Fibromyalgia Patients Say Over-The-Counter Solution Is Working

By Lori Lyle

(LOUISVILLE) -- Last year we told you about an over-the-counter medication being used to reverse the effects of fibromyalgia. But it's not an overnight fix. In fact, doctors prescribing it say it can take months to see significant results. WAVE 3 Medical Reporter Lori Lyle has more.

We first reported in 2005 that an over-the-counter product called guaifenesin could provide relief for fibromyalgia. That story caused such a stir in Kentuckiana that the people who developed the guaifenesin protocol traveled here from California to answer questions.

That's where we met Dottie Anderson. She says she was skeptical at first. "It was like, OK, sounds too good to be true. But then more I thought about it, I though what do I have to lose."

Dottie had been suffering with fibromyalgia for three years and hadn't been able to find a treatment that worked. "I just constantly felt like I was catching the flu, but never having a fever," she said. "Felt I could never get enough rest."

Unable to work, Dottie says she felt hopeless. "The only reason I'd get up during the day, in the morning, was to get my daughter ready for school. That's the only thing that kept me going."

Then she heard about guaifenesin on WAVE 3.

UCLA endocrinologist Dr. Paul St. Amand started using guaifenesin for his fibromyalgia 40 years ago. He theorized that there's an enzyme preventing the kidneys from releasing phosphates. In a phone interview he told us "it's the swelling in those tissues that indicate those are continually day and night contracted tissues."

The guaifenesin, Amand says, binds the phosphorous, allowing excretion.

In Kentuckiana, many people are treated and followed on the therapy at Healing Options, located at 1101 Herr Lane in Louisville.

Staff members at Healing Options map and chart the phosphate filled tissue, then provide treatment.

Nancy Andress was trained by Amand's staff during his visit.

And nurse practitioner Jenny Ostertag who suffers from fibromyalgia herself, has been taking guaifenesin for about six years.

"As soon as Claudia Marek came to town, it was a huge surge," Jenny said. "I mean before then I was always trying to talk patients into it."

Jenny says she wouldn't advise patients to take it if she weren't a believer herself. "I would not even consider offering the treatment if I did not think it was legitimate."

Healing Options offers several therapies for fibromyalgia.

"There's different types of fibromyalgia that responds to different types of treatment. Depending on what caused your fibro maybe, I think there's just so little that we know about fibro still.

What she does know is that "almost everybody I follow have said 'I've gotten some improvement'" (from guaifenesin).

"It's worked for me," Dottie said.

Dottie still has bad days, but nothing like before. "I feel so much better than I did. I'm glad to get up everyday. Before guaifenesin, I didn't have any hope. And I get emotional when I say that. But before, I didn't have any. And now I do."

Jenny just increased Dottie's dose of guaifenesin in January. Dosage varies patient to patient, so even though it's over-the counter, it's still best to use it under a doctor's guidance.

And, there are also some ingredients in everyday items like toothpaste and shampoo that can block guaifenesin's effect, and your doctor can let you know which of these products to avoid.

For more information, contact Healing Options at 502-339-6550 or visit:

Another doctor specializing in treating fibromyalgia patients with guaifenesin is Dr. Stella Staley. Her office is located at 151 N. Eagle Creek Drive, Lexington, KY 40509. Phone: 859-263-0329.

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Online Reporter: Lori Lyle

Online Producer: Michael Dever