115:{Healthy in the Valley Series} Living with Chronic Head Pain? Acupuncture & Functional Neurology Could Be Your Answer



Do you suffer from a past concussion, migraines or chronic headaches? 

Meet Dr. Ayla Wolf - a leader in her industry and powerhouse brick and mortar business owner who’s passionate about serving those who do not need to suffer anymore with chronic pain.! 🙌🏻

Dr. Ayla is part of the 2nd edition of Healthy in the Valley. 

Healthy in the Valley is a FREE digital resource for the entire St. Croix Valley.  

In each publication, you’ll find the areas best &  leading business owners who are passionate about health and wellness. Helping and serving  you live your best life in mind, body and soul. 

So if you’re local to the St. Croix Valley in Hudson WI - I invite you to grab your FREE copy by going to www.healthyinthevalley.com

Like the episode?  Please tell us! 

DM me on IG or Dr. Ayla Wolf 

Better yet, please leave an honest rating and review on your favorite podcast app.  They mean the world to me and I’ll be able to shout YOU out on the podcast. 

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A Bit About Our Guest. 

Dr. Ayla Wolf is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine specializing in neurological disorders, chronic pain, and concussion recovery.  She is a faculty member of the Carrick Institute and adjunct faculty for the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine and American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is an international speaker on topics in applied clinical neuroscience, functional neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, and biomedical mechanisms of acupuncture.

During her time in Dallas, Texas she was the team acupuncturist for the UFC and Legacy fighters training out of Fortis MMA and Octagon. She currently treats patients in her private practice in Stillwater, MN.​

Dr. Wolf is also contributing author to the book Concussion Discussions: A Functional Approach to Recovery After Brain Injury. This book is available on Amazon.

Dr. Ayla Wolf DAOM provides NCCAOM-approved online and in-person courses in functional neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neurological examination techniques. She has courses specific to concussions, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, and Parkinson's currently available through her teaching website. To learn more about her courses and sign up for the latest information on podcasts, classes and events, please visit her website www.acupunctureneurology.com. You can also purchase several of her online courses exclusively through the Carrick Institute.

A bit about Melissa Rose: 
In 2009, with three kids under five, Melissa Rose started her business out of her 800 square foot basement teaching the art of dance to students of all ages while the kiddos napped or played in the pack and play.  With her passion, resilience, and nose down she created a business that has become "The Highlight of Your Week" for her tribe, her team and her community.  

Along with running a successful brick and mortar business, Melissa is also a visibility coach for brick and mortar businesses, Melissa guides other boss ladies to a flourishing brick and mortar business that provides for their own tribe - creating a legacy for themselves, their family and their community.  She has a podcast, “Brick and Mortar Visibility” that she dedicates to sharing tips, tools and strategies she’s learned in her brick and mortar business to help others in theirs.

Melissa is a super mama of five kiddos, enjoys long hikes or playing in her garden.  At the end of the day you can find her snuggling with a self development book with an ice cold beer.


Melissa: If you're running a Brick and Mortar Business, raising some kiddos and juggling all of life's offerings, let's be real and call you what you are. You my friend are a Rebel Woman, you've put your blood sweat and tears in creating a storefront that lights you up, serves your clients well and contributes significantly to the community you love. You are my hero. And I'm pretty sure we could sit down and talk shop for hours cause I get it! I have a Brick and Mortar Business myself for over 12 years, a handful of kids and a few passion projects that I love like this one. Hey there everybody. My name is Melissa Rose and I am your Visibility Coach for Brick and Mortar Businesses who want more clients coming in their doors. I have a passion for helping and serving those who are also living life on the edge going for their dreams and creating a legacy through their kick-ass business. In this podcast, we're going to share the nitty-gritty of running a successful Brick and Mortar Business. We're going to share stories we're going to talk strategy, and we're gonna learn practical tips that leave you inspired, empowered and equipped to create the life of your dreams. Are you ready? Let's get real.

