Chelation therapy has become an increasingly popular complementary treatment to remove heavy metals and toxins from the body. It is considered a natural detoxification method that can improve overall health and protect against various chronic diseases. Read on to learn what chelation therapy is, how it works, its potential benefits, and how to find safe, effective treatment options.
What is Chelation Therapy?
Chelation therapy involves administering a man-made solution called a “chelator”, which binds to heavy metals and toxins in the body. Common chelating agents include ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), British anti-lewisite (BAL), and dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). The chelator binds to positively charged particles and forms a stable structure called a chelate. This allows the toxins to dissolve in the bloodstream and eventually get filtered out through urine and feces.
Chelation is a Greek word meaning “to claw” or “to bind”, which describes how chelators tightly latch onto metals. The formatting of the chelate makes it easier for the kidneys to filter out the toxin-chelator complex.
How Does Chelation Therapy Work?
Chelation therapy relies on intravenous or oral administration of a chelating solution. It works in a few key ways:
- Binds to metals and minerals – Chelators grab onto free floating heavy metals in the bloodstream including mercury, lead, arsenic, aluminum, and cadmium. By binding to them, it makes them inactive and unable to cause oxidative damage.
- Increases urinary excretion – The chelator-mineral complex is filtered through the kidneys and excreted in urine. This removal process helps lower heavy metal levels in the body.
- Improves blood flow – Chelation can eliminate calcium deposits along artery walls. This helps widen blood vessels and improve circulation. Better blood flow increases oxygen delivery throughout the body.
- Acts as an anti-oxidant – Chelators mop up damaging free radical molecules. This neutralizes oxidative stress linked to chronic disease development.
Overall, the chelation process targets toxins linked to cardiovascular problems, neurological conditions, hormonal imbalance, liver issues, and more. It provides a full body cleanse at the cellular level.
Conditions that Chelation Therapy Can Treat
Many practitioners use chelation as an alternative therapy for the following health conditions:
- Heart disease – Removing artery plaque buildup improves blood flow and lowers risk of heart attacks. Chelation also helps moderate cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Diabetes – Toxins contribute to insulin resistance. Chelation helps cells uptake glucose more efficiently and manage sugar levels.
- Memory loss and dementia – Eliminating heavy metals in the brain improves neurological functioning and slows cognitive decline.
- Autism spectrum disorders – Children with autism often have higher heavy metal loads. Chelation is thought to reduce autism severity and symptoms.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome – Chelation therapy energizes the body and resolves cases of medically unexplained fatigue.
- Liver disease – Removing toxins lightens the detoxification burden on the liver to help restore normal function.
Of course, it’s critical to work with a qualified practitioner to determine if chelation therapy is appropriate for your health status. Proper testing helps identify which toxins to target for removal.
Benefits of Chelation Therapy
When administered correctly, chelation therapy offers numerous benefits:
Removes Heavy Metals and Toxins
Chelation is praised for its ability to seek out and eliminate toxic heavy metals that build up over time through environmental pollutants. Common toxins removed include:
- Lead – Found in drinking water, paint, batteries, some cosmetics and pottery glaze
- Mercury – Derived from fish consumption, amalgam dental fillings, thimerosal in vaccines
- Cadmium – Present in cigarette smoke, electroplated jewelry, some plastics and alloys
- Arsenic – Lurks in treated wood, pesticides, contaminated water
- Aluminum – Contained in antacids, deodorant, cookware, food additives
- Nickel – Used in jewelry, coins, magnets, batteries, steel manufacturing
Detoxing these substances relieves inflammation, reduces free radical damage, and decreases disease progression.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
One of the most proven benefits of chelation therapy is enhanced cardiovascular function. Chelation removes calcium deposits along arterial walls and soft plaque buildup inside blood vessels. This widens arteries, increases elasticity, improves blood flow, and lowers blood pressure. Patients report fewer angina symptoms and greater stamina.
Clinical research confirms chelation reduces risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from coronary artery disease. Patients with diabetes also saw better glycemic control from chelation therapy.
Protects Brain Function
Chelation may protect against Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Toxins contribute to inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain. Removing them preserves cognition, memory, concentration, and fine motor skills. Autistic children often show improved sociability and communication after undergoing chelation.
Enhances Liver Function
The liver depends on chelation molecules like glutathione to bind and excrete toxins from the body. However, when overburdened by toxins, these pathways get depleted. Chelation therapy gives sluggish livers an extra boost to filter out stubborn chemicals. This protects the liver from cellular damage that leads to cirrhosis, hepatitis, and cancer.
Chelation Therapy Treatment Process
If you and your practitioner determine chelation is right for your health goals, here is what to expect during treatment:
Consultation and Testing
A lengthy intake interview will identify symptoms and conditions to address. Your practitioner may order blood tests to check heavy metal levels, liver enzymes, cholesterol panels, blood cell counts, and markers of inflammation. A urine toxicity profile helps identify which chelators work best for your needs.
Administering the Chelation Solution
For intravenous chelation, the liquid solution gets slowly infused into the bloodstream through an IV drip. This takes place in a medical office over 2-3 hours. Oral chelators come in pill or liquid form to take at home.
