How fast and how dramatically we age has
a great deal to do with impaired circulatory efficiency. If arteries could be
kept supple, prevented from hardening and narrowing, the free flow of blood
would be assured and both the risk of a rapid degree of ageing as well as many
diseases associated with age - such as forms of cardiovascular degeneration,
athero- and arteriosclerosis, peripheral circulatory dysfunction, some types
of kidney disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular accidents and premature
senility as well as, in many instances, cirrhosis and kidney disease - could
be prevented or significantly helped if they already existed.
Supporters of chelation therapy claim
just these benefits and yet, despite the many published papers supporting
these claims (see References), many doctors find such claims for the
usefulness of chelation therapy to be controversial, and tend to dismiss out
of hand the chance that they might just possibly be accurate.
Prevention and treatment of
Although chelation therapy for prevention and treatment of degenerative
circulatory diseases is practiced by hundreds of medical doctors in the USA
and Europe, it remains controversial, inasmuch as it is misunderstood, its use
being grossly underinvestigated by mainstream medicine except in treating a
narrow range of conditions such as lead and other heavy metal toxicity or
acute hypercalcaemia (increased calcium levels in the blood). Ironically, as
will be explained in later chapters, it was the medical use of chelation
therapy in removing toxic metals which first led to the discovery of its
hugely beneficial 'side-effects' of dramatically enhanced circulatory
Those doctors who have examined
chelation therapy in action and who have seen its outstanding results in
preventing and reversing so many degenerative diseases, usually change rapidly
from critics to supporters of this essentially safe system.
Imagine someone (a loved one, friend,
a patient if you are a physician, or even yourself) being in great pain, or
being virtually disabled, as a result of chronic circulatory dysfunction. It
might be that there is so much narrowing of the blood vessels to the heart
muscle itself that any exertion would be enough to produce the agony of
angina, a fist-like gripping in the chest, accompanied by severe pain, a
vice-like pressure, gasping for breath and almost total helplessness. Or it
might be that the circulation to the legs is so impeded that taking just a few
steps across the room brings on cramp-like gripping of the muscles of the
lower leg, or severe aching of the upper leg, or both. These symptoms can be
so severe that only a few steps can be taken before stopping is imperative
while the circulation trickles through and the cramp eases (often taking
several minutes), followed by a few more staggering steps as the cycle of
intermittent claudication repeats itself. Or it might be that the abilities to
function at all, perhaps to speak or to use one or other limb, or even to be
able to think rationally, have been largely lost due to impeded circulation to
Imagine any one of these catastrophes
and consider what options remain open to the person facing this hell.
What choices are there?
Chelation is one. In several hundreds of thousands of cases such as those
briefly listed above, chelation therapy has helped to restore normal function.
It does not always do so, damage may
be too severe and irreversible. But it offers a chance for a very safe form of
intervention which can often take the person involved to the stage where
surgery and increased medication become unnecessary and where effective
long-term preventive methods, including exercise and dietary strategies, can
Is chelation natural?
Given the nature of the damage which has already taken place in such
conditions, of the dangers which apply and of the emergency status existing in
many such cases, it is as natural an option as is likely to be found, and is
certainly the safest.
What does medicine have to offer?
Many of the problems listed above relate specifically to obstruction, to the
impeding of the flow of blood, often caused directly by the presence of
concretions in the lining of major arteries.
Drugs can certainly help, but
frequently at the cost of severe side-effects, and none address the causes of
the problem, thus leaving the likelihood of the development of further
disasters. Certainly there are now a host of drugs of varying degrees of
effectiveness, all of which have major side-effects and some of which, while
reducing the risks of the patient dying from the particular circulatory
problem, actually increase the risks of their dying from other causes (see
EDTA: how it works and what it does).
Bypass and other interventions may be possible. These methods (see EDTA: how
it works and what it does) help some but not all, and most are risky in
themselves or have major drawbacks and few can do anything for brain function
if this is the area of the body most affected.
Without question modern surgeons have
evolved amazingly skilful techniques, including the following:
- Balloons are carefully threaded
into an appropriate artery before being inflated in order to compress the
concretions, thus making more space through which the blood can flow.
