University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Effect of Different Meditation Types on Migraine Headache Medication Use

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Mental and Social Health | Nervous System Diseases | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms


Spiritual meditation has been found to reduce the frequency of migraines and physiological reactivity to stress. However, little is known about how introducing a spirituality component into a meditation intervention impacts analgesic medication usage. In this study, 92 meditation-naive participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) Spiritual Meditation, (n = 25), (2) Internally Focused Secular Meditation (n = 23), (3) Externally Focused Secular Meditation (n = 22), or (4) Progressive Muscle Relaxation (n = 22); and practiced their technique for 20 min/day over 30 days while completing daily diaries. Headache frequency, headache severity, and pain medication use were assessed. Migraine frequency decreased in the Spiritual Meditation group compared to other groups (p < 0.05). Headache severity ratings did not differ across groups (p = ns). After adjusting for headache frequency, migraine medication usage decreased in the Spiritual Meditation group compared to other groups (p < 0.05). Spiritual Meditation was found to not affect pain sensitivity, but it does improve pain tolerance with reduced headache related analgesic medication usage.


medication, meditation, migraine, pain, spirituality

DOI of Published Version



Behav Med. 2015 Apr 11:1-8. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Behavioral medicine (Washington, D.C.)

PubMed ID