Lately, I have been spending a good bit of time paying attention to Lymphedema discussion groups on Facebook on a variety of topics. One recent topic that has taken my interest is the use of the medication Guaifenesin as a means of relief and treatment for Lymphedema.
A patent filed on Jun 25, 2001, by Samuel K. Yue, MD. identifies Lymphedema as:
Lymphedema or “high protein edema” is a deficiency, blocking or dysfunction of the lymphatic system that limits the flow of lymph fluid from a body area. Any sustained accumulation of proteins delivered to the body tissue by the blood capillaries, and not removed by the lymphatic system, will cause an accumulation of high protein fluid in the interstitial areas of the body tissues resulting in Lymphedema or “high protein edema”.
I could break the patent down in all of its technical descriptions and details but I will spare you the interpretation. Dr. Yue’s method of using the expectorant Guaifenesin to treat Lymphedema and Fibromyalgic patients is quite intriguing, to say the least. I will, however, share this paragraph which explains the of using this for treatment.
The inventor disagrees with the basic assumption and hypothesis on the inner working of guaifenesin. The inventor believes that guaifenesin’s activity is its ability to break down undigested protein, and antigen-antibody complexed protein within the tissues and lymphatic nodes and vessels to reduce fluid accumulation and therefore reduce lymphedema. Guaifenesin is an expectorate and it thins out proteinaceous secretions from our lungs by directly and/or indirectly through stimulating macrophages to breaking the proteins into its amino acids components. The inventor believes that guaifenesin break down the proteins within the blood stream, tissues, and the lymphatic system. By maintaining a high level of guaifenesin within the blood stream, the “foreign” proteins within the tissue, antigen-antibody protein complexes within the lymph nodes will be broken down allowing the broken down amino acid particles to diffuse across the tissue into the lymphatic drainage. With this fluid switch from the lymphatic to the systemic circulation diuresis ensues without affecting the potassium metabolism within the kidney. The inventor has also observed lymphedema that occurs in non-fibromyalgia patients that responds well to guaifenesin therapy resulting in reduction of the swelling. Fibromyalgia patients on guaifenesin have also been observed to have reduction of the painful and swollen lymph nodes. They have also been observed to have different rate of swelling reduction of one extremity versus the other, with the more swollen extremity slowly catching up with the other over time. These observations confirm the hypothesis that guaifenesin works on the “foreign” protein or antigen-antibodies protein complexes within the tissues and lymphatic system. With different size “foreign” protein and antigen-antibody protein complexes, guaifenesin’s action on these proteins in various part of the body will proceed with different rate resulting in different rate of swelling reduction in different part of the bodies.
I encourage you to read the language of the patent and share it with your Physician. I printed a copy and took it to him. My Primary Care Physician was quite interested in learning more. He approved for me to begin taking Guaifenesin, and looks forward to seeing the results, either way, they may go.
I will be starting at 600mg sustained release version twice a day (every 12 Hours) for the first month. I will be keeping a report at dosage times of noticeable effects and general observation. I will self-evaluate the effectiveness of the dosage after the first month, and adjust upward as seems appropriate. I will be reporting this data and the corresponding dosage changes to my Primary Care Provider Electronically as well.
I will be following up on this topic weekly on my Hoffy’s World Blog “Living With Lymphedema” Column and sharing it through the various interest groups on social media as well.
If you have any experience with this means of treatment or are a provider who uses this medicinal therapy I’d love to hear your experiences so please comment either on my blog or on social media.