Guaifenesin is a medication that is most commonly used to loosen mucus and phlegm and to clear the symptoms of congestion resulting from a cold or allergy. It is considered an expectorant and works by thinning mucus and phlegm in the body. The thinning action makes it easier for the body to expel excess mucus and phlegm, generally through coughing or the blowing of the nose.
This medication was originally derived from the bark of the guaiacum tree and is believed to have been first used in the 1500s for the treatment of ailments such as rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Today, guaifenesin may be found in pill or liquid form, or it may be combined with other forms of medication such as codeine or pseudoephedrine, to provide relief from cold, flu and allergy symptoms. Lower doses of the medication may be purchased over-the-counter, while higher doses may only be available with a prescription.
Guaifenesin is also believed by some to be a useful component of a fibromyalgia treatment program. Fibromyalgia is a condition categorized, in part, by chronic pain and fatigue, swelling of joints and muscles, sleep difficulty, and problems with the skin, eyes and the digestive system. Those who recommend taking this medication for the treatment of fibromyalgia believe that it may help to reduce the swelling and pain commonly associated with the condition.
Proponents of what is sometimes known as the guaifenesin protocol believe that some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, especially the chronic pain and swelling of the joints and muscles, are caused by calcium phosphate deposits in the body. According to this theory, if the body is not able to properly remove the excess levels of phosphate, it combines with calcium in the muscles, causing swelling and pain. Guaifenesin is believed to help remove phosphates from the body; therefore proponents of the protocol suggest that taking it will help the body eliminate the calcium phosphate deposits that cause pain and swelling.
There appears to be no major scientific studies that prove that guaifenesin can alleviate some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. In fact, some studies show that subjects using the medication had no appreciable difference in relief of their fibromyalgia symptoms over those subjects that were given placebos. However, there are reports of people who have experienced relief by using guaifenesin. With so much varied and differing information, it is recommended that those interested in using guaifenesin as part of a fibromyalgia treatment program discuss the situation with their doctor or health care provider.