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Local acupuncturists gain enthusiastic patients

Acupuncture is the use of needles to manipulate energy, activating your body’s ability to heal itself. The Chinese have been using this noninvasive treatment for more than 5000 years. 

Michelle Pedersen Wright, the licensed acupuncturist who owns Naples Valley Acupuncture in Naples, says that Eastern medicine is a totally different paradigm for looking at the body than Western. Here, usually there is pain involved when a person goes to a doctor. A pill is dispensed. A treatment prescribed. 

In China, acupuncture is considered a medicine unto itself and is the primary treatment of almost two-thirds of the world. In China you go to an acupuncturist for three days in a row for a cold, and you are finished. For a chronic problem you go almost daily for ten visits. 

Acupuncture has more to offer than most people realize. It helps in controlling autoimmune diseases and the chronic pain that affects millions of people. Post- surgery recovery time is diminished, as is dependency upon pain medicines. The side effects from chemotherapy—nausea and diminished energy—are treatable with acupuncture. Rochester General Hospital at the Lipson Cancer Center has an acupuncturist, Shannon B. Chanler, on staff for that purpose. 

Wright views the body as an intelligent and energetic system with a life force called Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi provides the power for you to accomplish everyday tasks and regulate your overall self. When movement of energy is blocked or restricted—picture a plugged up garden hose—your health is influenced. This blockage can manifest into various signs and symptoms. All bodily healing comes from a decision your mind must make: I need help. In that respect, your mind and body are connected.

An acupuncturist develops keen diagnostic skills to effectively evaluate the quality and quantity of Qi flowing within the body. Pulse diagnosis, looking, asking, and physical examination are the four key techniques.

When I injured a tendon in my hand I decided to give acupuncture a try in lieu of cortisone shots. On my first visit, Wright did a health history interview obtaining information about my digestion, sleep, exercise habits, and overall lifestyle. She put all the information into a pattern, which she used when choosing needle points. Putting needles in takes about five minutes, and even for me, somebody rather needle phobic, it wasn’t a problem at all. 

I rested for about a half hour in a private room—a spa approach—with soft music in the background. Immediately, I sensed an overall euphoric warm feeling throughout my body, my breathing slowed, and my mind became quiet. That feeling lasted throughout the session and out into the rest of my day, although Wright told me that the needles actually did their work right away. In three months of almost weekly visits, my hand was feeling like new, and I decided to continue monthly appointments for overall wellness, handling stress, and aiding in good digestion. 

A community clinic like Rochester Community Acupuncture is a business model for doing acupuncture that is closer to the way it is done in China. In China there are up to fifty people treated in a group setting with less discussion and a faster pace. This works for people who want more acupuncture faster and at a reasonable price.

Acupuncture is a second career for Wright. After teaching elementary school for ten years, she went to the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to receive her master’s degree, which is required in order to practice in New York State. 

“Eastern medicine knows the whole body, but in a different way. Part of my training was in Western medicine in anatomy and physiology. I worked on a cadaver for three trimesters. It is very similar to a medical school.” 

Eastern medicine is all about moving energy, and martial arts are similar in intention. Wright pursues karate, hiking, canoeing and horseback riding. She is interested in herbs, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi as they relate to an active lifestyle.  

Wright’s practice is in a more rural area, so unlike urban practitioners who can specialize, she works with patients suffering from a variety of problems: fertility issues, insomnia, nausea in pregnancy, menstrual problems, and smoking and narcotics cessation. But she cautions with a smile, “There is no magic needle for weight loss. Acupuncture is an adjunctive method for helping your organs to function more efficiently and have the energy to exercise. You have to do the work.”

“People shouldn’t expect to come in for one treatment and have all their ailments cured. It takes time. It is a subtle treatment usually, but occasionally someone walks out with incredible relief.” 


Kay Thomas an area freelancer writer. Her latest collection of essays is I’ll Be Honest with You, now available at

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