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Medscape: Yoga an Effective Adjunct to Standard Migraine Treatment

By Michael Vlessides


Adding yoga to a standard medication regimen is significantly better than medication alone in providing migraine relief, results of a randomized controlled trial show.

Findings from the largest trial of its kind to date showed patients with episodic migraine who added yoga to their standard medication regimen experienced a significantly greater reduction in migraine frequency and intensity.

"At the end of 3 months, we found that patients in both groups improved," Gautam Sharma, MD, DM, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, told Medscape Medical News.

"But the benefit was significantly higher in the yoga group in all areas, including headache frequency, pain, pain intensity, use of medications, and how much migraine interfered with the daily personal life or professional life," Sharma added.

Migraine is one of the most common disabling primary headache disorders, affecting about 13% of people worldwide. The disorder can also have a marked impact on quality of life, causing patients to miss work and impair performance.

For its part, yoga — which continues to grow in popularity around the world — has been shown to have beneficial effects on various migraine measures, including frequency, intensity, and duration of pain.

The findings came as little surprise to Jennifer L. Bickel, MD, chief of the Headache Section at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

"Sometimes people try to simplify yoga down into just the motor movements," Bickel, who was not involved in the study, told Medscape Medical News. "But in this study they incorporated the yoga that included breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. It wasn't just about the exercise.

"So just how we see with other mindfulness techniques, it makes sense to me that we would see improvement and reduction in migraine," added Bickel, who is also a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

"We've seen yoga help in other pain conditions as well," she added. "So I found it very encouraging to see another modality that's available for our patients with no side-effect profile."


Read the full story via Medscape

Learn more about the Headache Treatment Center at Children's Mercy