EDTA Chelation Therapy

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Heart attacks are associated with atherosclerosis, a process that results in the accumulation of fats, calcium and other substances in the arterial wall. As a coronary artery narrows, it may become blocked. This results in a reduction of the blood supply to an area of the heart. Heart tissue is damaged and if the area is large enough, the person may die.

The process of atherosclerosis that is so common in Americans can also lead to other diseases. For example, strokes are largely the result of atherosclerosis. A blockage of arteries to the legs can lead to a condition known as intermittent claudication, which is a painful cramping of the legs when walking. Another condition associated with poor circulation to the legs is gangrene of the toes or feet (which may occur when the circulation to the feet is severely impaired), especially in diabetics.

Modern treatment for coronary artery disease has generally emphasized coronary artery bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty and/or medications, although some doctors also discuss diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors. But the vast majority of conventional physicians have largely ignored a treatment being used by many physicians to treat all forms of atherosclerosis. This treatment is called EDTA chelation therapy.

EDTA chelation therapy is generally administered by physicians in the context of a full therapeutic program involving dietary changes, nutritional supplements, an exercise program and recommendations for stress management. Conventional medication is given when necessary and appropriate.

The word "chelation" (pronounced key lay' shun) is derived from the Greek word "chele" meaning the claw of a lobster or crab. The process of chelation refers to a chemical compound being able to grab onto a mineral in a firm, claw-like way. Chelation therapy is the treatment of choice for removing certain toxic metals, such as lead, from the body. There are a variety of available chelating agents. One of them is EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid), which is a synthetic amino acid that is currently approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for removing lead from the body.
EDTA chelation therapy was first used around 1950 to treat workers suffering from lead poisoning. Dr. Norman Clarke of Detroit, Michigan was aware that EDTA could also chelate calcium. He reasoned that since the atherosclerotic plaque generally contained calcium, perhaps EDTA chelation therapy could be used to treat atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. He and his colleagues subsequently conducted a number of clinical studies which did show the benefits of EDTA chelation therapy for all forms of cardiovascular disease. Subsequently a number of other clinicians conducted similar studies and confirm these excellent results. However, since these studies were not randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, the FDA has not yet approved the use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disorders.
The lack of approval by the FDA for the use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease does not prevent physicians who believe in its benefits from administering it to their patients: Once a drug is approved for one indication, it may be used for other purposes, as long as there exists some medical evidence that it is beneficial. This is called off-label use of a drug and is done quite often by conventional physicians with many other drugs.

Although the mechanisms are not fully understood, EDTA, when dripped into the bloodstream, combines with certain metals or minerals forming a complex, most of which is eliminated by the kidneys and found in the urine (a small amount is eliminated in the stool). Some of the toxic minerals that are removed are lead, cadmium, aluminum and arsenic. Removal of these toxic minerals is beneficial to a person's health. This treatment will also remove calcium, which is toxic when it is found in the wrong places in the body, such as in arteries, joints and accumulated within cells. EDTA appears to promote a process that removes calcium from abnormal places and returns some of it to bone, where it is properly stored.

While they are essential minerals, iron and copper may become harmful when found in a free form in the body. In this form excessive amounts of these minerals can promote the production of excessive free radicals (highly reactive chemicals that damage cell membranes and play a role in most chronic degenerative diseases, including atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer and others). By chelating excessive free iron and copper, as well as the toxic minerals mentioned above, EDTA chelation tends to reduce abnormal free radical formation. The reduction of excessive free radical formation may be beneficial to many other conditions besides atherosclerosis. Some clinical studies support the use of EDTA chelation therapy in rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and other degenerative conditions. However, most of the reported clinical benefits from EDTA chelation therapy are in improved circulation after a series of infusions.
One possible pitfall in the use of EDTA chelation therapy is that EDTA will also remove nutritional and essential minerals such as zinc, chromium, copper and manganese. Experienced chelating physicians are aware of this and make sure that their patients replace these minerals by eating a diet rich in minerals and taking oral mineral supplements. Occasionally mineral drips (not containing EDTA) will be interspersed with EDTA infusions.

Results of EDTA Chelation Therapy for Cardiovascular Conditions

With the approach of EDTA chelation therapy combined with dietary recommendations, nutritional supplements and exercise, physicians report good to excellent results in 70 to 80 percent of their patients who have problems due to poor circulation involving the heart and legs. For circulatory problems involving the brain, reported good to excellent results occur in about 50 percent of the patients treated. Symptoms that may improve include: chest pain due to angina, shortness of breath, pain and cramps in the legs with walking, gangrene of the toes or feet due to poor arterial circulation and/or small blood vessel disease (as in diabetes mellitus), dizziness, impaired memory and generalized weakness or fatigue. Often people also report improvement in joint pains and inflammation.

