Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Can Provide Pain Relief from Episodic Migraine

PainRelief.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We found that 52% of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction+ group responded to treatment (defined as a 50% reduction in headache days) compared with 23% of the SMH group. There was also a greater reduction in headache-related disability for the MBSR+ group than the SMH group.

In terms of long-term follow-up, the MBSR group remained steady in terms of their reduced headaches whereas the SMH group showed a slow and steady reduction in headache frequency so that at 52 weeks the groups were not different in these outcomes.

Chronic pain can be taxing and can reduce cognitive efficiency (how efficiently we process information). In terms of MRI outcomes, we also saw changes consistent with increased cognitive efficiency in the MBSR + group.

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction+ showed better treatment effects than an active control group. MBSR+ can be an effective treatment for episodic migraine. The reductions in headache frequency were comparable to first-line pharmacological medications used for episodic migraine prophylaxis.

The authors had no conflicts of interest to declare.


Seminowicz DA, Burrowes SAB, Kearson A, Zhang J, Krimmel SR, Samawi L, Furman AJ, Keaser ML, Gould NF, Magyari T, White L, Goloubeva O, Goyal M, Peterlin BL, Haythornthwaite JA. Enhanced mindfulness-based stress reduction in episodic migraine: a randomized clinical trial with magnetic resonance imaging outcomes. Pain. 2020 Mar 13:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001860. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001860. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32187119; PMCID: PMC7487005.

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