Migraines & Meditation

A long day at the office has thrown you for a loop – literally, onto your bed, a pillow covering your eyes, and all the lights shut off. You’ve got a throbbing pounding headache, and you’re afraid it’ll end up like the last one – lingering for days. It could be a migraine.

What’s A Migraine?

A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.”

More than 36 million Americans have migraines, which is more than all the people suffering from asthma and diabetes.

What Causes A Migraine?

Though the exact cause for a migraine headache is unknown, genetics and environmental factors play an outside role in their formation, duration, and severity. A migraine may also be triggered by:

  • Hormonal changes in women.
  • Certain drinks and foods.
  • Stress, anxiety, mood disorders.
  • Overstimulation (bright light, loud noise, strong odors).
  • Sleep problems.
  • Intense physical activity may cause a migraine.
  • Barometric pressure accompanied by weather changes.
  • Certain medication.
  • Food additives like the preservative monosodium glutamate.

Know The Symptoms

Symptoms of migraines can sometimes be treated with different kinds of therapy or medicine like ketamine. Warning signs include:

  • Mild or severe and often extreme pain in your head.
  • Pain on one or both sides of your head, the front, the back, even in the eyes and cheeks.
  • Throbbing, pounding, or pulsating pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Extreme sensitivity to stimuli.
  • Pain restricts responsibilities like work or school and your performance.
  • Lasts between four hours to several days.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation’s history and practice go back thousands of years. It originally had a spiritual component to help deepen a practitioner’s knowledge of the holy and mystical powers of life. In modern times, meditation is generally used to relax and reduce stress. Anyone can participate.

In many circles, meditation is looked upon as a kind of transcendental, mind-body complementary medication, able to induce a deep state of respite and a peaceful mind.

Migraines & Meditation

According to the American Migraine Foundation, “Meditation as a form of stress reduction may lead to improvement in awareness and managing one’s stressors. Experienced meditators show a more extensive activation of executive functions like working memory, planning, and cognitive flexibility during sustained attention, but less activation of emotion-related areas.” It’s been reported that “expert meditators have extensive control of frontoparietal and insula networks (Which play a role in functions related to perception, motor control, self-awareness, and cognitive functioning).”

Migraines are often induced by anxiety and unusually high levels of stress, which may explain why so many people gravitate toward meditation as a relief method. Most studies indicate that upwards of 500 million people worldwide meditate, though the exact number may be higher.

There are many benefits of meditation (and not just for migraines): 

  • You may gain insight into what triggers stressful situations
  • You may build skills to manage stress levels
  • Meditation is a great way to boost self-awareness
  • It allows you to focus on the present
  • Meditation may help reduce the presence and influence of negative emotions
  • Possibly increases imagination and creativity 
  • Boosts patience and tolerance levels

The benefits of meditation in treating medical illness remains continually open to debate, but besides relieving migraines, it may offer therapeutic value related to:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep troubles
  • Tension headaches

Is meditation the cure-all for a migraine headache? Probably not, but it’s another worthy option in your toolbelt.

Diagnosis & Treatment

To arrive at a diagnosis, your healthcare provider will:

  • Record yours and your family medical history. Knowing whether a biological relative suffers from migraines is essential information.
  • Ask you to describe your symptoms, including frequency, duration, and possible triggers.
  • Perform a physical and neurological assessment to root out possible causes for your migraine.

A critical part of identifying migraines is to eliminate other medical conditions that might trigger the symptoms, resulting in blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging, or other tests.

There are many ways to treat migraines, including medicine, drinking fluids, meditation, and even ketamine infusion therapy.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from migraines, you know how painful and all-encompassing they can be – often lasting for days. But trying to rationalize them away, or ignoring them in most cases, is a bad idea. Migraines may need professional medical care, and you should ask your healthcare provider about the best treatment available.

What Is Ketamine Used For Medically?

