kelly lott massage therapist

Dr. Lowenstein: Hi, and welcome to the Headache 360 podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Adam Lowenstein. As we’ve discussed many times before on this podcast, my goal here is to try and get some expertise from specialists who patients with chronic headaches and migraines will often see during a course of their care. Today, we have a really great special guest. Kelly Lott is a… She’s a massage therapist with a specialty in migraine, which is really interesting to me. She has a very specific manner in which she treats migraines. She’s the owner of The Migraine Miracle, and she’s got an awesome website at www.migrainemiracle.com, which I think you’ll be more interested in going to shortly after you hear all about her. Kelly, thanks very much for joining me.

Kelly Lott: Thank you so much for inviting me to your show.

Dr. Lowenstein: You want to talk a little bit about, maybe, your history and how you help, when you got into massage, and how you got to where you are.

Kelly Lott: Absolutely. About 1990, I went to the Chicago School of Massage and became a certified massage therapist. My husband got a job out here in Dallas, so we did move from Chicago to Dallas.

Dr. Lowenstein: Are you from Chicago?

Kelly Lott: No, actually from California.

Dr. Lowenstein: Really?

Kelly Lott: Yes, Huntington Beach area.

Dr. Lowenstein: Oh, all right. Great.

Kelly Lott: Newport Beach. It was quite a change going to Chicago from Huntington Beach. I learned what a real winter was with that. Then, we moved to Texas for my husband’s job, and I started over with my practice. At that time, my certification as specialty was with pregnancy massage. I became certified in pregnancy and also infant massage. I also became a doula, so I helped ladies give birth. That was my practice for several years. Then, we moved from Dallas to Fort Worth for another job for my husband to do. I started to teach massage. I would teach massage all over the country in the pregnancy and infant massage with that.

Dr. Lowenstein: Got it.

Kelly Lott: That was my beginning.

Dr. Lowenstein: You went from the Chicago winter to the Texas summer.

Kelly Lott: Yes. Yeah, I think I can handle the heat a little bit more than the snow.

Dr. Lowenstein: All right, I’m exactly the opposite. The heat drives me crazy, so I went to the University of Wisconsin and spent some time in Madison. We used to go to Chicago to warm up. All right, so you started out with the pregnancy massage, and then how did you evolve to working with migraines?

Kelly Lott: Well, this is in about 2006. Right after my mother passed, I was watching a TV show, I’d say about two days after she passed, and I felt her so strongly. I was looking at an interview with an aesthetician that was in Dallas. She commented that there was so many of her clients that would ask for something really cold, that they were getting a migraine, and did she have anything really cold that she could put on their heads. All she had was the eye gel packs. She put it on there, and they would say, “It’s not cold enough. It doesn’t stay cold enough long enough.” I just remember talking with my husband about it, and I said, “You know, I wonder if cold marble stones would help, because marble is so cold you can make ice cream on it.”

Dr. Lowenstein: I’ve been there, yep.

Kelly Lott: Yes.

Dr. Lowenstein: I’ve been there too much, actually.

Kelly Lott: Yeah, who doesn’t like ice cream. It was an idea that came to me, and it just never left me. There are cold marble stones out there, but I thought I would really like to have very specific shapes for the specific areas that people suffer with the migraines on it. From there, I just decided to get into research. I spent over a year interviewing migrainers, as I call them, and spending time with them, and asking them where their pain comes, why they do they feel like they get the pain where they do and when, what their triggers are. I looked into it for the marble stones, and I had to find a stone maker that would make them in very specific shapes, like for you occiput. That seems to be the number one place where people wanted the cold, like they would grab a frozen bag of peas, or corn, or something, and put it back there, or an ice pack. It still didn’t stay cold enough.

Kelly Lott: My dad actually helped me draw the shapes of the stones that I wanted at the sinuses and also for ocular migraines. People would have migraines coming through the eyeballs, their temples, the back of the head. I found somebody that made me very specific… I wanted it raw marble, not polished, because that way the cold will go into the core of the stone. That’s why it stays colder longer. What I found was the right temperature for the marble stones needs to be at 36 degrees. At 36 degrees, that’s what gets ahold of the blood vessels, calms them down, and then the blood can start to drain naturally from the head. It takes away that terrible pounding pressure.

