Chelation comes from the Greek word "claw," meaning "to grab," and that's exactly what chelating agents do. Chelating agents like EDTA travel through the bloodstream "grabbing" on to minerals and metals, such as calcium, lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, aluminum and iron, binding them, removing them from the bloodstream, and delivering them to the kidneys, which excrete them in the urine. Once bound by a chelating agent, the minerals are unable to react in undesirable ways.
The primary use of chelation therapy today is in the prevention and treatment of occlusive vascular disease, including atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Here is what NIH has to say about Chelation for Coronary Heart Disease .
Great News from the Completed NIH Study
Chelation therapy, an unproven alternative medicine in the treatment for heart disease, modestly reduced cardiovascular events for adults aged 50 and older who had suffered a prior heart attack, according to new National Institutes of Health-supported research.
Results from the chelation arm of the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), which will be published in the March 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that infusions of a form of chelation therapy using disodium ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA) reduced cardiovascular events by 18 percent compared to a placebo treatment. Investigators stated that more research is needed before considering routine use of chelation therapy for all heart attack patients. The EDTA-based chelation solution also contained high doses of vitamin C, B-vitamins, and other components.
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NIH (National Institutes of Health) is back on track in sponsoring the largest clinical trial ever conducted on Chelation Therapy.
By doctors such as Belknap, Butler, Spencer, Foreman, Clarke, Dudley, Bechtel, Jick, Surawicz, Boyle, Perry, Kitchell and many more (see References), published in the early and middle 1950s, all relate to aspects of the treatment of arterial disease using chelation therapy.
Since those pioneering days, techniques have evolved and have been improved for the successful application of chelation treatment of the disastrous effects not only of atherosclerosis, but also of circulatory obstructions to the brain in people with some forms of senility (Alzheimer's). Similar benefits have often been observed amongst those who have experienced cerebral accidents (stroke) or who are suffering from gangrenous conditions. Relief and marked symptomatic improvement has been gained in countless instances of high blood pressure (essential hypertension) and problems involving circulation (Reynaud's disease) as well as occlusion of blood flow to the extremities (intermittent claudication).
A description of one of the earliest uses of chelation treatment in treating chronic cardiovascular disease was given in 1976 by Dr. Norman Clarke, Sr., to the California Medical Association, in testimony before its Advisory Panel on Internal Medicine. He described his introduction to the process by research doctors (Drs. Albert Boyle and Gordon Myers) at Wayne University, Detroit in 1953:
Preliminary experience in treating two patients at University Hospital, Detroit, who had calcified mitral valves. The patients were almost completely incapacitated . . . the doctors were very pleased with the results [of chelation treatment] because they obtained very satisfactory return of cardiac function.
Dr Clarke spent many years investigating chelation treatments usefulness in cardiovascular disease, and has stated: 'In the last 28 years of my experience with chelation treatment I have given at least 100,000 to 120,000 infusions and seen no one harmed'
He dramatically described the successful treatment of gangrene using chelation treatment, perfused directly into the site via a drip into the femoral artery, as well as this method's usefulness in cerebrovascular senility: 'After all these years, and with all that experience, I am just as certain as can be that chelation therapy is the best treatment that has ever been brought out for occlusive vascular disease.
Just as the use of chelation treatment in lead poisoning revealed its ability to remove unwanted calcium, so additional benefits were discovered when circulatory conditions were being treated. Many patients with arthritis and similar problems reported relief of symptoms and an improved range of movement in previously restricted joints. It seems that obstructive calcium deposits in these areas were also being removed during chelation treatment.
Other unexpected benefits which chelation therapy has produced in many patients include a reduction in the amount of insulin which diabetics require to maintain a stable condition, as well as marked improvements in many patients with kidney dysfunction (see also Chapter 6 on the potential danger to kidney function under certain conditions of wrong use of chelation treatment). More surprisingly, perhaps, a great deal of functional improvement in patients with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease is sometimes seen. Just how chelation could help in these states is not clear, apart from the unpredictable benefits of circulatory enhancement, and it may be that patients who appear to find relief from the symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases might have had a faulty diagnosis, despite displaying all the classical signs associated with them.
New York studies on hyperactive children, using chelation treatment, have shown remarkable benefits, thought to relate to the removal of lead which may have accumulated in greater quantities in some of these children, due to their relative deficiency of major protective nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C, not uncommonly observed in such children.
There is also well documented Swiss evidence of chelation therapy offering marked protection against the development of cancer as well as a suggestion that it could be useful in treating some forms of this disease.
The safety aspect of the use of chelation treatment has been phenomenal, with hardly any serious reactions being recorded amongst the host of seriously ill people to whom chelation therapy has been correctly applied.
By 1980 it was estimated by Bruce Halstead, MD, (Halstead 1979) that there had been over 2 million applications of chelation treatment involving some 100 million infusions, with not a single fatality, in the USA alone. The most effective use of chelation therapy has, over the 30 years of its successful application, been consistently found to be related to those diseases in which heavy metal or calcium deposits are major factors.
Have there been double blind trials, the yardstick by which so much in medicine is judged? Hardly any, because, as Halstead states: 'It is impossible to administer chelation treatment blindly (i.e., so that neither the doctor nor the patient knows whether a real or a substitute is being used), because it can be readily differentiated from an innocuous placebo by even one unacquainted with the compound'
This is a major obstacle to its acceptance by mainstream medicine, but should not prevent those interested in its claims from examining the objective evidence. It should not require double blind control studies to impress the observer with the possibility that people are actually getting better when severely ill people, with advanced circulatory problems, sometimes involving gangrene, show steady improvement in their functions, better muscular coordination, the disappearance of angina pain, increased ability to walk and work, restoration or improvement of brain function, better skin tone and more powerful arterial pulsations, along with the restoration of normal temperature in the extremities. This is particularly true in many patients who are slated to undergo bypass surgery, and this brings us close to one reason for orthodox medicine's rejection (in the main) of chelation's claims.
It might be that some of the simplistic theories as to how chelation treatment achieved its results may have prevented some scientists and physicians from taking it seriously or of investigating its potential. The current theories as to how calcium is encouraged to leave athermanous deposits in blocked arteries have been well investigated by the proponents of chelation therapy and deserve to be seriously considered in view of the vast amount of illness attached to this area of human suffering and the remarkable results demonstrated by chelation physicians.
Bypass surgery and drug treatment of the conditions which chelation so often effectively deals with are very big business indeed. In the USA alone, $4 billion is the current turnov er per annum of the bypass industry. A lesser, but nevertheless enormous, sum is involved in medication for conditions which the relatively cheap (and now out of patent) substance chelation treatment can be shown to help (see Chapter 5 on bypass, etc.). Such vested interests should not be underestimated when it comes to the lengths to which they will go to try to discredit methods which threaten their stranglehold on the 'market' Chelation therapy continues to grow, however, as public awareness and knowledge increases of this safe alternative to surgery and drugs, many of which are of questionable safety and value.