Gentle breezes and blooming flowers mark the start of spring, but also signal the massive release of pollen and other airborne allergens.
Those suffering from allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, can experience a multitude of symptoms including sneezing, watery eyes and even sinus infections.
It's prompting many patients to turn to Korean traditional medicine to find relief through all natural treatments.
"When the seasons change, our whole family starts sneezing and rubbing our eyes a lot. We've been having a lot runny noses too, but our condition has really improved after receiving oriental medical treatment."
Researchers at the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine have been working with their counterparts in China on using acupuncture to treat spring allergies.
And recent clinical trials have yielded solid scientific evidence in favor of this ancient remedy.
"Around the nose there are spots that promote blood circulation. Also meridians in the hands and feet are connected to the nose. Therefore, using magnetic needles can help improve symptoms."
The collaborative research involved a total 238 participants, with 97 allergy sufferers receiving acupuncture treatment three times a week for four weeks.
A significant number of the test subjects who received acupuncture exhibited fewer nasal symptoms than those in the control groups, however those in the so-called "sham" acupuncture group also showed improvement.
Nonetheless, it's a major step to legitimizing oriental medicine, as the results of the study were published in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"Through the verification of scientific evidence, we'll be able to gain more authority. And with this, I believe Koreans will trust acupuncture treatment and use it with confidence."
Major Korean and Chinese institutions for traditional medicine plan to continue this landmark partnership in acupuncture research, to provide effective management of allergy symptoms and improve public health.
Paul Yi, Arirang News.