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1. promoting the secretion, liquefaction, or expulsion of sputum from the respiratory passages
2. an expectorant drug or agent
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a medicinal substance that facilitates the expulsion of sputum by intensifying secretion in the bronchial glands or by liquefying the secretion. An expectorant can also work by stimulating contraction of the bronchial musculature.

The mode of action of an expectorant on the musculature and mucosa of the bronchi can be direct or reflexive. Direct-acting expectorants include terpin hydrate, potassium and sodium iodides, the essential oils of eucalyptus and anise, and turpentine. The active principles in essential oils—terpenes and aromatic hydrocarbons—stimulate the bronchial glands. These oils, which also have antiseptic and deodorant properties, can be ingested or inhaled. Sodium bicarbonate and ammonium chloride are mild expectorants that alter the viscosity of bronchialgland secretions by dissolving mucin. A more effective agent is the proteolytic enzyme trypsin, which decreases the viscosity of sputum by depolymerizing the constituent protein molecules.

Expectorants whose mode of action is reflexive are prepared from the medical plants Cephaelis ipecacuanha, Cephaelis acuminata, Thermopsis, and Polygala senega. The alkaloids and saponins in these plants stimulate the receptors of the gastric mucosa and reflexively intensify peristalsis of the smooth musculature of the bronchi as well as secretion from the bronchial glands.

Expectorants are used to treat bronchitis and other inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract that are accompanied by a cough with a viscous sputum that is difficult to expel.


Votchal, B. E. Ocherki klinicheskoi farmakologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1965.
Zakusov, V. V. Farmakologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Mashkovskii, M. D. Lekarstvennye sredstva, 7th ed. Moscow, 1972. Parts 1–2.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Tending to promote expectoration.
An agent that promotes expectoration.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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M2 EQUITYBITES-March 25, 2016-Perrigo and Allergan launch guaifenesin 1200mg
"Kids-EEZE Chest relief, however, bucks the trend and helps simplify it for parents since it only has one purpose and one ingredient--greating chest congestion with guaifenesin."
Pharmaceutical company Perrigo Company (NYSE:PRGO) and its partner Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) Wednesday jointly reported the availability of guaifenesin 1200mg extended-release tablets to retail and wholesale customers.
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* Comment: "I never recommend guaifenesin because controlled studies have shown no benefit.
Seeking Evidence: Accessing the PubMed search engine (www.pubmed.gov), Clinical Queries and the Systematic Reviews filter type are selected for "guaifenesin and cough." This retrieves three articles.
M2 EQUITYBITES-January 5, 2016-Allergan & Perrigo Company unveils guaifenesin 600mg and pseudoephedrine HCl 60mg extended-release tablets for chest congestion to retail and wholesale customers
In his book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia, he recommends that increasing dosages of guaifenesin, the cough expectorant, be taken to remove the phosphates.
A key driver in the company's growth has been the approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 of the Mucinex patent-protected extended-release guaifenesin product for chest congestion relief.
It's not clear; little evidence supports or refutes the safety of guaifenesin, a common expectorant, in pregnancy.
The FDA did not look into whether there were any reports of adverse events linked to the unapproved guaifenesin products; adverse event reports did not spur this action, she said.
Hycofenix--hydrocodone bitartrate, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride and guaifenesin --effectively relieves three cough and cold symptoms in just one prescription, according to Mission Pharmacal.