Use yoga to cut your migraine frequency in half

Migraines are incredibly common. These debilitating headaches affect somewhere between 38 to 50 million Americans… possibly even more.

Unfortunately, only half of these people experience any relief from migraine medications. Luckily, there may be a safe, natural way to ease the pain of serious migraines — yoga.

Now, I know when you have a migraine the last thing you want to do is exercise (or do anything other than hide under your comforter with the curtains drawn). So, don’t worry. I’m not saying you should do a downward dog when you’re in the middle of a brutal migraine. But if you can start a regular yoga practice on the days when you’re feeling good, it could help ease your symptoms.

A new study shows that people who practice yoga have much less frequent and less severe migraines than people who just take medication. And when you’re talking about the gut-wrenching pain of a serious migraine, every bit of relief helps.

A regular yoga practice can cut migraine frequency nearly in half

Research published in the journal Neurology found that practicing yoga five days a week helped migraine sufferers cut their headache frequency nearly in half.

The study included 114 people between 18 and 50 years old who had episodic migraine (EM). At the start of the study, these people averaged four to 14 headaches per month.

Participants were split into two groups. One group received migraine medication and practiced yoga, and the other group just received medication. The yoga group received guidance from a yoga instructor, who taught them a one-hour yoga sequence that included breathing exercises, relaxation exercises and yoga postures. The yoga instructor guided participants three days per week for one month. Then, participants were asked to practice yoga at home five days per week for another two months.

Related: How yoga relieves rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and boosts remission

At the end of the study, there was a big difference between those who practiced yoga and those who didn’t…

People in the yoga group had less frequent headaches, less painful headaches, needed less medication and felt that migraines were interfering less with their lives. In fact, at the start of the study, the yoga group experienced an average of 9.1 migraines per month. At the end, they experienced an average of 4.7 migraines per month. That’s a 48 percent difference.

The medication-only group also experienced a slight benefit… but nowhere near what the yoga group experienced. Their average monthly headache frequency went from 7.7 to 6.8, a modest 12 percent reduction.

Another huge benefit was that the yoga group needed less migraine medication. That saves them money and protects them from any potential side effects those medications have.

“Our results show that yoga can reduce not just the pain, but also the treatment cost of migraines,” said Rohit Bhatia, M.D., D.M., D.N.B., of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “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.”

Starting an at-home yoga practice to slay migraines

If you suffer from migraines, you should seriously consider starting a yoga practice. Starting a home practice is so much easier these days with all the free yoga videos available on YouTube.

Two of my favorite YouTube yoga channels are Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga, so check those out. Yoga with Adriene even has a yoga routine designed specifically for people with migraines, so you might want to start with that one.

Editor’s note: Nature’s pharmacy comes well-stocked with remedies for pain. If you suffer from chronic pain and conventional medicine has let you down, or you just want to escape the potential dangers of OTC and prescription drugs, you should read Conquering the Pain: An Alternative Doctor’s Fresh Look at the Newest and Oldest in Alternative Pain Therapies. Click here for a preview!

Sources:

  1. For better migraine treatment, try adding some downward dogs — MedicalXpress.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.