Mindfulness is a natural painkiller by Alexandra Thompson




Mindfulness is just as effective as go-to cognitive behavioural therapy

Both help improve ‘physical functioning’ and reduce the risk of depression

Mindfulness is a natural painkiller, research suggests.

A study found the trendy meditation – favoured by the likes of Hollywood’s resident ‘health guru’ Gwyneth Paltrow and pop sensation Katy Perry – is just as effective at easing discomfort as the go-to treatment cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Focusing the mind on the present moment is thought to help sufferers cope with their discomfort, which also improves their ‘physical functioning’ and reduces their risk of depression.

The research was carried out by The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, and led by the biostatistician Dr Wei Cheng.

Writing in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health, the scientists said: ‘While CBT is considered to be the preferred psychological intervention of 

‘Although a number of recommendations have been proposed to improve CBT for patients with chronic pain, an additional solution may be to offer patients mindfulness based stress reduction.

Chronic pain affects one in five adults and ‘may impact all dimensions of a person’s wellbeing’.

The most common psychological-based treatment is CBT, which aims to help people develop coping mechanisms for their discomfort.

However, this does not work for all sufferers.

The researchers set out to determine CBT’s effectiveness compared to mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

MBSR focuses on ‘building awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences including physical discomfort and difficult emotions’.

The scientists trawled through 21 studies with a total of nearly 2,000 chronic pain sufferers.

These patients – who were mainly women – underwent either CBT or MBSR for at least three months.

The participants were aged between 35 and 65, and largely suffered from musculoskeletal pain, such as back  ache or arthritis.

In nearly four out of ten of the studies, the patients had endured their pain for more than a decade.

Results  suggested mindfulness is just as effective as CBT when it comes to improving ‘physical functioning’.

Both are also equally as good at easing pain and reducing associated conditions, such as depression.

But the researchers stress only one of the studies directly compared CBT with MBSR.

The scientists also only judged 12 of the trials to be of ‘reasonable or good quality’.

Further research is therefore required to determine if CBT or mindfulness is better for people with different types of pain and psychological symptoms, they add.



4 responses to this post.

  1. This makes so much sense. My understanding is that the biggest part of CBT for pain is reframing one’s thoughts and emotions related to pain, and mindfulness is one more way to go about changing that relationship with pain.

  2. I have chronic pain from a bad triple rollover followed by fusions and killing of my nerves in right side of neck

    Pain is read in two parts of the brain, one the actual pain and another spot that colors our experience

    With chronic pain from a spinal cord, the mechanism is broken and fires constantly

    You can learn to lesson this part of pain by mental and physical exercises

    Meditation allows me to give my pain no attention, no energy

    Aerobic exercise also can help secreting our own endorphins helping with the pain

  3. Fascinating stuff.

  4. Mindfulness aimed as an exploratory journey of our internal life brings us face to face with our demons, unworthiness, our losses and fears

    Taking action in the face of pain, depression or any disorder helps our wellbeing

    Meditation is a safe way to use exposure therapy

    Most of our roadblocks have thoughts and judgments behind the curtain

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