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In a recent clinical trial, researchers showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction could provide real benefits to people with migraine.

Migraine is a neurological disease that can be severely debilitating and is the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

Unfortunately, many patients with migraine discontinue medications due to ineffectiveness or side effects—and many still use opioids despite recommendations against them for headache treatment.

“At a time when opioids are still being used for migraine, finding safe non-drug options with long-term benefit has significant implications,” says Rebecca Erwin Wells, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “Mindfulness can also teach new ways to respond to stress, a commonly reported migraine trigger.”

According to an article published by JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers studied whether mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) could improve migraine outcomes, pain perception, and measures of emotional well-being compared to headache education.

In the study, 89 adults with a history of migraine were randomly assigned to either the MBSR group or headache education group—with training or instruction delivered in eight weekly two-hour sessions.

The MBSR group followed a standardized curriculum of mindfulness meditation and yoga. Participants also received electronic audio files for home practice and were encouraged to practice at home 30 minutes a day. The headache education group received instruction on headaches, pathophysiology, triggers, stress, and treatment approaches.