07/04/2011 06:15 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Meditation: A Powerful Painkiller?

Next time you have a mind-blowing headache - or worse, a pounding migraine - instead of reaching for the nearest packet of painkillers, you may like to try meditating.

buddha-meditation-pain-relief Forget painkillers, try meditating. Photo: Getty

No kidding. US researchers writing in the Journal of Neuroscience suggest meditation can be more effective than some of the most powerful painkilling drugs, including morphine.

And if their study is anything to go by, you don't have to have loads of experience in meditation to benefit from its pain-relieving effects either. They took a group healthy people who had never meditated previously, and sent them to four 20-minute sessions where they learned a technique called focus attention.

The technique - which is a common meditation tool -involves concentrating on your breathing patterns and letting go of all thoughts and distractions in your mind.

The volunteers were then subjected to a series of brain scans, during which they had a hot probe pressed against their leg to cause pain. By looking at the scans afterwards, the researchers discovered that there was reduced activity in the pain-processing areas of the brain while the volunteers were meditating.

And by rating how painful the probe was before and during meditation, the volunteers claimed it was, on average, 40 in pain reduction achieved by pain-relieving drugs such as morphine, the researchers add.

Have you ever tried meditating?

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