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Feeling Frustrated? Here are the Reasons Why Your Natural Remedy Might not Work

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Have you ever tried a natural healing remedy only to wonder if it’s as effective as it’s supposed to be? Have you ever given up on a nutritional, supplemental, or alternative medicine protocol because it didn’t give you an obvious result? Do you wonder if natural remedies have the power to help your fibromyalgia symptoms?

I’d venture a guess that you’d answer “yes” to at least some of these questions.

When I recommend a natural remedy or protocol as part of fibromyalgia treatments to others in the chronic illness community, it’s not uncommon to hear them say, “I’ve already tried that. It didn’t work for me.”

Which then opens the door for further investigation. If this describes you, I may follow up with a few basic questions such as:

  1. What’s your definition of “trying it?”
  2. If it’s a supplement, I may ask you the type of supplement, the name brand, and the dosage. If it’s a nutritional program or diet, I’ll ask how you went about implementing it, and what you did eat – not just what you didn’t.
  3. How long did you try this protocol?
  4. What else was going on at the same time that you tried these herbal therapies?

After these basics are covered, there are typically even more questions to ask based on your answers. The effectiveness of any natural protocol or remedy is related to any given number of factors. But there are two common misconceptions about natural remedies: First, there is no one dietary change, supplement, treatment, protocol, or natural remedy that will “fix” a chronic health challenge. You may find significant improvement with a single remedy, which can lead to healing by adding other remedies. But, one change won’t fix a problem that has become chronic over time.

Second, natural remedies are what I call “root problem” remedies for health challenges. The remedy itself doesn’t do the work to fix the body, but rather it supports the entire function of the body to do what it does best – restore balance as you work toward recovery from fibromyalgia. The body is designed to constantly detect, assess, and make a concentrated effort to restore homeostasis (balanced health) from any health challenge. If, for example, there’s an infected wound on your finger, the body creates an emergency type response to the problem. It increases antibodies to fight the infection, creates swelling around the wound site to carry much-needed nutrients to and from the site, and it monitors the progress so it naturally can restore normal function.

Ultimately, natural remedies support the body’s natural ability to heal and re-establish balance. Therefore, every natural solution has the potential to support the body at the root level. Natural remedies are a systemic support system. Each system of the body works in harmony with the next, and when one is supported, all are supported. That’s why a natural remedy to help reduce gut inflammation, for example, can improve whole body circulation, chronic pain, respiratory health, cognitive function, brain fog, and more.

Why Don’t Herbal Therapies Work for Me?

Now that you have a bit more information on how natural solutions work in general, it’s time to look at the top 20 reasons why the natural remedies you’ve tried may or may not have worked for you. At least, why they may not have worked as you thought they should. We’ve already discussed #1 and #2 on this list, but there are many more to explore.

Top 20 Reasons Why a Natural Remedy Might Not Work

  1. Unrealistic or unpractical expectations of how natural remedies work.
  2. Unrealistic or unpractical beliefs that one remedy will significantly fix or resolve fibromyalgia symptoms.
  3. The remedy is working, but overwhelming symptoms block or skew objective evaluation.
  4. Inadequate or improper dosage by following the recommended daily allowance (RAD). For example, you take too little, too much, or not the right form of a specific nutrient or supplement.
  5. The nutrient used is of poor quality — quality sourcing counts when it comes to foods and supplements, in particular.
  6. Current (or chronic) stressful conditions may compound results.
  7. It needs time to work and patience to follow through.
  8. Emotional belief conflicts.
  9. Toxin levels in the body, which may block or prevent a nutrient absorption or effectiveness.
  10. Whole body inflammation levels may need to be addressed first.
  11. Missing organs (a missing gallbladder or thyroid, for example, requires specific protocol adjustments).
  12. Alcohol, nicotine, or narcotic use can block, prevent, or impede healing success.
  13. Hormone dysfunction or dysregulation.
  14. Underlying or latent infections, pathogens, or viruses can wreak havoc and mask what’s really going on.
  15. A particular single supplement may be better absorbed if taken in a synergistic blend of nutrients.
  16. Food combining in ways that aren’t optimal.
  17. Unaddressed food sensitivities.
  18. Leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability) may prevent adequate absorption of nutrients.
  19. Prescribed and OTC medications may rob the body of essential nutrients (my favorite resource for this is the book Drug Muggers by Suzy Cohen).
  20. It might not be the most effective protocol for you at this time.

