Things You Should Know About The Opposition To EDTA Chelation
June 28, 2010 by Dr. Michael Cutler
What is EDTA Chelation?
Ethylene diaminetetracetic acid (EDTA) taken orally or intravenously is well known to open up small blood vessels and allow them to be more elastic. Angina pectoris and lower extremity claudication are the two classic blood perfusion problems that are often clinically improved with EDTA chelation therapy. It is known to improve blood pressure, and slow or stop the progression towards atherosclerosis.
Some Things You Should First Know About The Opposition To EDTA Chelation
Even most practicing physicians are completely unaware that less than 20 percent of all bio-medical scientific literature (including all languages) is available to you on the National Library of Medicine’s Index Medicus and its public MEDLINE access at www.pubmed.com. Therefore, doing a computer search for positive outcome studies using EDTA chelation therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular conditions will be deceptively negative.
Unfortunately, there are studies in which negative results from EDTA appear to be scientifically proven. But when we look at these studies we can see how researchers report negative result interpretations of what are actually positive results. More specifically, these negative misleading reports were the 153-patient Danish study, the 17-patient New Zealand study, the 20-patient infusion Heidelberg Trial, the most recent Canadian PATCH study published in 2002, and several such studies used to persuade and confuse.
Unfortunately, once they publish their junk reports to discredit EDTA chelation into mainstream medical journals, the professional community becomes misled and biased against chelation. In fact, you will find that most of the peer-reviewed literature available on the National Library of Medicine’s public access website (www.pubmed.com) is quite stacked with negative results and opinions towards the use of EDTA chelation for cardiovascular conditions (conditions other than lead poisoning).
For example, authors like R. Magee who published his opinion in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1985 stated the following: “Edetate disodium (EDTA) is a chelating agent which has no place in the treatment of atherosclerosis and its complications. Also, its toxic effects can cause other problems which may lead to a fatal outcome. Proper investigation and treatment may sometimes be delayed by a patient’s faith in such therapy.”1
But this same author (R. Magee) published an opinion paper in another Australian journal in 2002 entitled, “Quacks: fakers and charlatans in medicine.” In this “scientific paper” he further pushes his dogmatic views: “Alternative medicine has always had an attraction for some members of the community, and this has extended into the twentieth century. Examples are given of therapies, such as that for the treatment of cancer and arterial disease, in recent years that can only be described as modern-day quackery.”2
Yet there are thousands of physicians who have witnessed the value of chelation therapy in practice and who are familiar with the supporting literature. They have no substantial financial incentive to show benefits of chelation therapy.
For example, these authors also published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and state the direct opposition to R. Magee. They conclude as follows: “The authors conclude that EDTA chelation therapy is a valuable therapeutic option for vascular disease, either alone or in conjunction with standard treatment protocols.”3
And a seasoned scientist from U.C. Berkeley published the following: “EDTA chelation therapy appears to achieve revitalization of the myocardium, and is a viable alternative or adjunct to revascularization. Fish oils are now proven to help revitalize vessel wall endothelia and to partially reverse atherosclerotic damage. Being safe and having proven benefits, chelation therapy and fish oils can be integrated together with nutrients, lifestyle-dietary revision, exercise, and medications as necessary, into a cardiovascular revitalization strategy.” These latter authors present various interventions that are proven beneficial in their papers, while the anti-chelationists report only the negative information about chelation.
You might be interested to also know that statistical analyses of the more carefully performed studies on chelation show that the probability that these positive results are due to random chance alone ranges from less than one in 1,000 to less than one in 10,000. You deserve to be informed of the risks and benefits of all types of valuable interventions, not just the ones that are highly profitable for doctors and pharmaceutical companies. So now let me share with you just some of the eye-opening research in favor of EDTA chelation.
Research In favor Of EDTA Chelation
Oral EDTA Chelation Is Actually Extremely Safe—It’s In Your Food
Did you know that taking an oral chelation supplement is many times safer than taking an aspirin a day? The Journal of Chronic Disease reported in 1963 that EDTA was approximately one third as toxic to the body as aspirin.4 And toxicological studies demonstrate it to be over five times more dangerous in rat studies.5 However, that was before the effect of aspirin on a bleeding stomach was fully realized. Now, more than 40 years later, Dr. Gary Gordon, the leading authority on oral chelation, has declared EDTA “300 times safer than aspirin!”