Dr. Lowenstein: Okay, so you saw this cold therapy, and then you honed it and developed it a little more yourself. Can you describe how you do one of these specialized massages and what’s involved just besides… You have cold stones there, but where do you put them and what’s the sequence of events?

Kelly Lott: Okay. Well, the stones are really the 50% of the treatment. The other, I would say, 25% is a very specific aromatherapy. What I found in my research is the top four reasons why people trigger with migraines come from food allergies, environmental agitation, stress number one, and hormone imbalance. Now, there’s 300, as I understand it, over 300 documented reasons why people get headaches. I knew I could not make 300 blends, so I found a master aromatherapist, and I asked him to make me four blends for the food, environment, stress, and hormones. It had to be effective, but subtle, because so many migrainers are very afraid of smells, because it could be-

Dr. Lowenstein: strong.

Kelly Lott: … a very strong odor with that and trigger you. I worked on that inside this year, also, with my master aromatherapist. Also, what my migrainers would tell me is that it was a muscular aspect of the migraine too, that if they started getting tension in their neck and shoulders, and if they had just enough stress, they knew that migraine was coming. As a massage therapist, that’s a part of what I do is I relieve muscle tension. I thought, that’s muscle tension, then it’s the neurological end for the aromatherapy, and the vascular end with the stones.

Kelly Lott: What I would do is, let’s say a migrainer would come over to my office, and I would have them breath from each blend, one at a time. The one that they lean into, the one that brings them comfort, the one that they like, tells me that that is their trigger. Let’s just say it was food, and they had maybe a bunch of cheese and had some red wine, and they get the migraine. When you gravitate towards, let’s say, the food blend, then your body is telling you, “Okay, I don’t like this. Maybe I’m allergic to dairy, and maybe it was the tannins in the red wine, and I’m starting to get this migraine.” The ones that they lean into, their body and their brain is saying, “Oh yes, I need this to help balance me.” That’s what aromatherapy does is that it balances the brain.

Kelly Lott: Your nose, your sense of smell is the strongest sense we have. It would be immediately, within a few seconds, that this is the right blend for you to have, or your [inaudible 00:09:23] would say, “Ew no, I don’t like that blend.” Your body will say, “No. You don’t need that.” That’s what I would do. I figured that out first, and then I apply the aromatherapy to their pulse points, their temples, the sinuses, the carotid, their wrists, you know, pulse points. They just start breathing it in, and within seconds you can see them calming down. It’s amazing. That’s the first part of it.

Kelly Lott: Then, what I would do is I would stretch them, because what I don’t want to do is do a lot of massage that would bring more blood to the head. That’s the last thing they need. That I would stretch them, because they would say to me, “Kelly, can you please just pull my head off?” I would say, “I would love to, but I can’t do that,” but I would stretch them. I would do these deep stretches so they would feel like I’m really giving them the space in their brain and in their neck. I would do very specific pressure points. Not massage where I’m bringing more blood into it, but I would put this pressure points, what we were talking about where the stones go, that’s where I would press with my fingertips.

Kelly Lott: You do that, then you add the aromatherapy so they’re breathing and calming. At the very end of the treatment, then I start putting the stones on, like their forehead, their eyes, the ocular stones, the sinuses, their temples, so I can stop that heartbeat. They tell me they can feel their heartbeat in their temples, every heartbeat. Then, I slide in the large half moon stones right there at the occiput. You know where the skull meets the neck? You slide that in there, and those are big thick stones. At 36 degrees, immediately, within seconds, it’s calming the blood vessels and the nerves. Within a few short minutes they’re a whole lot happier.

Dr. Lowenstein: So then, you leave them like that for a period of time?

Kelly Lott: Yeah. I would do some specific moves with the stones, like stretch their neck with it. I would use my temple round stones, and I compress right into the top of the skull where the suture line is and press really hard into that, which they love, because they feel like their brain is going to explode out the top. I do that with my stones. I do that into their traps, the trapezius, and into their neck, just one side of the carotid. I do that, and then I put them back into an ice bath. I have an ice bath of 50% ice, 50% cold water, and it keeps the stones a perfect 35 degrees. I put them back in their to refreeze, and then I reapply and put the stones behind their neck. I put a ice cold washcloth that I put in the ice bath, and I put it over their forehead and eyes. Then, I leave them for 10 to 15 minutes, so that they can, I call it, they have a reboot nap, so they let go.

