Everyone relies on a different coping mechanism to get through a migraine headache. In addition to rescue medications and other medical treatment, some migraineurs utilize acupuncture, relaxation, meditation, massage or deep breathing to manage the terrible pain of a migraine. Lots of people who suffer from migraine headache use alternative medicine in addition to medical treatment to help them get the most relief from the painful and sometimes scary symptoms of migraines. But have you ever considered prayer as a type of alternative medicine?
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported in 2002 that prayer is the most commonly used alternative medicine practice in the United States and over 40 percent of Americans use prayer to get through pain and illness. A study just published in February 2016 in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine sought to follow patients who used prayer as an alternative medicine to cope with migraine and see how their pain was really affected by prayer. The effects of prayer have been studied and shown to be therapeutic when used for pain with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, HIV and cancer, but so far we don’t know a huge amount about how prayer affects migraine pain.
Using Prayer to Cope with Migraine Headache
When you think of prayer, you probably have a very individualized concept of the practice, depending on how you were raised and your current religious affiliations. Prayer doesn’t have to mean praying to a certain higher being, though – prayer for the intentions of this study was considered the “active process of communicating with and appealing to a higher spiritual power.” The results of the study included several types of prayer including conversational prayer, meditative prayer, ritual prayer, and intercessory (organized, regular) prayer. This study followed almost 100 people with migraines to monitor how prayer worked to alleviate migraine pain.
Researchers found that religious activity had a positive effect on physical and mental health. The results of this study showed that migraine frequency and migraine medication usage decreased in patients who practiced other kinds of meditation. If you already use prayer to cope with migraine pain, these results may not be shocking to you. For others, communicating with your higher power during a migraine attack may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but if you can get into a grounded place where you can do some meditative prayer during a migraine, it may have a real beneficial effect on your pain.
Tajadini, H., Zangiabadi, N., Divsalar, K., Safizadeh, H., Esmaili, Z., & Rafiei, H. (2016). Effect of prayer on intensity of migraine headache: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, doi:10.1177/2156587215627551