Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Suffering In Chronic Migraineurs: Study

Migraine Meditation

Studies Show Meditation Helps Migraineurs (1)

A study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC, and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, examined 19 adults suffering from chronic migraines in order to find the effects of mindfulness meditation on those experiencing chronic headaches and to test the safety and feasibility of such a practice.

The findings of this study were published online in journal Headache.  Such a test was conducted mainly keeping in mind the hypothesis that stress-trigger in migraines could be addressed mindfulness meditation. As per lead author of the study, Rebecca Erwin Wells, assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist, “Stress is a well-known trigger for headaches and research supports the general benefits of mind/body interventions for migraines, but there hasn’t been much research to evaluate specific standardized meditation interventions”. (2)

The study however demonstrated that mindfulness meditation did indeed help alleviate migraine pains and that they were a safe way to reduce the intensity and frequency of the migraines.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction or MBSR used yoga, mindfulness meditation and body awareness in a standardized 8-week program on the migraining volunteers. The migraineurs were divided into any of the 2 groups. They were then evaluated on disability, self-efficacy and mindfulness. After this was done, one group received conventional or mainstream migraine management care while the other group took part in the 8-week MBSR program. The MBSR program required the candidates to practice their mindfulness techniques for 45 minutes every day for at least 5 days a week. They were exposed to 1 instruction class every week as well. During this 8-week program all the participants noted how frequent their migraine episodes were, how long they lasted, how intense they were.

The researchers found that the patients who completed the MBSR program tended to have 1.4 fewer headaches per month that were less severe. Not only this, the episodes lasted less longer, were less disabling, the migraineurs felt a better sense of control over the events. Besides this, the program with its techniques proved safe as no adverse side effects were observed during the trial.

However, larger sample sizes and population with varied ethnicity, age groups, gender and socio-economic strata need to be studied for MBSR to be integrated into the mainstream and conventional treatment package for migraineurs.

According to Prof. Wells, “For the approximate 36 million Americans who suffer from migraines, there is a big need for non-pharmaceutical treatment strategies, and doctors and patients should know that MBSR is a safe intervention that could potentially decrease the impact of migraines.” (3)

SOURCES

  1. Image Credit: Woman Doing Yoga On Rock Stock Photo by Adamr; Free Digital Photos; Web September 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Healthy_Living_g284-Woman_Doing_Yoga_On_Rock_p100414.html
  2. Migraine sufferers may find meditation helps; Medical News Today: Web September 2014; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282441.php
  3. Meditation May Mitigate Migraine Misery;Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – News & Media Resources; Web September 2014; http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2014/Meditation_May_Mitigate_Migraine_Misery.htm

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Sex Migraine Is For Real: Loyola Neurologist

Migraine Sex

Migraines & Headaches After Sex (HAS) More Common Than Reported (1)

‘Not tonight honey, I have a headache’ may not be an excuse in avoidance after all,  because for some, especially men, migraines and headaches develop after sexual intercourse, making them avoid it. It is estimated that only as many as 1% of migraning adults actually report experiencing migraines or severe headaches after they have had sex. (2) The real percentage is considered much higher but generally goes under-reported since there is a feeling of discomfort talking about it on the part of the patients who suffer this type of a migraine and doctors who should be asking if the patients suffer this type of an ordeal.

According to Dr. Jose Biller who is the chair of Loyola’s Department of Neurology, and is certified in Headache Medicine by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties, “Many people who experience headaches during sexual activity are too embarrassed to tell their physicians, and doctors often don’t ask. Headaches associated with sexual activity can be extremely painful and scary. They also can be very frustrating, both to the individual suffering the headache and to the partner.” (3)

Though a fair percentage of headaches associated with sex (HAS) are considered benign and not life-threatening, others need running neurological diagnostics to look at and rule out dangerous causes such as brain aneurysm, stroke, cervical artery dissection or subdural hematoma etc. It is confirmed that HAS are 3-4 times more likely to occur in men than women.

