How does chelation therapy work?
Chelation therapy is a process in which a medication called ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) is injected into the body through intravenous injection. The objective is to remove toxic metals, mainly mercury and lead, from the bloodstream. The EDTA allegedly binds itself to the metals in the bloodstream and is then purged from the body through the process of urination. This procedure is used by alternative medicine practitioners, and is the subject of heated debate within the medical community. The following is the opinion on chelation therapy from the Mayo Clinic:
“The safety and effectiveness of chelation therapy for heart disease can’t be determined, even after the results of the largest study conducted to date, the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Neither the American Heart Association nor the American College of Cardiology recommends chelation therapy as a treatment for heart disease, and the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved chelation therapy for use as a heart disease treatment.” [www.mayoclinic.com/health/chelation-therapy/MY00159]
The American Cancer Society writes this about chelation therapy:
“Chelation therapy is one of several effective treatments for lead poisoning. However, available scientific evidence does not support claims that it is effective for treating other conditions such as cancer. Chelation therapy can be toxic and has the potential to cause kidney damage, irregular heartbeat, and even death.” [www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complement/nativemedicine/pharmacologicalandbioloigicaltreatmen/chelation-therapy]
Another potential risk from chelation therapy involves the sudden and potentially massive transit of toxic metals through the renal system as the flushing-out process is occurring. Whether the kidneys can survive that level of exposure to lead, mercury, zinc or any other metal that is the target of the procedure is highly questionable.
While some physicians and practitioners of alternative medicine have made questionable claims regarding the benefits of chelation therapy, it is a tried-and-true method of removing high levels of toxic metals from the body. Whether it provides additional benefits, however, is far from certain.