Expert Panel

Send in your health questions to Healthy Soul’s Expert Panel – just use our Contact form and put Health Experts in the subject box. Please note that serious conditions that require medical attention will not be tackled, and recommendation will be made that you visit your doctor. All products mentioned are listed in the table in the middle of the page.

Alison Cullen, Bioforce (UK), a nutritional therapist, with a busy clinic in Ayrshire as well
Vinciane Ollington. homeopath, practises near Woking/Guildford, and runs a self-prescribing course.
Ian O'Donnell, Alexander Technique teacher, STAT (the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique). practises in Surrey.
Marisa Pinnock, McTimoney chiropractor, who runs the Chevington Chiropractic Clinic in Surrey











Bladder discomfort
Coping with nightshifts
Cramp in the feet
Damaged arm
Herbal remedy for stress
High blood pressure/migraines
Iron for a vegetarian
My 10 year old is always tired
Palpitations in the chest
Recurrent itchy skin after menopause
Recurring cystitis
Restless legs
Ridges on fingernails
Skin rash on young girl
Teenage spots
Too many vitamins?
Upset stomach from running
Violet nightmares
Weight gain in menopause

Question:   My daughter, aged 28, was having migraines on a regular basis (almost daily –  lasting for  several hours – sometimes causing vomiting)  When she went to the doctor it was  discovered  her blood pressure was very high (214), and they have put her on medication. They believe it might be due to kidney function and she is going to see a kidney specialist.  She doesn’t eat very well, doesn’t enjoy vegetables but will eat a little salad. Although she rarely drinks alcohol, she  does drink Coke Zero, diet Coke, flavoured mineral water – however she does drink water too.
She may be prescribed medication for life and I wonder if there is anything else that she could do to help herself. FW

 Alison Cullen replies:  I would advise cutting out all forms of fizzy drink and ensuring an intake of at least 1.5 litres of still, plain water daily (away from food to avoid diluting the digestive enzymes). Avoid all caffeine and cut out added salt from the diet. Consider the salt intake of packaged foods, especially if these play a large role in the diet as it sounds as though they might.

Focus on foods that naturally contain plenty of potassium, to counter the high salt intake – green leafy veg, wholegrains, sunflower and sesame seeds, bananas, apricots, figs, raisins, butterbeans, chickpeas, brazils, walnuts, avocados and blackcurrants. 

There are many herbs that are supportive for the kidneys, but your daughter would need to consult a medical herbalist locally to ensure that these wre taken properly and whilst liaising with her consultant.



Question: I have been diagnosed as having gallstones, and am due to have my gall bladder removed soon. I started taking Omega 3s because I thought they’d be good for me, but they made my gallstones flare up. Would plant-based Omega 3s be a better option? MC

Alison Cullen replies: The problem is that your liver is not producing or moving bile effectively enough to prevent the gallstones or to metabolise fats properly. Thus, adding more fatty acids that need to be metabolised just puts more strain on the system. I wouldn’t advise taking any oil supplements until your gallstones have been dealt with, and then take a tincture that contains Dandelion root before every meal to ensure that your liver produces bile on demand. Once this is in place you can take oil supplements, I favour flaxseed or hempseed oil, as they are relatively simple for the liver to deal with.

Too many vitamins?

Question: I was on lots of vitamins – Selenium ACE which includes Vitamin A, multivitamins, calcium, Vitamin C and Omega 3s when I needed to have a blood test. The medical staff told me that I should stop taking my vitamins straight away as they were showing up in the kidneys in my blood test. I didn’t know that they could be harmful – do you have any idea of why this might have happened? SV

Alison Cullen replies: The only obvious thing would be if you had taken too much calcium on its own and were showing signs of kidney stones or gravel. It is possible to have side effects from taking too many supplements, and the usual culprits are the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E), which can be stored in the body and therefore build up into excess amounts. Many people do this unsuspectingly by taking a multivitamin and something like a cod liver oil or other oil supplement at the same time.

