This is part of a series on West Chester entrepreneurs. Know someone that’s taking an innovative approach to the mantra, “Follow your dream?” I’d love to share their story. Thank you to Benchmark Federal Credit Union for making this expanded content possible.
In 2000, Erika Prinz Ben-Zur graduated from college. In her hand, she held a Business degree from the University of Richmond. Within a few years, she had a decent job and a 5th-floor walk-up in New York City. Then the former ballerina injured her knee. Despite visits to numerous doctors, the pain persisted, and no one could tell her why.
“It was life stopping,” said Erika. Hesitant to undergo surgery without an exact diagnosis and desperate to make it stop, Erika was willing to try anything – even the hypnotist her mom found – but nothing worked. Finally, she decided to try acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical practice that works by balancing the flow of energy – or chi – through the body.
With weekly treatments, the pain began to subside. Not only did the sessions lessen her suffering, but the whole experience was different from other doctor’s visits. There was a focus not just on the pain, but on the emotions around the injury.
“It had this compassion woven in,” said Erika. She knew then she was going to change her life.
In 2009, she quit her job and enrolled in a full-time, three-year master’s program in acupuncture. “I haven’t looked back since,” she said. In 2012, she established her private practice, Prinz Acupunture. In 2019, she opened a wellness center, a collective of alternative medicine solutions. She was successful and well-regarded, consistently ranked a top NYC acupuncturist by Expertise.com. Then 2020 hit.
While she worked non-stop to keep her practice and the health center open and safe, it became clear her priorities were changing. Erika, who grew up in West Chester, still wanted to help people, but she also wanted to be closer to her parents and she was ready to start her own family. She and her husband decided to move. She closed the center and set out to begin again, but replicating success in New York won’t be as easy as opening a new practice.
According to employment data, there are currently 3700 acupuncturists working in the state of New York, and the profession is expected to grow a robust 15 percent over the next 10 years. By comparison, in Pennsylvania, there are 1140 licensed acupuncturists, or less than one-third of New York, and the profession’s growth rate sits at a dismal 3 percent. Awareness and understanding of the practice just aren’t the same.
“Part of my self-proclaimed job is education,” she said of her move to West Chester.
Moving Beyond the Pain
Acupuncture works by inserting very thin needles at strategic points throughout the body. It is commonly used to treat pain, but it is increasingly being used to help with a variety of ailments.
“Things that don’t take you to the doctor, but things you don’t have to live with either,” said Erika. The World Health Organization has endorsed acupuncture as a treatment for digestive disorders, seasonal allergies, depression, anxiety, stress, and addiction.
It is these other applications Erika, who has done extensive work with postpartum moms, would like to see more focus on. “I’m all for Western medicine and I am all for other ways to look at things.”
Erika has now opened her second location of Prinze Acupuncture in the Gay Street Plaza. She is operating within the “In Harmony Wellspring” Wellness Studios and is currently accepting new clients.
Does it hurt? “Pain can be intense but it should be relaxing after,” said Erika.
Are needles reused? “That’s a hard no.”
Will you need treatment forever? “Acupuncture is cumulative over four to six regular sessions. I don’t want anyone to come here forever,” she said.
When should you consider acupuncture? When something is off. “Any symptom is something out of balance with the system,” said Erika, who uses a detailed intake form to help her get a complete picture of a patient’s health. If something has been persistently bothering you, it’s worth a consultation.
The only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, Benchmark Federal Credit Union provides commercial lending products for local businesses. Clients can count on personalized service, local decision-making, and quick loan turnaround time. Benchmark FCU not only understands your business, but can provide a wide range of financial solutions, including commercial real estate-secured loans. We’re ready to be your trusted business banking partner. To learn more about our business banking solutions, visit http://www.benchmarkfcu.org.