And if oral EDTA is considered “a true health hazard,” then why has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for use in foods that are enjoyed by everyone from our youngest babies to our oldest seniors? EDTA, first synthesized in Germany in 1935, is a simple amino acid, very similar in composition to common household vinegar. According to drug safety standards, EDTA has been shown to be three times safer than aspirin.
EDTA so safely binds to harmful oxidizing transition metals in our foods that its widespread use is easily justified to stabilize fats, oils and vitamins… to keep potato products from turning brown… to keep fish and shellfish looking fresh in the supermarket… to maintain the flavor and consistency of milk products… protect canned vegetables… and can hardly be considered a true health hazard. In fact, your personal consumption of EDTA from food sources has been estimated at between 15 milligrams (mg) and 50 mg per day, though it can safely be given in doses up to 1, 000 mg daily to adults.
From 1970 to 1980 approximately 100,000 U.S. patients received in excess of 2,000,000 treatments of EDTA chelation without one report of significant toxicity.6 I will venture to say that this “drug” exceeds the safety of any and every other drug currently used in medicine.
Oral EDTA Chelation Removes Toxic Metals
Oral chelation with EDTA is known to cause your body to excrete the toxic minerals lead (toxic to brain and nerves) and cadmium (toxic to kidneys) out your urinary tract.
Did you know that even a slightly increased lead level raises your chance of death by 46 percent? Two important studies expose what many toxicologists have been saying for years about the destructive effect that metals have on brain function. In a 2002 article in Archives of Internal Medicine the analysis of a study conducted between 1976 and 1992 of 4,292 individuals from age 30 to 74 were found to have a slightly elevated blood lead level—comprising 15 percent of the population. Among these people with slightly elevated blood lead levels there was a 46 percent increased death rate (all-cause mortality) compared to those with completely “normal” blood lead levels.
Actually, there is no safe lead level. In other words, any detectable lead level is a risk to your health. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003 reported a consistent and direct correlation with blood lead levels in children and their worsening IQ levels at ages 3 and 5 even down into the “normal range,” such that there is no safe level of lead. They concluded with saying, “These findings suggest that more U.S. children may be adversely affected by environmental lead than previously estimated.”
But the ability of oral chelation to eliminate toxic metals gets even better. The University of Michigan recently hosted scientists and researchers from all over the world at a conference on toxic heavy metals. Along with the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of chelation for a wide range of conditions, a study on oral chelation was presented showing the heavy metal urine analyses on 14 patients ages 29 to 73 before and then after only one dose of an oral chelation EDTA product. Results showed a significant excretion of all six of the toxic heavy metals most commonly encountered. The following are the average percentages of heavy metal excretion increases in the 14 patients after just one day of oral EDTA: Aluminum: 229 percent; Arsenic: 661 percent; Cadmium: 276 percent; Lead: 350 percent; Mercury: 773 percent; and Nickel: 9,439 percent! So please don’t be scared into thinking that oral chelation is a “health hazard” because you may lose some trace elements along with the toxic ones. In fact, let me comment on trace element excretion and oral EDTA.
