Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Value of Guaifenesin (AKA Mucinex)

 In the US, Mucinex is a name brand of Guaifenesin. (  Robitussin cough syrup contains some Guaifenesin )

  By far, the best strategy in order to remain healthy, is to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits as a source of varietal vitamins and trace elements. Drinking plenty of pure water is also important.  In the past fifty years or so, diets in the industrialized world, and particularly in the US, have become more refined, less healthy and higher in many things that we simply don't need. (Like larger amounts of fat and large amounts of refined sugars.)

              Sometimes however, we eat as well as we can and we still develop clogged sinuses, the occasional cold or flu.  Guaifenesin is a drug that used to be available only in a prescription strength. It was most often prescribed for those with very thick mucus, usually accompanying head or chest colds, sinusitis, pertussis, laryngitis,  and sometimes pneumonia. Some people also use it in addition to antihistamines during allergy season.   In my lifetime, it has always been available in lesser amounts in some liquid cough medicines.  In my adulthood, it joined a number of drugs which are no longer prescription, and are available in the US and Canada as over the counter or OTC.  (There is still a prescription strength of the drug which is formulated in a fairly high dose, but more is not necessarily better.)

               Generally, Guaifenesin liquifies mucus secretions and can be of great benefit if you need it. In the US, the name most people know it by is Mucinex. There are a great many preparations of Guaifenesin available as a generic drug. It's even readily available from most dollar store shops that sell medicines and toiletries. The drug used also to be called Glyceryl Guaiacolate, and in some other nations, probably still is.

This generic form is available from Sam's Club fairly inexpensively.

              This is indeed one of the drugs that you and your family should have stocked in your emergency medical kits for home and also in your Family Evacuation Medical Kit.  A larger container can be purchased for home, and a smaller one can be placed in your family evacuation medical kit.  Wal-Mart has been selling a small bottle of pills as a generic for only 88 cents. There is an extended release variety, but most people should simply stock the standard tablets because you are unsure which family members will be using this, and for how long. It often doesn't serve to buy high doses or extended release of something, unless you know you have a clear purpose for doing so.  The tablets I recommend are 400 mg. variety for adults and children over 12.
            If you have younger children or elderly family members who have difficulty swallowing tablets, then your family needs to stock a liquid preparation of Guaifenesin in addition to the tablets you stock for everyone else. 

This is liquid Mucinex.

         The normal dose for adults is 200-400 mg. every four hours, not to exceed 2.4 Gms a day. (That's 2400 mg. per day)   The drug needs to be taken with plenty of water.   Most of us can take 400 mg. every twelve hours and still notice positive effects.   In higher doses, many people can taste it in their saliva and smell the drug in their urine, and it adversely impacts their appetite, and this is why I am saying that often, less of this drug is more, in that if 400 mg. taken twice daily does the trick, then stay out of the higher OTC dosage range which may contribute to nausea.  In higher doses it may occasionally cause some transient diarrhea.

        Children's dosage with regard to liquid preparations of Guaifenesin

Adults and children over 12:     10-20 ml (or ccs)   every four hours as needed

Children ages 6-12                   5-10 ml     every four hours as needed

Children ages 2-6                     2.5- 5ccs  every four hours as needed.

Under age 2                              Contact your pediatrician or family physician.

          Pregnant women should clear this, and any drug with their physician before use, because it can potentially disrupt the mucus plug which is not supposed to emerge until birth is fairly imminent.

           This is a remarkably shelf stable drug, in that it has been safely and effectively used in its pill form, when kept cool, clean and dry, as many as ten years past its manufacture.  Of course, we always shoot for the purchase of a drug with an expiration date as far in the future as possible, whenever this is possible.

           Although Guiafenesin is most often used for the purpose I have described, there is another exciting use.  After some doses of Guaifenesin became OTC, more members of the public began to use it. Some patients who had joint discomfort, or who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia found that when they took it for mucus relief in colds or flu, their joint pains and discomfort seemed much better.  Of course, at first most physicians dismissed this as simply anecdotal information. Eventually a study comparing Guaifenesin for joint pain as compared with a placebo was performed. In this particular study, no evidence was found that Guaifenesin performed better than a placebo.

   Information regarding Guaifenesin Joint Pain Study

Dr. Bennett's Clinical Trial

         There remains a group of patients with fibromyalgia or with arthritis symptoms who do seem to derive clear benefit from the continued daily use of Guaifenesin, and we do not yet know why.  I have encountered such patients myself.

        For most people, this is an innocuous drug.  I thought you all should know of this alternate use.
Before doing a clinical trial on yourself or on someone you love, check that doing so is agreeable to your physician.   If you do try it for this purpose, please let me know if it has any positive impact on your own discomfort.

Mucinex and Arthritis

Note:   The drug's generic name is also Guaifenesin in Canada.   Some of its brand names there are Robitussin Extra Strength, Broncho-Grippex Expectorant, Benylin E, or Balminil Expectorant.  A sugar free preparation is also available.  Those who are seeking a sugar free preparation for adults should consider the tablets rather than a liquid preparation.

For those who wish to read more about it:
Mucinex has a website: