Primarily used for metal poisoning, chelation therapy is emerging as an alternative treatment for other conditions. Many places worldwide practice chelation therapy as alternative medicine, and it is now gaining in popularity in the US for treating a variety of conditions.

The History of Chelation Therapy

The word chelation comes from the Greek word chelos, meaning claw. The word claw refers to how metals in the body may bind to the chelating agent in a claw-like manner. 

First used clinically in 1956 to treat patients with lead poisoning, chelation therapy is an established, effective treatment for patients suffering from metal poisonings.

How Does It Work?

Physicians typically administer chelation therapy using weekly IV treatments, lasting approximately 30 minutes in length. First, a healthcare provider dispenses a chelator or chelating agent into the IV. The chelator then circulates through the bloodstream and binds to metals. 

The chelator collects all of the metals in the bloodstream, forming a compound that the kidneys eliminate through urination. The most common chelator is ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), which removes lead, iron, copper, and calcium. Other chelating agents include:

  • Dimercaprol
  • Succimer
  • Deferoxamine
  • Penicillamine
  • Deferasirox

A healthcare provider chooses the proper chelating agent based on the patient’s health, age, and condition.

What Conditions Does Chelation Therapy Treat?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only approves chelation therapy to treat metal poisoning. However, some health providers are using this therapy to treat other conditions. Common conditions treated include heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. 

Chelation Treatment and Heart Disease

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque in the arteries, leading to heart disease over time. Proponents of using this therapy to treat atherosclerosis believe that chelators can potentially bind to the calcium found in plaque, thus loosening blockages and preventing a buildup.

Chelation Treatment and Alzheimer’s Disease

Based on the belief that a buildup of aluminum in the brain causes Alzheimer’s disease, the chelator’s ability to bind and remove metals from the bloodstream may potentially provide relief from this degenerative disease.

Chelation Treatment and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s patients are known to experience a buildup of iron in the brain. While it’s not entirely clear how the buildup of iron affects Parkinson’s patients, proponents of chelation treatment believe that removing the iron has the potential to benefit those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The Future of Chelation Treatment

While the FDA is still investigating the potential use of this therapy for various conditions, many healthcare providers are optimistic about its future. Patients looking to learn more about chelation therapy should reach out to their healthcare provider to know if it’s right for them. If you would like to learn more, contact a care coordinator today and schedule a free consultation.

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