It's Official: Meditation Is More Powerful Than Pain Medication

Victoria Hoff
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If you're friendly with any meditation fans, chances are you've heard them liken their practice to a powerful drug. But it turns out that statement is not at all hyperbolic—astonishing new research actually shows that for those suffering from emotional pain, the relief of meditation outweighs that of morphine

Researchers at Wake Forest University divided 75 people into different groups of pain management: mindfulness, placebo meditation, placebo cream, and a control group. After putting a high-heat thermal probe on each participant's skin, the scientists found that the meditation group's physical pain intensity was reduced on average by 27%, and their emotional pain intensity was reduced by 44%. The placebo group's pain was reduced by 11% (physical) and 13% (emotional), by contrast.

But here's the kicker: In past studies mirroring this one (using morphine rather than meditation), results showed that morphine reduced pain by just 22%—making meditation almost twice as powerful from an emotional standpoint. (This is likely because those who meditate are taught to see pain as a passing sensation, like everything else.)

This study is also a big deal because many meditation naysayers have compared the effects of mindfulness to a placebo effect, and the results here prove that way of thinking irrelevant. Needless to say, whether you're suffering from a sprained ankle or heartbreak—hopefully not both—it's definitely worth giving some quiet time to yourself a try. Having trouble getting in a Zen mindset? This sage-scented meditation balm ($16) will get you in the mood.

Do you like to meditate? What kinds of effects have you seen from it? Tell us in the comments below!

Explore: meditation, wellness

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