Manjari Murali, PhD
Migraine headaches, the most common neurological disease across all age groups, affect over one billion individuals worldwide, with symptoms ranging from moderate to severe. Migraines differ in intensity and are accompanied by secondary symptoms, such as neck pain, nausea, and vomiting. Current efforts in treating migraines focus on preventative drug therapy to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Although mindfulness-based approaches such as MBSR may serve as an alternative method of reducing the severity of migraine attacks, studies investigating the efficacy of MBSR are limited.
A meta-analysis provides insights into the pathogenesis of migraines through the identification of three genes (CACNA1A, ATP1A2, and SCN1A). Mutations within these genes have been found to increase glutamatergic neurotransmission (CACNA1A), increase the amount of extracellular potassium and neuronal excitability (ATP1A2), and increase the firing of inhibitory GABAergic neurons (SCN1A). Prior studies have demonstrated physiological improvements when using MBSR, such as reduced T1 pro-inflammatory lymphocyte to T2 anti-inflammatory ratio and a significant increase in left-sided anterior cortical activation, a phenomenon seen in regular meditators associated with positive affect. This suggests that MBSR techniques may have a prominent physiological change in the brain to promote health.
One study employing Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) demonstrated some reduction in headache frequency. A randomized clinical trial investigating headache education versus MBSR training on migraines found that the frequency of attacks remained the same between the experimental and control groups. However, they found an improved quality of life, pain catastrophizing, and self-efficacy in those who underwent the MBSR program. We propose a study that provides a higher power of statistical significance using a larger population of participants.
Min, Isaac and Murali, Manjari, "Mindfulness Meditation as a Complementary Therapy for Chronic Migraines" (2023). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 594.
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