Allergic rhinitis is the fancy medical term for allergies. If you’ve ever experienced allergies, you probably refer to the condition with a few other not-so-nice words.

Whatever name you use, the condition affects an uncanny amount of Americans. Nearly 40 percent of the US population experiences allergic reactions! The worst part? There are no proven cures for allergies and the runny noses and itchy, watery eyes that accompany them.

If you’ve tried all of the over-the-counter remedies, prescription medications, and old wives’ tales you can uncover, you may find some relief in these three unique ways to treat allergies.

Acupuncture

This approach from traditional Chinese medicine involves inserting tiny needles at specific points on the body. Stimulating these points is believed to affect specific body systems and improve the flow of energy throughout the body.

Although many medical professionals question the use of acupuncture, a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that this technique may have some merit when it comes to treating allergic rhinitis. The study took two months to look at 422 people who suffered from pollen allergies. One group of participants received acupuncture and took their allergy medicines as needed. Another group was treated to fake acupuncture treatments and also used medication as needed. The third group only took medication.

Over 70 percent of the participants who received real acupuncture reported an improvement in their allergic symptoms. However, 56 percent of the group who received fake acupuncture also reported improvement. The researchers recognize this mixed-bag of results and have called for more rigorous research to compare acupuncture to other treatments.

Natural Medications

Quercetin is one specific antioxidant has been especially interesting to researchers studying allergies. Medical professionals suspect that the substance fights inflammation and acts as a natural antihistamine.

A 2007 study of quercetin-treated mice showed a decrease in inflammatory chemicals. Researchers have also completed test tube studies that show quercetin as a histamine-blocking powerhouse. However, the substance has not yet been thoroughly tested in humans.

If you’re eager to give quercetin a try, it might be worth a shot. The antioxidant is considered very safe and is actually found in several common foods such as citrus fruits, onions, apples, tea, and red wine.

Allergy Shots

The concept of using allergy shots to build up the body’s defenses against allergens has been around for nearly 100 years. Even so, the treatment is not for everyone.

The shots work best for people who are allergic to insect stings, dust, mold, or pollen. The therapy starts with once-per-week shots filled with small amounts of the specific allergen. The amount of the allergen in the shot is slowly increased and the time between shots is extended. Some patients may continue to receive once-per-month shots for several years.

Recent research from the Benaroya Research Institute proved the effectiveness of allergy shots and showed that repeated exposure to the allergen actually kills the allergic immune cells.

There is also hope for allergy sufferers who fear needles. Using the same guiding principles, many doctors see hope in controlled, sublingual (under the tongue) exposure to allergens. It’s not been approved by the FDA yet, but a scientific review from March 2013 showed a “moderate grade level of evidence” that supports the technique for treating allergies.

What is your tried and true method for fighting allergies?