Melissa: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Brick and Mortar Visibility. Happy April! Happy second-quarter kick-off. Here we go. Are you ready? I know I am. Even though, you guys, I woke up this morning and I stepped outside for my walk at 06:00 a.m. And there is snow on the ground. My word. I said a few choice words and then I'm like, all right, here we go. Here we go. I hope April really, truly does bring us April showers. So May flowers can grow because this Mamma is sick of the snow and cold. But today we have some things to celebrate. First of all, for those of you that have been listening for a while, I just want to say a huge thank you. March was our biggest month ever in the podcast. I've been doing this for two years, y'all. And March was our highest downloaded month. So thank you so much. I also want to say a special thank you to all of you who are on my email list. Last week, I shared some nitty-gritty, behind the scenes stuff about what's going on with Ms Melissa and just sharing a little bit about the stress of being a Mamma of five kiddos and having an ex-husband and running a Brick and Mortar Business, and what that's like a little bit. Because it's not all roses, right? And you all know this. You all know that we share the highlight reel. So my newsletter or my email that goes out, I try to be a bit more authentic. And you guys, that's genuinely hard for me, okay? It's really hard for me to let my guard down and share, but I did and appreciate the love and support. If you want a little bit more nitty-gritty, I try to bring that into the Facebook group. So if you're not part of the Facebook group, come join us over there, Rebel Women Tribe. And that genuinely is where I share what's working now at the moment, okay? So not a few months later or not a few weeks later, it is genuinely in the moment of what's going down in my Brick and Mortar Business or personal life or just life, okay? It's all intertwined, right? So I just want to say thank you.

Melissa: This episode is our first episode in the series, 'Healthy in the Valley'. So if you look at the title, I do have 'Healthy in the Valley' in brackets. And the reason for this is that this is a new endeavour in my business, okay? It's going to affect both of my businesses. And I came up with this idea back in December. And I am going to share with you all in next week's episode how it came about why I wanted to do it, and a little bit more of the nitty-gritty of what I am doing. So what is 'Healthy in the Valley'? 'Healthy in the Valley' is a free digital resource for the entire St. Croix Valley. In each publication, you'll find the area's best and leading business owners who are passionate about health and wellness, helping and serving you to live your best life in mind, body and soul.

Melissa: So with that said, we are interviewing our first guest today. And our first guest is Dr Ayla Wolf. She is an acupuncturist from Stillwater, Minnesota. She owns Healing Response Acupuncture and Functional Neurology. If you are a person that has had a concussion and has long term effects from that and are wanting help, you've tried all the things and you feel that there should be something out there to help you or you want something to help you, or maybe you have migraines or chronic headaches. She is your person. We talk about what she does and how she does it differently, what sets her apart. We talk about her perfect client and what their pain points are. I mentioned some of them right here, but she goes into more detail. She also shares how she educates others and shares her knowledge and passion with others in this field of acupuncture and health and wellness. Before we dive into the interview with Dr Ayla Wolfe, if you want to grab your free copy of 'Healthy in the Valley', go to https://www.healthyinthevalley.com/. Or of course, it will be in the Show Notes here. But in this PDF, you're going to receive special offers that are just for you, time-sensitive offers. So that's why you need to grab it now. Our second edition launched on April 1 and it's just for this next quarter. So please grab it, at healthyinthevalley.com or click the link in the Show Notes. Now, without further ado, I am super excited for you to hear and learn about the lovely Dr Ayla Wolf and how she serves the entire St. Croix Valley with her business, Healing Response Acupuncture and Functional Neurology. Enjoy.

Melissa: Dr Ayla Wolf, thank you for being part of the Brick and Mortar Visibility podcast. How are you?

Ayla: I'm great. Thanks for having me.

Melissa: Wonderful. So tell everybody, actually, before you tell everybody who you are, what you do and who you serve, I want to ask you, are you local here? Are you from this area?

Ayla: I grew up in Minnesota, and I moved out to Oregon right after I graduated from my master's program. And so I first started my acupuncture clinic in Oregon. I was there for about eight years, and then I decided to go back to school, and get my doctorate degree, which moved me to Texas.

Melissa: Wow!

Ayla: And then after completing that, I actually ended up moving back to Oregon for a couple more years. And then in the middle of the pandemic, decided to move back closer to family and open up a clinic in the middle of a global pandemic.

Melissa: Okay. All right. So before we talk more about your business, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to be in the health field?