Bladder discomfort

Question: I have a history of bladder infections and discomfort, and find now as a post-menopausal woman that any sexual contact at all sets off a dull bruised kind of pain in the bladder, not necessarily an infection. Would Arnica be effective for this or is that difficult to administer? JT

Alison Cullen replies: Arnica 6c could be taken internally to help the traumatised tissue, but this would not necessarily show a swift response. Arnica Gel could be applied externally to the area through which the pain radiates (below the naval and above the pubic mound, by the sound of it). This has a swift though short-lived action. The other recommendations I would give are drinking plenty of water to ensure that the bladder is well hydrated and therefore less likely to be inflamed, and a course of glutamine (1 tsp powder in a glass of water or juice, once daily) to help heal the bladder lining. Lubricating with a natural product such as Sylk may also lessen the discomfort.

Go to the table at the bottom to purchase: Higher Nature Glutamine powder, and Nelson’s Arnica 30c tablet

Restless legs

Question: I often get restless legs in the evening and recently I was on a long haul flight where they kept me awake all the time. This has also happened while I was on a ferry to France. I have heard that magnesium and zinc are good for restless legs but already take a multivitamin at the RDA and don’t want to exceed it. Can you recommend anything please?

Alison Cullen replies: Actually, it’s the balance of calcium to magnesium that usually triggers restless legs, so upping your magnesium intake is the sensible thing to do. It’s quite hard to overdose on magnesium because we use it up so quickly, both physically and when dealing with stress. I recommend Salus Haus’ liquid magnesium as it works faster than any other I’ve found.

You can also address the strength of your veins, which can make you vulnerable to restless legs. Take Aesculus tablets for a couple of months to improve the condition of the veins, and/or smooth Venagel onto your legs before and during air or sea trips to tighten up the veins temporarily. This can be very effective for reducing the twitching.

Teenage spots

Question: For approximately 4 to 5 weeks my 13 year old daughter has quite large spots that come up over night, mainly in the T area but some on the cheeks. They seem to get worse as her monthly cycle builds then the day after she starts her period they calm down and she is free of spots for a week, then they start to build again. During this time it knocks her confidence and I am wondering whether there is anything that we can do to help whether it is with nutrition, avoiding or including certain foods, a facial regime etc.

I have gone on the internet and am considering seeing a dermatologist but there is so much conflicting information I am left VERY confused as to what best to do. KL

Alison Cullen replies: This type of skin problem will have some hormonal input because of her age, but it is often linked to both diet and organ issues, mainly liver, kidneys and the lymphatic system. I would suggest a real clean up operation internally rather than an external skin regime.

Water, no caffeine, lots of fresh fruit in the morning (smoothies are easy to make and take, and if you add 1/2 tsp of Spirulina powder to them you get extra nutrient support), and heaps of veg throughout the rest of the day. Nothing fried and absolutely no refined sugar (fresh and dried fruit are fine though). If she loves refined sugar, a course of Molkosan Original (1 tsp of liquid in a large glass of water, twice daily) will help reduce the need for sugar.I would also watch dairy intake very carefully with a teen as the hormones in milk have been implicated in teenage acne.

Ensure that the bowels are working twice daily, and keep that water intake up for the kidneys. The kidneys hate salt and refined sugar too. Golden Rod Tea helps the kidneys to work better. Getting the bowel moving freely helps the liver, as does 20 drops of Milk Thistle Complex twice daily. Provided that she has been having periods for two years Agnus Castus, a herbal remedy, may help.

See the table at the bottom of the page to purchase Molkosan Original, Milk Thistle Complex, Agnus Castus or Spirulina.
The lymphatic system is mainly helped by exercise – anything that gets the calf muscles moving. The cleaner she is inside, the better the outside will be.

Damaged arm

Question: In about March this year I was holding on to the pole on the bus when the driver braked hard. I went lunging forward and then spun round and my arm got pulled and twisted at the same time. It felt really sore for most of the day but then I forgot about it. A few weeks later I noticed that it hadn’t improved but it hadn’t got any worse either.

