This research is to evaluate whether a topical treatment containing St John’s Wort can be effective for the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia. This is a treatment that is very commonly used by complementary therapists, but is one that has not been scientifically tested. This project aims to fill that gap, by testing whether it works in a scientific trial.
What are the possible benefits of taking part?
We cannot guarantee or promise that you will receive any benefits from this research, however possible benefits may include finding a treatment that works, or knowing of a treatment that does not work. The medical community and patients will benefit from knowing whether a treatment that is already in popular use is effective or not.
If I say yes, what will it involve?
First we will need to confirm your diagnosis of PHN with your medical provider. You will be participating in a randomised controlled study which will involve applying a treatment to the area affected by post-herpetic neuralgia twice daily for 8 weeks. To try to make sure the groups are the same to start with each participant is put into a group by chance (random). You will be participating in a double-blind study. This means that neither you nor the researcher will know which treatment group you are in. You will be participating in a cross-over study. In a cross-over study the groups each have the different treatments in turn. One group will have the active treatment first, whilst the other will start on control. Neither you nor your practitioner will know which treatment you are having. All participants in this study will be given the active treatment at some stage. At some stage all participants will also be given a placebo treatment, so that we may compare results to see if the treatment is effective. A placebo is a medication with no active ingredients or a procedure without any medical benefit. It looks like the real thing but is not.
There are no additional costs associated with participating in this study, nor will you be paid. All tests and care required as part of the study will be provided to you free of charge. If you have a usual health practitioner we strongly recommend that you inform them of your participation in this study.
Are there any risks/inconvenience?
The research will take some time, and require travel to the Mater Hill district of Brisbane four times in nine weeks. These visits will be for half an hour in duration. Participants will be asked to attend an in-person visit at the beginning of the trial (1 hour), and at the 1 week, 5 week, and 9 week marks (30mins each visit, 1.5 hours total). You will be asked several health questions which may be of a personal nature, but all information collected as part of this trial will be kept confidential and is accessible only to the research team.
The study has been carefully designed, minimising any risks. Although St John’s Wort is a relatively safe drug, and is regulated in Australia this way, in rare instances some people may have unwanted side effects. There is a small risk that skin could become more sensitive to sunlight due to this treatment. This side effect is rare and stops once you stop taking the treatment. St John’s Wort can affect some medications, so people taking some medications will not be able to participate in this project.
What is the next step if I want to be involved?
You can call the Herbs on the Hill reception and let them know you are interested in the St. John’s wort oil trial. They will contact Tina Taylor, who is coordinating this trial. Tina will contact you and discuss you potential participation further.
For more information about this trial please contact Tina Taylor