When Natural Remedies Fail (And Why That’s Okay)

If you're reading this, I'm certain you are the kind of person who works very hard to keep your family healthy and make the changes you need to make to reach that goal.

You take the time to learn about healthy eating, new ways of using natural remedies, and getting toxins out of your home and your body. You put in a lot of effort, like all of my readers do, and it's amazing.

But I want you to be honest with yourself for a moment.

When a natural remedy fails, and you have to turn to modern medicine and not-so-natural methods of curing your family's ailments, do you feel defeated?

There is no right or wrong answer here. But, I'm going to be honest and tell you that I do feel defeated when it happens. I tend to get down on myself and feel like I haven't learned enough, haven't tried enough, or that I've failed.

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But I have to stop myself right there, because all of that is negative self talk, and none of it is true! It's not true for me, and it's not true for you. And here's why…

Wellness is Complicated

Health and wellness is an extremely complicated thing these days. We live in an age like never before, where nuclear power (radiation), pollution, chemical pesticides and herbicides, and fluoride in our water (a known neurotoxin) are considered normal. Furthermore, our food system is overrun by genetically modified foods, artificial dyes, preservatives, flavorings, and other frankenfoods.

While I know that the generations before us had their own health issues to deal with, it is not hard to see that we face health challenges unlike any other in the history of the human race.

Natural remedies cannot always undo the effects our way of life had on our health before we or our predecessors knew about a healthier way. You know the saying, “When we know better, we do better”. All anyone can do is make do with the information that they have at the time. It does no good to beat ourselves up over our past mistakes.

Modern Medicine Has It's Place

I often hear people say things like, “this is the medicine of our ancestors”. True, natural remedies and “alternative” medicine are the original forms of medicine. However, our ancestors were not always the perfect picture of health.

I'm not going to delve into history in this post, but suffice it to say, we have modern medicine for a reason. In the beginning at least, modern medicine came about because it was seeking to make up for areas where natural remedies failed.

Natural remedies cannot replace the need for surgery in life threatening situations, and we cannot deny that pharmaceuticals result in a better quality of life for some people, and even keep some people alive for much longer than is possible with natural means alone. Needless to say, modern medicine has become exponentially more affordable. There are even affordable health insurance plans and tax breaks now (I’d look for good tax calculator first) that can cut the costs even further.

I honestly believe that both modern medicine and natural healing can work together simultaneously. The key is to find the balance that is right for YOU.

Finding Balance Between Natural and Modern Medicine

In society, you will always contend with broad, sweeping judgment from others about how you handle your individual health. In the end, you must do what is right for you.

Wellness is not as simple as what you eat or how you treat a cold. I wish it was. However, wellness is the makeup of many parts, and you must be able to strike a balance between them that makes you feel whole and happy.

In general, your health and happiness consists of 7 parts. In order to feel your best, you need to pay attention to each one.

The Seven Dimensions of Wellness:

  • Social – how you relate and connect with other people
  • Emotional – how you understand and cope with life challenges
  • Spiritual – how you establish peace and harmony through your beliefs
  • Environmental – the impact of your surroundings, including your home, community, and planet
  • Occupational – personal fulfillment from your job or occupation
  • Intellectual – the ability to open your mind to new ideas and experiences
  • Physical – maintaining a healthy physical body

If you neglect any one of the parts that make up your total wellness, you may find yourself to be quite unhappy.

While balance is certainly something you should seek, the key is not so much to find a perfect balance, but rather to find a certain level of fulfillment in each part. For instance, you may not always have the body that you want, but you can find happiness and fulfillment in the current state of your body.

Finding that acceptance of yourself, and feeling good about the choices that you make (whether that includes what society deems the “correct” choices or not), can bring you far closer to a state of total wellness.

What does all of this have to do with natural remedies? It means that if you are focusing all of your time and energy worrying about how to treat illnesses naturally or eating healthy, you could be neglecting other equally important parts of your wellness.


The bottom line is this: only you can decide whether or not natural remedies or modern medicine are warranted in your unique situation. You have to consider your wellness as a whole.

When using natural remedies, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this making me feel better?
  • Is it bettering my life?
  • How is this affecting my overall health and wellness?

Tell me in the comments, have you ever had a natural remedy fail you?



Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

16 thoughts on “When Natural Remedies Fail (And Why That’s Okay)

  1. This is such a great post. I’m going to share this on FB page. I beat myself up all the time when things don’t work…but I know that if another mom came to me saying how defeated she felt about XYZ not working, I would build her up. So easy to forget how much weighs into wellness.

  2. This is a very wise post! I love the idea of all the aspects of wellness. Wellness is more complicated—or shall we say “sophisticated”–than we are often led to believe. It’s not just physical. There are social, spiritual, emotional, etc. aspects that must be taken into consideration.