Basically, the study has identified 3 types of HAS:

Type

Area Intensity Timing

1

Head and Neck Dull

Before Orgasm

2

Back of the head Intense Pain lasting hours

During Orgasm

3

Half Head, Any side Mild To Extreme Pain

After Sex

The cause for the third type of HAS has been identified as internal leaking of spinal fluid extending from lower portions of the skull to lower spine. The pain worsens when a person stands as the brain sags down. Relief is felt when the person lies down.

The different types of HAS require different types of treatment and management. However, the best bet still is on exercising regularly, keeping weight under control, not consuming too much alcohol and reducing exposure to known migraine triggers.

SOURCES

  1. Image Credit: Couple Lying In Bed Back-to-Back Stock Photo; Image by Ambro; Free Digital Photos; Web June 2014; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/CouplesPartners_g216-Couple_Lying_In_Bed_BacktoBack_p76440.html
  2. Headaches during sex likely more common than reported; Science Daily News; Web June 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610100303.htm
  3. Sex headaches: More common than you’d think; Loyola Medicine Publication; Web June 2014; http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/news/sex-headaches-more-common-youd-think

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Aberration in Structure of Brain Artery Responsible For Migraines: New Study

Brain Neuron

 

Incomplete Brain Arterial Network Found In Migraineurs (1)

Researchers from University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine are suggesting based on their recent study, that the network of arteries that supply blood to the brain is incomplete in those who suffer migraines. This impairs and creates asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that act as triggers for migraines.

The network of cerebral arteries consists of a series of connections between major arteries. This network with it’s connections is called ‘Circle of Willis’. The study found a strong association between incomplete network connections in the Circle of Willis thus depriving certain parts of the brain of blood flow and oxygen.

As per lead author of the study, Brett Cucchiara, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology, “People with migraine actually have differences in the structure of their blood vessels – this is something you are born with. These differences seem to be associated with changes in blood flow in the brain, and it’s possible that these changes may trigger migraine, which may explain why some people, for instance, notice that dehydration triggers their headaches.” (2)

The study also suggested that blood vessels in the brain played a rather different role in migraine condition than what was earlier believed. The structural aberration in blood supply caused by an incomplete Circle of Willis also increases a person’s susceptibility to abnormal neural activity and electrical pulse generation in the brain thus triggering migraines.

The study examined 170 people from three groups.

  • Group 1: A control group with no migraines or headaches
  • Group 2: Those suffering from migraines with aura
  • Group 3: Those with migraines without aura

A good percentage of persons in Groups 2 and 3 were found to have a common ground of incomplete Circle of Willis when compared to the control group.

MRI angiography was employed to examine blood vessel structure and a noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging method called Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL) was used to measure changes in cerebral blood flow during the study.

According to senior author, John Detre, MD, Professor of Neurology and Radiology, “Abnormalities in both the circle of Willis and blood flow were most prominent in the back of the brain, where the visual cortex is located. This may help explain why the most common migraine auras consist of visual symptoms such as seeing distortions, spots, or wavy lines.” (3)

The study suggests that at some point in the future more work on the role of the Circle of Willis will help design personalized treatment and therapy for patients.

SOURCES:

  1. Image credits: FreeDigitialPhotos.net: Image by Renjith krishnan; Web July 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/neuron-photo-p186134
  2. Migraines Associated With Variations in Structure of Brain Arteries; Science Daily News; Web July 2013; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726191731.htm
  3. Abnormal Arteries May Trigger Migraines; Nationalpainreport.com; Web July 2013; http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/abnormal-arteries-may-trigger-migraines-8821061.html

DETAILS OF THE STUDY MAY BE HAD AT PLOS ONE:

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Why NICE (U.K) Will Not Recommend Botox As Migraine Preventative Any Time Soon

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the U.K will not be endorsing the use of purified botulinum toxin A (Botox) as a preventative for migraineurs anytime yet. According to sources, there is not enough evidence that confirms the efficacy of Botox in pain management. This news comes as a bit of a surprise especially because back in the summer of 2010, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (U.K) had approved the use of Botox in migraine management. Here is a news report that runs in News- Medical.Net written by Dr. Ananya Mandal MD (1):

Botox Being Injected Into a Migraineur (2)

“Botox – used as an anti-wrinkle agent – is unlikely to be recommended for the treatment of chronic migraines on the NHS in England and Wales. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) draft guidelines there is insufficient evidence that it works.