Oral EDTA Chelation—Trace Mineral Excretion Effect Easily Overcome
It is true that along with causing you to lose toxic heavy metals, EDTA can also cause you to lose the important trace minerals zinc and calcium if you don’t get enough in your diet. That is why the simple recommendation to supplement with zinc and calcium with oral chelation has proven to more than make up for this trace mineral excretion. Essentially, the potential of trace mineral depletion of any consequence to your health is minimal according to the research by Dow Chemical and also a 2000 report published in Food Chemical Toxicology.7, 8 Even better news is that EDTA appears not to deplete the trace minerals cobalt, chromium and copper. Fortunately, EDTA causes a slight retention of the beneficial trace mineral magnesium.9
Other research shows that trace minerals become even more bio-available with oral EDTA.10 At the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) Bioavailability Conference, the ENVIRON International Corporation’s report regarding mineral absorption revealed that EDTA is a dietary factor that enhances the absorption of zinc with protein, cysteine, citrate and methionine.11 Therefore, making the blanket statement, “EDTA is not recommended for oral use” based on its trace metal excretion properties is like advising you to never drive your car because of your risk of getting into a dangerous accident—or abstaining from eating fruits and vegetables because of the risk of pesticide poisoning. Therefore, let me point more benefits of EDTA chelation. I do not include in this report the thousands of individuals that have received benefit from oral chelation and reported it to True Health™
Dosing with oral EDTA is much more liberal since absorption is much less, estimated at 5 percent to 18 percent of I.V. EDTA. Given the established safety of EDTA, in clinical practice doses of 300 mg to 1,000 mg daily is found to be safe and effective. Unless a patient has kidney disease, there is no ongoing monitoring needed and there are no adverse reactions being reported in millions of patient doses.
Benefits On Heart And Blood Vessels—Amazingly Effective
Studies showing the benefits of EDTA chelation began in 1953 when Dr. Norman Clarke Sr. and associates of Detroit, Mich., began using EDTA chelation to reduce coronary heart disease. In 1956, they had treated 20 patients who were suffering from chest pain. Out of the 20 patients, 19 had "remarkable" improvement in symptoms.12
For several years, many small studies and clinical observations were growing among open-minded physicians who saw the tremendously expensive mainstream medicine’s approach to treating heart disease—open heart surgery.
Did you know that from 44 percent to 85 percent of coronary artery bypass surgery has been routinely performed without patients even meeting criteria for benefit?13,14 Yet mainstream medicine (where the power and the money is) consistently supports such flagrant abuses of surgery all the while ignoring EDTA chelation therapy. These over-riding recommendations come from the cardiovascular surgeons, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology. Yet even the American Medical Association admits that 44 percent of coronary artery bypass surgeries are done for inappropriate reasons.15
In this environment further studies continued to demonstrate successes with EDTA chelation therapy, only to penetrate the minds of physicians willing to find safer treatments for mild to moderate heart and blood vessel conditions.
A Retrospective Study Of 2,870 Patients Shows 89 Percent Get Good Or Marked Results!16
In 1988 a 28-month retrospective study of 2,870 patients with documented atherosclerosis and other degenerative illnesses, researchers Efrain Olszewer, M.D. and James P. Carter, M.D., Dr.PH., found that when they were treated with disodium magnesium EDTA chelation therapy there were remarkable benefits in multiple areas of health.
- 76.9 percent of treated patients with ischemic heart disease had marked improvement and 17 percent had good improvement.
- 91 percent of treated patients with intermittent claudication (sign of advanced peripheral vascular disease) had marked improvement and 8 percent had good improvement
- 24 percent of treated patients with cerebrovascular and other degenerative cerebral diseases had marked improvement and 30 percent had good improvement.
- Three of four treated patients with scleroderma had marked improvement and one had good improvement.
- 75 percent of all patients with symptoms of vascular origin had marked improvement
- In summary, 89 percent of all treated patients had marked or good improvement independent of pathology!
Improvement By 80 Percent To 90 Percent Found In A 470-Patient Prospective Study17
In 1993 two well-respected Danish doctors, Hancke and Flytlie, measured improvements in several different criteria among 470 patients who were followed for six years after receiving chelation therapy. They found a 90 percent improvement reported in 265 patients with documented coronary artery disease. Of these, 65 had already been referred for bypass surgery before chelation. And an impressive 58 out of these 65 improved so dramatically after chelation therapy that completely avoided surgery. For those patients using nitroglycerine to control their angina chest pain, 189 out of 207 were able to reduce their consumption because of EDTA chelation, and most of these discontinued nitroglycerine altogether. And 24 out of 27 patients awaiting foot or leg amputation actually avoided surgery.
