A report from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center states that meditation can be more effective than morphine.
"This is the first study to show that only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation," said Fadel Zeidan, PhD, lead author of the study and post-doctoral research fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "We found a big effect – about a 40 per cent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 per cent reduction in pain unpleasantness. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25 per cent."
In the study, 15 volunteers, who had never previously meditated, were taught mindfulness meditation techniques over four 20-minute sessions. Mindfulness meditation teaches the individual to focus attention on an object, such as the breath.
During the study, participants had their brain activity measured, with an arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging (ASL MRI), both before and after meditation, while they were subjected to a pain-inducing heating device - heated to 120 farenheit or almost 50 degrees celsius - over five-minute periods.
The scans found that after meditation, participants' pain was reduced by as much as 93 per cent. They also showed that activity in the somatosensory cortex - the region of the brain associated with pain response - which was rapid prior to meditation, was significantly diminished afterwards. Movement in the anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula and the orbito-frontal cortex however, was increased after meditation.
"These areas all shape how the brain builds an experience of pain from nerve signals that are coming in from the body," says Robert C Coghill, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist. "Consistent with this function, the more that these areas were activated by meditation the more that pain was reduced. One of the reasons that meditation may have been so effective in blocking pain was that it did not work at just one place in the brain, but instead reduced pain at multiple levels of processing."
As a result of the study, Wake Forest recommended meditation be used as standard clinical practice to deal with pain.http://www.northernargus.com.au/news/national/national/general/pain-relief-meditation-better-than-drugs-study-finds/2461148.aspx?storypage=1