I bought a juicer and started juicing fruit and veg [separately] and found that after only 2 days I was able to elevate my arm without the shooting pain as before. Anyway I went on holiday in July and since I got back I haven’t been able to get back into my juicing routine which hasn’t helped with the pain which has got worse and is affecting my arm from the shoulder to the elbow now. I bought some sandalwood and eucalyptus oils while on holiday and have been massaging my arm with them – I was told that these oils would help.

I finally went to my GP a few weeks ago and the X-ray has showed wear and tear in the shoulder and mild arthritis and I should start physio next week.

Alison Cullen replies: Try using Atrogel Arnica Gel externally on the affected area, but get to see a craniosacral therapist as soon as possible, because they need to work back through the pathway of the injury. Physiotherapy is useful but it won’t unravel the injury in the same way, and doesn’t deal with the soft tissue as effectively as craniosacral therapy. Taking Devil’s Claw tincture will help to reduce the pain, and 1,500mg daily of Glucosamine Sulphate will help to build up the damaged area properly – take it for 4-6 months at least.

Recurring cystitis

Question: I have had cystitis quite badly and this is something I have suffered from for years. This time after taking cranberry and uva ursi I gave in and went to the doctor’s as I was in a lot of pain. He gave me antibiotics and tests showed I had an infection. It got better after a few days, but a week later it has come back again. I am at my wit’s end because I don’t want to take antibiotics again. Do you have any suggestions?

Alison Cullen replies: I find a combination of cranberry, Uva-ursi, and D-mannose (all available from health stores or the Nutricentre, which will mailorder them to you) works well. It is also vital to keep water intake high – still, plain water, not sparkling or flavoured – and avoid all caffeinated drinks and refined sugar completely. Fresh and dried fruit is fine. If the bowel isn’t moving at least once daily, preferably more, then attend to this as it is often a factor in persistent UTIs.

Read more about Cystitis in Health Issues.

Go the table at the bottom of the page to purchase Uva-ursi, D-Mannose and Cranberry supplements.

Cramp in the feet

Question: I have started to get cramp in both my feet, starting with the toes. I can feel it coming on during most evenings when relaxing in bed and then wake up with cramp in my right leg. This is unusual for me. (PC)

Vinciane Ollington replies: As always with homeopathy, a full consultation with a homeopath is preferable in order get you the right remedy that will sort out your cramps as well as all the other problems you might be suffering from. You might need Calcium Carbonicum (Calc carb, a remedy made from the white part of the oyster shell) which is a good remedy for cramps in toes and feet especially if you are slightly overweight and might suffer from constipation. This remedy could be more beneficial to you than Cuprum (made from copper) for example which is an excellent remedy for cramps but more appropriate for violent cramps and spasms.

From your short description, I do not detect any sense of pain and urgency so I would suspect your body might suffer from a slight magnesium deficiency. I would strongly recommend that you take a Tissue Salt from New Era called Mag-Phos which is both a homeopathic remedy and a nutritional supplement because the original substance used to make the remedy has not been diluted and potentised as much as ordinary homeopathic remedies. It is easily digested, will bring some magnesium to your tissues and will also ensure that your digestive system absorbs the magnesium in your current diet in a more effective way. Take it as indicated on the package for a month or so (but no more).

Iron for a vegetarian

Question: My daughter is a vegetarian but when she went to give blood she was told that she was very anaemic. She has started to eat meat again but does not really want to. What should a vegetarian eat to make up for the lack of meat?

Alison Cullen replies: Iron is easier to obtain from meat, so when embarking on a vegetarian or vegan diet it is sensible to do so gradually, giving the body time to adjust to extracting iron and zinc from the plant-based foods. Actually, though, many women who aren’t vegetarian are also anaemic, and this tends to be due to a combination of poor diet and eating habits, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Eating good quality wholefoods will provide sources of food that include vital nutrients such as iron, but junk food (whether vegetarian or not) is not known for its good mineral profile, so junk food afficianados are more likely to struggle with their iron levels. Digesting your food well (which involves avoiding eating on the run, and actually chewing food rather than taking it on the hoof) will ensure that nutrients such as iron are absorbed from whatever food you are eating, whether it is animal-based or not.