- Alternatively, instead of a
balloon, a minute laser might be threaded along the artery to the place
where there are concretions so that these can be 'blasted and burned'
- By means of the similar insertion
of a minute, high-power drill or cutting instruments, the obstruction is
partially chiseled or cut away.
- There is perhaps the choice of the
grafting of veins from other regions of the body, or use of those donated
by animals or manufactured from special plastics, by which means the
circulatory obstruction may be bypassed.
It is against the considerable known
risks and variable and often very short-lived benefits - and of the limited
success rate - which most of these methods offer, that we should measure the
'naturalness' or otherwise of a series of gentle infusions into the
bloodstream of a synthetic amino acid, EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic
This was initially thought to 'lock
on' to the calcium cementing material which binds these concretions together
and, by removing it from the scene, to allow the absorption of the rest of the
material in the concretion (cholesterol, etc.). This somewhat simplistic
picture of what happens has since been replaced by more recent research
(described in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5), which explains a scientifically more
acceptable concept of just how the improvements seen in chelation therapy
actually do take place. It was originally thought that as well as leaching out
calcium from atheromatous deposits, chelation therapy removed ionic calcium
from cells in which it should not be present, thus reducing the chances of
local arterial muscle spasms, increasing the free flow of tissue-enhancing,
nutritive-rich blood. These benefits are certainly often apparent after
chelation therapy, even if the precise mechanisms are not as simple as those
which pioneer chelation therapists imagined.
What is known is that once
atheromatous concretions lose the calcium which bind them, after a series of
chelation infusions, the innate natural defence mechanisms of the body aided
by dietary and exercise methods where appropriate, safely take over the
removal of the remaining debris which is impeding the blood flow.
Diet and exercise
For many, these can certainly offer help in the long term and should be
included whatever else is done (drugs, surgery or chelation), but may not
offer the speedy result needed. The exercise element may also be virtually
impossible for anyone with intermittent claudication and out of the question,
or at best extremely difficult, for someone with cerebral ischaemia or who has
had a stroke.
Chelation therapy (combined where
possible with dietary and exercise strategies, and by means of mechanisms
which will be discussed in later chapters) encourages the circulatory
obstructions to be dissolved by the body's own efforts after the concrete
binding the blocking material has been dissolved and removed.
Without doubt it would be better to
use totally natural methods such as exercise and preventive nutritional
approaches. But even if the person so affected were able to comply with the
strenuous demands for compliance in such a programme there might not be time
to do this before time ran out. Compromise as to what is totally 'natural'
would seem to be a small price to pay if the method chosen is safe and is used
as part of a comprehensive approach which not only attempts to restore
normality to the circulation, but to ensure prevention of any recurrence.
Before chelation infusion therapy is
started a detailed study should be made of the patient to ensure that this is an
appropriate approach to the problem(s) of the individual.
A full medical case history and
examination is the first prerequisite, including a comprehensive personal and
family history detailing all aspects of previous health problems and current
status. Questions relating to diet, habits, emotional status, exercise, stress
levels and a detailed listing of symptoms is part of this. A full physical
examination is also required, most notably of all aspects of the circulatory and
An electrocardiogram and chest X�ray
might be required as well as a number of blood tests. Exercise tolerance tests
may be used to see just how the functioning of the heart, lungs and circulation
responds to activity. A commonly used procedure, before chelation therapy is
started, and of major importance in establishing a 'before' picture of
circulatory efficiency, is the use of what is known as bi�directional Doppler
(sound wave) examination.
This is a painless, non�invasive use
of sound waves (ultrasonic) which is used to investigate six major arterial
sites which relate to circulation to the brain, as well as eight sites which
relate to circulation to the legs. The Doppler equipment gives readings which
tell the doctor running the tests three important pieces of information at each
1. It shows whether there is any turbulence which
could relate to breakaway deposits of plaque, etc., which could be involved in
production of a stroke.
2. It checks for any signs of capillary
hardening in the brain, often associated with memory loss and age related
3. The major arteries are assessed for
obstructions to normal flow of blood which could relate to over�burdened
heart function or deficient circulation to the legs.
