Many people take for granted the fact that we are facilitators and healers in our own way. This is what Blair Upper Cervical chiropractor, Dr. Alex Wolfe, believes as he underscores the importance of healing from within. He shares his own journey towards becoming a chiropractor at Blair up to one of his biggest learning curves, covering for Dr. Burcon’s office at the Meniere’s Institute in Michigan. He also talks about the people and mentors that have helped alongside him to become where he is now. Then, he gives a glimpse into trigeminal neuralgia.
Dr. Alex Wolfe is a Blair Upper Cervical chiropractor out of Metamora, Michigan. In chiropractic school, Dr. Wolfe used to get severe debilitating migraines that could last for days at a time. Upper cervical chiropractic was able to resolve these severe migraines and gave him his life back and now he is helping others do the same. Dr. Wolfe has a thriving family practice an hour north of Detroit, Michigan and he shares with us his story. Please welcome, Dr. Alex Wolfe.
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Healing From Within with Dr. Alex Wolfe
We have Dr. Alex Wolfe. Dr. Alex is a Blair Upper Cervical chiropractor about an hour and twenty minutes north of Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Alex, how are you doing?
I’m doing well, Kevin. How are you?
I’m excited to have you on the show and get a little story about you and all the great work you’re doing up there in Michigan.
I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Alex, where are you from originally?
I was born and raised about seven miles from where I’m sitting at this very moment in a little town called Lapeer, Michigan. I grew up there. I have my first chiropractic adjustment there and then left there about as soon as I turned eighteen and came back when I was fully grown.
What were you into growing up?
I was a three-sports athlete in high school and big in the hunting.
Was that a thing for you growing up, going to be a chiropractor or did that come a little later in life?
My experience with chiropractic was a lot different back then than what I usually like to see now. If it hurts, you go to the chiropractors. If it stops hurting, then you’re done. With lots of sports injuries, I found myself there for one or two visits and then I trundled along until I hurt myself again.
What made you want to become a chiropractor?
My mom was not very healthy when I was growing up and she had a number of different ailments going on. They kept chasing it around, trying to figure out what it was. Eventually, they labeled it as Lupus. Being in middle school age and your mom’s not functional was an experience. She was having a lot of musculoskeletal pain. She went to the chiropractor for pain and got adjusted and started noticing that it was a lot more helpful for things besides her pain. She started feeling like she was clear and she was getting herself up and about more energy, all that. Once I saw that it was a little bit more than the hurts here, push here type of approach. It got me excited.
Was that upper cervical or was that full spine?
That was a full spine guy who still practices about four miles from where I’m at now.
They do get good results. Chiropractic, in general, is a great profession no matter what you’re doing.
My wife is a full spine chiropractor in the office here with me.
That’s probably very beneficial.
It’s great because every once in a while, I don’t claim to be a wizard at everything, but I definitely know how to adjust an atlas but she can step in on my patients and consult. A lot of her patients, she’s good at isolating who would benefit from that higher level of care.
What made you pick upper cervical chiropractic? Not many people know about it, but you went to Palmer with the original school of Chiropractic.
I went to Palmer in Davenport, Iowa. In your fourth term there, you take a course called Toggle-Recoil. As far as upper cervical goes, that’s the route that a lot of people start in. It’s a technique that’s been around for a long time and it’s helped probably millions of people through specific upper cervical adjusting. In your fourth of ten trimesters, while you’re out there, you get to start playing around with that a little bit. There was a guy out there by the name of Dr. John. He was my instructor and that guy was very influential in getting me started in my upper cervical journey. At the end of the class, you learn how to take the X-rays, you train on the adjustment, you drill on the adjustment constantly and trying to refine that and get it more specific and more specific.