Treats The Whole Body

In contrast to bypass surgery, which treats only the particular arteries that are bypassed, EDTA chelation therapy treats all of the arteries in the body simultaneously. This leads to improvement in circulation to the heart, the brain, the legs and organs of the body. Recent studies show that with treatment there is a gradual reduction of atherosclerotic plaque in large arteries and improved blood flow. However, chelation therapy appears also to work by improving the circulation in small vessels and promoting the growth of new blood vessels. Large vessel blockage to the legs or brain or heart may still possibly benefit from bypass surgery or angioplasty. These treatments are not mutually exclusive and patients who undergo bypass Surgery often benefit from chelation therapy either prior to or after the bypass surgery.

Published Studies Supporting EDTA Chelation Therapy

In contrast to the view held by most conventional physicians that there is no medical literature to support the use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease, a great number of published positive clinical studies do exist.

In the Fall 1993 an important study was published in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine. It was a meta-analysis concerning the effectiveness of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease. What is a meta-analysis you might ask? It is a sophisticated study about other studies on a particular subject. L. Terry Chappell, M.D. and John P. Stahl, Ph.D. identified 40 published studies on the use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease. Nineteen studies met the criteria for inclusion. These 19 studies included data on 22,765 patients. A high correlation coefficient of 0.88 indicated strong evidence for the hypothesis that EDTA chelation therapy was associated with improved cardiovascular function. Eighty-seven percent of these patients demonstrated clinical improvement by objective testing.

Cost Effectiveness of EDTA Chelation Therapy

With the justifiably great concern about the costs of a healthcare program, one important question is whether or not EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease would be cost effective. An answer to this question was suggested in a study in Denmark, which was published in the Fall 1993 issue of the Journal of Advancement in Medicine (the same issue that had the meta-analysis study discussed above). C. Hancke, M.D. and K. Flytlie, M.D. reported on 470 patients with cardiovascular disease who were treated with EDTA chelation therapy. A variety of parameters were evaluated, most of them being objective. Eighty to 91 percent improved, depending on the measurement used. Amazingly, of 65 patients referred for coronary bypass surgery, only seven required this procedure following chelation. In other words, 58 were able to avoid coronary bypass surgery following EDTA chelation therapy. Of 27 patients with arterial blockage of their legs who were referred for amputation of a leg, only three required amputation following chelation--24 legs were saved with chelation. Aside from the savings in mortality and morbidity with EDTA chelation therapy as compared to surgical intervention, the estimated cost savings of insurance money in this study was $3 million. Extrapolating these figures to the United States, the estimated cost savings if EDTA chelation therapy were done on a large scale in place of coronary bypass surgery, would be $8 billion per year.

My Personal Experience With EDTA Chelation Therapy

I personally have been chelating patients with cardiovascular disease since 1976, first in my office in Nyack, New York and since April 1991 in my new modern facility in Suffern, New York. I estimate that I've treated at least 1300 patients during this time with approximately 28,000 intravenous infusions.

I have been active in the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) almost since its inception (as the American Academy of Medical Preventics, AAMP in 1973) and served as its president from 1989 through 1991. A diplomat of the American Board of Chelation Therapy (ABCT), I have also served on this board. I lecture to physicians at ACAM workshops, designed to teach physicians from all over the world about how to do EDTA chelation therapy.
Members of my family and I have received chelation therapy and have benefited considerably. It is interesting to note that virtually all chelating physicians have either taken the treatment themselves or recommended it for their families.
This treatment is one of the most gratifying procedures in my office because most of the patients improve.
Conclusion

EDTA chelation therapy is a promising treatment for all forms of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and some other chronic degenerative diseases.

A more complete review of this subject can be found in my review article published in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine in the Fall 1996.

For references send self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to totalhealth FOR LONGEVITY.
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By Michael B. Schachter, M.D.

Michael B. Schachter, M.D., received his medical degree in 1965 from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&$) in New York City. His post medical school training included a mixed internship in medicine, surgery and pediatrics at the Hospital for Joint Diseases (NYC) and a three-year residency in psychiatry at Downstate Medical Center (Brooklyn, NY). Dr. Schachter is currently the president of the Foundation for the Advancement of Innovative Medicine (FAIM). He is a past president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), an organization consisting of more than 1,000 physicians who are devoted to treating patients with CAM therapeutic modalities.

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