Many children suffer from headaches. Since stress may trigger headaches, effective techniques to cope with stress are needed. We investigated the effectiveness of two mind-body techniques, transcendental meditation (TM) or hypnotherapy (HT), and compared them with progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercises (active control group). Children (9–18 years) suffering from primary headaches more than two times per month received either TM (N = 42), HT (N = 45) or PMR (N = 44) for 3 months. Primary outcomes were frequency of headaches and ≥ 50% reduction in headaches at 3 and 9 months. Secondary outcomes were adequate relief, pain coping, anxiety and depressive symptoms, somatisation and safety of treatment. Groups were comparable at baseline. Headache frequency was significantly reduced in all groups from 18.9 days per month to 12.5 and 10.5 at respectively 3 and 9 months (p < 0.001), with no significant differences between the groups. Clinically relevant headache reduction (≥ 50%) was observed in 41% and 47% of children at 3 and 9 months respectively, with no significant differences between the groups. No differences were observed in secondary outcome measures between the intervention groups. No adverse events were reported.
Conclusion: All three techniques reduced primary headache in children and appeared to be safe.