At the end of the class, if you’ve done well, then you can adjust your partner as long as you’ve gone through and you verify that that misalignment is there, you can go through and fix that subluxation for your partner. That’s a lot of times the first opportunity you have to adjust somebody’s in chiropractic college at Palmer. Here I am, in the fourth tri, a year or so into the chiropractic training and I haven’t gotten to do an adjustment yet. We’ve been learning all the stuff of anatomy and physiology. I got my adjustment in that class by someone who is giving their very first upper cervical adjustment ever. I instantly felt the difference. I would definitely not call it the most specific or the best adjustment I’ve ever gotten.
You were a patient there.
I was a patient and I had been adjusted in a student clinic. Having upper trimester students working on me, I didn’t notice a benefit. I was having a lot of neck pain. I started getting bad migraines when I was in Palmer. I was getting what’s called hemiplegic migraines where the whole left side of my face would go numb. I was having a lot of visual trouble. I had a cousin that had a fairly severe stroke in his twenties and I was still dealing with the effects of that. That has always been at the back of my mind. When I started having those, I was concerned.
How long would those last for?
Usually about a day and a half. If I could go to sleep, that was the big thing, but it’s hard to sleep when your mind’s running a mile a minute, worried that something serious was going on. If I could go to sleep, I can usually get through it. I just shut everything else off, but a lot of times it would keep me awake, not letting me go to sleep. When I got adjusted, I felt something different and I felt like I was thinking a lot clearer. I was having some pretty cool stuff going on and almost like that movie where the guy takes the pill that makes him smarter. I felt like somebody just gave me the adjustment that made me smarter. I got curious. I knew there was something more going on up top there. I got into the clinic and Dr. Todd Hubbard was my doctor out at Palmer College clinic. He was overseeing my care. That’s how I got into Blair because I knew there was something going on up top. I had to figure this out why I was feeling so good after that initial correction. I was getting to the point where I had like one of those migraines every couple of weeks.
As opposed to almost every day?
That was my bad. That was the worst that it got, but it’s been two and a half years since I had my last one now. I get checked and adjusted when needed regularly and I can feel it. My demeanor changes. My wife, being a chiropractor, we have jokes in our house that’s a little different than most people probably. I’m being a little grumpy or a little gruff. My wife just said, “Do you need an adjustment?” A lot of my patients describe the same thing. They just feel like they’re in a funk when they’re out of alignment.
I’m the same way. I feel like the walls are coming in on me when I’m out of alignment. I honestly know it, when I wake up, it’s tough to get out of bed just for no reason. The anxiety kicks up. The depression for no reason kicks up. Then as I go throughout the day I’m like, “I’m probably out.” Then, sure enough, get it put back in and everything starts to dissipate. The world starts coming back to me.
I’m a chatty guy usually. One of my big indicators is somebody will give me all these opportunities to have an interesting conversation. I’ll just give a yes or no answer. I’m like, “I don’t want to communicate with you right now because I’m feeling like crap.”
That’s a pretty amazing story. I didn’t know that. What was it like after you graduated? It can be difficult to pick up the upper cervical work as a fresh new student graduating. What did you do right after graduation and what was the process like for you?
When I was in school, we had Blair as an elective at Palmer so we could take it in a very structured class setting. That was a huge benefit. Once I took it, I then helped instruct it a couple of times, just walking around and I sat in on the class a few times after that and help the instructor. That helped solidify it for me. I spent my second to the last term in chiropractic college on a naval base. I was working in a naval hospital with a chiropractor on based there out in California. While I was out there, we weren’t allowed to do the specialized imaging that went along with upper cervical. I wasn’t able to practice true upper cervical on the base even though a lot of those pilots and the ground crew would have benefited from it. I was out there in California, which is like the Mecca of Blair Upper Cervical. I was out in Tom Forest office. He started talking about making guests review X-rays on the shed in the parking lot and I was getting nervous. I spent some time there. Dennis Campbell, I went down to Drew Hall, all of these great doctors out there and got to see some great stuff. That helped me see how the office procedures worked and what it would look like in practice.
