Chelation Therapy

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians take high blood pressure and anti-cholesterol medicine, undergo angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery and require long-term management of their circulatory systems. Although many are satisfied with this approach, some are not and seek alternate treatment. Once such treatment is chelation therapy.

The word chelate is derived from the Greek word chele, which refers to the claw of a crab or lobster, implying the firm, pincer-like binding action. Chelation therapy is a treatment in which a variety of specific compounds are administered orally or by injection so as to bind or chelate unwanted substances.

It was initially thought that chelation therapy somehow leached calcium out of atherosclerotic plaque, thereby opening up arteries and improving circulation. This recently has been proven to be a false assumption.

It is currently believed that toxic metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium and possibly excess amounts of iron or calcium, can accumulate in the arteries and other tissues of the body. This accumulation can lead to free radical damage, micro-inflammation and increased vulnerability to infection of the blood vessels, which in turn, initiates the process of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). Since these abnormal metals cannot be excreted efficiently by normal detoxification functions, a chelating agent can be introduced into the body, which binds them and allows removal.

A host chelating agents are available such as EDTA, DMPS, DMSA, peptide clathrating agent, sodium alginate, cilantro, chlorella, certain amino acids and high dose vitamin C.

The ultimate effect of chelation therapy is to restore the health of the arteries. This is not only obtained by the removal of the pathological heavy metals, but also by what current research has shown, the increased production of a naturally formed substance called nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide, also called endothelial-relaxing factor, relaxes the blood vessels, decreases the resistance to blood flow and subsequently, improves the delivery of oxygen and other vital nutrients to the tissue that the vessel supplies. Such effects are desirable in a majority of cardiovascular diseases.

Chelation is often administered one to two times per week for a minimum of 20 to 30 treatments. Some individuals may however, require more therapy for sustained clinical improvement. Traditionally, treatments are administered over three hours and many doctors still prefer this method. Newer forms of EDTA have now allowed treatment times to be safely lowered to 5-30 minutes if desired. Potential chelation therapy candidates are screened for pre-existing conditions that may make them unsuitable for this therapy and are rigorously monitored throughout the treatment.

This therapy has existed since the 1940s, when it was first introduced specifically for the treatment of lead poisoning, and has been fraught with controversy ever since. Some doctors believe that this modality is extremely effective whereas others refuse to even look at it.

Chelation therapy is not a panacea and in certain individuals drug therapy and surgery are a necessity and must be used with or without chelation therapy. However, studies and clinical experience have shown that a majority of patients that undergo chelation show a definite improvement in circulation and arterial pulses. Other benefits include a return of normal temperature to the feet, regaining of ability to walk long distances comfortably, a decrease or elimination of chest pain, lowered blood pressure, improvement in brain function and muscle coordination. Many have no longer required certain drugs or bypass surgery.

Training for chelation therapy is available and provided to doctors (MD, DO and ND) and staff by several organizations in the U.S., specifically, the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM) and its sister organization, the International Society of Chelation Technicians (ISCT). These groups arrange regular courses, conferences, updates and certification examinations and have developed the standard, safe, chelation protocols. Naturopathic physicians in B.C., some practicing chelation therapy for over 20 years, are required to pass written, oral, and practical credentialing exams administered by their licensing body as well as having taken the mandatory ACAM/ISCT courses and tests. This treatment is not covered by any provincial health insurance plan.

Chelation therapy is always more valuable when applied in a whole person approach, recognizing the role diet, lifestyle, behaviour and the environment plays in heart disease. When comparing the costs of chelation to surgery or long-term drug therapy, chelation therapy is extremely cost effective.

Dr. Swetlikoff has practiced Chelation Therapy since 1990 and has been a leader, teacher and examiner in the naturopathic profession with respect to this treatment. Apart from cardiovascular health, the chelation of toxic metals may benefit a variety of immunological, neurological, and degenerative conditions.