The use of a chemical called EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) has been used in this country for these diseases for decades. Despite what you might have heard about chelation therapy, administered by a properly-trained physician and given in conjunction with lifestyle and dietary changes with the use of specialized nutritional supplements, the procedure is an option to be seriously considered by persons suffering from coronary artery disease, cerebral vascular disease, brain disorders resulting from circulatory disturbances, generalized atherosclerosis and related ailments which lead to senility and accelerated physical decline. Chelation reduces the likelihood of complications from Type II plaque, the kind involved in most cardiovascular events, and improves circulation.
Clinical benefits from chelation therapy vary with the total number of treatments received and with the severity of the condition being treated. Many chelation doctors claim that over 75% of patients treated have shown significant improvement from chelation therapy. More than 90% of patients receiving 35 or more treatments have benefited when they have also corrected dietary exercise and smoking habits, which are known to aggravate arterial disease. Symptoms improve, blood flow to diseased organs increases, need for medication decreases, and the quality of life improves.
However, another placebo controlled study did not support the use of chelation in ischemic heart disease with angina. A study of 41 subjects with documented ischemic heart disease who received weight adjusted EDTA chelation therapy at 40mg per kg intravenously and 43 subjects who received placebo for 3 hours, twice per week for 15 weeks and then once per month for 3 months, found no difference in ischemia, exercise capacity, or quality of life measurements. [JAMA, 2002;287: pp.481-486.]
Chelation (key-lay-shun) is a chemical process by which a metal or mineral (like lead, mercury , copper, arsenic, aluminum, calcium, etc.) is bonded to another substance. It is a process basic to life itself and goes on naturally in our body at all times. The chelation that we do artificially is similar, but using a chemical (EDTA) instead of the natural chemicals of the body. Chelation is one mechanism by which such common substances such as aspirin, antibiotics, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements work in the body. Hemoglobin, the red pigment in blood which carries oxygen, is a chelate of iron.
Chelation is a treatment by which a man-made amino acid called ethylene diamine tetraacetic (EDTA) is administered to a patient intravenously, prescribed by and under the supervision of a fully-licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.). The fluid containing EDTA is infused through a small needle placed in the vein of a patient's arm. The EDTA in solution bonds with metals in the body and carries them away in the urine. Abnormally-situated nutritional metals, which speed free radical damage , and toxic metals, such as lead, are most easily removed by EDTA.
Chelation therapy is a course of treatments which usually consists of anywhere from 20- 50 separate infusions, depending on each patient's individual status. Thirty treatments is the average number required for definite benefit in patients with symptoms of arterial blockage. Some patients eventually receive more than 100 infusions. Each treatment takes from 3-4 hours or longer and patients normally receive one or more treatments each week. Over a period of time, these injections halt the progress of the free radical disease, which is the underlying condition triggering the development of atherosclerosis and many other degenerative diseases of aging giving the body time to heal and time to restore blood flow through diseased blood vessels. After several months these injections bring profound improvement to many metabolic and physiologic processes in the body. The body's regulation of calcium and cholesterol is improved by normalizing the internal chemistry of cells.
Chelation benefits every blood vessel in the body, from the largest to the tiniest capillaries and arterioles, most of which are far too small for surgical treatment or are deep within the brain and other vital organs where they cannot be safely reached by surgery. In many patients, the smallest blood vessels are the most severely diseased. The benefits of chelation occur from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet, not just in short segments of a few large arteries which can be bypassed or opened by other invasive treatments.
Being "chelated" is quite a different experience from other medical treatments. There is no pain, and in most cases, very little discomfort. Patients are seated in reclining chairs and can read, nap, watch television, do needlework or chat with other patients while the fluid containing the EDTA flows into their veins. If necessary, patients can walk around. They can visit the restroom, eat and drink as they desire, or make telephone calls, being careful not to dislodge the needle attached to the intravenous infusion they carry with them.
EDTA is relatively non-toxic and risk-free, especially when compared with other treatments. The risk of serious side effects, when properly administered, is less than 1 in 10,000 patients treated. By comparison, the overall death rate as a direct result of bypass is approximately 3 out of every 100 patients undergoing surgery, varying with the hospital and the operating team. The incidence of other serious complications following surgery is much higher, including heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, permanent brain damage with personality changes and prolonged pain. Chelation is more than 300 times safer than bypass surgery.
Occasionally, patients may suffer minor discomfort at the site where the needle enters the vein. Some temporarily experience mild nausea, dizziness, or headache as an immediate aftermath of treatment, but in the vast majority of cases, these minor symptoms are easily relieved. When properly administered by a physician expert in this type of therapy, chelation is as safe as taking aspirin. Patients routinely drive themselves home after treatment with no difficulty.
If EDTA is given too rapidly or in too large a dose, it may cause harmful side effects, just as an overdose of any other medicine can be dangerous. Reports of serious and even rare fatal complications have stemmed from excessive doses of EDTA, improperly administered. If you choose a physician with proper training and experience, one who is an expert in the use of EDTA, the risk of chelation therapy will be kept to a very low level. The American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) provides training and examines physicians for competence in the specialized field of chelation therapy. A physician who has successfully completed the ACAM courses is knowledgeable in the safe and effective use of EDTA chelation therapy.
While it has often been stated that EDTA chelation therapy is damaging to the kidneys, the newest research (in one study consisting of kidney function tests done on 383 consecutive chelation patients, before and after treatment with EDTA for chronic degenerative diseases) indicates the reverse is often true. On the average, there is significant improvement in kidney function following chelation. An occasional patient may be unduly sensitive, however, and physicians expert in chelation monitor kidney function very closely to avoid overloading the kidneys. Treatments must be given more slowly and less frequently if kidney function is not normal. Patients with some types of severe kidney problems should not receive EDTA.
There is no legal prohibition against licensed physicians using chelation therapy for whatever conditions they deem it to be correct, even though the drug involved, EDTA, does not yet have atherosclerosis listed as an indication on the FDA-approved package insert. The FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine, but merely approves marketing, labeling and advertising claims for drugs and devices in interstate commerce.
There is an excellent article on the administration of IV and oral EDTA with suggested doses here. This article should answer the many questions that arise when considering how best to take EDTA.