We've learned that most illnesses don't need to be treated. For example, nothing has helped with teething except hugs and cuddles (and yes, we've tried orajel). I hear you about testing products, that's why I like to get recommendations from people I trust. For example, homeopathics have never worked for me or mine, so when people suggest homeopathics, I smile and nod (and remember that they suggested it, so maybe some of their other suggestions might not be that useful to me either). Fevers are another example of something that I don't treat (and really shouldn't anyway). Treating a fever, using tylenol or herbs, only works against the body's immune functions (fever is one response of the immune system to kill pathogens- your body intentionally causes a fever!)
I completely agree with someone's statement about looking for the underlying cause and treating that instead of the symptoms.
Some allopathic treatments do seem to work better. When I found out that gentian violet is a byproduct of the manufacturing of coal tar, I decided that maybe treating thrush with nyastatin wasn't such a bad idea. And it worked! I use Tom's of Maine deodorant (which is "natural" but apparently one of the ingredients isn't that great) and it works for me (maybe it won't work for you, body odor is a very personalized thing)- so do the Thai crystals. But I haven't found any other natural deodorants that would work for me. Diet and lifestyle also play a huge role in body odor, and some people can't control their odor even with prescription antiperspirants.
On the other hand, when I was suffering from a yeast infection during my last pregnancy, almost NOTHING actually worked for me. I tried all of the suggested "natural" remedies- garlic pessaries and eating garlic, yogurt douches, going undie-free, etc. etc. I even tried Monistat- that burned like hell, but I went through the full course and it still didn't make a difference. I was pregnant and nursing a toddler, and yet I tried the candida diet (I modified it to exclude all grains, some versions of the candida diet say that gluten/yeast free breads are okay *headslap* those are high glycemic, and thus are introducing a lot of sugar in your blood stream!) Anyway, this is essentially a zero-carb diet. Nope, no effect whatsoever! Finally, I tried this product from New Zealand- Kolorex. It's an herbal cream, and it made a huge difference!! (I think I bought it off of vitacost.com) The package claims it's only for symptomatic relief, but it was a cure for me (and even if it was only for symptomatic relief, that would have been better than nothing when I was constantly itchy!)
Breastmilk has helped for cruddy eyes, which might have become pinkeye. But my kids have never had diagnosed pinkeye (is this because they've never actually contracted an eye infection, or because I was always extremely prompt about treating them with breastmilk? who knows!)
I guess the take home lesson is that there are A LOT of natural remedies out there. It's a nearly unregulated industry, and there are people out there who are willing to believe anything. Not only that, but most people who take natural remedies don't see a doctor for diagnosis (I usually don't either FWIW). No, doctors aren't perfect, but they are trained to rely on a fairly standard set of criteria in order to diagnose a problem. They make mistakes, a lot, and most of their decisions are really just educated guesses. Nevertheless, they usually come to a more standard diagnosis than your average person. That means that when my kid gets an illness and I diagnose it, then I "cure" it with whatever regimen, we really have no way of knowing that what I did actually had an effect- it could have been psychosomatic, or it could have been the body curing itself despite my efforts (or maybe my efforts were the cause of the cure). Who knows? Because of that, you need to be vigilant yourself- this is no matter what you're using (whether it's allopathic, herbal, homeopathic, etc.)
Anyway, as someone else stated, not even all prescription drugs work for every person (anti depressants are another example). And they typically cost quite a bit more than your average "natural" remedy!