Drinking fizzy drinks, tea or coffee with food reduces the effectiveness with which iron can be extracted, so keep caffeinated drinks to a minimum and if you have them then do so away from food. If you have a heavy menstrual bleed, you will need to supplement with additional iron in order to replace the amount lost. It is quite worrying how many women don’t realise this and struggle on with a heavy monthly blood loss. If your daughter falls into this category, then get her a natural iron tonic such as Floravital as soon as possible, whether she’s eating meat or not.

To purchase Floravital Yeast Free Liquid Iron Formula, 250ml, £8.29, go to the Nutricentre box at the bottom of the page

Upset stomach from running

Question: I do a lot of running – training for the marathon in two weeks so am doing anything from 13 – 22 mile runs. However, after about 7-10 miles, I get a really upset stomach, verging on diarrhoea, and just have to find a loo. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? I am taking plenty of liquids, usually a runner’s energy one such as powered Lucozade. I tried some energy gels but they really upset my stomach so have stopped taking them. I am fit and recover quickly. AH

Alison Cullen replies: The answer is magnesium – this is a very common problem for runners and taking magnesium sorts it out very effectively. I suggest Salus Haus liquid magnesium, which is the quickest to work that I’ve ever found.

To purchase Salus Haus Liquid Calcium and Magnesium, 250ml, £6.90 go to the Nutricentre box at the bottom of the page

Coping with night shifts

Question: I work 12 hour night shifts for two or three nights at a time and wonder what to eat and at what time? I always get a headache during the day after a night shift. Is there anything homeopathic I could take that would help my body to cope?RD

Alex Kirchin replies: The body struggles to adjust when you are doing night shifts and there is a greater need to provide quality of food and less calories to reduce demands on the body. Small amounts of food every 2-3 hours is worth trying, preferably organic – and vegetable juices would be good. Low glycaemic high protein is good – tofu, oats, millet, quinoa, mushrooms, lentils, pulses, sprouted seeds (e.g. sunflower) and nuts rich in magnesium would help to reduce headaches.

Rhodiola can help as an adaptogen and turmeric, ginger and perhaps feverfew tincture would help limit or inhibit headaches. It is also important to drink plenty of water.

Vinciane Ollington replies: Working at night always results in a lack of sleep overall and also upsets your body clock. The best homeopathic remedy for headaches from loss of sleep is Cocculus Indicus (abbreviated as Cocc.) made from the powdered seeds of a strong climbing shrub found in Eastern parts of India.

I would suggest you buy Cocculus in the 30C potency and take one pill every hour until your headache improves. Once you feel better, it means your body is coping again and you can stop the remedy…. until your next night shift. Cocculus is also very useful to take if you travel and suffer from jet lag.

My 10 year old is always tired

Question: My 10 year old son has terrible sleep habits (ever since he was a baby). Now he often wakes up with deep purple circles under his eyes and says he is tired, even after a full night’s sleep. He is always in bed asleep by 9pm and normally wakes up at 6am (by himself, not with an alarm) and can’t get back to sleep even though he is tired.

Vinciane Ollington replies: Sleeping 9 hours per night for a 10 year old should be sufficient so if your son is still tired all the time, it means his sleep is not as restful and replenishing as it should be. I would recommend he sees a homeopath because more information is required about him to understand the problem and prescribe remedies. This can best be

To give you an idea of how many remedies should be considered, there are 85 remedies listed to help with “bluish circles around the eyes” and a few hundreds that can help with “unrefreshing sleep”.