EDTA Chelation Therapy Gets 88 Percent Improvement In Cardiovascular Function: A Meta-Analysis
In 1994 researchers L. Terry Chappell, M.D., and John P. Stahl, Ph.D., performed a meta-analysis of currently available studies using I.V. EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease. In their search they identified 40 articles on the subject. Of the 19 studies which met their criteria for a valid study, there were 22,765 patients included. Their analysis revealed that on average there was an 88 percent positive relationship between EDTA therapy and improved cardiovascular function as demonstrated by clinical improvement and also by objective before-and-after testing. Then, to add confidence in the effectiveness of EDTA treatment, they collected unpublished "file drawer" data from 32 clinicians who utilize intravenous EDTA and found improvement in 1,086 of the 1,241 patients (88 percent).18
As a result of historical success and ongoing clinical satisfactory results with patients, an estimated 1,526 U.S. doctors currently recommend EDTA chelation as a central focus of therapy to their patients. And chelation therapy has been given to more than 1 million Americans and 3 million patients in Canada, Europe, Australia and South America.
Benefits On Blood Thinning And Possibly Cholesterol-Lowering
There is evidence that oral EDTA also has the health benefit of causing an anticoagulant and anti-platelet effect. This is thought to occur through its effect of chelating calcium ions.19,20 Other ways it has been shown to keep your blood thin is by prolonging prothrombin time21 and has effects on platelets22 and cell membranes23 and is thought to lower cholesterol.24
Benefits On Musculoskeletal, Skin, Neurological And Cardiovascular Symptoms
After an approximate 26 infusion of EDTA plus multivitamin and mineral replacement, the following conditions improved: 25
- Of 101 patients with musculoskeletal complaints, there was a 31 percent improvement.
- Of 64 patients with skin complaints, 28 percent had improvement.
- Of 108 patients with neurological complaints, 23 percent had improvement.
- Of 130 patients with heart or blood vessel complaints, 22 percent had improvement.
Benefits On Diabetes
EDTA and supplemental chromium have both been shown to improve blood glucose, lipids and insulin activity in diabetic patients as reported in the December 1999 issue of Biological Trace Element Research26 Testomonials to this are also mounting with the use of oral EDTA chelation supplements.
As millions of Americans and others around the world continue to use I.V. chelation therapy, they are reporting other health benefits not studied in clinical studies. The following is a sampling of results I have personally read from patient testimonials regarding an oral chelation product:
- High cholesterol, homocysteine levels and blood pressure are reduced to normal levels.
- Irregular heartbeat and palpitations are reduced or eliminated.
- Chest pains are eased and chronic shortness of breath is reversed.
- Heart and brain vessel blockages are dramatically reduced.
- Cold, numb and painful extremities are warmed and soothed.
- Swelling of the lower legs and ankles are alleviated.
- Painful and stiff joints are alleviated.
- Blood sugar imbalances are improved.
- Chronic infections are less frequent.
- Enlarged prostate symptoms are reduced.
- Insomnia is replaced by deep, restful sleep.
- “Floaters” in the eye diminish.
- Male erectile problems are reversed.
- Age-related cognitive decline and memory loss are halted or even improved.
- Skin problems vanish—face regains youthful elasticity.
Indeed, opponents to EDTA chelation therapy have made it a controversial subject, but it really isn’t. The truth is, most doctors are inexperienced in chelation and understand little about how it works. They are simply uninformed.
Consider the treatment costs of cardiovascular disease using standard interventions to Americans is over $100 billion dollars annually, and one bypass graft surgery alone is approximately $44,000 including all costs involved. This “standard of care” surgery has been harshly criticized to be over-prescribed and often unnecessary by numerous leading medical doctors and authorities. Yet the machine of orthodox medicine continues to charge Americans the big bills—even though nearly 20,000 people die every year as a result of bypass graft surgery or balloon angioplasty.27
Finally, when you consider that there are 1.2 million new and recurrent heart attacks per year in the U.S. annually, along with 15.8 million victims of angina28, doesn’t it make sense to find a safe and effective alternative to standard treatments for this condition? EDTA chelation therapy is part of the better answer, and oral chelation is the simplest way to get a constant low dose of EDTA to open up or keep open small arteries for optimum blood flow to organs.
- 1 Magee R. Chelation treatment of atherosclerosis. Med J Aust. 1985 Apr 29;142(9):514-5.
- 2 Magee R. Quacks: fakers and charlatans in medicine. Pharm Hist Aust. 2002 Mar;(16):9-11.
