This time of year causes a lot of grief for people who have allergies. Of course, we have terrific antihistamines now, and you can buy nationwide. I am not opposed to the antihistamines though, if you take them in moderation. But you should also lower your histamine burden through diet. Did you know you could do that?

Many people do not realize that the foods they’re eating contribute to the histamine they liberate in their body. It can ultimately cause or contribute to an existing autoimmune condition. For a free food guide on histamine, visit suzycohen.com/hashi.

Here are the four best natural antihistamines:

Ginger is not only a histamine blocker, but is also great for your levels of cytokines, and immune function. Ginger is probably best known for its ability to ward off nausea, and soothe stomach aches, however, another important medicinal component of ginger fights inflammation in the bones and joints. Ginger is easy to use and fast acting. Shave off the skin of a piece of raw ginger root. Cut a half-inch piece off and slice it, then simmer in 3 to 4 cups of water for about 15 minutes. Adding lemon will boost antioxidant power.

Vitamin C – This is a natural immune supplement, and deficiencies are known to increase risk of allergies. It can also make collagen which is needed for a healthy immune response, and shortening the duration and/or severity of discomfort. You’ll find vitamin C naturally in citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers and squash. As for the type of Vitamin C, if you’re using more than say, 100mg per day of C, I’d recommend a naturally derived type of supplement with citrus bioflavonoids which would offer the C from a food or fruit (like an orange, cherries or lemons). Synthesized C from corn is shown on labels as “ascorbic acid.”

Quercetin is a naturally-occurring antioxidant found in many fruits, grapes, tea and especially capers! A lot of scientific research suggests that having quercetin in your diet relieves allergy symptoms because this compound stabilizes mast cells. As a perk, quercetin can improve mood due to the gentle lift in your dopamine and downline catecholamine neurotransmitters. Do not take more than your supplement label advises because toxic amounts of quercetin can lead to temporary neuropathy and headaches. DHQ is short for dihydroquercetin and is a biologically available antioxidant very similar to quercetin.

Thyme – This fresh-tasting herb contains a lot of vitamin C as well as thymol, its major active medicinal component. Thymol has properties that block histamine release from mast cells, and can block it at the receptor site. Buy fresh sprigs of thyme at the grocery store, and include a few leaves in your recipes from now on. You can also buy pure essential oil of thyme and have them apply it to your pedicure oil during massage, or you can diffuse it in the air. Some high-quality brands can be taken internally in a capsule. If you are allergic to oregano, you may also be cross-sensitive to thyme.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of ‘The 24-Hour Pharmacist’ and ‘Real Solutions.’ For more information, visit www.suzycohen.com. This information is not intended to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure your condition. Always check with your doctor before following any medical advice.