By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© January 2015, The Center For Development
Chelation therapy is the use of specific chemical substances, either synthetic chemicals or natural ones, to remove a few toxic metals from a person’s body. It is used mainly by holistic doctors and naturopaths. It is not an officially “approved therapy” for most conditions in conventional medical care today. It is most commonly used to remove calcium deposits from the arteries.
The word, to chelate, means to grab onto something. Thus, chelating agents are substances that have a strong ability to grab onto toxic metals.
Not the same as chelated minerals. Chelation therapy is completely different from the concept of chelated minerals. The latter are minerals that are tightly bound to specific mineral transporters so that they are absorbed faster and better into the body inside the intestinal tract. In fact, our bodies naturally chelate or bind minerals in the stomach and intestines in order to absorb them properly.
Chelation therapy, however, has nothing to do with absorbing minerals. It has to do with removing minerals by the use of a chemical that binds to them tightly.
Overall recommendations. I would definitely avoid chelation therapy. True, it is safer than bypass surgery, and less costly, but it is not needed, and it is not safe enough. Many people today are told that the more they chelate their heavy metals, the better. This is insane advice, as this article will explain.
I wish I could recommend chelation therapy, but I cannot. Everything that can be done with chelation therapy can be done better with a complete nutritional balancing program, so that is what I suggest.
A CHELATION TESTIMONIAL
Here is an email I received. One can argue that the timing of his stroke was purely coincidental, and not related to his chelation therapy. However, I think this is unlikely.
The patient was a young adult, and seemingly healthy at the time he had chelation. Today, unlike the past, people who seem healthy may not be that healthy, and this can complicate chelation therapy.
Dear Dr. Wilson,
I was treated by my naturopath with 2 chelation treatments to remove heavy metals in June 2012. The day after the second treatment I had a severe migraine, that Tylenol not Advil would help at all. The morning of the next day the headache continued until I collapsed at work. My first aid attendant at work called 911 and I was in emergency room in 17 minutes, where they scanned and found I had a brain stem hemorrhage. The doctors said that in another 30 minutes I would have died.
My blood pressure was so high I was put into drug-induced coma, where I remained for the next 9 days! When they took me out of the coma, my kids were told your dad is alive, but will likely have "serious deficiencies". Incredibly, I have made a good recovery, but can no longer do a lot of the lifestyle I enjoyed.
My immediate short term memory is poor. I was active and enjoyed hard work, and activities like windsurfing, kayaking, rock climbing, etc. The doctors advise against these.
PROBLEMS WITH ALL CHELATION THERAPY
These include the following:
1. Random and erratic removal of vital minerals. All chelating agents, both natural and synthetic, remove some essential mineral compounds from the body. This is a serious problem today for two main reasons. First, many people are already extremely deficient in many essential minerals such as zinc, chromium, selenium, manganese and others. If one removes even a little of the essential minerals, the person can become much more ill, even though the deficiency state can be subtle.
The other problem with removing some essential minerals is that it further unbalances or upsets the body chemistry, often in ways that are difficult to repair. For this reason, removing vital minerals from the body in a random way is usually the worst problem with all chelation – synthetic or natural - that we observe.
Physicians that offer chelation say they replenish the vital minerals with either oral supplements or minerals added to an intravenous chelation bottle. However, in our experience, this is not true. The proper foms of the minerals often come from food and cannot be duplicated with pills or IV minerals. In fact, replenishing minerals in the human body is a delicate, exacting process and it cannot be done by just ‘dumping’ them into the bloodstream or with mineral supplements.
I believe that a complete nutritional balancing program can replace the vital minerals lost through chelation therapy, however. For more about this, please read Introduction To Nutritional Balancing on this website.
2. Unbalancing the body. Chelation rips toxic metals out of the arteries, veins and some tissues without regard for the overall balance of the body chemistry. Replacing minerals with IV pushes and piles of vitamin pills does the same thing, or worse.
If one unbalances the body, the vitality always suffers, even if symptomatic improvement occurs. This is a major problem with chelation, using either natural and synthetic chelating agents.