Dr. Lowenstein: Got it. People call you when they have a migraine and say, “Okay, I need a treatment now.”? You’re on call all the time?

Kelly Lott: Well, yes, in a way, but I train many massage therapists all over the country to do it. What you want, they need to call their therapist when the symptoms are coming, before they’re in the migraine.

Dr. Lowenstein: So, that aura phase.

Kelly Lott: Exactly. We call it the prodrome, the aura phase. They all know what that is. They know what all the symptoms are. They get on the phone and then the therapist, we try very hard to get them in that day, because if we wait, forget it. They’re going to have it by tonight. So, before, what I call, in the dark side, before they go to the dark side.

Dr. Lowenstein: What really gets me so interested in what you’re doing, frankly, I have migraines. I love getting massages. If I could figure out how to have somebody pull my head off, I certainly would. But, as I tell people, if that kind of thing happens, there’s a lot of paperwork that has to be done, so we try not to do that.

Kelly Lott: A lot of legal problems.

Dr. Lowenstein: Right, exactly. When I came across your information, it’s really interesting to me that you’re putting stones directly over the same nerves that I deal with in surgery, so in the occipital area, the greater and third occipital nerves. In the area above the eye, you have the supraorbital, supratrochlear nerve. Just to the side of the eye you have zygomaticotemporal nerves. In the temple area, just in front of the top of the ear, you have the auriculotemporal nerves. Just like you say, people are complaining of feeling thumping with their heartbeat in each of these areas. We have blood vessels that cross those nerves as well.

Dr. Lowenstein: What I do, when I’m doing surgery, is I go down and I actually cut those blood vessels, because they’re small blood vessels and they’re not necessary, like the aorta or the carotid. They’re just bloods vessels that happen to be there. The heartbeat being transmitted through those blood vessels pushes on those nerves and that’s what we’re finding that are causing these headaches.

Dr. Lowenstein: I thought it was really interesting that you’ve independently come up with a way to, on a more temporary basis than what we do… Surgery should be a permanent thing, but it’s a much more invasive situation than a massage. I think, as you say, your cold is causing constriction of the blood vessels, because everybody knows that when you go out in Chicago, in the winter, and your toes and your fingers turn white, what’s happening is your getting this constriction of the blood vessels in your extremities, and there’s not enough blood flow there. In this case, your cold stones are causing the blood vessels around these nerves, and actually probably some decreasing the inflammation of the muscles in the area as well. Same, when I do surgery, I make a trough through those muscles so the nerve can lie in a more relaxed state. You are just relaxing the muscles in a similar fashion. I think it’s really interesting that you independently came up with something that we do in surgery, again, in a more permanent but more invasive way. Again, it’s outpatient surgery, so it’s not like it’s heart surgery, but nonetheless it’s a surgical procedure.

Dr. Lowenstein: You come up with is. How do you this for the first time? What’s the jump to say, “Hey, I have an idea. I want to try this on you.”?

Kelly Lott: Well, that’s a good question. I had a lot of migrainers that would come to me, and I would practice on them. I would get their feedback, because they’re the ones who’re going to know, is it cold enough? Does this help? I started getting some very good results. Within minutes, their headache was gone. Then, after we figured out what their triggers are, and they started to avoid the triggers, then the migraines don’t come right back. Then, we would have a maintenance program.

Kelly Lott: I did that for quite a while. When I felt very comfortable with it, that this really was helping, I contacted the AMTA, which is the American Massage Therapy Association, and each state has their own chapter, and I wrote prospectus to all of them to tell them about my… I called it Cold Stone Therapy for Migraine Headaches. I put it out there to see-

Dr. Lowenstein: Doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like Migraine Miracle.

Kelly Lott: No, it didn’t. They said, “What is that?” Of course, the therapy where it was going to work with massage. I put it out there, and the first one to respond to me was AMTA Kentucky. They said, “Yes. We love this idea. Will you come to the conference?”. I got set up. This was the first time I taught this particular treatment to massage therapists, and went out there. That’s when I learned that I needed to ask how many people were coming, how many students were coming, because I was prepared for maybe 30. Well, I got 62 students. I had double the amount. That told me that people are interested in headaches and how to help with that. I also found out that at least 40% of my massage therapists personally had migraines. They were coming even just for them, much less learning.