I had a great opportunity to precept in Birmingham, Michigan just down the road from me a little way with Dr. Dan Judge. I spent some time and eventually I covered his office a little bit for him when he went on vacation and got a lot more hands-on time there. After I graduated, it was eight months later that we had our office up and running. I figured if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it for myself. I’ve got a lot of good advice. I had a bunch of great mentors in the upper cervical realm that I’d already mentioned. Dr. Ramneek Bhogal, who’s out at Life West right now. He’s got the Technique Chair out there. He was super helpful because he’d ran a practice and was an instructor and had a family and everything. It was to be able to get advice on how to balance life and practice.
I don’t think you can do the upper cervical work in the very beginning if you don’t have two or three doctors that are very experienced on call. A lot of the patients we see, they’ve been everywhere else and they’re looking for that miracle because they’ve heard upper cervical has done that for them. I remember one of my first patient, the entire left side of her body was numb. I was like, “What do we do here?” You see a lot of serious issues. It’s very important to have such great mentors along your side when you’re doing the upper cervical work. It sounds like you had, which was great.
I continue that. When I was in school, I was part of this great leadership program at Palmer. We always talk about steel sharpening steel. You surround yourself with people that force you to be better and you talk with them and you get an idea of what makes them successful and what you can integrate into your life. We were at the Blair Conference in Nashville. You don’t get much better of a room of people to talk to and learn from them when you’re at that event. I was like a kid. I don’t want to go to Disney World, I want to go to another Blair Conference.
It’s amazing how many great doctors are in that room that are willing and happy to help. A lot of people say, “How do you get a mentor? How do you do this?” It’s like, “Did you ask the person?” It might even be that simple. I don’t know a lot of people that love what they do so much that aren’t willing to help. Most people are definitely willing to help.
I just got another request from people wanting to come and intern at our office. It’s that last little capstone program. They have these requirements with so many years out of school and everything. I’m so excited to eventually be able to bring students into the office. I don’t know everything, I’ve learned a lot in a short time but be able to pass that along, give them a good tied up in the world.
I’m sure one of your biggest learning curves was covering for Dr. Burcon’s office at the Meniere’s Institute in Michigan. Meniere’s can be very debilitating, inner ear disorder, vertigo, ear ringing, nausea, headaches, drop attacks. It’s pretty severe stuff. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of experience with that up there.
That was a huge culture shock for me because it’s about a two-hour drive. I would leave my office on Thursday nights after seeing patients until about 7:00 and I would drive a couple hours and set up shop and sleep in his basement and work all day Friday and Saturday. I see probably 15% to 20% of my patients are Meniere’s patients and you go out to his office and it’s probably like 80%, 85% are Meniere’s patient. You walk into the waiting room. It’s a full waiting room. You can tell who’s having a good day and who’s having a bad day by taking a scan around there because like you mentioned, it’s very debilitating. Every patient almost is a Meniere’s upper cervical case. People are talking about where they started and where they are at. Every day your cup was refilled with all these people talking about, “Thank God I found this because I didn’t know what I was going to do.” People talking about very permanent solutions to these problems taking their own lives and things. It weighs on you but it also gives you a super high sense of duty. I have to be better at this so that I can help these people because who knows what’s going to happen if we can’t help everyone that’s got these things.
It’s sad and amazing at the same time because most of those people in that office or anybody with a debilitating issue like Meniere’s or whatever it may be, sometimes the standard Western medical route tells these people, “This might be your new norm. You might have to live with this for the rest of your life.” That might not be the case. We’ve seen upper cervical chiropractic literally give people their lives back that have been told that there is no hope.
I don’t know if you knew this about Dr. Burcon or not, but he had a very close or he still has a close personal relationship with James Tomasi, the guy who wrote that book, What TIME, Tuesday? about trigeminal neuralgia.
That’s one of the most phenomenal stories ever.
They go out to eat and stuff when they’re in town and like very close friends. Not only he’s got this huge Meniere’s population but that other 15%, 20% of his offices, he had trigeminal neuralgia patients, he had a woman with glossopharyngeal neuralgia, which is like the same thing, like burning mouth syndrome basically. There wasn’t a straightforward, like what I would consider like a routine case.
