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By Dr Ian Ellis-Jones ... Mindfulness Training
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Mindfulness May Assist In The Treatment Of Migraine

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A recent study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has found that MBSR can assist in the treatment of migraine.

Migraine is a neurological condition that can cause multiple symptoms. It is frequently characterized by intense, debilitating headaches. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. The condition of migraine often runs in families and can affect all ages.

Photo credit: MedicineNet. All rights reserved.

MBSR is an eight-week program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to assist people with stress, anxiety, depression and pain. Thereafter, participants are encouraged to practise mindfulness on a daily basis. For what it’s worth, here is my definition–description might be a better word–of mindfulness:

Mindfulness is the watchful, receptive and purposeful presence of bare attention to, and choiceless awareness of, the content of the action—both internal and external—of the present moment … from one moment to the next.


The outcomes of this recent study indicate that while MBSR does not appear to reduce the frequency of migraines, pain perception and other secondary outcomes including quality of life did improve.

Migraine is the second leading cause of disability around the world. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of migraine sufferers discontinue migraine medications for various reasons. In recent years there has been a growing interest in non-pharmacological approaches to the treatment of the condition.


‘For a condition with recurrent, lifelong unexpected attacks,’ the study authors wrote, ‘improving a patient’s pain perception and ability to function despite migraine has significant implications for overall long-term emotional and social health.’


Wells R E, O’Connell N, Pierce C R, et al. ‘Effectiveness of mindfulness meditation vs headache education for adults with migraine: A randomized clinical trial.’ JAMA Intern Med. Published online Dec 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7090


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