- 3 Chappell LT, Janson M. EDTA chelation therapy in the treatment of vascular disease. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 1996 Apr;10(3):78-86.
- 4 Foreman H. Toxic side effects of EDTA. Journal of Chronic Disease (16) 319-323
- 5 In The Scientific Basis of EDTA Chelation Therapy by Bruce Halstead, M.D. (1979, Golden Quill Publishers, Colton, CA) reference is made to toxicological studies of Barnes (1964), Stecher (1968), Christensen (1974), and Catsch (1976).
- 6 In The Scientific Basis of EDTA Chelation Therapy by Bruce Halstead, M.D. 1979, Golden Quill Publishers, Colton, CA.
- 7 Dow™ Chemical Company, “Versene: Food-Grade EDTA.” Form No. 194-1256-194XAMS:1995.
- 8 Heimbach J, Rieth S, Mohamedshah F, Slesinski R, Samuel-Fernanco P, Sheehan T, et al. Safety assessment of iron EDTA [sodium iron (Fe3+) ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid] : summary of toxicological fortification and exposure data. Food Cheml Toxicol. 2000;38:99-111.
- 9 Waters RS, Bryden NA, Patterson KY, Veillon C, Anderson RA. EDTA chelation effects on urinary losses of cadmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, magnesium, and zinc. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2001 Dec;83(3):207-21
- 10 Detergent Ingredient Review Committee. EDTA & the environment: questions & Answers. Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association. October 1995.
- 11 Mohamedshah F. Mineral absorption: zinc, selenium, chromium, calcium. Slide presentation at: National Institute of Health Bioavailability Conference; January 5, 2000.
- 12 Clarke NE, Clarke CN, Mosher RE. Treatment of angina pectoris with disodium ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid. Am J Med Sci. 1956;232:654-666.
- 13 Preston TA: Marketing an operation: Coronary artery bypass surgery. J Holistic Med 1985;7(1):8-15.
- 14 Luchi RJ, Scott SM, Deupree RH, et al: Comparison of medical and surgical treatment for unstable angina pectoris. N Engl J Med 1987;316(16):977-984.
- 15 Winslow CM, Kosecoff JB, Chassin M, et al: The appropriateness of performing coronary artery bypass surgery. JAMA 1988;260:505-509.
- 16 Journal of Advancement in Medicine, Volume 2, Numbers 1/2, Spring/Summer 1989
- 17 Hancke C, Flytlie K. Benefits of EDTA chelation therapy on atherosclerosis: A retrospective study of 470 patients. Journal of Advancement in Medicine. 1993;6(3):161-171.
- 18 Journal of Advancement in Medicine Volume 7, Number 3, Fall 1994
- 19 Godal HC. The effect of EDTA on human fibrinogen and its significance for the coagulation of fibrinogen with thrombin. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 1960;12(suppl 53):1-20.
- 20 Capet-Antonini FC. Role of calcium in the structure of fibrinogen. Biochem Biophys Acta. 1970;200:497-507.
- 21 Zucker MB. Some effects of ethylene-diaminetetraacetate (EDTA) on blood coagulation. Am J Clin Path. 1954;24:39.
- 22 White JG. Effects of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) on platelet structure. Scan J Haemat. 1968;5:241-254.
- 23 Halstead BW, Rozema, TC. The Scientific Basis of EDTA Chelation Therapy. 2nd ed. Landrum, SC: TRC Publishing; 1997.
- 24 Schroeder HA. A practice method for the reduction of plasma cholesterol in man. J ChronicDis. Nov 1956;4(5):461-468.
- 25 In: Cranton EM, ed. A Textbook on EDTA Chelation Therapy, Second Edition. Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing Company; 2001
- 26 Anderson RA, Bryden NA, Waters RS. EDTA chelation therapy does not selectively increase chromium losses. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1999 Dec;70(3):265-72.
- 27 49Walker, M., D.P.M., and Shah, H., MD Everything You Should Know About Chelation Therapy (New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing), 96.
- 28 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Atherosclerotic Risk in Communities [ARIC] Study and Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), cited at http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4591