People who do yoga regularly have fewer, less painful headaches, study shows
- Researchers studied 114 adult individuals who were regular migraine sufferers
- Half were given medication while the other group were prescribed yoga as well
- Both groups’ headaches improved over the following three months of the study
- However, the yoga group experienced fewer headaches and needed fewer pills
People who suffer from migraines but who practise yoga regularly have fewer and generally less painful and shorter headaches, a study has found.
Researchers found that adding yoga to regularly prescribed migraine treatment may be better than medication alone.
Yoga is a mental and spiritual practice which originated in ancient India. It involves breathing techniques, exercise and meditation.
People who suffer from migraines but who practice yoga regularly have fewer and generally less painful and shorter duration headaches, a study has found
WHAT HELPS TO PREVENT MIGRAINES?
Being open to new experiences reduces people’s risk of migraines, research suggested in June 2017.
A preference for variation over routine prevents crippling headaches among depression sufferers, a study found.
Yet, neuroticism – a personality trait associated with nervousness and irritability – increases migraine’s risk, the research adds.
Study author Dr Máté Magyar from Semmelweis University in Budapest, said: ‘An open character appears to offer protection from [migraine].
‘Our study results could help to provide a better understanding of the biopsychosocial background of migraine, and help to find novel strategies in the prevention of and interventions for [migraine].’
The researchers analysed the relationship between personality traits, depression and migraines in more than 3,000 sufferers of the mental-health condition.
Depression is associated with an increased risk of migraines.
The participants were ranked according to their openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
‘Migraine is one of the most common headache disorders, but only about half the people taking medication for it get real relief,’ said paper author Rohit Bhatia of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
‘The good news is that practising something as simple and accessible as yoga may help much more than medications alone. And all you need is a mat.’
The study involved 114 people between the ages of 18 and 50 who suffered from episodic migraines of between four to 14 headaches per month.
These participants were randomly assigned to two groups: medication-only, or yoga plus medication.
Those in the yoga group were taught a one-hour yoga practice that included breathing and relaxation exercises as well as postures.
They were supervised by a yoga instructor three days a week for a month, before practising on their own at home, five days a week, for two months.
Both groups received the appropriate medications and counselling about lifestyle changes that can help with migraine, such as getting adequate sleep, eating regular meals and exercising.
Participants kept a diary about how long their headaches lasted, how severe they were and the medications that they took.
They discovered that both groups’ health improved, but the benefit was higher in the yoga group in all areas — including headache frequency, pain intensity, use of medications and how much migraine interfered with daily life.
In fact, the yoga group started with an average of 9.1 headaches per month, and ended the study reporting just 4.7 headaches per month — a 48 per cent reduction.
The medication-only group reported an average of 7.7 headaches per month at the start of the study and 6.8 at the end of the three months — a 12 per cent decrease.
The average number of pills participants in the yoga group used decreased by 47 per cent after three months compared to only a 12 per cent decrease in the medication-only group.
Yoga is a mental and spiritual practice which originated in ancient India. It involves breathing techniques, exercise and meditation
‘Our results show that yoga can reduce not just the pain, but also the treatment cost of migraines,’ added Dr Bhatia.
‘That can be a real game changer, especially for people who struggle to afford their medication. Medications are usually prescribed first, and some can be expensive.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Neurology.