This sound wave testing takes about an
hour and all findings are recorded on charts so that later tests can be
compared. This is also an excellent way for the patient to appreciate visually
the degree of current circulatory difficulty.
Use of thermographically (heat)
sensitive film allows areas of the body which are not receiving their full
circulatory servicing to be photographed as a record which can be compared with
the same region after treatment.
Among other tests, an initial one is
performed (not for people with diabetes) after overnight fasting (14 hours
without food). This test is usually done around mid�morning, the last food (or
coffee or sugar) having been consumed around 9 pm the previous night. The
fasting blood test gives an accurate idea of cholesterol levels as well as other
key markers. Periodic monitoring of blood levels of cholesterol and other
elements (giving evidence of levels of blood fats, carbohydrates, whether or not
there is anaemia, infection, immune system problems, liver or kidney
dysfunction, etc.) is made during the chelation treatment which can last for
some months, with two or three infusions per week.
Depending upon the condition of the
patient a blood sample may be required before each treatment, or periodically.
A 24�hour sample is required for
assessment of normal urinary output of creatinine, a key guide as to kidney
status. A periodic assessment is made of the creatinine levels of the urine as
the series of chelation treatments progress, but this does not require
collection of 24�hour samples. As with blood testing, the frequency of urine
testing during a series of chelation infusions will vary, depending on the
nature of the problem being treated and the health of the patient.
If there is any evidence that the
kidneys could not be expected to deal efficiently with the elimination of EDTA
during infusion, then the treatment series would be delayed or stopped until
this factor had been dealt with appropriately. As we will see in a description
of important research by Doctors McDonagh, Rudolph and Cheraskin later in this
chapter, kidney dysfunction is often capable of being normalized by EDTA
Diet and other tests
A computerized dietary analysis (based
on the filling in of lengthy questionnaires) of what the patient eats is often
required so that comprehensive dietary and supplementation advice can be given
to the person being chelated, to complement the treatment.
In addition, saliva, sweat and faeces
may need to be tested for a variety of reasons, including assessment of what the
patient's current metabolic and nutrient status is, how well foods are being
digested and absorbed, etc. Whether such tests are needed will depend upon the
individual problems being dealt with.
This non�invasive and inexpensive
method is also sometimes used to provide an accurate indication of heavy metal
toxicity as well as to give some idea of the current mineral status of the body.
The findings from this and the other tests allow the doctor in charge to decide
just what balance of minerals should be added to the basic EDTA infusion
solution in order to obtain the best results.
Once it has been established that there
is a problem which could benefit from EDTA infusion, a series of treatments are
scheduled, either two or three times per week. Most chelation centers treat
patients in a group setting.
A large room with appropriate seating
(usually comfortable recliners) is all that is needed (not unlike a hairdressing
or beauty salon). There are several advantages to this approach:
1. The mutual support of people having
the same procedure is reassuring and encouraging. There will almost always be
someone present who has had a number of infusions and who can give a personal
account of what to expect.
2. The costs can be reduced, since
fewer supervisory staff are required if patients are grouped together in this
3. During the 3 1/2 hours of the
infusion the patient can read, doze, chat, watch TV, listen to a pep talk on
diet or exercise from a clinician (this is a truly 'captive audience').
The infusion itself involves the
insertion into a vein (usually in the hand or forearm, but sometimes the lower
leg) of a needle which is attached to the container (hung on an adjustable
stand), from which is drip fed around half a liter of fluid over the 3 1/2
hours' duration of each treatment. This liquid usually contains 2 to 3 grams of
EDTA and whatever additional minerals the doctor has decided will best help
achieve a balanced blood content.
Among the other substances often placed
in solution with the EDTA are a complex of B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium
(extremely useful for cardiovascular health) and heparin (an anti�coagulant,
enough of which is sometimes used just to prevent any clotting at the injection
site). Cranton suggests (Cranton and Frackelton, 1982) that since magnesium is a
natural calcium antagonist and also the ion least likely to be removed by EDTA
(see Chapter 4), and that it is relatively deficient in many people with
cardiovascular and circulatory problems, it should be supplied with the
chelation process. He suggests that the best way to do this is to use
magnesium�EDTA, which would provide an efficient delivery system and thereby
increase magnesium stores in the body.
