The Simple Habit That Can Cure Chronic Headaches For Good

Photo by Emma Seppala
Photo by Emma Seppala
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The Challenge: Many US Americans suffer from migraines which means lost workdays, missed social activities, etc.
The Science: Research shows that regular meditation practice can reduce migraine frequency, intensity, and prevent them from recurring.
The Solution: Implement a short, daily meditation practice and ditch your Rx for good!

Often caused by genes or stress, migraines are so common that US American employers lose more than $13 billion each year and 113 million lost workdays due to migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. In the US alone, about 14 million people experience chronic headaches that occur at least every other day. Among migraine sufferers, depression, anxiety, and poor sleep are not uncommon. Cash spent on prescriptions, doctor/specialist visits, and emergency room visits due to migraines can add up to thousands of dollars annually. Many medications used to treat headaches come with harmful and unpleasant side effects, and can be even more detrimental over the long-term. Headache pain is often debilitating, and therefore diminishes quality of life.

But there’s good news: the ancient practice of meditation is an effective way to treat chronic pain and stress. And there’s science to back it up:

A study by Herbert Benson (M.D.), Helen P. Klemchuck (A.B.) and John R Graham (M.D.) demonstrates that daily meditation practice can reduce headache pain, and reduce occurrences by at least 37%, with some participants completely eliminating their headaches over the long-term. According to recent research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, people who practice meditation regularly also have less severe and shorter headaches – about 3 hours less per headache.

How is this so? Meditation yields boundless health benefits.

Here are a couple of key ways meditation can work to prevent and cure migraines.

  1. Brain imaging shows that meditation can be more effective than morphine at reducing pain. During meditation, activity in an area of the brain critically involved with sensing and processing pain cannot be detected through brain scans, suggesting that the “pain center” in the brain shuts down for this period. Meditation also increases brain activity in areas that shape the experience of pain as messages are relayed from the body to the brain, reducing the sensation of pain.
  2. Meditation fights migraines from the sources: stress and tension. Since most headaches are caused by tension in the neck, shoulders, jaw, and eyes, as well as stress, relaxing the body and mind regularly is essential to eliminating them for good. Pain medication only masks the problem, and usually at a high economic cost. Research tells us that meditation is an effective stress-reduction technique. Plus it’s FREE and always will be!

New to meditation? Here are some short, guided meditations and a new, user-friendly app to get started!

Loving Kindness Meditation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auS1HtAz6Bs

Breathing Meditation
http://marc.ucla.edu/mpeg/01_Breathing_Meditation.mp3

Body Scan Meditation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obYJRmgrqOU

Sattva Meditation App
http://www.sattva.life/

There are many types of meditation out there, so explore them until you find one that suits you. What makes the practice effective is simply doing it. Worry less about if you’re “doing it right” and just focus on relaxing. Practice multiple times a week – or everyday – to kick your headaches to the curb for good.

Remember that other factors such as diet and other daily habits affect migraines as well. For best results, it’s important to know what triggers them for you and avoid those things, in addition to a practicing a healthy lifestyle and meditating, of course.

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Carly Hamilton

Carly Hamilton

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Carly is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently works as a freelance editor and written translator. She is passionate about language and journalism as a means of political, environmental, and identity-related advocacy; she aims to use her voice to empower others who are systematically silenced. You can find her exploring the outdoors, reading, traveling to new places, or spending time with her family. Or with her nose in the fridge looking for leftovers. She loves leftovers, too.
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