the Fuss Over Chelation?
by Jonathan Collin, M.D.
(previously published in the Seattle Post Intelligencer)
For those of you who may be confused by the ongoing
controversy over chelation therapy, let me give you a few pointers. Chelation
chemistry is a well recognized
field of study, having broad application in research, industry, and in medicine.
Chelation therapy, as a specific treatment for hardening of the arteries,
is disputed, and this is where the controversy comes in.
What does chelation mean? It basically is defined as a chemical reaction
involving a protein structure binding a metal element. When the protein and
metal join, the bond, known as ligand, forms one of the most stable structures
in nature. Your blood hemoglobin is a chelate formed by the bonding of iron
to the blood protein. In plants, chlorophyll represents a chelation of magnesium
to plant protein. Anytime a chemist wishes to control metalsin solution,
he will use a chelating agent to remove the metal element.
Waiting for “proof”
One particular chelating agent, EDTA, has the remarkable ability to bind
a wide range of metals. Unlike hemoglobin which normally only accepts iron,
and chlorophyll which only accepts magnesium, EDTA will bind with calcium
or magnesium or iron or lead or even plutonium. The ability of EDTA to
bond with calcium makes it very useful in medical technology. A blood specimen
will not clot if EDTA is in the specimen container. The binding of EDTA
to lead offers the very best medical therapy for lead poisoning. EDTA has
a high affinity for radioactive substances, giving it high marks for treatment
in radiation poisoning. So what is the chelation therapy controversy?
A growing number of physicians in the state of Washington, throughout the
United States, and internationally, particularly in the Federal Republic
of Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil, are using EDTA to treat atherosclerosis,
circulatory conditions caused by hardening of the arteries. While EDTA is
a perfectly legitimate therapy for lead poisoning, it is considered unproven
as a treatment for atherosclerosis.
Although drug manufacturers published statements touting the role EDTA had
in treating circulatory conditions in the past, the FDA forced the companies
to remove these comments from their labeling. The American Medical Association,
the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, Medicare,
and the U.S. Public Health Service feel that EDTA’s use for these disorders
is investigational and has not yet been proven. Yet, the number of doctors
who are using EDTA to improve blood flow to the heart’s coronary vessels
is increasing yearly.
For years, only a very small contingent of doctors used EDTA in this manner.
Fewer than 10 formed a group, the American Academy of Medical Preventics,
in 1974. Now, 600 physicians have become seriously involved in chelation
therapy, and consider it unequivocally a validated treatment. Although statistics
on this are difficult to compile, the Academy estimates 500,000 Americans
have received in excess of five million chelation treatments between 1974
and 1989. Most of these individuals demonstrated improved post-chelation
circulation studies without manifesting significant side-effects. It stretches
the imagination to consider this treatment investigational.
Instead of launching new experimentation and tabulating new data, medical
spokesmen of the AMA, the American Heart Association, and the NIH were asked
their opinion of EDTA chelation therapy. No reputable scientific study is
ever made on the basis of opinion. The articles appearing in the Public Health
Service report, disputing the validity of EDTA chelation, were not based
on careful scientific research. Instead, anecdotal reports of self-acclaimed
chelation critics professed the inadequacy and toxicity of chelation.
If EDTA is truly ineffective and harmful, why aren’t there good scientific
data available to confirm these allegations?
One reason might be that the medical community is afraid to touch this hot
potato with a 10-foot pole. Nobody having a credible academic standing wants
to get his name tainted with a controversial therapy.
I say that chelation does work. When Norman E. Clarke, M.D., Charles N. Clarke,
M.D., and Robert E. Mosher, Ph.D. described how angina pectoris was successfully
treated by EDTA in 1956, they conducted careful scientific work. They had
no ulterior motives; there were no hidden vested interests. Their report
was based on the simplest of scientific methods; they just observed changes
in patients receiving the treatment. Cardiologists Meltzer, Ural and Kitchell
confirmed their findings. Carlos Lamar, M.D., further corroborated the results.
Recently, 20 papers have been published in the peer-review literature affirming
the efficacy of EDTA in atherosclerosis. The original findings have never
been reliably challenged. A specialist board, the American Board of Chelation
Therapy, has been organized and is establishing the diplomate requirements
for a new specialty in EDTA chelation therapy. EDTA chelation therapy is
an appropriate, scientific therapy. Until responsible medical authorities
conduct legitimate scientific research, disparaging reviews of EDTA should
be disallowed. Parties interested in learning more about chelation are directed
to books now widely available on the topic, and must seek the medical attention
of private practitioners willing to administer the treatment.
Reprinted from the Port Townsend Health Letter—Winter 1990
Collin, MD specializes in preventative medicine, with emphasis on
nutrition and wellness. Certain patients with circulation disorders or
toxic metal poisoning are considered for EDTA Chelation Therapy.