Allergies can produce a great deal of suffering. In America alone, around 28 million people suffer from hay fever, and that does not include all the people who are allergic to foods, dust, pet dander, and insect bites and stings.

Allergies are the result of an immune response gone overboard. Dust, pollen, dust mites, and other allergens are not pathogens, which cause disease, but for the allergic they can produce an extreme immune response with very uncomfortable symptoms. Allergy symptoms are no fun whether they are simply annoying or strong enough to be debilitating.

Thankfully, natural remedies can be a big help in allergy management. Here are some natural approaches that may help reduce allergy symptoms. (Note: the natural remedies discussed below are not intended to be used to treat or prevent anaphylaxis, an allergic response that is a medical emergency and can be deadly without emergency help.)

1. Ginkgo

You may have heard of using Ginkgo for improving memory. Ginkgo contains substances that inhibit a chemical produced by the body during an allergic response: platelet-activating factor, or PAF. When your body produces PAF in response to an allergen, the PAF sets off reactions that lead to allergic symptoms and inflammation. Inhibiting the PAF breaks the chain of allergic reaction.

Ginkgo is generally sold in standardized extract form. Herbalists recommend 60 to 240 milligrams daily, but no more than that. Ginkgo is low in side effects but high in effectiveness.

2. Garlic

Garlic contains a substance called quercetin, which can be taken as a supplement. Other foods contain quercetin, too, but garlic has high concentrations of it, as well as other health benefits. Quercetin is reputed to slow down inflammatory reactions, such as those found in allergic reactions. Onions, too, contain a fair amount of quercetin.

3. Enzymatic Therapy

Enzymes – or a lack of them – are implicated in the development of allergies. At their very basic level, allergens are proteins, and certain enzymes are able to break down proteins before they can incite an allergic reaction. Enzymes can be taken in supplement form but they may have digestive effects. However, many allergy sufferers find that the side effects are greatly reduced when the enzymes are taken with food.

4. Quercetin

Quercetin supplements are often suggested as a treatment for allergies. As was noted above, particular foods contain quercetin, too. This is another argument for a healthy diet, because the foods that contain the most quercetin are those foods that are some of the healthiest in other ways: onions, apples, garlic, citrus fruits, and red wine in moderation, to name a few.