3. The toxicity of many chelating agents. All chelating agents are toxic, or potentially toxic. The synthetic chelators such as EDTA, DMPS, DMSA, penicillamine, deferoxamine and other drugs are known to be toxic for the kidneys, in particular. Kidney problems can cause high blood pressure, or worse damage to the body.
Dr. Paul Eck found that IV chelation therapy tends to lower the sodium/potassium ratio on a hair mineral analysis. This is always a bad sign that may be related to kidney toxicity.
The nature of the damage is that methylation in the kidney seems to be affected. I know this because giving clients who have had chelation therapy in the past with DMPS, DMSA or EDTA some trimthylglycine or TMG seems to help them a lot. TMG is a powerful methyl donor.
The toxicity may not be apparent, although some chelation protocols demand that the doctor check the patient’s liver and kidney function periodically, for this reason. Unfortunately, normal liver and kidney blood tests are not sensitive enough to detect subtle damage due to chelating agents.
Natural chelators such as high-dose vitamin C, zeolite, chlorella, cilantro extract, distilled water, reverse osmosis water, charcoal tablets and others are less toxic, but still damaging in various ways, and should be avoided. The safest agents are sulfur amino acids, garlic, modified citrus pectin, and the alginates. While safer, these are quite yin in Chinese medical terms and must be used sparingly, if at all.
4. Removal of toxic metals is not thorough enough. Most, if not all of the chelating agents only work in the blood and in the tissues and organs located near larger blood vessels. Repeated use of the chelating agents can go somewhat deeper, but then the hazards of chelation such as removing more essential minerals also increase.
In contrast, nutritional balancing science begins at the cellular level and works at this level. The metals can slowly be removed at much deeper levels, as a result, and much more thoroughly. Several patients of mine had previously undergone 40 or more chelation treatments. This is usually considered enough to rid the body of lead, mercury or other metals. However, when these patients went on a nutritional balancing program, they began to eliminate significant amounts of these toxic metals that supposedly had already been removed. The only explanation I can think of is that deeper deposits were now being removed that were not reached by the chelating agents.
5. Chelation does not remove a dozen toxic metals very well. Chelating agents are somewhat helpful to remove mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, copper, iron, aluminum and perhaps a few other toxic metals. However, they will not remove very well about a dozen other toxic metals for various reasons that are not well understood. By contrast, nutritional balancing science will remove all of the toxic metals, along with hundreds of toxic chemicals as well.
6. Chelation does not address some deeper causes of illness, and indeed often makes body chemistry more unbalanced. While toxic metal removal is helpful in some cases, many times the metal accumulation is due to many other bodily imbalances. These include Yin Disease, Sympathetic Dominance, mineral deficiencies, chronic infections, imbalanced mineral ratios and more.
Nutritional balancing approaches the problem of toxic metals from a different perspective. First one balances the body and renourishes the body. One also removes the need for adaptations to stress. Toxic metals often function as adaptations to the stress of mineral deficiencies and other things.
When one balances and renourishes the body in a particular manner, the body automatically begins to remove the metals by itself. Our bodies have millions of years of experience removing toxic metals, and the body can do this easily when it is balanced and nourished properly.
When metal removal is done this way, the toxic metals also will not tend to reaccumulate nearly as much, so less therapy is actually required.
Also, the process is much safer. The toxic metals can actually perform a useful function to balance certain mineral ratios. Just pulling them out can be like pulling one’s finger out of a hole in a dike that was holding back the water. This is why patients sometimes have very bad reactions to chelation therapy. Such reactions do not occur as much with nutritional balancing science because the emphasis is on balance and nourishment first.
7. Stopping mental and spiritual development. One of the problems with bypass surgery is that the anesthesia drugs from a long and complex surgery often cause permanent mental impairment. However, the effects of chelation therapy can be as bad, in my experience. The reason is that by removing tiny amounts of certain forms of minerals such as zinc and selenium, chelation therapy easily stops the development of some of the finer brain centers. Unfortunately, these effects are difficult or even impossible to reverse, in my experience to date.
When this type of mental development is stopped or damaged, people report, for example, that they feel less connected to God or the holy spirit. This can be devastating for them. Please consider this when tempted to opt for chelation therapy instead of a nutritional balancing program.
