Spring is here, and for many that means seasonal allergies are too.

There are many ways to handle itchy eyes, runny nose or uncontrollable sneezing of allergies, both natural or with medication.

If you are looking for a natural way to help combat allergies (and aren't scared of needles), some studies show that acupuncture may be worth a try.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a 2015 evaluation of 13 studies showed that acupuncture could help with symptoms of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.

The studies involved almost 2,400 people. The review found that the groups that received acupuncture reported reduced nasal symptoms compared to the groups that didn't.

That same year, the American Academy of Otolaryngology issued practice guidelines that recommends clinicians to offer or refer acupuncture to patients suffering with allergies that would like an alternative to medicine.

How does acupuncture help with seasonal allergies?

Allergies come from a reaction in the immune system. From a Western medicine point of view, the use of acupuncture along with a traditional Chinese medicine herbal formula can help regulate the body's immune system, according to Dr. Sean Yu, owner of Jing River Acupuncture.

Acupuncture has been a practice of traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, and offers its own explanation on how acupuncture can help with allergies.

"The basic theory is that there are 14 channels that flow out of the body. Each channel, we also call them meridians, is connected to an internal organ," Yu said. "There are more than 500 points on the meridian. The points look like a well. The qi energy flows through it, so when we puncture the points, it can regulate the qi energy's flow through the meridian. It can balance the whole body."

Qi is the vital energy that flows through a person's body, Yu added.

So what does this mean for your seasonal allergies?

There are two channels that are focused on when a patient receives acupuncture for allergy symptoms. One channel is the lung, the other is the stomach.

"In Chinese medicine, the lung qi opens the orifice in the nose," Yu explained.

To target the lung channel, needles are placed in the arm and chest. For the stomach channel, needles are focused around the nose, down to the stomach and sometimes the leg.

Yu has been studying and practicing acupuncture for over 20 years. In 1991, he graduated from medical school in China, and has been practicing both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine since.

Yu moved to the United States in 2004 to teach acupuncture and other subjects at the American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Roseville. After six years with AAAOM, Yu left to open his first clinic in Hastings.

Yu runs clinics in Hastings and Woodbury, as well as Edina. The clinic in Hastings is located at 117 Third St. W. The clinic in Woodbury is located at 6949 Valley Creek Road, Suite 260.

For more information on Yu's practice, visit www.jingriveracupunctures.com, or call 952-686-8589 for the Hastings clinic and 651-674-3790 for the Woodbury clinic.