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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.