Save money on those pills: Mindfulness meditation can replace painkillers
According to a new study, mindfulness meditation provides opioid-free pain relief.
Team leader Fadel Zeidan from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said that their finding was surprising and could be important for the millions of chronic pain sufferers, who are seeking a fast-acting, non-opiate-based therapy to alleviate their pain. To determine if meditation uses the body’s opioids to reduce pain, the researchers injected study participants with either a drug called naloxone, which blocks the pain-reducing effects of opioids, or a saline placebo.
Zeidan found that the participants’ pain ratings were reduced by 24 percent from the baseline measurement in the meditation group that received the naloxone. This is important because it showed that even when the body’s opioid receptors were chemically blocked, meditation still was able to significantly reduce pain by using a different pathway, he said. Pain ratings also were reduced by 21 percent in the meditation group that received the placebo-saline injection.
Zeidan noted that this study adds to the growing body of evidence that something unique is happening with how meditation reduces pain. These findings are especially significant to those who have built up a tolerance to opiate-based drugs and are looking for a non-addictive way to reduce their pain.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.