Meditation for Migraine Prevention

Pulsating headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound…sounds like you’ve got a migraine. There’s nothing more debilitating than the presence of a pounding headache—it’s enough to send you straight into hibernation.

Nearly 40 million people in the United States suffer from migraines, with women leading the pack. Migraines are pulsating headaches, often on one side of the head. They generally last anywhere from four to 72 hours and can occur from once or twice per month to almost daily.

And if anyone in your family is a sufferer, you have a higher chance–about 90 percent of sufferers have a family history of migraines.

Migraine symptoms don’t just stop at pounding on one or both sides of the head. Attacks can sometimes be accompanied by visual disturbances (aura), nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch, and smell, and tingling or numbness in the hands, feet and face.

From pills to powders, there are a number of migraine remedies for sufferers to choose from. Only problem is, many of them require a prescription or worse—they don’t really work well to begin with.

Being in the midst of a full-blown migraine can feel like there’s no end in sight, especially when medications provide little relief. If you’re someone who has had no luck with migraine treatments, consider taking steps for prevention naturally.

Meditation for Migraine Relief

Believe it or not, migraines and meditation go hand in hand—but not just any kind of mediation.

A study published in the journal Behavioral Medicine compared the effects of different types of meditation on migraines and medication use.

In this study, participants who have never tried meditation were randomly assigned to 4 groups: (1) spiritual medication, (2) internally focused secular meditation, (3) externally focused secular meditation, and (4) progressive muscle relaxation.

They were asked to practice the technique for 20 minutes per day, over the course of 30 days while completing daily migraine diaries. After reviewing the journals, what they found was that migraine frequency decreased significantly in the spiritual meditation group compared to the other groups. And while all four groups showed reduction in their migraine medication usage, the spiritual meditation group experienced the biggest decline.

While more research is needed to confirm the anti-migraine effects of getting in touch with your inner Zen, there’s no harm in giving spiritual meditation (or any variation) a try. All you need is 20 minutes per day. And if nothing else, you’ll learn to relax and take time out for yourself away from your daily (sometimes cray-cray) life. Here’s how to get started:

Basic Breathing

  1. Find a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed. This is important for beginners, so you’ll have the least amount of distractions.
  2. Sit comfortably; take a moment to find a position that’s completely comfortable for you. Feel free to sit on a chair or bed so your body is resting. Then close your eyes.
  1. Focus your attention on your breathing. Don’t try to change it in any way. Be aware of yourself breathing in, breathing out. Don’t worry about if your breathing changes. Let your body breathe however it wants to.
  2. If you find your mind wandering off, make it a point to bring your attention back to your breathing. Think about how good it feels to have air flowing in and out of your lungs, and how relaxing it is. Let your body breath at its own pace.
  3. When you’re ready, take things a step further by focusing on the moment and letting go of thoughts, fears and anxieties. Once you master this step, write down phrases that are uplifting to you and repeat those to yourself during meditation.

Meditation in all forms is what you make of it. Whether you find your Zen space while channeling the energy from above, or from within, nothing beats a moment of peace and quiet in the midst of a hectic day. And if it means you’ll have fewer migraines—why not give it a try?

Want to know what foods may help prevent symptoms that lead to migraines? Why not try four powerful nutrients for fighting migraines?

By Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, Health and Nutrition Expert for NBC’s Today Show and founder of Nourish Snacks.


Amy B. Wachholtz, Christopher D. Malone, Kenneth I. Pargament. Effect of Different Meditation Types on Migraine Headache Medication UseBehavioral Medicine, 2015.

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