    Great post!

  3. It always helps me to remember that everything is a learning experience. Whether you’re using conventional or traditional medicine, and whether one or both of them fails, you can always learn and grow through it.

  4. It would be wonderful if natural remedies worked in every situation, but this is not the case. Each situation is different, and we have to evaluate each problem as it arises to determine the best course of action.

  5. Great article by the way. A very realistic view on the balance between modern medicine and natural remedies. When I was first diagnosed with depression I started taking St. John’s Wort, and yes it did improve my overall mood but I was nowhere near healthy. This was somewhat disappointing, but I am grateful that I could go to the GP because it took a very high dosage of the second SSRI I tried before I started improving. I definitely agree that modern medicine has it’s place!

  6. I think we owe it to ourselves and our families to educate ourselves about natural remedies, and sound nutrition, and to look to those things as part of our daily lives. If we’re not doing the work from the ground up, then how is modern medicine going to help us?

    There is room for both, and each can complement the other. I had to see my doctor recently for problems I am having with fatigue. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue, and I didn’t want prescription medication to become a way of life, so I spent time with a nutritionist to help me get the best possible diet in place to help with my symptoms. I also took up tai chi, and became a bit more active throughout the day in general. I made a deal with the doctor that if I couldn’t do it by diet alone, I would take the meds.

    I made some changes such as increasing my green vegetable intake, reducing grains, eating plenty of good protein, and reducing things like caffeine, alcohol and sugar. I’m feeling much better, although I keep it in mind that my symptoms could get worse, and I wouldn’t avoid medication if that were the case.

    The trick is, as you say, finding the right balance: I am happy that I’ve taken the steps I needed to address my symptoms, and if there comes a time when I have to take meds, I can say that I did all I could for myself first and foremost. This is the balance that really matters. I think it would be a shame if anyone were to cut themselves off from either avenue.

    Great article that really got me thinking.

  7. There was a case in my region of a child who died because the parents do not believe in modern medicines. The parents of the child were arrested because the condition of the child could have been treated easily. Natural remedies have their place as you have stated. If they fail to work then there is no other option but embrace modern medicines for better quality of life.

    1. Great point Muthoni. While I respect the right of parents to make medical decisions based on religious or personal beliefs, I still think it is quite tragic when a child suffers needlessly. How sad for that family and community.

  8. Very realistic view. I have a friend who rejects all modern medicine (as much as she can, anyway) and relies on natural herbs, oils and remedies. I think it’s a good idea, especially when it comes to the overuse of medications and chemicals but I definitely think people take it too far. I tried to use a natural remedy when I took in a stray that had fleas and it did not work even a bit.

    1. Great example. I agree in trying a natural remedy for something like fleas, but if it’s not working, what is the point in continuing to suffer with them? We had fleas once, and eventually did get rid of them naturally, but it took some time and effort. We used borax sprinkled on the carpets every night and vacuumed every morning. We also washed everything in hot, soapy water multiple times.

  9. This was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you… I have been trying to improve my nutrition/lifestyle and find natural remedies for anxiety, depression, and insomnia in hopes of getting off a medication. I have been feeling more anxious as I read the natural websites and books because I keep thinking, “I’m doing this, this, and this wrong! I’m hurting my family!!!How am I ever going to do all that this lifestyle requires?” I talked to my pastor about my concerns, and he also stressed a need to find balance. We live in reality–not a perfect world of ideals. I loved the 7 dimensions of wellness.

  10. I tried several natural remedies for yeast infections that just didn’t work. While some might be great for prevention or in a mild case, I discovered that there is nothing like modern medicine for quick and effective treatment. It can be difficult to determine when to try a natural remedy and when to go modern. I’m a huge proponent of acupuncture vs. pain medication or surgery (such as treating my carpal tunnel) but there are definitely cases where a natural approach just doesn’t make the grade.

    1. Yeast infections are tricky. I have treated a few naturally before but when the discomfort is very high I’ve also used the over the counter treatments. However, I do avoid going to the doctor for antibiotics as much as possible and I don’t think any of my 4 kids have ever been on antibiotics (the oldest is 8). I am now allergic to amoxicillan and so we use garlic oil and other natural remedies a lot to avoid ever needing them. I am not against them, but I also know how dangerous their overuse can be (as evidenced by my allergy to them). Anyway, thanks for chiming in!

  11. I really appreciated your point to make it clear that sometimes modern medicine is necessary. I, personally, have to take a lot of modern medicine for things like brain injury, depression, anxiety, etc. I personally prefer natural remedies and try to live as healthy and natural as possible. This post was a real encouragement to me that I can find the balance between the two, and that if I need that modern medicine, than I should feel sure in doing what I need to for my health.

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