David S. Tharp, L.Ac.
Licensed Acupuncture
Licensed Herbal Therapist
Chattanooga, TN
Sewanee, TN

About acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine, sterile, non-cutting needles into the body at specific points along pathways or “meridians”.  It is believed that these are energetic pathways that, when flowing properly, allow the body to be healthy.  If you study Chinese medicine you understand this to be the reason acupuncture works.  For those more scientific or Western-minded folks there are about five current theories as to why it works.  No particular one of these theories holds the complete answer so most Western thinkers simply answer “We don’t know exactly how it works, we just know it does!”


The question I get asked  most frequently is whether acupuncture is painful.  It is difficult to answer this question; because  people’s pain perception varies. Some needles may cause a sensation while others you may feel very little.  This sensation is usually a “heaviness” or mildly electrical sensation.  Some sensations may radiate in specific areas while another needle may cause a feeling in another part of the body.  It can be strong but usually fades quickly.  A good acupuncturist will adjust the needling to your level of comfort taking age and health conditions into consideration with each treatment.

The second question I hear is “Will acupuncture help my (fill in your condition here)?” There is no one answer to this question.  While acupuncture has helped millions of people, there have been a small percentage of people who claim to have experienced nothing.  For difficult cases there may be an underlying condition that needs to be discovered and treated. It is important to remember that acupuncture is part of the discipline of traditional Chinese medicine; a good provider knows many techniques such as moxabustion, cupping, and herbal medicine as well as acupuncture. Whole health is always emphasized.

Your acupuncture experience is likely to be as unique as you are.  One visit may be wonderful and energetic while you may sleep through another.  This is expected.  Your mind is getting out of the way  and letting your body do what it needs to get well.

For Current research, you may like to read: