Mind over matter works for pain relief

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by KING 5 HealthLink

KING5.com

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Meditation is an art that has been practiced for centuries, a known stress reliever.

Now, experts say it's a pain reliever too.

"Meditation influences areas of the brain that are related to the way we attend to the experience of pain, to the way that we react to the experience of pain," said Dr. Fadel Zeidan, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine recruited 15 adults who never meditated before to a brief meditation training program. They had MRI scans of their brains before and after training. During the scans, doctors applied heat to participants' legs so they'd feel pain.

"Pain intensity went down while subjects meditated 40 percent and pain unpleasantness went down 57 percent," Zeidan said.

"Your focus just shifts and you're not really focused on the intensity of the pain, but instead on something else," said Malaak Moussa, who participated in the study.

Researchers say meditation could help patients after surgery or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

What they're most excited about is it only took four 20 minute classes to teach the technique.

Experts said if meditation is used in a clinical setting medical costs should go down and there's no risk for negative side effects.

However, because only 15 people participated in the study, more research is needed.

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