Was he the one that adjusted that What TIME, Tuesday guy?
He cared for him later on. He wasn’t the initial chiropractor that took care of him. I’m not sure the whole backstory there, but every one of his patients gets a copy of that book. It’s a great story. I’ve been thinking about getting the books in my office too because it’s an easy read and people to understand after that the power of what we’re working with.
The spark notes of that, that gentleman had trigeminal neuralgia?
He had trigeminal neuralgia. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone that’s going to read it. A spoiler alert here a little bit. He had a trigeminal neuralgia and had suffered and had sought out a bunch of different options and had little to no relief with anything. He decided to end his life. His wife and his son were going to be out of the house. He had the gun, he had the ammo, he had the date and time picked out. It was the day before, his wife heard something or found out something about the upper cervical chiropractor and asked him to go and at least try it. He said, “What have I got to lose?” The next day he’s going to end his life. He went and went through the whole thing, got adjusted and for the first time and I don’t know if years, had this glimmer of hope. Then he started going, he’s like, “I can always push it back a week or another time.” That’s where the title of the book comes from, What TIME, Tuesday? because he had picked a time on a Tuesday that he was going to end his life and an upper cervical chiropractic not only give him a glimmer of hope but eventually resolved the issue to the point where he considered himself to be cured of trigeminal neuralgia.
Dr. Alex, what kind of patients do you see in your office that you’ve been getting a lot of some issues that you’ve been able to help with?
With the groundwork that Dr. Burcon has laid out, we see a good chunk of our offices, the Meniere’s patients. I’ve seen my fair share of the trigeminal neuralgia and another common one is the occipital neuralgia, which is basically a severe pain in a different nerve pathway. We’ve had good results with that. I feel like as much as Meniere’s I feel like the success rate is incredibly high, higher than a lot of other medical procedures that are out there, medications like probably in the 90 percentile of people that were able to help. Trigeminal neuralgia seems even higher, at least in my office. I don’t know if maybe I’ve got a little bit of a different feel or a little different take or what but it seems like those are the ones that respond well. My wife is a pediatric pregnancy chiropractor. I see probably more upper cervical younger patients out of that. We see a lot of feeding issues, a lot of chronic ear infections, those things.
They definitely clear up, right?
Yes, you’re adjusting a little baby and we modify our techniques a little bit to make sure that it’s safe and comfortable. The adjustments are amazing and they’ll fill a diaper right there after they’d been adjusted for two or three weeks. It’s amazing to watch how quickly their bodies respond.
I love adjusting kids. Some it is a healing process, but sometimes you get the result right away and the parents are thrilled and then they get under care. It’s amazing to see.
Probably my favorite thing is when people come in and I get a lot of headaches and neck pain. That’s our bread and butter. That’s what people hear upper cervical and that’s what they think of us like, “You can help people with this pain in this very specific area of the body.” My favorite thing is for people who come in regardless of what they come in for, most of the time their overall outlook on life increases as an effect of the adjustment. People that are struggling with anxiety or post-traumatic stress or depression, they’ll come in and they weren’t there for that. After the adjustment, not only they feel better physically, but they feel like their emotional state and everything is resolving and coming back to a nice neutral center point where it belongs.
Dr. Alex, where are you located and where is your practice and where can people find you online?
We are located in Metamora, Michigan. It’s about an hour to an hour twenty minutes north of Detroit depending on traffic. We’re just outside that Metro Detroit area in Lapeer County. We are available on our website at WolfeFamilyChiro.com. We’re on Facebook, Wolfe Family Chiropractic. We have Twitter and our phone number here is 810-212-1200. We like phone calls, it gives us the opportunity to talk to people.
If there’s one piece of information that you would like to share with the audience that’s resonated with you over the years, it could be anything, what would it be?
