Chelation therapy is a safe and effective method for drawing toxins and metabolic wastes from the bloodstream. Chelating agents administered intravenously have been proven to increase blood flow and remove arterial plaque. Chelation therapy can help reverse atherosclerosis, can prevent heart attacks and strokes, and is used as an alternative to bypass surgery and angioplasty.
Chelation therapy, which clears a variety of heavy metals from the body, leads a double life. In mainstream medicine, it is considered a standard medicine for poisoning with lead, iron, copper, zinc, aluminium, manganese, and other metals. Alternative medicine, however, credits it with far more sweeping medicinal powers. Thanks to its ability to remove calcium - an ingredient in arterial plaque - it is seen as a cure for hardening of the arteries, and hence for heart disease a variety of problems resulting from poor circulation, including leg cramps and gangrene. Its advocates have also promoted it as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, thyroid problems, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, psoriasis and cancer, and often recommend it to boost energy, improve mental alertness and prevent strokes. Although these claims are enticing - particularly if you are facing open heart surgery or an angioplasty to clear the coronary arteries - they suffer from a fatal flaw. When submitted to the kind of 'double-blind', 'placebo-controlled' testing required of any new drug (trials in which neither the doctors nor the patients know who's receiving the treatment and who's receiving a fake) Chelation treatments for anything other than poisoning simply haven't proved out.
Procedure of Treatment
Chelation clears minerals from the body with a chemical called ethylene diaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). This substance is administered through an IV needle inserted in a vein in your finger or the back of your hand. (The solution usually contains vitamins and minerals as well.) The treatments are relatively painless, and are usually given in the doctor's office or clinic. During the treatments you can lied back in a comfortable reclining chair, sleep, read, watch television, drink, eat, walk around, or even go to the restroom, if necessary. Before starting Chelation, you will be given a thorough physical exam. When questioned about your health and that of family members, be sure to mention any allergies and list all the medications you are taking. If you are undergoing the treatments as a remedy for heart problems, you will probably be given a stress test, electrocardiogram, and chest x-ray. If heavy metal poisoning is suspected, the doctor will probably send a sample of your hair to a laboratory for analysis of its metal levels. You may also have other tests to determine how well your kidneys are working and how well your blood is circulating. During and after the treatments your doctor will continue to take your blood pressure, check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and test your heart and kidneys to see how well they're doing.
Treatment Time: Each treatment takes between three and four hours, although, in some cases, a session may last longer.
Treatment Frequency: Advocates of this therapy usually recommend between 20 and 50 treatments. People being treated for clogged arteries may need as many as 100 infusions of EDTA solution, while those who are getting Chelation merely as a preventive measure may only get 10. Treatments are typically given at a rate of one to three per week.
The term 'chelation' is derived from the Greek work chele, meaning 'claw'. Like a claw, EDTA grabs, or binds on to, the metals in the bloodstream and carries them through the system so they can be excreted in the urine. Until the late 1940s, EDTA was more familiar to plumbers than to physicians. It was first used to remove calcium from pipes and boilers. In 1948, it was found effective for treating workers who had developed lead poisoning while working in a battery factory. The US Navy began using it for sailors who had absorbed lead from the paint they used on ships and docks. Then, in early 1950s, Dr. Norman Clark and other physicians noticed that patients treated with EDTA for lead poisoning reported less pain from angina, improved memory, better sight, hearing, and smell, and an increase in energy. The doctors speculated that EDTA might grab and remove calcium-laden plaque from the arteries in the same way as it removed harmful metals from the blood. Convinced from tests with rabbits that EDTA could clear out clogged arteries, some doctors began to use chelation on humans. Later, as the popularity of the treatment grew, its advocates developed another rationale for its effects. Noting that free radicals-compounds that cause oxidation and tissue damage in the body-had been implicated in the development of heart disease, they suggested that chelation could reverse this damage by removing the excess metals that foster free radicals. With the free radicals in check, the arteries could heal, shedding their plaque and relieving the symptoms of heart disease and poor circulation.
Mainstream physicians dismiss these theories. They point out that EDTA cannot pass through the membranes of the cells in the arteries to reach calcium deposits, and that even if it could, the amount of calcium it could 'bind' is negligible. In addition, they say, merely removing the calcium from plaque is not sufficient to make it disintegrate. As for free radicals, they note that the chelation of iron actually increases production of these damaging compounds. And to top it off, the vitamin C often added to the chelating solution can further increase the damage. Why, then, are there so many case reports of successful chelation treatments? Perhaps, say mainstream doctors, because chelation is accompanied by an array of other therapeutic measures. The EDTA solution usually contains additional ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals. Patients are also advised to take vitamin and mineral supplements, follow a low-fat diet, stop smoking, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, reduce stress and exercise regularly. These nutritional and lifestyle changes, alone, can improve health.
Chelation advocates respond by citing the thousands of papers submitted to the American Academy for the Advancement of Medicine, a group of pro-chelation physicians. They say that over 500,000 patients have been successfully treated in the US alone, and insist that the treatments are a safe, effective, inexpensive alternative to coronary artery bypass surgery or balloon angioplasty to clear the arteries. Indeed, they charge that these procedures fail to extend life, and hint darkly that the operations are extremely profitable for the surgeons who perform them. Despite these arguments, every major institution in the medical establishment has dismissed the evidence for chelation as biased and inadequate. None of them-from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Health to the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, American College of Cardiology and American Osteopathic Association-has endorsed the therapy.
Who Should Avoid This Therapy?
For anything other than metal poisoning (which is a dangerous emergency), chelation treatments are not recommended if you have kidney damage, liver disease, or a brain tumour. You should also avoid chelation if you are pregnant or are trying to conceive.
Like the effectiveness of chelation therapy, its side-effects are a source of controversy. Mainstream physicians warn that EDTA can produce serious-even fatal-kidney damage. According to the American Heart Association, other reported side-effects include anemia, blood clots, bone marrow damage, fever, headache, insulin shock, irregular heartbeat, joint pain, low blood pressure, painful and difficult urination, severe inflammation of the area where the needle is inserted and stroke.
Physicians and other professionals who favour chelation strongly dispute these findings. They argue that while some of these side-effects were reported in the therapy's infancy, the picture is entirely different today. In the 1950s and early 1960s, patients received 6 grams of EDTA over a period of 30 minutes. The dosage is 50 milligrams for every 2.2 pounds of body weight (roughly 4 grams for a 180-pound individual) given over three to four hours. Although patients with severe kidney problems may be super sensitive to EDTA, proponents say that in the vast majority of cases, when the treatments are performed correctly, no serious side-effects occur. Indeed, some advocates say that chelation is safer than aspirin-and hundreds of times safer than bypass surgery.