Chelation Therapy and its Proven Impact on Reducing Free Radicals

Chelation therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for metal poisoning (lead, mercury, arsenic, and iron) and some forms of anemia. The medicine injected into the bloodstream binds with these toxins and is excreted through the kidneys. Some alternative healthcare providers use chelation drugs to treat heart disease, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease, but these claims haven’t been well-studied.


The chelating drug, ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA), binds with and removes heavy metals from the body. The chelating agents are then excreted in urine. This process can help eliminate toxicity caused by lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic, as well as reduce the buildup of calcium in blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis. In addition, a chelation therapy near me can also help improve circulation to the brain, heart, and legs, reducing symptoms of peripheral vascular disease such as leg pain during walking (intermittent claudication). It can decrease cardiovascular problems, including hypertension (high blood pressure), by reducing the accumulation of plaques in the arteries. It can lower cholesterol and decrease triglyceride levels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, and other heart-related problems.

Many patients find their symptoms of arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis, high blood pressure, and scleroderma improve during a course of EDTA chelation therapy. This is likely because these conditions often correlate with free-radical damage.

Mechanism of Action

Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and calcium are poisonous in excessive amounts because they interfere with the normal biochemical process. Chelation therapy removes these toxic metals from the body by binding them to other substances that are not harmful (such as vitamins or minerals), thereby allowing the body to excrete them in urine.

Conventional chelating agents such as EDTA, meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid, and penicillamine can complex various metals, rendering them physiologically inactive and enhancing their excretion in the urine. However, their ability to access intracellular metals is limited by the permeability of the blood-brain barrier and other physiological barriers. This limits their effectiveness in slow, low-dose, chronic metal poisoning such as lead or arsenic exposure.

The newer lipophilic chelators, such as DMSA and MiADMSA, may be more effective in these cases. They can be used to bind cellular metals that are not readily accessible by CaNa2EDTA and other conventional chelators. Recent studies suggest that a combination of chelation with antioxidants may be more effective in reducing the accumulation of toxic metals than either treatment alone. This would also enhance cellular protection from free radical damage and decrease the toxicity of chelating agents. Further research is needed to determine the effect of a chelation program on clinical outcomes, including quality of life and vascular deaths, among people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.


During chelation, metal ions are bound to organic molecules that form complexes and are excreted from the body. This is thought to protect the body from toxic metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium. It is also thought to reduce oxidative stress by preventing free radical formation.

The chelating agent 2,3-dimercaprol is a mainstay in the treatment of lead or arsenic poisoning, but it has serious side effects. Thus, newer, less toxic analogs have been developed. However, these agents do not bind well to intracellular metals and cannot cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Therefore, they do not offer protection in cases of low, long-term chronic metal poisoning. In such cases, it would be beneficial to have a drug that not only promotes metal excretion from the extracellular spaces but is also effective in crossing the BBB and binding to the intracellular compartments of the brain.

The use of chelation to remove copper, mercury, gold, and iron is an established therapeutic intervention in the treatment of biliary cirrhosis, Cooley’s anemia (thalassemia major), Wilson’s disease, and sickle cell anemia (iron overload from multiple blood transfusions). It is also used to treat other conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain syndrome, and for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Many chelation regimens involve intravenous infusions of EDTA several times a week for months at a time, followed by “maintenance” doses. 


Chelation therapy uses special drugs that bind to metals such as lead, cadmium, aluminum, mercury, arsenic, and iron. These chelating agents can then be removed from the body through urination. Chelation also helps reduce calcium deposits that cause artery disease. Other conditions that can be helped by chelation include autism, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, the use of chelation to treat these conditions is often inappropriate. A two-year-old girl died after being treated with calcium EDTA to remove heavy metal poisoning, and many children with autism have been misdiagnosed by doctors who prescribe chelation therapy. In addition, chelation may be used to test for lead and other toxic metals in the body (provocative chelation). The provocative test involves administering a large dose of calcium EDTA followed by a timed urine collection to detect the amount of metal in the system. However, no evidence exists that lead mobilization from tissues benefits health. Several studies have investigated the potential of combining chelation therapy with antioxidants such as vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to increase the effectiveness of chelation therapy by decreasing the oxidative damage produced during chelation. 


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