Heavy Metal Chelation
Chelation therapy is the administration of natural or prescription medications to remove heavy metals from the body. For the most common forms of heavy metal intoxication involving lead, arsenic or mercury, the standard of care typically involves the use of Calcium EDTA. Other chelating agents, such as 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA), and DMSA are also used.
Chelation therapy is a chemical process in which one of the chemical agents above (EDTA, DMPS, DMSA) is introduced into the body to remove heavy metals and/or minerals from the body. Chelation means "to grab" or "to bind." When the agent enters the body, it "grabs" heavy metals and minerals such as lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum, and calcium and removes them from the body.
What is chelation therapy used for?
Chelation is a very effective way to treat heavy-metal poisoning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved chelation therapy for the treatment of lead poisoning. EDTA binds with the harmful metals and both are then eliminated from the body through the kidneys.
Some health professionals have also used chelation therapy to treat atherosclerosis and/or coronary artery disease, although there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that this treatment is effective. Some people believe that EDTA binds with calcium deposits (the part of plaque that obstructs the flow of blood to the heart) in the arteries, and then EDTA "cleans out" the calcium deposits from the arteries, reducing the risk of heart problems. Research results have been inconsistent.
Some health professionals also suspect that EDTA may act as an antioxidant by removing metals that combine with LDL cholesterol, which can damage arteries. The theory is that when you remove metals that flow freely through arteries (such as copper or calcium), you may slow down diseases such as atherosclerosis. Research has not proved this theory, although clinical eveidence seems to support this theory.
Some experts believe that EDTA could remove calcium from healthy bones, muscles, and other tissues, as well as from diseased arteries.
Many people report less pain from chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma after chelation therapy. The theory is that EDTA acts as an antioxidant, which protects the body from inflammation and protects blood vessels.
Is chelation therapy safe?
Small children, pregnant women, and people who have heart or kidney failure should not have prescription medication based chelation therapy at any dose.
EDTA may remove vital minerals from the body along with the toxic metals. Vitamins and minerals are added to the EDTA solution to help keep them at an optimal level in the body to maintain health.
Chelating agents were introduced into medicine as a result of the use of poison gas in World War I. The first widely used chelating agent, the organic dithiol compound dimercaprol (also named British Anti-Lewisite or BAL), was used as an antidote to the arsenic-based poison gas, Lewisite.
After World War II, a large number of navy personnel suffered from lead poisoning as a result of their jobs repainting the hulls of ships. The medical use of EDTA as a lead chelating agent was introduced. Unlike BAL, it is a synthetic amino acidand contains no mercaptans.
In the 1960s, BAL was modified into DMSA, a related dithiol with far fewer side effects. DMSA quickly replaced both BAL and EDTA, becoming the US standard of care for the treatment of lead, arsenic, and mercury poisoning.
Research in the former Soviet Union led to the introduction of DMPS, another dithiol, as a mercury-chelating agent. To date, DMPS has had the most efficacy for removing mercury stores from the body. The Soviets also introduced ALA, which is transformed by the body into the dithiol dihydrolipoic acid, a mercury- and arsenic-chelating agent.
Since the 1970s, iron chelation therapy has been used as an alternative to regular phlebotomy to treat excess iron stores in people with haemochromatosis.
The FDA has approved the use of EDTA and Calcium EDTA for removing excess lead in the body. Calcium EDTA is packaged under the tradename Versenate.