Dr. Lowenstein: It’s amazing how many people have migraines. You don’t know until you start looking.

Kelly Lott: Oh, I did not know. One in six suffer. It’s like 60 million people go to the doctor of it, and that doesn’t even include people that don’t go to the doctor. They just privately suffer.

Kelly Lott: What happened was everybody had to share with the stones and everything. I was very nervous, but I had an assistant that came. Her name was Krista. She came with me, and she had a migraine. She was working on a terrible migraine, and she was supposed to assist me. I said, “Well, no. I think I’m going to put you on the table, and we’re going to do the treatment on you.” It made me very nervous, because what if it didn’t work, and I have 60 people staring at me? It did. It started to work immediately. You could just see her calming. We got the color back in her face. I worked on her maybe 45 minutes, and people were watching and asking questions. When she sat up, she had the biggest smile on her face. She started-

Dr. Lowenstein: Yeah, that’s the best.

Kelly Lott: Yeah, she started to cry and I asked her why. She said, “You don’t understand. I’ve had a migraine or a headache for 15 years, and it’s gone.” I was near tears. It was so amazing. She got it from a bike accident, a mountain bike accident, and fell on a boulder, and she’d had a migraine for 15 years. Now, as far as I know it, it’s been since 2010, I think, she has not had a migraine since. She keeps her aromatherapy with her. She keeps her stones with her at all time in an ice cooler. She even went on a cruise, took it with her on her cruise.

Dr. Lowenstein: Huh, so when she starts to get that prodrome phase, she applies these things to herself.

Kelly Lott: Exactly.

Dr. Lowenstein: Interesting.

Kelly Lott: Exactly.

Dr. Lowenstein: Interesting. When I have patients who come in after surgery, who have gone from just being basically in bed all the time and afraid to do anything to now touring the state with their kid at their softball, or soccer, or whatever, it’s the best. You get these smiles, and people are crying.

Kelly Lott: They got their life back.

Dr. Lowenstein: Yeah, exactly. It’s my favorite part of my job.

Kelly Lott: Me too.

Dr. Lowenstein: I’m sure it’s a favorite part of yours, right?

Kelly Lott: Me too.

Dr. Lowenstein: Okay, so then you taught 60 people, and then now you’re teaching more. What-

Kelly Lott: Oh yes. I got very popular with the AMTAs. I have taught at over 20 of them. In fact, I was invited to the national when where all the states come in, and I talked to over 100 people. They cut me off. There was people that were standing room. They were in the back and standing room just to be able to observe it. It got very popular. I have been teaching it since… I created it in 06 and I’ve been teaching, I’d say, probably since 07. I teach it everywhere that I’m invited. I go to spa conferences, trade shows, massage conferences, massage schools, anybody and everybody. I just went to New York at the Omega Institute there and taught it there. Like I say, anybody that invites me, I love to talk about it.

Kelly Lott: It’s a natural way to try to avoid them, but I can help you cut it off at the pass. It does not cure them. I would love to say that, but it doesn’t. Once you figure out what your triggers are and you can avoid it with the aromatherapy within seconds. Then keep your stones in your refrigerator, which is a perfect 35 degrees, and you can just lay down on the floor, or on the bed, or on a cushion, and you can put the stones on your body. Anywhere that you hurt, that’s where you put the stones. You don’t have to have a massage therapist do it for you. It’s more fun when you have a massage therapist that would do it. You could just lay on the table. What if it’s Sunday at 3:00 in the morning or something? You grab your stones, and lay down, and lay them on your body, and put it in an ice bath, and you can cut it off.

Dr. Lowenstein: That’s fantastic. If you think of what I do as classic western medicine, and I think massage is kind of western medicine, but also has some… There’s an eastern influence to it as well and some nonconventional stuff. Again, the meeting of these two ways of thinking, I think what you’re doing is fantastic. I understand why it works from a medical standpoint.

Kelly Lott: Thank you.

Dr. Lowenstein: I think it’s infrequent, because I think a lot of the stuff that… I was just talking to somebody about daith piercing for migraines. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Frankly, I don’t exactly know why it works, but if it works, that’s great. Anything that works I think is good, as long as it’s generally healthy. This is really interesting, because I think I understand why this is so beneficial to so many people.

