Guaifenesin is extracted from a tree, the guaiac. The knowledge that the tree bark extract, called guaiacum, was helpful for rheumatic pains and for sore throats has been around since the mild 1500s. Appreciated for its property to loosen and liquefy mucus, guaiacum was approved for use as an expectorant by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) some 400 years later, in 1952. Twenty years later, the extract was synthesized, pressed into tablets and named GUAIFENESIN. No side effects have ever been described in its original form for centuries nor as GUAIFENESIN, which is nowadays a common component of many nonprescription cold and cough remedies, pills and syrups for adults and children. Like many medications, however, GUAIFENESIN has more than one effect and is able to treat several types of health problems. In the new Physician's Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines, guaiacum officinale is still indicated for rheumatism. (click for more)
Known nowadays as the second most common rheumatologic disorder behind osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia is obviously not a modern disease. It is as old as gout and arthritis. Either is GUAIFENESIN a new treatment for chronic pain. For centuries, rheumatism has been a catchall term that primarily was related to gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and to what is now known as fibromyalgia. Guaiacum, now available as GUAIFENESIN, was one of the four most widely used treatments for rheumatic pain in the 1700s (with quinine, colchicum, and sulfur), and is repeatedly mentioned in historical medical texts. And so, it appears clearly that guaiacum must have been helping for centuries those with fibromyalgia, just as GUAIFENESIN does today.
In the 19th century, personal hygiene improved with increasing availability of soap, tooth paste, cosmetics, skin care products, all extract from plants which commonly contain salicylates. The salicylates must have then affected profoundly the positive effects of guaiacum, as they are now known to block GUAIFENESIN's effectiveness when used again fibromyalgia. We have the irony that fibromyalgia was treated more effectively 300 years ago than it is today, because nothing blocked guaiacum which was one of the drugs at that times available.
When acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) was discovered in 1897, and its efficacy on all rheumatic conditions, it overshadowed the wideworld use of guaiacum, which was then abandoned. But guaiacum's mucus-thinning properties, not affected by salicylates, kelp been in used in cold and cough remedies.
In modern times GUAIFENESIN has only been recognized as an expectorant.
Some forty yes ago, suffering himself of fibromyalgia, Dr. Paul St Amand, Associate Clinical Professor Medicine, specialist of endocrinology, studied with some improvement several gout medications for this condition, but all of them had uncomfortable side effects. It was not until 1992 that he rediscovered guaiacum's therapeutic benefits through GUAIFENESIN (as well an uricosuric agent). And it was not until 1994 that he recognized that when treating fibromyalgia with GUAIFENESIN salicylates should be avoid, GUAIFENESIN been extremely sensitive to even small amounts of salicylates, particularly within cosmetics. He also learned that hypoglycemia is a common co-condition of fibromyalgia and should be addressed when present. He found that when used to treat fibromyalgia, GUAIFENESIN must be combined with these additional therapeutic steps, called the GUAIFENESIN protocol, in order to be effective.
In the world there are no drugs that are specifically approved for fibromyalgia. Lyrica (Pregabalin) – used against neuropathic pain, especially in diabetic patients – and Cymbalta (Duloxetine) – an antidepressant drug – have gained approval to advertise as helpful in easing the pain of fibromyalgia, but not for treating fibromyalgia.
Once a drug has been approved for sale for one purpose (GUAIFENESIN as expectorant, Lyrica for neuropathic pain, Cymbalta as antidepressant), physicians are free to prescribe it "off-label" for any other purpose that in their professional judgment is both safe and effective, and are not limited to official FDA-approved indications. (www.Off-label). An off-label prescription is most commonly done with older generic medications (like GUAIFENESIN) that have found new uses. Fortunately, doctors and researches are continually finding beneficial new uses for existing medications. There are many examples of compounds, long used for one purpose, being later discovered to be helpful for completely different conditions. (click for more)
Because of their effectiveness with different conditions and different doses, doctors believe that there could be several modes of action that these drugs have in the body. One molecule justifies its use for two completely dissimilar conditions simply because it works for both conditions. I have already mentioned that when used to treat fibromyalgia, GUAIFENESIN's efficacy is blocked by salicylates, but the same salicylates are not blocking GUAIFENESIN's efficacy when used, at a different amount, as mucus thinner. It would seem that GUAIFENESIN also has 2 different modes of action in the body.
There is no country in the world where GUAIFENESIN is illegal. The "off-label" use of GUAIFENESIN in fibromyalgia is legal in all countries. Furthermore, GUAIFENESIN is a cheap over-the-counter drug in the USA. It is available in Israel, with a prescription, at any dose, in long or short acting (click for more)
At this point of your reading, you may be thinking "why such an effective and safe treatment for fibromyalgia exists, and yet my family doctor and rheumatologist keep telling me that there is no cure, and that unfortunately I have to live for the rest of my live with my pain and fatigue?". You probably are thinking "what is the reason why this treatment is unknown or deliberately ignored by professionals who are supposed to care about protecting people's health?"
Three answers to that:
1) As for every disease, there is an official line how to deal with patients suffering from fibromyalgia, a kind of therapeutic consensus. Doctors cling to cover over the symptoms of fibromyalgia with traditional drugs.
2) Doctors are skeptical of any product or approach that claims to create long-term improvement. Getting their attention on an "obscure" effective treatment is not easy.
3) In modern times GUAIFENESIN is known only as an expectorant. The role of GUAIFENESIN in fibromyalgia is for most of them an outlandish notion, and even more its efficacy.
Most of the patients receiving symptomatic treatment end up looking for other solutions. The experience of dozens of doctors and thousands of patients all over the world using GUAIFENESIN shows that it is an effective and safe drug for fibromyalgia. The individual who starts the treatment may be hopeful to live a new life. This is what usually happens. He will again find the health he thought he had lost forever. Once again he will live life to its fullest.
The facts speak for themselves
Fibromyalgia is a society health problem. Fortunes are spent in consultations, laboratory tests, x-rays, ultasounds, CT, EMG…, in various treatments, in days off work and invalidity. Not to mention all the family conflicts that the disease often creates. GUAIFENESIN substantially reduces health care costs. It is now up to public institutions to seize the opportunity that GUAIFENESIN offers.[email protected]