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

Frequently Asked


Q: Who can benefit from acupuncture?

  • Most people can benefit from acupuncture.  Many use acupuncture to relax and alleviate the stress of life.  Others use it to treat conditions they have lived with for years, or acute conditions that come up.  Many people find that they have at least one friend who has had acupuncture and can share a story about their experience.

Q: Is acupuncture painful?

  • I use very fine, solid, high grade surgical stainless steel acupuncture needles about the thickness of a human hair to stimulate the acupuncture points.  These needles are pre-sterilized and disposable.  All of this leads to a painless experience.

Q: How does acupuncture feel?

  • Many clients feel nothing, and others may feel a small pinch followed by a sensation of tingling.  Other sensations to expect include numbness, ache, traveling warmth, or heaviness.  Most clients find the sensation of acupuncture pleasant and leave feeling relaxed.  Needling technique is adjusted for hyper-sensitive, weak or older patients.

Q: Are Chinese herbs safe?

  • White Tortoise only uses high-grade non-sulfured herbs in our herbal treatment.  Herbs have a balancing or regulating effect on the body and are gentler than pharmaceutical drugs.  Side effects from herbs are possible, but are usually minor.  The most common problems may include gas and bloating due to difficulty digesting the herb.  If this or any other problem occurs, we may change your formula.  We keep up to date on any possible herb/drug interactions.

Q: How Are herbs administered?

  • The Chinese herbal Materia Medica is composed of over 5000 plants, mineral and animal substances.  Depending on your condition, we might recommend raw, tincture or a patent (also know as teapills or tablets) form of herbs.  Although the taste is sometimes bitter, most people find this acceptable given the health benefits.

Q: What can I expect?

  • Many conditions may be alleviated very rapidly by acupuncture and herbal treatments.  However, some conditions that have arisen over a course of many years will be relieved only with slow, steady progress.  As in any form of healing, the patient's attitude, diet, lifestyle and determination will affect the outcome of a course of treatment.

Q: How long does acupuncture take?

  • A typical office visit will last from 45 minutes to an hour.  You should eat something before coming for your treatment.

Q: How many treatments do I need?

  •  This will vary from person to person.  I encourage people to commit to 4 to 7 initial treatments to see how acupuncture works for them. You may need additional treatments or you may need to come twice a week initially.  Generally people with chronic conditions need more treatments.  Others come get a "tune up" on a regular basis.

Q: What is the significance of the white tortoise?

  • The tortoise or turtle is pervasive in many cultures.  In India the world is said to be held on the back of four elephants who are in turn standing on the back of a giant tortoise.  In China the tortoise is a symbol for longevity.  In traditional Chinese medicine turtle soup and even parts of the shell are used to treat various medical conditions.  In our own culture we see the tortoise as a wise animal that beat the rabbit at a footrace by being persistent.  The white tortoise is very rare in nature and is considered very valuable.   To find one brings a lifetime of good luck.   

Q: Will my insurance cover acupuncture?

  • There are insurance companies that do cover, but unfortunately in Tennesse they are the exception and not the rule.  The best thing to do is to call your insurance company using the number on the back of the card.  Insurance group plans are different even under large corporate name: many Blue Cross plans do not cover acupuncture but Blue Cross Federal does.  Flex plans and pre-tax insurance savings dollars can usually be spent on acupuncture.