Kelly Lott: Well, it’s completely debilitating. You lose your life. You can’t go out. You can’t go to the kid’s soccer game. If something’s going to be too bright, too loud, going to concert.

Dr. Lowenstein: I’ve had migraines since I was a kid, and I did my general surgery residency with a migraine most of the five years. When your head is pounding, pounding, pounding, and the phone rings, because you have to do a liver transplant, you can’t say, “I’m not going to do that. I’ve got a headache.” It’s just a miserable, miserable, miserable, situations.

Kelly Lott: Well, migrainers are the strongest people I know. The kind of pain that they have and they keep going. You’ve got lives. You’ve got husbands, and childrens, and dogs, and jobs, and you have to keep going, but if they bend over, they feel like their eyeballs are going to shoot out their head with the pressure. That’s the same thing with massage therapists. When they have a migraine, it’s very hard to give when you are in that kind of pain.

Dr. Lowenstein: Oh yeah, and doing something so physical. A lot of time, you’re stressing those muscles that are the stabilizing muscles of your neck, your splenius capitis, and your trapezius, and all that kind of stuff to do a massage, and that squeezing right on the greater occipital nerve, and it’s just making everything that much worse.

Kelly Lott: Another aspect where this has really helped is people with trigeminal pain, because they crave that cold. I think, they’re told a lot to use the heat, which I think is the exact opposite you need to calm those nerves down.

Dr. Lowenstein: Decrease inflammation.

Kelly Lott: Exactly. That terrible pain, the sinus pain, especially at… I’ll speak for Texas. April, May, and June, people suffer terrible with environmental headaches with that, and the trigeminal nerve gets activated. The stones are fabulous. I’ve had them go to sleep with them. They just slide them in there in between-

Dr. Lowenstein: yeah.

Kelly Lott: … the pillow and them. If anybody suffers with that, that can really help.

Dr. Lowenstein: Well, again, I think that’s awesome what you’re doing. Aside from checking out migrainemiracle.com, do you have a Facebook or social media-

Kelly Lott: I do.

Dr. Lowenstein: … spots-

Kelly Lott: I do have-

Dr. Lowenstein: … that people should go to?

Kelly Lott: Yes, please. On Facebook, Migraine Miracle is on there. I have, on my website, under testimonials, page, after page, after page. If you get a chance to look at some of those and, pardon the pun, miraculous things that have happened with them and letting go of the headaches. Because, headaches, when you are a sufferer with that, you hang on to them, because you don’t know life without it. Sometimes, it can freak them out, when the headache is gone, because they don’t even know how to do life without it. I have some wonderful stories of people that have suffered and now don’t.

Dr. Lowenstein: It’s really interesting, actually, I’ve videos of the same kind of thing on my website. The identification of, yeah, my story is like that story, I think that alone is very comforting to people in pain, because you’re not alone. Not everything works for everybody. That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this podcast in order so people can find different modalities that can help them. I would say, this, again, it’s not a cure, but it’s a-

Kelly Lott: Avoidant.

Dr. Lowenstein: I think it’s a really great thing that can help a lot of people.

Kelly Lott: Thank you.

Dr. Lowenstein: Kelly, thank you so much for spending some time talking with us.

Kelly Lott: Thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Lowenstein: Hey, everybody. This is Dr. Lowenstein once again, and I have two last things to ask of you. Firstly, the thing you can do for fellow headache sufferers is to please remember to subscribe and rate our podcast. The more ratings and subscriptions that we get, the more visibility that we’ll get, and the more listeners will be able to find us, and the more help and information we’ll be able to provide the huge population of people who suffer from headache pain. Secondly, please remember that the treatment of headaches of all types is very individualized. The purpose of this podcast is not to give medical advice. Please use the information here on this podcast and elsewhere that you hear on the internet to broaden your knowledge, but consult with your physician before acting on any information that you hear on podcasts, or see on YouTube, or read anywhere on the internet. I, as a physician, don’t necessarily endorse the opinions or practices of my guests.

Dr. Lowenstein: If you have particular questions that you’d like to consult with me directly about, please call our Headache Surgery Center. Our phone number is 805-969-9004. Or, you can email us at info@headachesurgery.com, and my staff will set up a consultation, and we can discuss your specific case over the phone or in person. Our website is filled with information as well, and that is headachesurgery.com. Thanks and best wishes from all of us here at the Headache 360 podcast.

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