Chelation, a biologically based practice Biologically Based Therapies Complementary or alternative medicine can be classified into five major categories of practice: Whole medical systems Mind-body techniques Biologically based practices Manipulative and body-based... read more , describes a chemical reaction in which certain molecules bind to metal atoms (such as calcium, copper, iron, or lead). Chelating drugs, such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), bind with metals so that they can be excreted from the body. Such drugs are commonly used in conventional medicine to treat lead poisoning Lead Poisoning Lead poisoning affects many parts of the body, including the brain, nerves, kidneys, liver, and blood. Children are particularly susceptible because their nervous system is still developing... read more , iron overdose Iron Poisoning Iron is a mineral essential to life, but taking too much iron can cause severe symptoms, liver damage, and even death. Symptoms develop in stages and begin with vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal... read more , and other heavy metal poisonings. (See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include a variety of healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional... read more .)
Practitioners of chelation therapy believe that many disorders are caused by having too much of a metal in the body even when people were not exposed to the metal and blood tests do not show high levels of the metal. Thus, they treat many different disorders with chelating drugs.
Chelation therapy with EDTA has also been suggested as a way to remove calcium and thus treat atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis is a condition in which patchy deposits of fatty material (atheromas or atherosclerotic plaques) develop in the walls of medium-sized and large arteries, leading to reduced or... read more and help prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, studies suggest that these benefits of chelation therapy are insignificant or nonexistent.
Possible side effects
Side effects of chelation therapy to remove calcium include a low level of calcium, which can be serious and rarely is fatal. Other possible side effects of EDTA include low blood pressure, vomiting, fatigue, headache, seizures, and muscle and joint pains. Use of chelation therapy may also cause harm by altering other body chemistries, including causing low blood sugar.
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): Chelation for Coronary Heart Disease