IV chelation provides faster, more thorough results. However, oral chelation offers a more accessible, affordable option.
Number and Frequency of Treatments
Patients typically need anywhere from 20-50 sessions done 1-3 times per week. Maintenance sessions every 1-2 months help sustain benefits. Consistency is key – it takes numerous treatments for chelators to penetrate all organs and completely remove toxins. Stopping therapy early limits its effectiveness.
At-Home Chelation Therapy
Some alternative medicine providers feel comfortable training patients or family members to self-administer IV chelation at home. This requires meticulous sterile technique. Oral chelators allow for convenient at-home use as well.
Be sure your practitioner properly educates you on safety, dosage, and monitoring if attempting home chelation therapy.
Natural Chelation Therapy Options
Certain foods, herbs, and detoxification methods act as mild natural chelators without the need for EDTA. While not as potent, these modalities offer low-risk ways to aid the body’s natural detoxification systems. Natural chelation options include:
Foods and Herbs
- Garlic – Contains sulfur compounds that grab onto heavy metals
- Turmeric – Provides detoxifying and antioxidant benefits
- Cilantro – Binds to heavy metals and ushers them out of cells
- Chlorella – Algae with naturally occurring chelators
- Milk thistle – Hepatoprotective herb that supports liver detox
- Dandelion root – Stimulates bile flow to remove toxins
- Selenium-rich foods like brazil nuts – Mimics effects of chelators
Detoxifying Baths and Skin Brushing
- Epsom salt baths – Pulls toxins out through skin
- Infrared sauna therapy – Induces sweating to eliminate toxins
- Oil pulling – Swishing oils like coconut oil helps remove metals
- Dry skin brushing – Assists lymphatic drainage of toxins
Exercise and Sweating
- Yoga – Twisting poses and breathing techniques aid detoxification
- Rebounding – Lymphatic drainage benefits from bouncing on a mini-trampoline
- Moderate aerobic exercise – Working up a sweat helps purge toxins
While natural chelation modalities work more gradually, they empower patients to take an active role in their own detoxification. Work with a practitioner to construct a cleansing protocol catered to your needs.
Is Chelation Therapy Safe?
Like most medical therapies, chelation does carry some risks:
Some possible side effects of intravenous chelation include:
- Burning sensation at the IV site
- Headaches, nausea, or vomiting
- Fatigue, body aches, fever
- Changes in blood sugar
- Kidney dysfunction
- Mineral deficiencies if done long-term
Oral chelation therapy has fewer side effects but can still cause digestive upset like nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
Finding a Qualified Practitioner
To minimize risk, it’s essential to find properly credentialed chelation therapy practitioners. Members of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM) receive extensive training on chelation protocols and safety. Naturopaths, integrative physicians, chiropractors, and nurses can also provide chelation therapy in some cases. Confirm credentials and experience before beginning treatment.
Proper pre-screening, dosing, and monitoring prevents adverse reactions. Chelation therapy remains far safer than bypass surgery or long-term medication use. Still, inappropriate administration can have serious consequences. Seek experienced practitioners to ensure your treatments are as safe and effective as possible.
Chelation therapy utilizes intravenous or oral chelating agents to bind and remove heavy metals and toxins from the body. It has proven benefits for heart health, brain function, liver performance, and inflammatory conditions. When done correctly under a practitioner’s supervision, chelation provides an excellent detoxification strategy. It helps restore balance at a cellular level to prevent disease progression.
Combining chelation with lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, stress management, and toxin avoidance ensures long-lasting results. Work with experienced practitioners to develop a personalized detoxification plan that fits your needs. With commitment and consistency, chelation therapy offers a life-changing route to improved wellness and vitality.
Does insurance cover chelation therapy?
Most insurance providers do not cover chelation therapy since it is considered alternative medicine. However, patients can sometimes appeal for coverage given the strong evidence supporting chelation for heart disease. Expect to pay out-of-pocket, anywhere from $100-500 per IV session. Oral chelators cost much less at around $30 per month.
How long do chelation benefits last?
Most patients report enduring benefits from chelation therapy, provided they minimize re-exposure to toxins. Maintaining a clean diet, avoiding environmental pollutants, and doing periodic “maintenance” chelation treatments help sustain the benefits for years after finishing therapy.
Is chelation FDA-approved?
The FDA has approved prescription chelation solutions specifically for cases of heavy metal poisoning. However, it has not approved IV chelation for other conditions like heart disease. Many doctors feel the extensive positive research on chelation therapy justifies its use, regardless of FDA approval. Always tell your physician if you are undergoing chelation treatments.
Can chelation remove necessary minerals like calcium and iron?
Excessive or improper chelation therapy can deplete essential minerals. However, most protocols “re-mineralize” patients between treatments to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Your practitioner should monitor mineral levels to ensure you replace any important vitamins or minerals lost through chelation.
Is chelation therapy painful?
Most patients do not experience pain or discomfort from IV chelation therapy. Some report a slight burning sensation when the IV infusion starts. Oral chelators should not cause pain either. Let your practitioner know if you experience any unusual pain during treatments.