Ketamine – an abbreviated history

  • 1962 – Synthesized by U.S. scientists in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1963 – Patented as a human-safe anesthetic in Belgium.
  • 1966 – Patented as human anesthesia in the U.S.
  • 1970 – Receives approval from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in anesthesia.
  • 1960s-1970s – Ketamine is the most widely used anesthetic for U.S. troops in Vietnam.
  • 1970s – Veterinarians begin using the medicine.
  • 1985 – Added to the list of Essential Medicines by the World Health Organization

What is ketamine used for medically?

Anesthesia

It’s been well-documented that ketamine’s first use was for anesthesia. Since it was synthesized, the medicine has also been used as a powerful sedative in non-surgical settings. In fact, The United States Defense Health Board says that morphine is losing its status as the preferred anesthetic in “Tactical Combat Casualty Care pain management” and advises ketamine as a new option to battlefield analgesia.

Burns

“Ketamine has been widely used to provide analgesia in burn dressing changes, during excision and grafting, and for sedation. It has a major role in repeated anesthetics for burns dressings. The major advantage of ketamine in burns is that unlike other agents, it usually preserves airway and spontaneous respiratory function in addition to providing good sedoanalgesia.”

Acute Pain Management

Many doctors have started recommending ketamine for this purpose. Acute pain is a type of pain that is localized, has a specific cause, and goes away relatively quickly on its own as your body heals. But in some cases, particularly after surgery, you may need help managing acute pain.

Opioids are often the go-to choice for acute postoperative pain. “Unfortunately, possible hyperalgesia from opioids can result in increased analgesic requirements. Ketamine, however, can block these mechanisms; when administered at sub-anesthetic and repeated doses, ketamine has been shown to prevent the development of increased pain sensitivity and opioid tolerance.”

Chronic Pain Management

“While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years.”

The odd thing about chronic pain, of course, is you do not necessarily remember when it began or what caused it. You may have had hip replacement surgery a decade ago, but even though your doctor says nothing is physically wrong, the pain continues. Or you may have realized that you have lower back pain, even though you’ve never had an injury or illness that would contribute to such pain.

In this case, a doctor may recommend ketamine to reduce the symptoms and discomfort in the affected area of your body. Ketamine may be prescribed to help manage chronic pain which could be caused by several conditions, including:

  • Sprained muscles
  • Broken bones
  • A back injury
  • Injury following a surgical procedure
  • Arthritis
  • An ear infection
  • Cancer
  • Neurogenic pain, or pain caused by nerve damage
  • Psychogenic pain (pain not caused by previous injury or disease or any apparent sign of harm outside or inside the nervous system)

Ketamine for adolescents?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than three million adolescents between 12- and 17-years old experience symptoms of depression every year. In a 2019 study by Pew Research Center, 70 percent of teenagers called depression and anxiety a “major problem” for “them and their peers.”

Ketamine has been used successfully to treat teenagers suffering from depression since the medicine was approved in 2019. A report by the U.S. National Institutes of Health was cautiously optimistic for its use with teenagers: “Ketamine was shown in youth to generally improve depressive symptoms, decrease acute suicidality, and reduce mood lability, though a number of subjects remained resistant to its treatment. These findings substantiate the need for further longitudinal studies investigating ketamine’s long-term safety, its efficacy, and abuse potential in the youth.”

A doctor specializing in pediatric psychiatry is best capable of assessing your child’s condition and treatment options.

Final thoughts

Ketamine has a number of uses beyond its original intent for anesthesia, including managing symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health and chronic pain conditions.

An innovative new treatment option, ketamine started as a fast-acting anesthetic and pain reliever. Research in the last two decades has shown that ketamine is a powerful new tool for the treatment of mental health and mood disorders or pain conditions.

Ketamine works to stimulate the growth and regrowth of neurotransmitters in the brain, essentially rewriting the parts of the brain causing distress. Up to 70% of patients may be able to find relief from the symptoms of depression after a series of IV ketamine infusions.

Contact us today to learn more about this innovative new treatment option.