Spring is here! The sun is bright, the flowers are blooming, and I finally feel like I can venture outside again as the winter chill subsides. Then it happens…my eyes start to water, my nose starts to itch, and all of sudden, I sneeze. Spring is definitely here and with all the beautiful blooms and lush greenery, it ushers in allergy season. Allergies are like the awkward photobomber in the background of a perfect “besties, night-on-the-town” selfie. They are just so disappointing. My days should be full of long hikes in the woods, picnics at the park, and I should not be afraid to take a long, deep breath of fresh air each time I walk outside. There are many ways to control your spring allergy symptoms. It usually entails going to the drugstore and perusing aisles and aisles of medications in search of the one pill or syrup that will soothe your symptoms without breaking the bank or transforming you into a character straight out of The Walking Dead. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to get relief from spring allergy symptoms, many of which have the added benefits of boosting your energy and your immune system. Saline solution is an affordable and easily attainable natural option to combat nasal allergy symptoms. Most saline sprays are isotonic, which means the solution is the same saline concentration as in your body. It can help clear the nasal passages of mucus without harming the cilia (the little hairs in your nose that humidify air entering your lungs), trap bacteria to prevent them from entering cells, and aid your sense of smell. Using a saline spray or flushing your nasal passages with a neti pot on a regular basis can reduce inflammation and the risk of infection. Steam is another great natural solution to spring allergy symptoms. A hot shower is probably the quickest way to clear your sinuses. You can also add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to a bowl of hot water, cover the back of your neck and head with a towel, and breathe in the vapors. The steam helps moisturize dry nasal passages while the essential oils alleviate sinus congestion and respiratory symptoms. Diet can play a big role in controlling and/or eliminating allergy symptoms, as well. There are many foods with properties that can help your body rid itself of histamines. The body reacts to an allergy stimulus by releasing histamines, which can cause inflammation of the nasal tissue, runny nose and eyes, and an itchy nose or mouth. Vitamin C is a natural and gentle antihistamine. It is found in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and most fruit. Flavinoids, especially Quercetin, are a group of plant pigments that give many fruits, vegetables, and flowers their colors. They work to block the production of histamines and eliminate them in the body. Great sources of flavinoids are citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, legumes, berries, and wine. Bromelain is found in pineapples and is another great anti-inflammatory. Spicy foods, especially those with cayenne pepper or chili powder, help to reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, grass-fed meat, flax seed oil, hemp seeds, and canola oil have many anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce allergic reactions, too. Tea, specifically green tea, rooibos, and those containing yerba mate are good choices for allergy sufferers. A recent study in Japan showed in lab tests that EGCG, a in green tea, helped prevent allergic reactions. Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea that contains two flavinoids, rutin and quercetin, that block histamine production. Yerba mate is a South American herbal bush or tree that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids, which suppress autoimmune reactions in the body, decrease inflammation, and open respiratory passages. Make sure to avoid chamomile tea if you suffer from hay fever, as its properties can increase the severity of your symptoms. Now you have a good list of natural ways to fight spring allergies! Don’t be afraid to enjoy the blooming trees and flowers and breathe in all the beautifully-scented air you would like. Happy Spring!