From experience, however, I would recommend he tries Lycopodium 30c, one pill daily for 7 to 10 days. This remedy should help him especially if he is a worrier who lacks confidence in general, but if your son is more stressed than worried, you should try Nux-Vomica 30c instead. If he is a happy smiling lad, gregarious and full of imagination try Phosphorus 30c.

Those three remedies can all help his condition but as you can see, more needs to be known about your son to prescribe the right remedy. Do not persist for more that 10 days with one remedy. If it has not made any difference during that time, it means that it is not the right remedy for him.

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Violent nightmares

Question: For over a year I have had really horrible nightmares which I remember clearly the next day and often cause me to wake in the morning feeling like I haven’t slept. Such nightmares often include me being violently attacked or having a baby (which causes great distress in my dream). Occasionally I wake up with scratches/marks on me or with rips in my pyjamas. On one occasion I woke up in the hallway after sleep walking, although this is rare – I feel like I’m crazy as I type this!

I fall asleep easily and tend to stop eating a good few hours before going to bed. Is there anything you can suggest as I have tried going to the doctor’s about this but have never felt confident about discussing it.

Alison Cullen replies: The first thing to try is Valerian-Hops Complex, to see if achieving proper sleep cycles will reduce the tendency to nightmares. I would also suggest Night Essence to calm anxiety about experiencing the violent attacks.

Next, I would look carefully at what was happening when the nightmares started. Was there a change in the diet, a new supplement regime, a personal or work-related trauma, a move, or anything that changed significantly from your previous lifestyle? Looking at this information could help pinpoint the cause of the problem. It could just as easily be something physical as something psychological.

Thirdly, I would encourage you to go to the doctor – take someone you trust with you, to make things easier – because it’s important to a) investigate the possible physical causes properly and b) get some help if it turns out to be non-physical in origin.

Skin rash on young girl

Question: My daughter (11) has got a lot of small spots/rash on her upper arms. They look like the are being caused where the hairs on her arms are not coming through properly and creating spots. The doctor said to use a cream like E45 but it isn’t making an difference. My view would be that she needs to exfoliate, but the doctor didn’t recommend that. Any thoughts? DA

Vinciane Ollington replies: From your description it looks like your daughter is suffering from Keratosis pilaris, caused by a build up of skin protein keratin in the hair follicles. The follicles form into hard pimples, giving the skin a rough texture like permanent goose bumps. Usually worse in winter months due to lower moisture levels, Keratosis pilaris is benign and occurs in almost every 1 out of 2 people in the world in varied levels of intensity.

Exfoliating daily and using a strong moisturising lotion will partially help but not cure the problem and I think your daughter is too young to undertake such a regime of care. Homeopathy would definitely make a difference and could even cure the problem. I would always recommend you book an appointment with a registered homeopath as homeopathy works by stimulating a person’s own healing process and by careful questioning and experience, the homeopath will select the remedy that will work best for your daughter.

However, if you want to self prescribe, remedies that might be worth looking at include Arsenicum album (especially if your daughter suffers also from asthma, eczema and/or is excessively tidy), Cal. Fluor (if she was slow learning to walk as a baby, and/or suffers from adenoids), Alumina (especially if she also suffers from constipation) and Sulphur (if she is hot, untidy, and/or suffers from dry skin in general). You can also help her by boosting her intake of vitamin A or Betacarotene, and essential Omega-3 fatty acids.

Palpitations in the chest

Question: I have had bad palpitations in the chest area which I have been told are stress-induced. They make me feel weak and, sometimes I have to sit down for a few minutes, or I carry on as normal but am careful not to over exert myself. Sometimes they last for a few minutes, sometimes they last for an hour or so. I am post-menopausal. Are there any remedies the panel recommends, and can they suggest what complementary therapies might help? AT

Alison Cullen replies: I see this in a lot of menopausal women, and one way of reducing the symptoms is to make sure you are not dehydrated. This means drinking at least 1.5 litres of still, plain water daily, and avoiding caffeine as much as possible. When you feel palpitations coming on, drink a glass of water slowly. If you don’t like cold water, drink it warm or hot. You may also find it beneficial to take a magnesium supplement (liquid magnesium from Salus Haus is the best one I’ve ever come across), as this is very good for your heart tissue and also reduces stress reactions.

