Here’s another reason to make daily meditation one of your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions. A recent study showed that meditation can be a natural pain-reliever.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, was lead by Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. His team found that unlike regular pain relievers, which rely on opoids (the body’s natural pain-blocking system), a regular meditation practice was able to increase a person’s tolerance to pain.
According to the Knowridge Science Report, 78 participants took part in the study. They were described as healthy and pain-free. These participants were divided into four groups for the duration of the double-blind study which took place over four days for 20 minutes each session.
The first group were taught mindfulness meditation and were administered naloxone, a drug that blocks the pain-reducing effects of opoids produced by the body. The second group was ony given naloxone and no meditation instruction. The third group did meditation but were given a saline placebo. And the fourth group was given a placebo and did not meditate.
The participants had to rate the level of pain they felt on a sliding scale when a metal thermal probe was applied to a patch of their skin. The probe was heated up to 49 degrees Centigrade (120.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
Reportedly, the meditation group that recieved naloxone felt a pain reduction of 24 percent. The meditation group that recieved a placebo experienced a 21 percent pain reduction.
The researchers said that the numbers are significant because they proved that even if the body’s ability to react to natural pain relieving opoids were chemically blocked, the test subjects in the meditation groups still felt relief.
Zeidan described the results of the study surprising and said meditation could prove to be a good fast-acting, free option especially for those who suffer from chronic pain.
“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,” he said.
The next steps in the study were reportedly going to be how meditation can help sufferers of chronic pain and how mindfulness can be used in conjuction with current pain relief therapies.