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Chelation Therapy

Excessive toxic metal exposure from the air (car fumes, factories), food (tinned foods, fish etc), water, dental amalgams, and other sources is becoming a recognized and established underlying cause of both acute and chronic disease. With ongoing medical research validating the link between chronic diseases like heart disease and environmental exposure to toxic metals, it is more important than ever for doctors and patients to be well-informed about the detrimental effects of toxic metals and the potential treatments for heavy metal toxicity, including chelation therapy.

What is chelation?

The Greek word “chele” means claw. Chelation is the binding of metals (like lead) or minerals (like calcium) to a protein “chelator” in a pincer-like fashion, forming a ring-like structure. Chelation is an important treatment protocol for the removal of toxic metals such as lead and mercury from the body’s bloodstream and tissues. Natural chelation, although weak, regularly occurs from eating certain foods such as onions and garlic. A stronger chelation effect can be induced when certain supplements, such as some amino acids, are taken orally.

What is chelation used for?

Chelation therapy is used and accepted within conventional medicine as an FDA-approved treatment for the removal of toxic minerals such as lead from the body in cases of severe poisoning. However, it is also used in a less conventional way: the repeated administration of intravenous chelating agents is used to reduce blood vessel inflammation caused by specific toxic metals and to reduce the body’s total load of those metals, especially lead. It has been shown that the risk of dying from cardiovascular events begins when a person’s blood level of lead is still well within the established normal reference range.

Chelating agent disodium ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid ( EDTA) and is sometimes referred to as EDTA
chelation. EDTA chelation is being used in the treatment of all forms of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, especially heart disease and peripheral artery disease. Although there is less published research in these areas, chelation therapy is also being used to treat macular degeneration; osteoporosis; mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease associated with heavy metal toxicity; autoimmune diseases, especially scleroderma; and fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome with high levels of toxic metals detected with a challenge test.

Does chelation really work?

The most recent study to examine the effects of EDTA chelation therapy showed compelling value for preventing cardiovascular events, especially in people with diabetes who had a history of heart attack. The controversial Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, or TACT, found an amazing 40% reduction in total mortality, 40% reduction in recurrent heart attacks, and about a 50% reduction in overall mortality in patients with diabetes who had previously suffered a heart attack. TACT was a large, randomized, placebo-controlled study published in JAMA that randomized patients to a series of  chelation using EDTA or placebo.

Testing for Metal Exposure

Testing for toxic metal exposure is not straightforward since blood tests typically identify only those with severe and acute toxicity but fail to identify those with toxic metals stored in the tissues due to chronic exposure.

Main Stream

Chelation therapy is not taught in conventional medical school but rather through various professional medical organizations. The most recognized leader in educating and certifying healthcare professionals, including MDs and NDs, in chelation therapy is the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM). ACAM’s chelation therapy training teaches doctors how to diagnose and treat patients with heavy metal toxicity as well as how to use diet and nutrients to optimize toxic metal chelation strategies and protocols.
This article was first published in The American College for the Advancement of Medicine http://www.acam.org.
The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating physicians and other health care professionals on the safe and effective application of integrative medicine. ACAM’s healthcare model focuses on prevention of illness and a strive for total wellness.

History

The term chelation (derived from the Greek chelos or claw) refers to the mineral- or metal-binding properties of certain compounds that can hold a central cation in a pincerlike grip. Developed in Germany in 1935, EDTA was originally used as a means of binding and extracting calcium in the dye industry.

In the 1940s, Martin Rubin, professor emeritus of biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., discovered EDTA’s effects on calcium in biological systems. This discovery led to the product’s use as an anticoagulant and is still used in “purple top” blood-collection tubes. Professor Rubin’s research led him to advance the use of EDTA for treatment of hypercalcemia and, eventually, lead poisoning.

In the 1950s and 1960s, several clinicians began to observe that patients treated for lead poisoning with IV EDTA experienced improvements in their cardiovascular conditions. This observation led to the widespread, but mostly empirical, use of EDTA therapy for heart patients within a growing community of alternative medicine practitioners.

Studies were undertaken, but these were mostly observational or uncontrolled and involved only small numbers of patients. Chelation therapy for other than the approved indications of refractory hypercalcemia or severe lead toxicity remained highly touted but poorly substantiated.

Clinicians practicing chelation therapy were sometimes targeted by medical boards for disciplinary action, irrespective of whether specific patient harm had occurred.

In 1998, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) targeted the American College for Advancement of Medicine (ACAM), an organization that has trained and certified physicians in methods of safe admitration of chelation therapy since the 1970s, for allegedly outsized advertising claims made regarding the treatment of atherosclerosis.

The FTC concluded that there was a lack of scientific studies to support these claims and that pro-chelation statements made by ACAM were false. As an alternative to litigation, ACAM stipulated that it would curtail public pronouncements presenting chelation therapy as an effective treatment for heart disease.
The public’s enthusiasm for chelation therapy remained undiminished, however. Between 2002 and 2007, use of chelation therapy to treat heart disease and other conditions grew in the United States by nearly 68% to 111,000 people.1 As of the start of the TACT Study in 2001, it was estimated that patients received 800,000 individual EDTA infusions per year.

Until the TACT study, mainstream clinicians widely believed that EDTA chelation therapy for conditions other than acute lead intoxication was an unwarranted and dangerous modality. This is true to the extent that excessive doses of EDTA can be nephrotoxic; cases of renal failure resulting in dialysis or death have been recorded. Additionally, transient hypocalcemia provoked by EDTA calcium sequestration can trigger cardiac arrhythmias or sudden death.
But these outcomes have generally occurred only in rare instances where EDTA is administered in too high a dose and/or too rapidly or without regard to a patient’s glomerular flow rate. In 1989, a “Protocol for the Safe and Effective Administration of EDTA” was developed and subsequently updated.  Our oral EDTA is completely safe – IV EDTA has had problems.

History Ref: Intelligent Medicine; drhoffman.com

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