Updated: Jan 7, 2022
The pursuit of better health is an ever-winding path. Part of that pursuit often requires removing things that are unhealthy - and detoxing is a great way to do that.
It's hard to get away from the barrage of pesticides, herbicides, processed foods, artificial chemicals, and more.
And while there are many detox methods on the market, one you may have come across revolves around the idea of removing heavy metals from the body.
Metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, and others have become celebrities over recent years, but not for glorious reasons. While these metals are naturally occurring, research continues to address the harmful effects of too much exposure to these particular elements (1).
What are The Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity?
Are you at risk for heavy metal toxicity? Some of the symptoms include:
If you've been experiencing these symptoms for any length of time, make an appointment with your natural health provider as soon as possible.
There’s good news and there’s better news. The good news is that heavy metal toxicity is not as common as you might think. According to the National Poisoning Data System (NPDS), only around 8,000 people have been exposed to dangerous amounts of heavy metals (2).
The better news is that, if you happen to come into contact with dangerous levels of heavy metals like lead, there are treatments that may be a great help. Chelation therapy is one such treatment.
How does chelation therapy work?
Chelation therapy is an in-office procedure that involves two steps: a urine test, followed by an IV injection of two chelating substances, EDTA and DMPS. These agents are designed to bind to the metals in the blood and help escort them out to be eliminated by your kidneys and urine.
It's important to stay well hydrated after the procedure, as additional urine samples will be taken between 6 -24 hours after the IV injection. Samples will be sent off for comparison, and next steps planned accordingly.
As Dr. Nikodemas McNulty, N.D and founder of Nature and Science Medicine further explains,
"Chelators bind and mobilize heavy metals from "safe" storage in areas such as bone marrow and can deposit it into "dangerous" locations such as brain tissue and other organs. For this reason, making sure patients increase excretions to improve elimination is very important (e.g. sauna, drinking a ton of water, taking binders orally to bind metals in stool)."
Why use EDTA and DMPS? These particular molecules are used because they can help prevent blood from clotting. It's believed to help remove calcium deposits from the artery walls. This could be extremely helpful in those suffering from conditions like coronary heart disease (3).
If you've ever found yourself in a situation where you drank contaminated water, breathed in lead paint particles, or experienced an accident at work, you may have been exposed to dangerous levels of heavy metals.
The biggest benefit of chelation therapy would be removing these heavy metals from your body, but it also has mixed results with:
Diabetes: While chelation therapy won’t cure diabetes, the heart conditions associated with it can be notably reduced, as one study showed (5).
Heart disease: Some people have tried chelation therapy in an attempt to lessen the severity of their current heart disease condition. It’s believed that the chelating agent can remove plaque buildup from the artery walls, although evidence is conflicting (6).
Alzheimer’s/Parkinson's Disease: The idea behind using chelation for those with degenerative mental illnesses would be the removal of metals such as aluminum from the bloodstream. Some research suggests that there could be a link between the two (7).
How long does it take to work?
If you decide to undergo this kind of therapy, the process can take between 1-3 hours. An IV will be placed in either your hand or your arm. The chelating agent will be administered as an infusion, and after the session is over you are free to go.
Depending on your specific treatment plan, the average patient receives around 30 infusions (8).
What are the side effects of chelation therapy? While generally considered safe, some people may experience nausea, headaches, low blood sugar, or higher blood pressure (3).
There are also some considerations to take when considering chelation therapy:
Pregnancy: There is so much that is unknown during times of pregnancy. In order to keep mother and baby safe, chelation therapy is not recommended.
Childhood: In the event that a child swallowed a lead toy or had other exposure to heavy metals, it’s unlikely that chelation therapy would be the best route.
Heart conditions: While it does seem to help in some cases of heart disease, the evidence is not consistent. Those who have certain conditions should consult with their doctor.
Kidney conditions: Because the kidneys are already doing a phenomenal job filtering out toxins and waste, adding more stress to weakened or damaged kidneys is not wise.
The earth is filled with metals, minerals, compounds, and chemicals. While they are all perfectly natural, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
Certain metals fall under the category of what we call “heavy metals”. Some of these include lead, iron, chromium, and arsenic. And while heavy metal toxicity is not super common, it’s still worth protecting ourselves against.
Chelation therapy involves urine samples and an IV administration of chelating agents in order to bind and eliminate heavy metals in the bloodstream. Not only can this be a powerful lifesaver, but it has also been used as an alternative treatment for conditions like heart disease or degenerative mental illnesses.
Is there potential here? Absolutely. What has your experience been with chelation therapy? Let me know in the comments below.