I would highly recommend a book called Breathe Better, Feel Better, by Howard Kent, (£11.49 from Amazon – click on the link at the bottom of the page) which contains easy and effective breathing exercises, which make a great deal of difference if practised daily. You may find hypnotherapy useful, as another method of calming your nervous system. The herb Crataegus is good for heart function, but it may be more effective to focus on the points I’ve listed above before trying it.

Weight gain in menopause

Question: Is it true that, during menopause, women gain weight – despite not changing their diets? If so, what can your panel suggest to help? I’ve heard wheatgrass may help. LL

Alex Kirchin replies: Yes menopause is an interesting area with weight gain being a possible outcome. With declining oestrogen / progesterone there can be a shift in fat deposition and also metabolic rate can decline resulting in more fat accumulation. Hence the importance of exercise and diet in regulating bone mass, hormone output, and metabolic rate. Wheatgrass may assist through providing trace minerals, chlorophyll and other phytonutrients. The liver cleansing properties may also support metabolic function.

Read Menopause – the change, not the end

Herbal Remedy for Stress

Question: I keep reading about Valerian and its benefits for stress. Does the panel recommend it and if yes, is it all right to take it with other herbal remedies? TS

Alison Cullen replies: Valerian was used as far back as Hippocrates as a soothing remedy, and has a long tradition of use for nervous conditions, insomnia, and emotional exhaustion. Its historical uses cover many symptoms that are due to nervous tension, e.g. headaches, muscles cramps, and digestive disorders, and restlessness based on nervous disorders. The mood-enhancing effects that are associated with Valerian’s usage may well be due to improved sleep. One of the encouraging things about taking it is that it isn’t associated with the ‘groggy’, slightly hungover effect that some people experience when taking medication for similar indications. It is safe to take alongside other herbal remedies, and works extremely well when teamed up with Hops for sleeping disturbances.

Ridges on fingernails

Question: I have ridges from the top to the bottom of my middle finger nail on the left hand, and I think they are developing on other fingers. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, take a multivitamin and extra Vitamin C. Is there anything else you can suggest? ED

Alex Kirchin replies: Ridges can indicate iron deficiency. Failing that I would look at increasing essential fatty acids (hemp seed oil perhaps) and improving digestive enzyme function by using herbs such as dandelion and Viridian’s digestive aid product.

Recurrent itchy skin after menopause

Question: I have recurrent itchy skin on my back, which seems to move around. At the moment it is around my lower back, where by coincidence I am having physiotherapy treatment for a lower back condition.

The strange thing is that several weeks (or months) after the itching starts, a light red rash appears. The GP only seems to recommend various creams, none of which appear to really work. Have you any ideas what this could be? Is it an age thing (I am 59)? I remember my mother at this age (or maybe older) had terrible itchy legs. BR

Vinciane Ollington replies: Homeopaths prescribe on presenting symptoms and do not rely on a diagnosis to work out what remedy is needed. I cannot give a name to your specific symptoms but I recommend you purchase Sulphur 6c from any health food shop or Boots and take one pill daily. Sulphur is a great “detox” remedy and very effective in all cases of itching and rash.

The skin is a very important organ of elimination and with age, it might need a bit of a boost in order to perform better. We are using many chemicals in our life from washing powder to soaps and house cleaning products, living in a polluted environment and eating adulterated food.

The body is in constant need of having to eliminate toxins. Rather than trying to pinpoint what is causing your problem and avoid it in future, homeopathy gives a helping hand to your immune system to perform better.

As soon as you have any effect from taking the Sulphur pill stop it and observe. Take it again if it gets worse, but if you keep having to take sulphur I recommend that you go and see a qualified homeopath, who will prescribe a deeper remedy to cure your problem.