When the infusion is being performed,
the arm is kept stable as a rule by being taped to a padded board which rests on
a cushion for comfort. It is usually quite possible (although it is not
encouraged) for the patient to move around freely during treatment (to visit the
toilet, for example) as long as the mobile infusion is wheeled alongside.
The rate at which the EDTA solution is
dripped into the bloodstream can be varied but usually it is at a rate of one
drop per second.
As a general rule, two, but sometimes
three, treatments are given each week, and a total of anything from 20 (for
relatively mild problems) to 30 infusions in all comprise one complete series.
On a number of occasions (sometimes at
each visit) blood and urine testing (as well as other tests) may be carried out
to ensure that kidney and other functions are operating sufficiently well to
cope with the EDTA detoxification. This is obviously more important in elderly
patients or anyone with compromised kidney function. In some instances where a
great deal of circulatory pathology exists, follow�up series of chelation
infusions might be encouraged, with many people showing benefits after up to 100
The EDTA is eliminated from the body,
95 per cent via the kidneys and 5 per cent via the bile, along with the toxic
metals and free ionic calcium which it has locked on to in its transit through
the circulatory system.
In hospital settings, EDTA infusions
have in the past been given daily for up to five days, followed by a two�day
rest period for the kidneys. This protocol is now discouraged by the American
medical group with the most experience of chelation, the American Academy of
Toxicity and cautions
General toxicity Walker and Gordon (1982) inform us that
EDTA is far safer than aspirin, digoxin, tetracyclin, ethyl alcohol or the
nicotine from two cigarettes, in equivalent therapeutic doses. EDTA is used in
thousands of food products (it is in most canned foods) and its toxicity is
known to be extremely low.
In assessing the relative toxicity of a
substance a therapeutic index is established. Firstly, the amount of the
substance which would prove lethal to half the animals in an experimental
setting is discovered by the gruesome process of increasing their intake until
half of them die. This is the LD�50 measurement (LD for lethal dose). When this
amount is divided by the amount required for a therapeutic effect we end with a
number which is the therapeutic index.
The LD�50 of EDTA is 2000 milligrams
per kilo of body weight, whether taken orally or intravenously. In comparison
aspirin has a toxicity equal to 558 milligrams per kilo of body weight. So in
general there is no need for concern as to general toxicity with EDTA usage,
whether by mouth (see Chapter 9) or directly into the blood.
In the early 1950s several deaths
occurred from nephrotoxicity after EDTA treatment. At that time the dosage used
was around 10 grams per infusion, whereas the recommended dose now adays is 3
Halstead (1979) states:
The problem in EDTA nephrotoxicity is
based upon two fundamental principles of toxicology: dosage and route of
administration. Dosage is concerned with both the amount administered and the
rate of administration, or the time period in which the EDTA is given.
It appears that toxicity for the
kidneys may relate directly to too large a dose infused at too fast a rate. In
general, if no more than 3 grams is infused in any 24�hour period (diluted with
500 ml sterile Lactated Ringer's solution or-except in the case of diabetes-5
per cent dextrose solution), with a 24�hour rest period between chelation
infusions (2�3 per week) and if the infusion of these 3 grams (less than 50
milligrams per kilo of body weight) is timed to take around three hours, little
if any danger exists of producing toxicity for the kidneys.
Indeed, research has shown that in
general chelation therapy improves kidney function, particularly if any
impairment to these vital organs relates to circulatory problems.
Improved kidney function after EDTA
McDonagh, Rudolph and Cheraskin (1982d)
have investigated the alleged toxicity of EDTA in relation to kidney function
and their results are worth some consideration.
They examined the results of treating
383 people with a variety of chronic degenerative disorders (primarily occlusive
arterial disease) with EDTA chelation therapy (plus supportive
multivitamin/mineral supplementation) for 50 days.
