There is robust medical evidence to indicate that the power of the mind over the illnesses of the body is profound. This is no more evident than in the beneficial effects of regular meditation on the perception of chronic pain.
The evidence for the benefit of meditation is so strong as to make one wonder why it’s not part of traditional medical therapy.
It has long been considered that meditation causes an increase in natural painkillers called endorphins. It is then these endorphins that affect the perception of pain.
Although there is a large body of medical research demonstrating that the areas of the brain that are activated during meditation are composed of cells with many morphine receptors — the location at which narcotic pain relievers as well as endorphins reduce pain — the action of meditation on pain relief is wonderfully more complex.
Chronic pain is the number one reason why people seek medical care. The current traditional medical approach including medications, injections, various therapies as well as various behavioral therapy approaches does not adequately address chronic pain.
As reported in the journal Science News, in 2012 the annual medical cost associated with chronic pain exceeded $600 billion. It is astounding that this is more than the annual cost of cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined.
One of the concerns of combining meditation and narcotic pain medications would be that the endorphins created by meditation would compete with the narcotic pain medication for the morphine receptors. In essence there would not be any increase in benefit for chronic pain management by adding meditation.
An interesting study published in the Journal of Neuroscience (2016) examined this very question. The study was done at Wake Forest School of Medicine and what the study demonstrated was that the pain-relieving benefits of meditation are not mediated by endorphins…