Is Chelation Therapy a Safe Way to Detoxify Heavy Metals?
Toxic metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, have become part of our modern environment. Most of us regularly breathe them in from polluted air, eat them in fish, or even put them on our skin with cosmetic products.
Is there any way to get rid of them? Research is showing that chelation therapy may in fact be one of the best ways to detoxify heavy metals from your body.
How does chelation therapy work?
Chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun) therapy usually involves intravenous injections of what’s called a chelating agent directly into your blood stream. Chelating agents contain molecules that can bind to metal atoms being held in your blood and body tissues. This allows the metal atoms to become mobile and be excreted through your urine.
There are different chelating agents used to remove different heavy metals. Ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA) is a common agent. It’s a synthetic amino acid that binds well to lead and cadmium, and to a lesser degree mercury.
Dimercaptopropane sulfonate (DMPS) is another intravenous agent often used to remove arsenic or mercury. Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA or Succimer) is an oral chelating agent also used for mercury, lead and other toxic metals.
A typical chelation therapy session would be done in a professional clinic. An intravenous line is inserted into your arm and you sit for about three hours while the chelating agent solution slowly drips into your blood stream.
Is it effective for detoxifying toxic heavy metals?
Studies show that chelation therapy can remove metals such as aluminum, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury and zinc from the body.
Chelation therapy is recognized as an effective treatment for acute and higher exposure poisoning.
For example, DMSA chelation therapy was able to increase lead excretion by 12 times in a study group of lead-poisoned adults. Within the first 2 days of chelation treatment, over half the participants had a reduction of symptoms such as headache, lethargy and constipation.
The use of chelation in patients with lower levels of toxic metal accumulation is not as widely studied and is still somewhat controversial.
Preliminary studies have suggested that chelation therapy may help with conditions such as autism and heart disease. However, more research is needed to determine if chelation therapy is an effective treatment for specific health conditions.
Is chelation therapy safe?
It’s important to note that chelation therapy does not only remove toxic metals. It can also remove metals we need to stay healthy, such as calcium and magnesium. Chelation therapy often includes supplementation of these minerals to ensure you maintain healthy levels.
Also, chelating agents are excreted fairly quickly, over a few hours or days. This means an agent will flush out the most readily available metals first. Whereas, toxic metals may have accumulated in your body over long periods of time and are stored in different tissues and locations. This initial chelation “flush” may miss some of the more difficult to access toxins.
Over time, your body will naturally redistribute any stored toxins to regain equilibrium. In fact, levels of heavy metals have been shown to rebound in your blood after chelation therapy is stopped. This is because your body releases deeply stored toxins into more easily accessible areas, such as the blood, creating a potential risk of dangerous levels of toxic metals circulating throughout your body.
This also shows why chelation therapy is most effective as a long-term treatment. It’s recommended to start with small doses administered on a regular basis in order to allow your body time to safely clear the toxins. Chelation therapy is often administered over a course of months or even years.
Is chelation therapy for you?
If you’re concerned about your own toxic metal load and wonder if chelation therapy may help, speak to your doctor to discuss if it might be right for you. It’s recommended to start with a personal assessment that includes lifestyle, work history, diet, toxic chemical levels and an individual analysis of body chemistry.
Be aware that chelation therapy can have side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, poor appetite and skin rash. Rare side effects include heart failure, permanent kidney damage and abnormally low levels of calcium in the blood.
Chelation therapy should only be administered by a trained health professional. Never try to apply chelation therapy to yourself.
To find a qualified practitioner in America, you can contact the American Board of Clinical Medicine Toxicology in Chicago.