The measurement of the levels of
creatinine in the blood is commonly used in medicine as a guide to kidney
Creatinine is the end breakdown product
of muscle activity which is cleared from the body by filtration through the
normal kidney. The levels found in the bloodstream are known to correlate well
with the rate and efficiency of clearance, giving a simple way of judging kidney
function. The researchers made specific measurements of the levels of creatinine
in the blood of these patients at the first visit (fasting levels) and then gave
10 infusions of 3 grams of EDTA in a solution of 1000 cc normal saline with an
interval of five days between each infusion (supplementation was also given).
After this the serum creatinine was again assessed.
They found that a very interesting
balancing effect could be seen when the overall picture was revealed, very
similar to that noted when cholesterol ratios were examined (see Chapter 4).
Those people who initially had low levels of serum creatinine showed a very
slight increase; those in the mid�range (normal?) showed no change and those
above the mid�range of normal and actually with a creatinine excess (therefore
indicating poor clearance by the kidneys) showed a drop towards normal.
Overall the total measurement showed an
average decline in serum levels (indicating improved kidney function), but far
more significant, according to the judgement of the researchers, is the
homoeostatic effect in which � whether high or low to start with � a tendency
towards the mid�range (between 0.5 and 1.7 milligrams/decilitre) is observed.
It seems that EDTA therapy may actually
improve kidney function if it is applied slowly with normal dosages.
These researchers make note of one exceptional case
amongst nearly 400 patients tested in this way, and the progression of events is
worth noting as an example which highlights both the initial concerns which some
patients might produce and the long-term benefits of chelation therapy.
This was an 86�year�old female in
whom the initial measurement of creatinine was 1.9 mg/dl, which is regarded as
abnormally high and therefore indicative of poor kidney function. After starting
chelation every five days, a rise was seen in the creatinine levels by day 25
(fifth infusion) to a very unhealthy 3.5 mg/dl. As treatment progressed, it
dropped to 2.8 mg/dl by day 60 and had dropped to 1.8 mg/dl by day 100, some
time after the course of chelation therapy had finished.
As the researchers point out: 'this
emphasizes the need to follow renal function during EDTA therapy, and, one might
add, for a while after, as the benefits frequently are not fully manifest before
about three months after treatment is over.
Special considerations: age, heavy
metals or parathyroid deficiency
If the patient is very elderly, or has
low parathyroid activity or is suffering from heavy metal toxicity which is
damaging kidney tubules, treatment should be modified to use less EDTA less
frequently (once weekly perhaps). Heavy metals damage the kidneys and too rapid
infusion can overload them. Heavy metals most likely to produce kidney damage
during infusion therapy (if this is done too rapidly, that is) are lead,
aluminum, cadmium, mercury, nickel, copper and arsenic.
Renal function tests should always be
performed before chelation therapy is started in which serum nitrogen (BUN) and
serum creatinine is examined. In any case of significant renal impairment, lower
dosage EDTA infusions should be used with extreme caution with suitable periods
of rest between.
Too much calcium removed
If, through inexperience or error,
there is too rapid an infusion (or too much EDTA used), levels of calcium in the
blood can drop rapidly, resulting in cramps, tetany, convulsions, etc. An
injection of calcium gluconate will swiftly control such abnormal reactions.
This hypocalcaemia reaction is almost unheard of where the guidelines given
above are followed as to dosage, speed of infusion and spread of treatments.
Inflammation of a vein
If an infusion into a vein is performed
too rapidly, inflammation may occur (thrombophlebitis). This is unlikely in the
extreme if guidelines as described above are followed concerning dilution of
EDTA with Ringers solution or dextrose solution and slow infusion.
Should the needle carrying the infusion
slip, a local soft tissue irritation may develop. This may best be treated with
use of alternate hot and cold packs. Supplementation with antioxidant nutrients
such as vitamins C and E (make sure of a good source) and the mineral selenium
should protect against such an incident.