Migraines are severe headaches, which are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting and finding light or sound painful. Chronic migraines are defined as headaches at least 15 days a month, eight of which have to be migraines.

In July 2010, Botox was approved as a preventive treatment for chronic migraine in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Botox is injected into at least 31 sites around the head and neck every 12 weeks. However, how the neurotoxin might prevent chronic migraines is unknown. The therapy uses a purified version of botulinum toxin A and it is thought to block overactive nerve impulses which trigger excessive muscle contractions.

NICE is deciding whether the injection should be offered across the NHS in England and Wales. NICE said the injections had been “shown to have some benefit” such as in a trial involving 1,384 patients, published in the journal Headache. However, it said the effect was small and may have been confused by the way the studies have been conducted. A review in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin in February 2011 said there is “limited evidence” for using Botox.

Prof Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at NICE, said, “Our independent committee is asking Allergan to provide further information and analysis as part of this public consultation, so that it has sufficient evidence to develop sound advice for the NHS regarding the use of Botox for the prevention of headaches in adults with chronic migraine. Without this additional evidence, potentially we will be unable to advise the NHS that this drug is good value for money for these adults because there are currently too many uncertainties.” NICE estimated the cost to the NHS would be £349.40 for every 12-week cycle of treatment.

Allegan said it was “working constructively” and would provide new evidence to NICE which it said would demonstrate “that treatment with Botox is both a cost effective and clinically meaningful treatment option for patients suffering from this debilitating condition”.

The chief executive of The Migraine Trust, Wendy Thomas, told the BBC, “I’m a bit disappointed really. For these people with chronic migraine, they’ve already tried various preventative treatments which have failed. For these people their only hope is Botox. It doesn’t work for everybody – it can change people’s lives or not make very much difference.”

Joanna Hamilton-Colclough, director of Migraine Action, said using Botox for her headaches had “absolutely transformed my life”. She said, “I’ve been having chronic headaches for 40 years – I wake up every day with a headache. After my first Botox treatment I woke up the next day feeling ill. At lunchtime I realized that I felt different because I didn’t have a headache. I’ve been able to work without a headache and sleep properly for the first time.” She admitted it did not work for everyone but added that clinical trials also suggested a 50 per cent reduction in migraine days for some patients.

Mrs Hamilton-Colclough said, “We don’t think the treatment is expensive when you take into account the cost to the economy from people needing time off work for migraine and to the NHS from A&E treatment.”

Professor Anne MacGregor, a migraine expert at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, said she was concerned Botox might be used as a ‘quick fix’ for chronic headaches. She added, “It’s not a blanket treatment but it might be appropriate for a small number of patients.”

A decision from NICE is expected in June.”

SOURCE:
1. Botox efficacy uncertain in treating migraine says NICE; Medical News.Net; February 2012; http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120218/Botox-efficacy-uncertain-in-treating-migraine-says-NICE.aspx

2. Image by Ambros; Free Digitial Photos; February 2012; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499

Orange Juice and Migraines for Breakfast

Hope the New Year’s Eve partying melted into sensible resolution-motivated breakfast on January 1st for every one of us. Oats, cereals, apples, OJ, cottage cheese…. Hold on. You would be surprised that citrus fruit and their juices are included in the list of potential triggers for migraineurs. The orange juice, which we consider as one of the most integral part of our diet, could be suspect. Orange juice (and many other citrus juices) contains synephrine -a known vasoconstrictor and allergen. It is also now confirmed that citrus intake creates magnesium deficiency, which again is a migraine trigger…

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Migraines In Women

Continuing on the same note of my earlier post of 28th November, 2008 (De-mystifying Migraines In Women)….

Any aerobic activity done for a minimum of thrice a week for at least half an hour will tell positively on the texture of your migraines. Yes, you heard me right. I am talking of the frequency and intensity of migraines. It is banal to come across the ‘thrice a week for 30 minutes’ formula, from health articles on the web to the instructor in the gym who aim to pick on your fat. But it has other not so famous but greatly positive side effects, like the one I mentioned. There are 5 ways in which aerobic activities help us reduce our migraine intensity. 

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