Researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky looked at whether Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can reduce stress arousal in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

An earlier study by this principal investigator showed that MBSR reduced depressive symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia with gains maintained at two months follow-up (Sephton et al., Arthritis & Rheumatism, 57:77-85, 2007).

This second study explored the effects of MBSR on basal sympathetic (SNS) activation among women with fibromyalgia. Twenty-four participants were tested before and after MBSR for anxiety, depressive symptoms, and SNS activation.

The MBSR treatment significantly reduced basal electrodermal (skin conductance level; SCL) activity (t = 3.298, p = .005) and SCL activity during meditation (t = 4.389, p = .001), consistent with reduced SNS activation.

The authors conclude that in this small sample and uncontrolled test design, basal sympathetic nervous system activity was reduced following MBSR treatment.  Future studies are needed.   

Citation:  Lush E, Salmon P, Floyd A, Studts JL, Weissbecker I, Sephton SE. Mindfulness meditation for symptom reduction in fibromyalgia: psychophysiological correlates. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. 2009 Jun; 16 (2): pages 200-7. Epub 2009 Mar 10