Don’t give up. There are so many people that come into my office and they sit down and you look at them and you can tell they’ve already given up. There’s always an answer out there. I don’t think the upper cervical is the answer for every single thing, every day of the week, but it’s highly underrated as far as where it should be positioned in the healthcare realm. It’s hard for patients when they get that first adjustment and that doesn’t all happen at once. I tell my patients once they have the adjustment, it’s like breaking the dam loose. It can be that quick and then other people, it’s like you’re lighting a candle and burn. It’s frustrating when it takes time, but we’re big on education in the office and there’s nothing worse than watching an upper cervical patient. You start seeing that little glimmer of hope and they just had it. They’re like, “No, I’ve come two or three times. I’m not seeing that miraculous thing that all my friends told me about, I’m done.” You know you can help them, but they’re impatient or they’re ready to give up that it’s become a challenge for them.
True healing takes place over time. One of my best Meniere’s patients didn’t feel anything, any different for about two months. Around the three-month mark, everything started to shift and go away and it’s because she stuck with it. Most of the time, we see some people that have been out of alignment for 20, 30, 40 years. Sometimes it doesn’t happen overnight and you’ve got to hang in there and let the body do its thing and heal and it could take a little time.
I wrote a whole paper in college about our loss of faith in the body. People constantly are forgetting that ultimately all healing comes from within. As much as you and I are both, we’re facilitators and healers in our own way. We’re helping the body do what it’s supposed to be doing. I’m very humble about that. I tell people, “My ego’s the last thing on the door when I’m taking care of somebody because I don’t need it to help somebody.” All I need is a good solid assessment of what’s going on with your body and the confidence and the skill to correct it. Once we get that adjustment completed and get out of the way and allow the body to start taking over and doing what it’s supposed to do, a lot of people lose faith in the body. They forget that the body’s got all this wonderful healing potential and that nothing ever gets fixed in the body without that innate driving force controlling it. Don’t give up because if you’re kicking, breathing, even if you’re in pain you still have that innate potential inside of you to get better. It just takes the right adjustment at the right time or the right intervention at the right time to make that happen for you.
Dr. Alex, thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it. I’ll be in contact soon.
Thanks, Dr. Kevin. It was a pleasure and hopefully, I’ll come back sometime and check us out when you’re in Michigan and I hope to visit you. You’ve got quite an awesome office out on the East Coast from what I understand. I have to come to check that out and if not, we’ll see each other at future Blair Conferences. Have you noticed how many women Blair chiropractors there are now? Not that’s it surprising but it’s awesome to see. In chiropractic college, they said it was one to ten chiropractors, men to women or something.
There are a lot of women and it’s growing in general. The last Blair Conference was truly amazing of how many people are setting down and doing this work and are all about it. It’s grown since the last four or five years I’ve been a part of it. I’m sure you’ve seen the same thing. It’s nice to have people flying all over to your office, but we’ve got to definitely do a better job of getting more Blair doctors in those areas.
The Blair society’s goal is a Blair chiropractor in every community in the world and we’re getting there.
We’ve got a long way to go but we’re getting there.
It’s nice because you can refer in confidence too.
That’s what I love about the Blair technique. You can get a Blair adjustment in New Jersey and then I can send you to Dr. Alex and he can do his neurological testing and deliver the exact same adjustment if needed. That’s what the profession needs is some reliability because if someone says they’re going to a chiropractor in America, I have no idea what they’re getting. It literally means nothing.
It’s hard to know if they are even getting adjustment out of that whole process. I don’t know what it’s like out in your community. I’m fortunate to have a lot of good full spine chiropractors in my area. There are not any real shady things going on. I have people come and they’ve moved to the area or something, they’re not sure what chiropractic is all about, even though they saw a chiropractor for years or decades. They took a lot of vitamins or something but ultimately never got what they needed.
If anybody’s looking for a Blair chiropractor, you can go on BlairChiropractic.com. Click on Locate A Doctor and everybody on the website knows the protocol and is a good doc. They can give you the proper Blair care. I will talk to you soon.
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