Chelation Therapy: What Is It and Why Might I Need It?


Chelation therapy removes metals from your system. Some of the minerals that build up in your body include:

• Mercury
• Lead
• Iron
• Arsenic
• Copper
• Zinc
• Iron

When these metals build up, they become toxic. Chelation therapy gets used in some varieties of alternative health care to treat heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism. But no evidence exists that this therapy works to improve these conditions. Plus, serious side effects that include death might occur if chelation therapy gets misused.

How Does Chelation Therapy Work?

Particular drugs called chelates can bind to toxic metals in your blood. Chelation therapy gets placed into your body via an IV tube or by taking a pill. The drug attaches to the minerals in your bloodstream, and the metals get removed from your body when you urinate. Before chelation therapy gets recommended, your doctor will give you a blood test to see if you have acquired metal poisoning.

What Does the Research Tell Us about Using Chelation Therapy?

Chelation therapy has recently become used for reducing the symptoms of autism, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA has only approved chelation therapy for metal poisoning, however. Here is what the existing research says about using chelation therapy for heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism.


Some medical practitioners believe that chelation therapy treats autism because autism occurs due to mercury in a child’s vaccinations. Studies have shown that childhood vaccines don’t cause autism. Some health care providers continue to believe that chelation therapy can remove metals from a person’s body and improve autism symptoms. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) indicates that chelation therapy provides no improvement in autism symptoms, and might remain dangerous.

Alzheimers’ Disease

Some Alzheimer’s patients have abnormal proteins, beta and tau amyloid buildup in their brains. The increase causes brain damage. No successful treatment has been developed to reverse or stop this brain damage so far. But some researchers believe that a buildup of iron, copper, and zinc causes Alzheimer’s disease. These researchers think that chelation therapy removes these excess metals and might assist in treating the disease. There remains no research to prove that this therapy works for Alzheimer’s patients, however.

Heart Disease

A person gets heart disease when fatty deposits form in the arteries of your heart. When these fat deposits form, the resulting plaque makes your blood vessels narrower. The plaque in your arteries contains calcium. Having a chelation therapy treatment causes disodium EDTA to bind to the calcium in arterial plaque, and clean out blood vessels.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some researchers believe that EDTA works as an antioxidant to protect patients against damage due to chronic inflammatory issues such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Other diseases treated by chelation therapy include:
• Diabetes
• Recovery from strokes
• Memory improvement
• Angina
• High cholesterol
• Multiple sclerosis
• Peripheral artery disease
• Band Keratopathy

The Side Effects of Chelation Therapy

Chelation therapy remains safe when used correctly and for the right reasons. The treatment has side effects such as:

• Pain and burning at the IV placement site
• Fever
• Headache
• Vomiting
• Nausea

Chelating medications don’t discriminate about which metals in your body get removed. They also remove calcium, zinc, and copper, which your body needs to function efficiently. Patients who have received chelation therapy also have low calcium blood levels and get kidney damage due to the treatment.

What does the Evidence Tell Us about Chelation Therapy?

The FDA only supports using chelation therapy for metal poisoning treatment. This therapy remains dangerous when used for unapproved reasons. It doesn’t appear to relieve symptoms or work well for other, unapproved purposes. Chelation therapy products continue only available through a doctor’s prescriptions, and should not get used at home.

If a provider says they use chelation therapy for any reason other than metal poisoning treatment, you should remain cautious about their services. Please discuss using chelation therapy with your regular physician before trying the treatment.


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