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Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases
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Last updated January 1, 2014

Guaifenesin: Quack, Cure, or Conumdrum?

Melissa Kaplan

For many years, by-prescription-only levels of guaifenesin, a common ingredient found in over-the-counter cough medicines, has been touted as a cure, or significant remediator, for CFS/Fibromyalgia. One has to take it, according to many protocols, for at least one month for every year one has been ill with CFS (if you've had CFS for 15 years, you will have to take guaifenisin for at least 15 months for positive benefits to be recognized).

Many people through the years have tried guaifenesin for long periods of time - with no change in their health. Others seem to derive positive changes from taking it.

So, what gives? Is it a cure, or a remediator, or not?

The answer is probably not as simple as the question, because chronic fatigue (immune dysfunction) syndrome and fibromyalgia are not simple diseases. Not only are they complex amalgams of dysregulated systems and organs, but there is no single etiology - no one cause or trigger for these complex neuroimmunoendocrinological diseases. Therefore, there is no one single agent - drug, herb, supplement, surgical procedure, whatever - that will help everyone who has these diseases.

Will it work for me?
There really is no way to tell unless you can compare yourself in detail with those whom it has helped. It isn't enough to just have the same symptoms: as we all know, many of these symptoms are shared across the board with other CFS/FM sufferers, and with those suffering from Lyme, MS, and other infectious and autoimmune diseases, but the symptoms may have different causes. The comparison would need to be done on a biochemical level: how does your in-depth blood chemistry and perhaps neurology test results compare with those whom guaifenesin has helped. If your test results are similar to those it has helped, then it is probably worth the financial and emotional investment. If your test results are radically different, then it probably isn't.

The diagnosis of CFS is an umbrella term that covers people whose immune, endocrine and neurological profiles may be radically different yet they still have the same symptoms. Most of the symptoms of fibromyalgia overlap those of CFS leading many to believe they are the same or that the specific-to-FM symptoms represent a subgroups. Until researchers figure out all the subgroups, we will be stuck with treatments that claim to cure or remediate CFS and/or FM but which in fact may be effective for only one of the subgroups of patients.

Dr. Paul St. Amand, in his book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia, and guai protocol, refers to an enormous range of products and plants which include salicylates. From what I hear from those following his protocol, it is extremely difficult to eliminate salicylates completely for the duration of the treatment, something that many patients may not be able to do. If you're highly motivated and can connect with a support group of other guaifenesin users, then your chances of doing it right and sticking to the protocol long enough to determine if it is helping you or not will increase significantly.


More Guaifenesin Information

Is One Placebo Better Than Another? The Guaifenesin Story

Guaifenesin: Is One Placebo Better Than Another?

The Truths and Myths of the use of Guaifenesin for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Flare from Robitussin (Guaifenesin Syrup)?

Devin Starlanyl on FM/CMP and Guaifenesin

CFS/FM and Guaifenesin Email Discussion List

International Guai-Support Group


R. Paul St. Amand, M.D.
4560 Admiralty Way, Suite 355
Marina del Rey, CA 90292




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