If you experience headaches or migraines, you may have heard that meditation may be used to treat your headache. And why not!? It’s cost-effective with few side effects.

Unfortunately, using some medications for headaches may lead to medication-overuse headache and other side effects. That’s why many people turn to complementary and alternative therapies that can help alleviate headache symptoms.

While there are many headache remedies, meditation may be one treatment option you want to consider for your headaches or migraines and we’re going to share why…

What is a Headache?

The three classifications of headaches include:

  1. tension headaches
  2. cluster headaches
  3. migraine 

Stress is one of the largest causes of headaches, and that’s where meditation can really help, so let’s talk about how it works…

What is Meditation?

According to researchers Qiang Gu, et al, meditation is a form of mental training that aims to improve your core psychological capacities, such as attentional and emotional self-regulation. There are three core components of meditation practice: 

  1. Attention control
  2. Emotion regulation
  3. Self-awareness

Does Meditation Work?

Many studies have been conducted to help evaluate the effectiveness of meditation for headaches. These studies often look at headache intensity, frequency, and duration.

This meta-analysis looked at eleven studies on meditation for headaches to determine that “mindfulness meditation may reduce pain intensity and is a promising treatment option for patients.” The researchers further suggest that “clinicians may consider mindfulness meditation as a viable complementary and alternative medical option for primary headache.”

This 30-day study on meditation for migraines found a decrease in the frequency of migraine headaches, however the perception of headache severity was not affected. The amount of medication usage for migraine headaches was significantly lower for meditators as well.

How Long to Meditate?

Many studies have used various meditation programs to help headaches. Examples include:


Once you learn how to meditate, the cost goes to zero. How you learn may influence the cost. For example, going on a meditation retreat may have a higher cost than purchasing a book or meditation CD.

Side Effects

While meditation has no associated side effects, one aspect proposed by Bandura is that of improved self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Higher self-efficacy results in a higher quality of life. And we feel that’s a side effect many people would be happy about!

Frequently asked questions

Does meditation work for headaches and migraines?

Yes, research indicates that meditation may reduce the intensity of headache pain.

Does Medicare cover meditation?

No, Medicare doesn’t cover meditation treatment for headaches or migraines. Medicare will cover the cost of opioids and other medications, which may be a reason why some people are turning to meditation and other alternative treatments for headache pain.

How often should I meditate to relieve headache pain?

Daily meditation practice may be best in order to see improvements.

Guided Meditation for Headache Relief

Other Alternatives 

There are many complementary and alternative therapies that may help with headaches and migraines, including:

Getting Started

Before meditating to help relieve your headaches or migraines, be sure to talk with your physician or medical professional about getting a proper medical diagnosis and what treatment recommendations are appropriate for your condition. 

Work with an experienced meditation instructor in your area to determine how meditation practice may best help you.


Bandura A. Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychol Rev. 1977;84:191–215.

Gu, Q., Hou, J. C., & Fang, X. M. (2018). Mindfulness Meditation for Primary Headache Pain: A Meta-Analysis. Chinese medical journal, 131(7), 829–838. https://doi.org/10.4103/0366-6999.228242

Jensen, R., & Stovner, L. J. (2008). Epidemiology and comorbidity of headache. The Lancet. Neurology, 7(4), 354–361. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70062-0Wachholtz, A. B., Malone, C. D., & Pargament, K. I. (2017). Effect of Different Meditation Types on Migraine Headache Medication Use. Behavioral medicine (Washington, D.C.), 43(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/08964289.2015.1024601