T Nation

Chelation Therapy?


Does anyone have any experience with this? It's supposed to pull heavy metals from our bodies. Sounds good in theory. Is it quackery? Does it really work?


Accepted in the acute state of poisoning.

No proven effectiveness without actual poisoining. Chelating agents can cause more harm than good when no clinical poisoning is detected.

Chelation therapy is an actual medical treatment that was taken in by alternative medicine and applied to a number of ''clinical syndromes'' without being endorsed by any respected medical organization.

A quick Google search should make it abondantly clear that outside of occupational exposure, poisoining is highly unlikely and that most sites advocating it reek of quakery.



Read the book Bypassing Bypass Surgery.


If it were quackery, Coach Poliquin wouldn't offer this service at his centers.


I had read a lot about it and was considering having it done. Two friends of mine had it done once @ week for 12 weeks, so I asked them what they thought. They spent $600 ie 12 x $50.00. The Ex State Trooper said he did not realize he was having gradually increasing chest pains until they cleared up. The lady, about 60 said she always had cold hands and feet. Now they are warm. I'm satisfied.


The ability of chelating agents to remove calcium from arteries has been studied and was not found to show different outcomes compared to placebo.

Of course more studies would be welcomed but currently people seem to rely on anecdotal evidence more than anything else.

People make the most absurd causal relationships in their heads which they then present as fact. It truly is fascinating.

Luckily there hasn't been too many deaths associated with EDTA chelation therapy, at least in medically supervised settings.

1: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(4):CD002785.Links
Chelation therapy for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.Villarruz MV, Dans A, Tan F.
4050 - G Bigasan Street, Palanan 1235, Makati City, Philippines. essie@vasia.com

BACKGROUND: Chelation therapy is being promoted and practiced all over the world as a form of alternative medicine in the treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. It has been recommended as a safe, relatively inexpensive and non-surgical method of restoring blood flow in atherosclerotic vessels. At present the benefit of chelation therapy remains controversial at best. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this review is to assess the effects of ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) chelation therapy on clinical outcomes among patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. SEARCH STRATEGY: The reviewers searched the Cochrane Peripheral Vascular Diseases Group Trials Register, (last searched July 2002), the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, (Cochrane Library Issue 2, 2002), MEDLINE and EMBASE for published articles and other relevant articles. Studies were also requested through correspondence with known Filipino practitioners of the procedure. SELECTION CRITERIA: Studies were included if they were randomized controlled trials of EDTA chelation therapy versus placebo or no treatment in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Main outcome measures considered included either total or cause-specific mortality, non-fatal cardiovascular events, direct or indirect measurement of disease severity, subjective measures of improvement or adverse events. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers (MVV, FT) extracted data and assessed trial quality independently. Unresolved issues were considered by a third reviewer (ALD). Discrepancies were discussed until a consensus was reached. Authors were contacted for additional information. MAIN RESULTS: A total of five studies was included in the review. Mortality, non-fatal events, and cerebrovascular events were not reported in any of the studies. Four of the studies, with a total recruitment rate of 250 participants, showed no significant difference in the following outcomes: direct or indirect measurement of disease severity and subjective measures of improvement. One of the studies, which included only 10 patients, was interrupted prematurely, because of an apparent treatment effect. However, relevant data were not available in the report and have been requested from the authors. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: At present, there is insufficient evidence to decide on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of chelation therapy in improving clinical outcomes of patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. This decision must be preceded by conducting randomized controlled trials that would include endpoints that show the effects of chelation therapy on longevity and quality of life among patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

1: Natl Med J India. 2006 Jan-Feb;19(1):24-6.Links
Role of EDTA chelation therapy in cardiovascular diseases.Shrihari JS, Roy A, Prabhakaran D, Reddy KS.
Department of Cardiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India.

Chelation therapy is a widely practised mode of treatment for atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases all over the world. However, evidence for the utility of this therapy is limited and conflicting. We did a systematic review of the literature. The reference listings of the articles, obtained from a Pubmed search using relevant keywords, were searched for additional related articles. Most of the evidence supporting the use of EDTA chelation therapy is from case reports, small series or uncontrolled, open-label clinical trials. The published randomized controlled trials include few patients and their results are of limited value. Uncontrolled studies have reported symptomatic improvements but the few controlled trials suggest that these benefits are due to a placebo effect. The available data do not support the use of chelation in cardiovascular diseases. This therapy should be used only in the context of a research trial including patients who have failed to respond to conventional treatment.

