Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Effect of Yoga on Migraine: A Comprehensive Study Using Clinical Profile and Cardiac Autonomic Functions

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

Effect of Yoga on Migraine: A Comprehensive Study Using Clinical Profile and Cardiac Autonomic Functions

Article excerpt

Byline: Ravikiran. Kisan, M. Sujan, Meghana. Adoor, Raghavendra. Rao, A. Nalini, Bindu. Kutty, B. Chindanda Murthy, T. Raju, T. Sathyaprabha

Context and Aims: Migraine is an episodic disabling headache requiring long-term management. Migraine management through Yoga therapy would reduce the medication cost with positive health benefits. Yoga has shown to improve the quality of life, reduce the episode of headache and medication. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of Yoga as an adjuvant therapy in migraine patients by assessing clinical outcome and autonomic functions tests. Subjects and Methods: Migraine patients were randomly given either conventional care (n = 30) or Yoga with conventional care (n = 30). Yoga group received Yoga practice session for 5 days a week for 6 weeks along with conventional care. Clinical assessment (frequency, intensity of headache and headache impact) and autonomic function test were done at baseline and at the end of the intervention. Results: Yoga with conventional care and convention care groups showed significant improvement in clinical variables, but it was better with Yoga therapy. Improvement in the vagal tone along with reduced sympathetic activity was observed in patients with migraine receiving Yoga as adjuvant therapy. Conclusions: Intervention showed significant clinical improvement in both groups. Headache frequency and intensity were reduced more in Yoga with conventional care than the conventional care group alone. Furthermore, Yoga therapy enhanced the vagal tone and decreased the sympathetic drive, hence improving the cardiac autonomic balance. Thus, Yoga therapy can be effectively incorporated as an adjuvant therapy in migraine patients.


Migraine clinically manifests as hemi-cranial throbbing type of pain associated with nausea, vomiting, heightened sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound (phonophobia) with or without transient neurological symptoms. [sup][1] Migraine is one of the common primary headache disorders affecting 13% of the population world-wide. [sup][2] Prodromal, headache episode and postdromal phases of migraine are known to impact productivity at work and quality of life, apart from causing cognitive impairment. [sup][3] The burden of migraine impacts affected individuals, their family, and society. [sup][4],[5] It is also a risk factor for ischemic cerebral and ischemic cardiovascular diseases. [sup][6] Episodic migraine may lead to chronic migraine, if it is not treated properly it may lead to medication overuse headache and increased risk of suicidal attempt. [sup][7]

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) imbalance explains many of the clinical manifestations of the migraine disorder. Autonomic symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, cutaneous vasoconstriction [pallor], vasodilatation [flushing], piloerection and diaphoresis) are common during acute migraine headaches. [sup][8]

Migraine is a chronic disorder with episodic disabilities and it requires long-term management as well as preventive strategies. The treatment of migraine involves both acute and preventive drugs along with non-pharmacological strategies. Even though in the last few decades much advancement has occurred in the research field of migraine, its treatment does not provide complete relief to many patients. Biofeedback and relaxation have been demonstrated to be useful alternatives to standard medical therapy for both migraine and tension-type headaches. [sup][9] The present study was aimed to evaluate the effect of Yoga as adjuvant therapy in patients with migraine.


The present study was approved by the Institutional Ethical Committee. Sixty patients were recruited from a tertiary referral neurology centre. Diagnosis of migraine, with or without aura was done according to the guidelines of International Headache Society, International Classification of Headache Disorders 2 [sup]nd edition (IHS, ICHD - II) [sup][1] after thorough clinical interview, physical and neurological examination by the neurologist. …

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