Before I move on to the topic of evaluating natural solutions for yourself, I’d like to clarify one of the items above. There’s much to say about all of them, but item #8 may look a bit vague if you’re not clear about what I mean.

It’s not uncommon to have conflicting beliefs about the healing methods you choose. Some conflicts are at the conscious level, and others lie beneath the conscious level. I’d like to share a composite example of a client that a colleague of mine worked with to illustrate how conflicting beliefs can interfere with the healing progress:

This client showed all the hallmark signs of one who would make great progress. She was eager to begin and didn’t hesitate to say yes. But things changed after she signed on the dotted line. Right from the get-go, she failed to follow through. She didn’t complete assignments, didn’t practice suggested remedies, and didn’t implement the protocols that were outlined.

Finally, she was confronted and asked what was going on. My colleague knew better than to ask if she wanted to heal and get well. Of course everyone wants that. She would have emphatically said, “Yes!” Instead, her agreement to follow the program was discussed, as well as her (lack of) response to each assignment. She was asked what she, specifically, believed about her ability to follow through.

She replied, “I knew that this wouldn’t work for me, so why try? My neighbor bet me it would, so she gave me the money to do this. I knew that it wouldn’t, so I just have to wait another few months before I win the bet.”

My colleague said that she was absolutely stunned. After a few moments she realized, however, that it wasn’t really all that surprising. She knew something was going on. She discovered two very important things. First, the client was not personally invested in the success of the program. She was neither financially invested nor emotionally invested. Second, she learned that because of the circumstances, the client actually viewed losing (not getting the results she wanted) as winning. In fact, by thwarting her success, she “wins” her bet with her neighbor. The client went on to describe her neighbor as a know-it-all, so it actually gave her extreme pleasure to prove her wrong.

It’s a bit unusual to discover such a clear-cut example of a conflicting belief, but I wanted to share this to highlight how it can happen. Having conflicting beliefs is actually quite common. Many of them relate to family dynamics, past history of unhappy or unhealthy experiences, and personal values. But, they typically take a bit of self-reflection and perhaps outside assistance to reveal.

How can I make natural solutions work for me?

When it comes to making changes in your diet, trying new supplements, starting a new fitness routine, or seeking the help of a chiropractor, acupuncturist, holistic nutritionist, or other health professionals, realize that healing is not an event – it’s a process. Therefore, healing takes time, patience, flexibility, and a willingness to evaluate your progress and make changes along the way.

There are numerous articles on this very subject on this site written to help guide you. Here are three to get you started.

What else can I do to get help?

Getting an outside source to evaluate your current situation may be the best investment you can make. Seeking the help of a naturopath or functional medical professional who can test, evaluate, and create a healing protocol for you can be very helpful, not to mention efficient. It may cost money to begin with, but it can also save money in the long run when a skilled practitioner can point you in the right direction.

Functional practitioners can test for food sensitivities, pathogens, hormone levels, nutrient deficiencies, and more. This information can be crucial for starting off your healing journey on the right foot.

Additionally, a health coach, a holistic nutritionist, a fitness trainer, or other natural solution-oriented practitioner can work together with you to create an organized and effective plan. A holistic health practitioner uses his or her expertise to evaluate what you’ve tried and then formulates simple protocols or guidelines that tweak what you’re already doing for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

In any case, holistic practitioners can help assess what protocols you may wish to begin first. This is also something to keep in mind – oftentimes, some of the most positive results come from the simplest solutions.

This article was first published on ProHealth.com on July 10, 2016 and was updated on December 10, 2019.


Sue Ingebretson is becoming a most sought after symptom-relief expert in the fibromyalgia and chronic illness communities. She’s known for getting to the root of her client’s health challenges and delivering long-term results using a light-hearted approach without quick-fix remedies that only mask symptoms. You can find out more and contact Sue at www.RebuildingWellness.com.

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