HUMANS OF THE HIGHLANDS // Christine Murray
Local researcher changing lives
We love hearing about talented people doing awesome things. And we love that the Highlands is full of these sorts of people in a diverse range of areas!
We met Christine Murray, a Highlands local heading up a study at Western Sydney University's NICM Health Research Institute that could change the lives – physically, emotionally and mentally – of people living with osteoarthritis.
And we just had to tell you guys all about her and the super important study she’s working on ……
With a strong scientific background as a qualified chemist, and a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, thanks to her qualifications in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, through to working on research projects within the cotton industry, Christine is now involved in a super interesting study into alternative treatment options for osteoarthritis.
Potentially a novel study for the 1 in 5 Australians over 45 that have the condition, Christine and her team at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University have formulated a tablet – created from three herbs – they will trial as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
And they need your help.
“I have a lot of clients and family members that suffer from knee osteoarthritis and there is a real issue around what people can take for pain management,” Christine, who practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Mittagong, explains.
“Paracetamol has been dismissed as the first line of treatment because of its lack of efficacy. And non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs offered to sufferers for pain is associated with higher risks in developing cardiovascular disease or gastro-intestinal complications, so they can’t be taken long term in some individuals.”
“People who are suffering from osteoarthritis really need to have an alternative, so we’re trialling the effectiveness and safety of this herbal formulation in reducing knee pain,” Christine says.
While osteoarthritis is a physical condition, the debilitating impact it can have on someone’s emotional wellbeing and their self-confidence is significant. This is what Highlander Debbie Lincoln discovered when she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis 18 months ago.
“The psychological effects of having osteoarthritis have been difficult for me to cope with. Dealing with consistent and constant pain really plays with your psyche,” Debbie says, pictured below with Christine.
“It’s front and centre in my mind all the time. Will I fall over? I see stairs and know it’s going to be a painful experience walking up or down them. I spend a day in the garden and can’t move the next day. It really impacts your confidence to live a full life.”
“I’ve lived in the Highlands for nine years now and have seen how devastating chronic pain is for so many locals,” Christine agrees.
So, what are the magic herbs? And how do they work to assist with knee pain?
“Our scientifically developed and tested herbal formula consists of ginger, turmeric and Indian frankincense.”
“It’s exciting to me that science is now confirming what many cultures have known for hundreds and thousands of years in regard to the use of herbs,” Christine says.
"Studies on the individual herbs have shown they all act on the same inflammation pathway, as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, however they are without the side effects."
“In our research and pre-clinical testing, we’ve found when these three herbs are combined, they have a greater impact on reducing inflammatory mediators found in cartilege cells than if they were used individually.”
The tablet is taken orally with food. The reason for that?
“Food increases the bioavailability. This means it can get into the patient’s bloodstream faster and do its job,” Christine says.
Which is good news for people like Debbie who are keen to try more efficient and effective ways to manage their osteoarthritis pain.
“At the moment, I use a combination of ways to treat my pain. I have acupuncture treatments, see a chiro regularly and also a physio to help build up the strength in my quads. I also do yoga and use herbs,” she says.
“Having a more holistic approach to treating the pain which I’m doing now, and potentially being able to take an herbal tablet that doesn’t do long term damage means that surgery or just putting up with the pain aren’t the only two options for people like me.”
Which would be awesome, right??
So, what does Christine and her research team need to make this a reality?
Your help with the study.
“We’re looking for volunteers from the Highlands aged 40 – 75, suffering mild to moderate pain from knee osteoarthritis, to take part in a 12 week randomised placebo controlled study,” Christine explains.
“Specifically we’re looking for people with primary osteoarthritis or those with secondary osteoarthritis that haven't had any significant major trauma to the knee.”
What does that mean? Primary osteoarthritis is when the cause is relatively unknown and due to aging, and wear and tear - it may also be related to menopause in the case of women. Secondary osteoarthritis is due to a traumatic injury to the knee such as an ACL injury, knee reconstruction or ligament damage.
So if you suffer from knee pain and have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis or you know someone who has, AND you want to help an awesome local researcher with what could be life changing treatment options for so many Highlanders, get in touch!
boring important disclaimer bit you need to read! This blog post has been created for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. That means - go and seek medical advice! Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard their advice or delay going to seem them because of something you have read in this blog.
This piece has been written in partnership with NICM Health Research Institute and is proudly endorsed by The Fold Southern Highlands. The Fold team are excited to share the amazing stories, adventures and smarts of our local businesses and we want to say a BIG thank you to you for supporting our sponsors who help make The Fold possible. We strongly believe in the businesses and the information we share with you on The Fold.