Ayla: Yeah, it was. When I was a young kid, I have these really distinct memories of going out into the woods, and I would make magical healing potions. So I would take flower petals and bark and leaves, and I would mix all of these elements from nature together, and I would make my magical potions. So even at the age of six and seven, I was fascinated with the idea of alchemy and the fact that you could take these separate ingredients from nature, combine them together, and suddenly you'd have something that had healing properties. So this has been my path ever since I was a young kid.

Melissa: Isn't that funny? Same thing with me. I grew up on a farm and I was dancing in the barn. So tell our audience who you are, what you do, and who do you serve.

Ayla: So my doctorate degree is in Acupuncture and Oriental medicine in addition to my Chinese medicine background. So when people come to see me, they get quite a mixed bag of tools because from day one, I've just been learning all kinds of different healing modalities. So I combine Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine with aspects of nutrition, with aspects of supplements. I'm helping people with a wide range of issues. But on top of my Chinese medicine training, I also have postdoctoral training in applied clinical neuroscience. So my speciality, my niche is in neurological disorders. And so when people come to see me, especially for things like concussions and post-concussion syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, dizziness, vertigo, things like that, I often tell them to think of me almost as a personal trainer for the brain because I'm going to not only do a lot of hands-on modalities and therapies. But I also give people a lot of exercises that they can do both in the clinic and then also at home to help with rehabbing certain neurological pathways in their nervous system to help regain their health.

Melissa: Wow! So tell me a little bit about your journey. What drew you to this?

Ayla: Yeah. I first started out when I was in practice. I was specializing in fertility. And so I spent many years studying hormones, studying the endocrine system, working with women, and helping them get pregnant. It was often fun to be around town and suddenly see these little babies that I knew I helped bring into the world, which is kind of funny because I actually never wanted kids of my own. So it was maybe a way that I could specialize in that area and still be very kind of objective with what I'm doing. But then I guess I should say I have a love of high impact sports. And so between mountain biking and snowboarding and wakeboarding and boxing, I sustained a number of concussions myself. So I had to really understand how to heal my own brain. And I really got interested in a number of different avenues. I wanted to know, what does Chinese medicine have to offer for people who have brain injuries? You know, what Chinese herbs might actually be helpful? And then also, how does acupuncture actually play a role in neurological rehabilitation and in helping the brain to work better? And so that's what led me to go back to school to get my doctorate degree. And in the process of studying the brain, I realized I really need more neurology training, more neuroscience training. And so I enrolled in these pretty hefty, clinically focused neuroscience programs where I got the training I needed to have a lot of the background in neurology, neurophysiology, neuroscience and neurological rehab. I'm one of the few people in the country who's really combining these two worlds together of Chinese medicine and neuro rehab, basically.

Melissa: Yeah. Where did Chinese medicine come in? Interesting. It's an interesting collaboration, So explain a little bit more about that.

Ayla: Yeah. The beauty of Chinese herbal medicine is that it is very individualized, but the specific herbal combinations are endless. So when it comes to brain injuries, for example, I would say one of the most common symptoms people have are post-traumatic headaches, people that now have headaches every single day, or people that maybe had migraines before now all of a sudden are having much more severe migraines. They're having them more frequently. And there are different Chinese herbs that can actually really help with nerve pain and with blood flow and circulation and different aspects of physiology that can trigger headaches. And in our bodies, we have our lymphatic system, and in our brains, we have the glymphatic system, which is the way that our brain gets rid of metabolic waste. And when people have trauma to the head from a concussion or a brain injury, that waste removal system gets impacted. And so all of the metabolic waste that we are supposed to be flushing out every time we fall into a deep sleep, people have trouble with that. They're not able to do that, and that can cause a lot of head pressure and head pain and other neurological symptoms. So there are specific Chinese herbs that actually help to support the waste removal system of the brain and also to help with inflammation in the brain, too. So we can get really specific with certain Chinese herbal therapies to help, say, somebody that might have really bad headaches versus somebody else that has a significant amount of pressure in their head, and it can even change. So let's say somebody bends forward to tie their shoe, that head pressure can get really intense. So a lot of people with concussions have a hard time, say, doing yoga inversion poses because of the head pressure. And a lot of times we can resolve that through Chinese herbs that actually improve the glymphatic system of the brain.

Melissa: Okay. Very interesting. This is all over my head. Very interesting. Wow. Okay. So you mentioned you help people with brain injuries and head trauma, Who refers you or who are these people coming into you? Do you have close relationships with medical doctors?