PMID: 16570682 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


I didn't know the therapy is used for arterial calcium/cardio disease - I thought it was just about removing heavy metals. Very interesting.

Nevertheless, it seems that despite the reported placebo effects, the scientific merits of chelation therapy are fairly wanting. At least for now.

thanks guys.


The 'medical industry" difficulty with EDTA Chelation Therapy came about when Abbott Chemical/Drug patent ran out. Then the high price of administrating the treatment took a dive. That is when it became 'suspect'. During the on patent years, it was a great therapy. The University of Oregon(I believe) has done considerable research and thee are a number of serious studies on this procedure. The Medical field difficulty comes from not having a drug company promote it any more.


Actually, there have been relatively few studies on EDTA chelation therapy outside of its poisoining treament.

However, the initial idea of using EDTA to help in cardiovascular disease came from the medical field from a time when we really didn't understand the physiopathology of plaque formation/treament.

Today, theoretically, the concept of EDTA is no longer sound from the 3 or 4 theories that were put forth to try to explain the effects percieve from the initial unrandomized studies (which later turned out to be likely due, but not assuredly from the placebo effect). The most recent theory from the Bypass Bypass Surgery hypothesizes that the benefits (unproven in most larger studies) where due to removing a number of heavy metals from the blood and tissues and removing their ability to create free radicals. However, that theory does not really work considering that most heavy metals have all their free electrons (free radical producing) bound to proteins in the blood or tissues. And when EDTA is introduced, one of those bounds in the case of iron is freed, allowing it to generate free radicals.

The initial calcium theory has been found false when we got basic understanding of atheromatous plaque formation.

One study that I didn't mention was on intermittent claudication (calf pain 2o to ischemia 2o to peripheral vascular disease) no difference from placebo was noted.

All in all EDTA chelation is a fairly expensive and labor intensive treatment with no scientific backing at the moment (dating back to the 1950s). Considering the potential dangers (hypocalcemia/death) at the hands of untrained personel in unsupervised environment, this is not something to recommend.



Thanks Alex, fascinating.

Do you believe chlorella is effective with respect to pulling out heavy metals, as it's purported to be?

Cheers, ~katz


i'm going for chelation therapy tomorrow!!

i'll keep you informed


Please don't.

There are two type of chelation therapy: that administered by medical doctors, and that administered by alternative medicine quacks.

Medical chelation is used for treatment of acute heavy metal poisioning from metals such as methyl mercury, lead, uranium, and so on.

Alternative medicine quacks use it for things such as treating autism or generally "cleansing/detox".

If you have not been diagnosed with acute heavy metal poisoning, you should not undergo chelation therapy, especially from a quack. Bear in mind the story of Abubakar Tariq Nadama.


I have no idea who Coach Poliquin is, but you have just presented the logical fallacy called "appeal to authority". Just because a given person endorses a position does not make it true or valid. Is the Thighmaster good just because Suzanne Sommers says so?


Well said. My wife had an autoimmune disease that four doctors were unable to diagnose. One of her friends referred her to a well-known homeopath. He gave her the typical BS about heavy metals in the environment, MD's are all tied to big pharma, etc. His solution was chelation, every day for as long as it took.

As her conditioned worsened, he recommended various additional alternative medical treatment in addition to the chelation.

Two months and almost $10,000 later, the nurse took her aside and pleaded with her to go because she was afraid she was going to die. Needless to say, I am extremely skeptical of alternative medical proceedures.

Great info on www.quackwatch.com

BTW I took my wife to the Mayo Clinic and they diagnosed the situation quickly and inexpensively.


Homeopath? Good Lord. Most people don't realize that homopathy treatments are water, with a basis on the humour theory of medicine. That was groundbreaking stuff for medieval barbers, but I think we've advanced a bit since then.

I am glad your wife is doing better now. There is a reason alternative "medicine" is alternative.