Hypnotherapy for migraine management


This week is Migraine Awareness Week so I thought it would be a good idea to write a post to help raise awareness of the condition, highlight its impact on those who suffer with them, and how hypnotherapy can help.

Migraine is a common condition and The Migraine Trust, who run the awareness week, state that it is the third most common condition in the world, with an estimated one in seven people suffering with them.


I shared on Facebook the meme below from The Migraine Trust which states that “25 million days are lost from work or school each year in the UK because of migraine”.

That is a tremendous amount but it doesn’t surprise me. I myself suffer from migraines. I know how debilitating they can be and I’ve had my fair share of days off work because of them.

Migraines affect people differently. There are a wide variety of symptoms that people can experience and can last from anywhere between X and Y. Some people experience them frequently whilst others might only have one once every couple of years.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Moderate to severe headache, typically on one side of the head
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Some people also experience warning signs before the pain starts, known as aura. These present as flashing lights and shapes which can impair vision during an attack. And some people get the aura without any headache.

Whilst the exact cause of migraines is unknown, there are some things which are more likely to trigger an attack such as certain foods and drink, tiredness, stress, anxiety, depression, hormonal changes, and much more.

Some people find that they can manage their migraines using medication, either over the counter or those prescribed by their GP. However, some people are unable to take medication to provide relief due to allergies, side effects or because they have another condition which stops them from being able to take those recommended for migraines. And some people just don’t like taking medication full stop.

So this is where hypnotherapy comes in. Hypnosis has been used for decades to help with pain relief and has a wide body of research showing its efficacy.

In the most recent volume of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis journal, a systematic review was published on the use of hypnosis for the management of headaches which also included migraines (Flynn, 2018). Eight randomised controlled trials were included in the review. All studies reported a significant reduction in headaches, either compared to the control groups or to the baseline (the frequency and severity or headaches at the beginning of the study). A number of studies showed a reduction in the use of medication and improvements in mood and quality of life. Studies also showed that for participants who attributed their pain reduction to their own efforts (due to using self hypnosis and other techniques learnt) reported long-term pain reduction. One study showed participates using hypnosis had an increase in perceived pain control. The review demonstrates that hypnosis has a significant impact on the pain activity of individuals suffering with migraines. The author goes on to state that the findings of the review supports those of several other studies that have demonstrated hypnosis to be statistically superior or equivalent to commonly used treatments (Stoelb et al, 2009)



  • Stoelb, B. L., Molton, I. R., Jensen, M. P., & Patterson, D. R. (2009). The efficacy of hypnotic analgesia in adults: A review of the literature. Contemporary Hypnosis. 26(1): 24–39

  • Flynn, N. (2018) Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Hypnosis for the Management of Headache. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. Oct-Dec;66(4):343-352.