Ayla: I do. I would say that the majority of my patients, they hear about me through referrals from other healthcare practitioners, whether those are neurologists or other physicians or chiropractors or other acupuncturists. On top of my clinic, I have a whole other business that is focused on continuing education for Chinese medicine practitioners and for Acupuncturists. And so in my teaching, a lot of these Acupuncturists, especially ones that are local, end up referring some of these more complex cases to me.

Melissa: So you do acupuncture as well? Correct. I just want to make sure I'm understanding.

Ayla: Correct.

Melissa: Okay. All right. Very interesting. Wow. So you started your business, and you opened in the middle of a pandemic.

Ayla: Yeah. So this is actually, in a sense, the fourth time I've opened a clinic. And so when I first graduated with my master's degree, I was 25 years old. I moved to Oregon and I started my first clinic. And then when I moved to Texas to go back to school, I also essentially opened a whole new clinic in Texas. And I started from scratch. And then when I moved back to Oregon and I was no longer specializing in 'fertility', I was specializing in neurological issues. I had to reopen a whole new clinic with a whole new focus. And then when I moved into this area, I did it a fourth time. Yeah. After four times, I feel like I do not want to move ever again.

Melissa: Stay put. Okay. Well, good for you. Wow. I was looking you do some things online, you have courses, and you said the education you have, that aspect of your business that's online as well. Correct? And then people see you in person?

Ayla: Right. So I have my clinic, my Brick and Mortar Clinic where I see patients. I do some telemedicine. And during the pandemic, I actually did a lot more telemedicine, so virtual support, which is hard because I actually do a lot of, obviously, hands-on therapies and also hands-on neurological exams. So it works much better to see people in person. But everybody did what they needed to, to try to help people and keep their businesses operational during the pandemic. So I made the best of telemedicine and developed some fun ways of making that work. But then, yes, I have an educational business that's more specific to healthcare providers. And if there are more hours in the day, more days in a week, I would love to be able to spend more time actually creating short educational clips for the public to have a better understanding of what I do. I often find that I'm educating my patients on a lot of the same things. So obviously, it would be great to have a library of videos that aren't just available to not only my patients but everybody have access.

Melissa: Absolutely, You'll do that! You know that needs to happen. So it'll happen because that's super important. I want to ask you I love this question when I ask people, what is a moment in your business journey that you knew that you could do anything?

Ayla: Yeah. When I started teaching! I remember being a student, again being a student, 23 years old, sitting in an auditorium and listening to other people teaching. And there was one woman in particular who did an eight-hour presentation that really was synthesizing a lot of classic Chinese medicine concepts with modern lab findings and testing and really combining east and west. And I was very impressed with her. I actually got to present at the exact same symposium that had happened. But now we're fast-forwarding ten years into the future. I had this moment of wow, I remember being a student in this auditorium and being wowed by this person standing up on stage, and here I am in their shoes. And that was a really rewarding experience because, again, I got a lot of great feedback from people. Everybody said that was amazing. It blew my mind. And I practised, I think a lot of people don't realize that you don't just wake up one day and suddenly you are a professional public speaker. That doesn't happen overnight. And there are times when I would go out into the woods and I would go for long hikes and I would talk through my presentations, and I practice and practice and practice. And it's always nice to see when your hard work pays off and when you realize that you've accomplished these big goals that seemed so beyond you at first.

Melissa: I love that story. I love that story. And it's true. It takes practice. Are you married? Do you have kids?

Ayla: I have a boyfriend. He has a daughter. And so I mentioned I never wanted kids of my own. I still don't, I think because my businesses have always been my babies. But I'm a chicken mom. I have chickens and I'm a beekeeper. So 40,000 little flying babies.

Melissa: Wow. Very fun, Very fun. As a business owner, I would love to know what is your visibility strategy or marketing strategy that you are doing right now, Ayla, that is working for you in your business?

