We all love to embrace the warmth of spring. The blooms, the trees, the sunshine – it’s intoxicating after a winter spent indoors. But for some, April showers and May flowers mean allergy season and all the itchy, watery, and runny symptoms that follow. For such a friendly season, why are allergens so foreign to us? Picture a single grain of pollen under a microscope. It doesn’t look so soft and fluffy up close, instead it resembles a spiky sea urchin. So just imagine dozens upon dozens of these microscopic sea urchins hitting your delicate mucous membranes. That’s enough to take the spring out of your step! Once an allergen, like pollen, hits your system it triggers alarms bells – the release of histamine and other chemicals. This alarm bell sends all hands on deck to get rid of the intruder. Take a mosquito bite, for instance. For most people the reaction is a slight bump and redness, barely noticeable. For others, the reaction is more extreme and results in excessive inflammation and itching. Inflammation is actually a completely normal reaction in your body. It’s your body’s first line of defense, preventing the spread of damaging agents and getting rid of unwanted pathogens, like allergens. Histamine is natural inflammation but when it is out of balance during allergy season your body is quick to tell you. (So the next time you sneeze, say ‘thank you’ because you just got rid of a pathogen.) You don’t have to suffer through allergy season without help! There are lots of options for those looking to avoid conventional remedies and the potential adverse side effects that follow, like drowsiness or nasal irritation. Instead you can opt for natural solutions designed by nature to strengthen your defense system before a reaction occurs. Here are a few of our favorite ways to get through this allergy season in good health: Balance your lifestyle. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet and alcohol can all exacerbate inflammation and your allergies. So consider spring a wake-up call to find balance all year long. Limit your exposure. Warm weather may beckon you to throw open the windows and turn on the fan, but resist. Avoid opening car windows and constantly circulating air with a fan. Local Bee Pollen. It might sound counterintuitive, but consuming local bee pollen helps introduce your body to allergens in a more friendly way, thus making them less foreign. Neti Pot. You don’t have to wait for your body’s alarm bells to flush intruders out. Neti Pots are a simple and effective way to proactively rinse out those intruders so your body can rest easy. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Theses healthy fats support a healthy and balanced inflammatory response and can be found in cold-water fish, walnuts, flaxseed oil, grass-fed meat and eggs. Alkaline Foods. Acidity occurs quite regularly in the body and can increase your reaction to allergies. Consuming a more alkaline-diet can help bring balance. Concentrate on foods with chlorophyll, essential fatty acids (both fish and plant-based), healthy water and minerals. Lemon water, Kale, dandelion greens, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, avocado, Himalayan sea salt and coconut water are a few favorites. Stinging Nettle. This plant springs up in the warm months and often gets a bad rap. But the “sting” of the Nettle helps maintain healthy and efficient histamine levels. You can prepare your own Nettle tea but you might find it easier to consume in supplement form. Quercetin. This natural bioflavanoid supports mast cells (immune cells located in your mucous membranes) and prevents them from releasing histamine. Foods like citrus fruits, onions, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes and lettuce contain Quercetin. However, during allergy season you should use a supplement, an easier way to gain the 1,000 milligrams needed per day.