Care regarding insulin shock and
During EDTA infusion it is possible for
blood glucose to drop, leading to insulin shock. This is more likely amongst
diabetics in whom no dextrose solution should be used. Patients having EDTA
infusions are advised to have a snack before or during the three hours plus
treatment period. Walker and Gordon (1982) recommend the following strategy:
You should eat something before the
three to four hour infusions, but not high�calcium�containing foods such as
dairy products. Rather, eat adequate unrefined complex carbohydrates and avoid
most sugars, including overripe bananas.
During an infusion they recommend
In diabetic individuals, using
zinc�bound insulin involves a risk of too rapid a release of insulin, leading
to hypoglycaemia and shock. A rapid introduction of sugar is needed in such an
instance and a change in the form of insulin used before further EDTA infusions
are tried. Most people with known diabetes find that with chelation therapy
their requirement for insulin declines.
Congestive heart failure
If the heart is already unable to cope
adequately with movement of fluids, and there is evidence of congestive heart
failure (extreme shortness of breath, swollen ankles) and/or if digitalis�like
medication is being taken, extreme care is needed over chelation infusions,
since EDTA prevents digitalis working adequately. Sodium EDTA would appear to be
undesirable in such people as it could increase the fluid retention tendency.
However, Halstead is adamant that:
Na2 EDTA does not appear to have any
significant deleterious effects in congestive heart patients since the sodium
(Na2) is apparently excreted intact with the metal chelate. However, the use
of 5 per cent dextrose and water is recommended in such cases.
A number of variable side�effects have
been observed with use of intravenous EDTA infusion, including the following:
often relate to the same phenomenon discussed above, of low blood sugar.
Eating before treatment, or during it, will usually prevent this
possibility. It is reported that a common recommendation which prevents 'EDTA�headaches'
is that a banana, not overripe, be eaten during the first hour of infusion.
unusual side�effect should be treated with rest and a bland diet with
plenty of liquids for a day or so. Urinary
frequency is common as kidney
efficiency improves and a weight loss (from fluid excretion) of 3�5 pounds
(1.3�2.2 kg) is common after an infusion if fluid retention was previously
Local skin irritation
result and is usually associated with a reduction in zinc and vitamin B6
(pyridoxine). For this reason supplementation of these nutrients is usually
suggested during chelation therapy.
Nausea or stomach upset
also be related to vitamin B6 deficiency in the less than one patient in 100
receiving chelation therapy who feels this side effect. It is best treated
by B6 supplementation, although short-term relief (up to eight hours) from
nausea can be achieved by applying thumb pressure to a point two
thumb�widths above the wrist crease on either forearm (acupuncture point
P6) for a minute or so whenever the symptom is felt.
relate to a drop in blood pressure. It is common for those who start
treatment with high blood pressure to see a return to more normal levels. If
it were normal to start with, it could drop slightly as well as leading to
feelings of faintness on standing after sitting or lying. Treatment is to
rest for an hour or so when this happens, ideally with the feet slightly
higher than the head. The amino acid tyrosine can safely be supplemented to
help restore normal pressure levels if this symptom persists.
develop in a very few people during the day after chelation therapy sessions
(approximately one in 5000). Whoever is in charge of the treatment should be
told, although the condition normally resolves on its own.
be felt in some people and this is usually the result of a general nutrient
deficiency in minerals such as magnesium, zinc or potassium. Taking a
potassium�rich supplement and/or the regular eating of potassium�rich
foods is suggested before and during chelation (grapes, bananas, peaches,
potato skins), as this mineral may be removed by the process itself.
Pains in the joints
more likely where infusions are frequent (three weekly). An immediate
reduction to once weekly is suggested, and also possibly a reduction in
dosage of EDTA being used, if strong flu�like aches develop. The symptoms
should pass fairly soon if these strategies are adopted.
the legs are not uncommon (one patient in 20), usually at night. The
supplementation of magnesium (either by mouth or in the EDTA infusions)
will usually prevent this happening. If it is added to the infusion this
could be in the form of magnesium chloride or magnesium sulphate. Such
additions also reduce the chance of local skin irritation at the site of the
Other minor side effects have been
reported in the many millions of chelation infusions already given, but all seem
to vanish when the therapy is reduced or stopped. As Bruce Halstead states: 'The
number of significant untoward reactions is probably less than in any other
major therapeutic modality'
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