Ayla: I do think that a lot of the teaching that I do gives me visibility with other health care providers. And so, again, that is a big source of referrals for me are other acupuncturists and chiropractors and people that know me as a speaker and as an educator. So that work gives me a lot of visibility to those people who then end up referring patients to me. And then I also do CrossFit. And so when I'm at the CrossFit gym, I talk to a lot of people. They tell me about their injuries. And so I do end up doing a lot of sports medicine, too, and sports acupuncture because I've been athletic my whole life. I love working with athletes. They're healthy, they're active, and they're motivated to get better. So I've always enjoyed working with athletes from that perspective, too. So in addition to working, obviously with a lot of people get concussions through their sports and sports injuries. That's another way that I stay visible in the local community is through working out consistently and being part of that larger CrossFit community and community of athletes.

Melissa: Crossfit is a cult, too, like they are hardcore.

Ayla: I think it did have that kind of, it did seem a little cultish. I guess it can. As I get older, I'm a bit more reserved. I work out mostly for my mental health, obviously, physical health is important to me, too, but my goals are to just keep my brain and my body challenged with new movements and challenging movements. I'm not crazy about it.

Melissa: All right, Dr Ayla, this was very interesting to me. So you work with people with brain injuries and head trauma and concussions. And is there anything else that you would like to share on the podcast about what you do and who you serve?

Ayla: I think that one of the challenges of specializing in neurology is that most people, when they think of concussions or brain injuries or dizziness or maybe even migraines or chronic headaches, I think a lot of people don't immediately think of Chinese medicine, and they don't immediately think of acupuncture as kind of a strategy to even consider. And part of that is what I call the language barrier because a lot of Chinese medicine practitioners like to talk about Chinese medicine from a very esoteric, philosophical perspective, whereas I speak about it from a very anatomical perspective. I like to explain when I'm inserting a needle, I am having an effect on what kind of hormones are being released, what kinds of neuromodulatory chemicals are being released in the body, having an impact on certain nerves and how those nerves then impact how the brain is perceiving sensory information. So I really explain everything that I'm doing from very biomedical terms because that's the world that we all live in, and those are the terms that we understand. So I think that one of the reasons why I would like to create more videos is to, again try to bring a better understanding of acupuncture and how it works to the general public because there's a lot of I think, in the beginning, back when it was becoming more popular in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, there was a lot of mystery around it. And people actually use that mystery. They tried to make it seem magical. And magic is just simply 'stuff' that we can't understand. But once you understand it, it doesn't seem so magical anymore. And so I am trying to demystify it and trying to make it less magical and much more medical. And I think that by doing that, people will understand how it's working and why it's valuable.

Melissa: Yeah, and be more open to trying it. I would think people are coming to you kind of as like, I tried everything else. I don't know what else to do. Are they coming to you then?

Ayla: Absolutely. Yeah. I feel like the end of the road for people. They already spent thousands of dollars. They've seen ten other doctors. They've tried everything else. They're still in pain. And that's where it becomes really important for me to do a very thorough neurological exam to say, well, what got missed? What got missed by these 10 other people? Why is this person still in pain? And what can I do differently that nobody's done yet, to try to help them?

Melissa: Yeah, I can imagine. Well, this has been very interesting to me. So thank you so much for your time, Doctor Ayla. How can people best get a hold of you? What is the best way to find you?

Ayla: I have a lot of information on my website, so that is www.healingresponseneuro.com. On that website, I've got blog posts. I do have some videos where I explain certain concepts. I'm going to make more videos. And then obviously, email is a great way to get a hold of me. I'm always happy to spend 15 minutes on the phone with somebody, answering their questions and helping to get a sense of what they're dealing with to see if it's something that I think I can help them with. So I'm always available by phone and email, and those are probably the best ways.

Melissa: Wonderful. I will make sure to put all that in the show notes, everybody. So if you are struggling with concussions or brain injuries or migraines, consider Dr Ayla Wolf and learn more about what she does. I appreciate your time so much, and you sharing on the Brick and Mortar Visibility podcast. Thank you for your time and everybody else, we will see you here, same time, same place next time. Peace. Bye-bye.

Melissa: Oh, my gosh, you're still here. You are such a rebel woman. I have to meet you. Come on over to the Rebel Women Tribe on Facebook created for Brick and Mortar Business owners just like you. In this group, we empower, encourage, and support each other. And every week I come in and share with you a tip, tool or strategy that I'm learning in my Brick and Mortar Business to help you and yours. And you guys, this is the real stuff, the nitty-gritty in real-time of what's going on. So come on over to the Rebel Women Tribe on Facebook. I can't wait to meet you.


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