medicine assessed whether mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBST) improved migraines, compared with headache education.

Which group fared better?

Participants underwent mindfulness-based stress reduction in the forms of yoga and meditation. The other cohort were given headache education or migraine information. The groups met for two hours each week for eight weeks.

The trial was made up of 89 adults who experienced between four and 20 migraine days per month. The majority of participants were women with an average age of 43.

The findings of the study show that both groups saw fewer migraine days. Mindfulness-based stress reduction did not improve migraine frequency significantly more than headache education. However, the mindfulness-based group experienced improved levels of disability, quality of life, self-efficacy, pain catastrophising, and depression – as well as decreased experimentally induced pain, suggesting a shift in pain appraisal. 

Coping better with Covid-19 pandemic

Authors of the study say that as the world goes through the Covid-19 pandemic, stress levels may induce more frequent migraines. This is particularly important as migraines are  the second leading cause of disability globally. Most patients with migraine discontinue medications due to inefficacy or bad side effects.

Experts say that as stress and anxiety levels increase because of the pandemic, mindfulness activities like yoga help people cope better.

However, the study authors noted that most participants in the study were white, highly educated, and generally healthy. There is a need for future studies assessing these activities in more diverse populations to better understand the role of mindfulness in more marginalised populations.

READ| As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, here’s how you can be happier in 2021, according to a psychologist

READ| SA Covid-19 variant: Is it more dangerous than UK variant? Will the vaccines work on it? Experts weigh in

Image credit: iStock
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