8. Chelation removes toxic metals in an unnatural order. In nutritional balancing, all of the toxic metals are removed in the body’s own order. This is a complex and delicate process. The practitioner simply keeps balancing and supporting the overall stress response by balancing the key mineral ratios and oxidation rate, and the body does the rest.
Chelation therapy is more of a ‘sledgehammer’ approach that literally rips the toxic metals out of the enzyme binding sites in a totally unnatural order. This can cause problems such as those described in the email above.
In addition, because the order is unnatural, some reaccumulation of the toxic metals might occur, necessitating more chelation therapy in the future. It is also possible that toxic metals that the body either cannot remove well enough or that reaccumulate for other reason will end up in more vital organs. This does not occur with a properly designed nutritional balancing program.
9. Cost and necessity. Intravenous chelation can be somewhat costly, although it is far cheaper than bypass surgery, for example. Neither one, however, are needed, in our experience.
10. Redistributing toxins in more critical organs. This is related to the toxicity of some of the synthetic chelators such as EDTA and DMPS. These drugs can bind to and mobilize some toxic metals that are stored in relatively safe or benign locations in the body.
The toxic metal bound to the chelator then moves to the kidneys, for example, where the body may have trouble removing it due to the nature of the chelator. In this way, some toxic metals are redistributed by chelating agents to more critical organs, where they may do more damage.
11. No matter what anyone claims, chelation therapy is an allopathic, or drug approach to healing. By this I mean that it does not address underlying imbalances, it is somewhat toxic, it never balances the body, and it usually reduces the overall vitality of the body.
This is important because naturopaths and holistic doctors claim to avoid allopathic approaches, but often offer chelation. While it is an alternative to bypass surgery for heart disease, for example, it is still very allopathic in its philosophy and methodology.
Granted, it may extend life because it can remove calcium deposits from the arteries of the heart, brain, liver and elsewhere. However, this is not the same as improving overall vitality and health.
OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO CHELATION THERAPY
IS DRINKING DISTILLED OR REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER A FORM OF CHELATION?
Not exactly because it does not involve a chemical or herb. However, the effect is very similar. That is, drinking mineral-free water will bind to and leach out of the body some minerals. It is sometimes called “hungry water”. Unfortunately, it does not just leach out toxic metals, but also removes vital nutrient minerals, as well.
For this reason, please do not drink reverse osmosis or distilled water. The only exception is that distilled water is occasionally helpful during a healing crisis for a few days or a week if one is eliminating toxic metals and needs to get them out faster.
There are other problems with distilled and reverse osmosis water, even though they are fairly pure and chemical-free. For more on this important subject, please read Water For Drinking on this website.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS CHELATION THERAPY?
Heart disease (arteriosclerosis). Chelation therapy definitely removes some toxic metals that lodge in the arteries. By so doing, it can improve blood flow to the heart and other organs. Over one thousand studies confirm this.
However, chelation therapy for heart disease is not medically accepted. The likely reason for this is that it competes directly with heart bypass and other common surgeries that are major sources of income - literally in the billions of dollars - for physicians, hospitals, drug companies and others who sell or supply various medical items.
The claim that chelation is not well-researched, or that it is more dangerous than most heart surgery, is false. The ignorance and deception by the medical journals and authorities on this subject are a sad reflection upon a medical profession that supposedly exists to help people, rather than to harm them or take their money.
The statistics on bypass surgery, for example, show clearly that there are many side effects that would be prevented if nutritional balancing, chelation or other methods such as sauna therapy were tried first. The cost of chelation and natural methods is often one tenth to one-one hundredth of bypass surgery. Thus, bypass surgery is quite insane today. Unfortunately, chelation therapy is also unsafe, in my experience. It is also not needed because a properly designed nutritional balancing program will clear the arteries and do it better than chelation possibly can.
Chelation for other diseases such as dementia, diabetes, impaired circulation, and others. Fewer studies support the benefits of chelation therapy for other conditions, but it may help reduce some symptoms because toxic metals cause so many ailments in modern day society.
HOW I RECOMMEND REMOVING TOXIC METALS
Toxic metal exposure is universal today. Everyone has toxic metals. To read why I say this, read Everyone Is Toxic. All children are born with some toxic metals that pass through the placenta from their mothers. This is why removing toxic metals with a nutritional balancing program BEFORE one becomes pregnant is very critical if one wishes to have healthy children. It does not matter how beautiful a young woman looks, or even if her blood or hair tests indicate that she does not have toxic metals. They are just hidden in these cases.
After birth, vaccine exposure is an important source of mercury and aluminum, along with food, drinking water, pharmaceutical drugs of many kinds, over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics, and other environmental sources. These include, but are not limited to air pollution, dental amalgams and other dental materials, and contact with toxic metals at home and at work.
In nutritional balancing work, we assume that everyone has toxic metals. I have yet to work with anyone who is not quite toxic. Toxic metals are not the most important assessment. It is far more important to figure out a person’s energy level, exact oxidation rate, ability to eliminate toxic metals, ability to digest and assimilate nutrients and a few other parameters of health.
Once this is done, Dr. Eck’s system involves designing a healing program that includes at least 20 methods to gently and safely remove ALL the toxic metals and ALL toxic chemicals in the body at the same time. They include improving the vitality level, balancing the autonomic nervous system (see Understanding The Autonomic Nervous System), improving the eliminative organs, the use of antagonists and synergists and much more. For the specifics of these methods, read Toxic Metals And How To Remove Them on this site.
WHERE DO SAUNAS AND COFFEE ENEMAS FIT IN FOR TOXIC METAL REMOVAL?
In my experience, saunas are the finest single additional modality with a nutritional balancing program for toxic metal elimination. They combine a number of effects that together produce wonderful results. They are also safe and very cost-effective. One can build or buy a light sauna for several hundred dollars or less. Click here for information about saunas.
In essence, sauna therapy helps rejuvenate the skin, the largest eliminative organ in the body. It helps decongest the internal organs by shunting blood to the body surface. It helps to spare and protect the kidneys, as most all toxins eliminated by the kidneys can be eliminated in the sweat.
Heating the body assists it to kill pathogenic microorganisms, and helps destroy weaker, toxic metal-laden cells. Saunas also drastically increase circulation, assisting to dislodge stored toxins and assisting nutrients to reach all the cells to improve energy output.
The sauna is also a powerful inhibitor of the sympathetic nervous system. According to Guyton's Textbook of Medical Physiology, when heat is supplied from outside, normal heat production, a sympathetic activity, shuts down. Also, shunting blood to the body surface to remove heat requires and causes inhibition of the sympathetic system.
Infrared energy supplied by far infrared and infrared light saunas adds other benefits such as deep tissue heating, decoupling of toxins from water molecules, production of heat shock proteins that help regenerate cellular structures, and more. Saunas also have a long history of safety that extends over literally thousands of years..
For all these reasons, saunas are the finest single modality for toxic metal removal. As added benefits, they are also the best methods I have found to remove toxic chemicals, another serious health hazard. They are also powerful infection-fighters, and able to dig out old chronic infections that deplete one's energy and secrete biological toxins that are hidden causes of systemic disease.
Coffee enemas. These are also superb for removing most toxins from the liver and large intestine. They should be included in any detoxification protocol for this reason. For more information about this unusual but very helpful therapy that can be done in the privacy of your home, read Coffee Enemas on this website.
One of our clients, Rosemary G., asked that her experience with chelation be included in this article. Several years ago, at age 64, Rosemary was diagnosed with mercury toxicity. Her symptoms included extreme fatigue, a kind of free-floating fear, depression, anxiety, skin problems, and other emotional disturbances.
She underwent more than 20 chelation treatments to remove the mercury, using DMPS and DMSA. She reported that the treatments did not help her symptoms, but in fact made her more ill. Her first hair tissue mineral analysis revealed a 0.4 mg% mercury level. This is over 10 times normal. She had been told that her mercury level was normal using a urine challenge test for toxic metals!
After only three months on a nutritional balancing program, Rosemary began to feel normal for the first time in many years. A retest hair mineral analysis showed an almost 100% increase in her hair mercury level to 0.74 mg%. This indicates an active elimination in progress. Rosemary is continuing on her nutritional balancing program and feeling still better, as there is more mercury yet to be eliminated.