Chelation refers to an organic chemistry molecule that holds a metal atom or ion. Probably the most recognized chelates would be hemoglobin or chlorophyll, the substances that carry oxygen in our blood and help plants make energy, respectively.
That's right, folks. We wouldn't survive without it.
Chelation also refers to a type of medical therapy in which special compounds are used to remove heavy metals from the human body. Certain metals are vitally important for our survival. Without iron we wouldn't have oxygen transported efficiently in red blood cells, in fact we wouldn't have life itself; the enzyme systems that burn sugar, fats and other molecules to get energy rely on metals to capture energy.
Like so many things, however, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Even too much iron in the body (a condition known as hemochromatosis) can cause serious disease and shorten life. These atoms and compounds have to be kept in the right portions and balance or problems will arise.
Chela is the ancient Greek root word for claw. Chelating compounds literally grab hold of metals and hang onto them, allowing them to be dealt with by our bodies' chemical systems.
Chelation therapy is the process in which a compound is given to help bind and remove toxic heavy metals.
Heavy metals are all over our environment. They do many good things for us, but some of them are quite toxic, though not all are immediately apparent.
It turns out that heavy metals like to hide when they get into the body. They like bone and fat tissue, and especially the insulating cells around the nerve cells.
Once these toxic heavy metals hide out, they are still active, causing problems with our metabolic processes. They can inactivate certain enzymes, damage membranes and other structures. In short, they're anything but good for us.
How does the body handle the damage that's being done? Ideally we have an intact anti-oxidant system that's kept in good working order by plenty of B-complex vitamins and other anti-oxidants, such as the carotenes found in deeply/brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin E helps in the lipid membrane structures of the cells, vitamin C, reduced glutathione, lipoic acid, selenium and other anti-oxidants are important sources of free electrons that help stabilize the heavy metal ions and allow them to be safely taken out of the cells and body. If we're not able to get enough good nutrition, or we are genetically deficient in our ability to produce the various enzymes and co-factors needed, then great damage can result.
It's been documented that children can become fully autistic after exposure to thimerosol a preservative in vaccines. The reason that only some children become autistic is that those children don't make enough reduced glutathione to allow the safe clearance of the mercury.
How does chelation help heart disease?
This form of therapy was discovered around 1935, but between a world war and low emphasis on heart disease at the time, it never caught on and wasn't highly profitable and marketable by the drug companies.
Chelation helps reverse atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. It does this by augmenting the anti-oxidant system. It donates electrons to the insoluble oxidized LDL-cholesterol particles, with vitamin C given in the same infusion, to help dissolve plaque.
Atherosclerosis is a problem in which normally soft, pliable arteries become hard and start to clog up.
Plaque is a complex of cholesterol-containing molecules, such as oxidized LDL and calcium. When chelation therapy is done for heart and vascular disease, it's given with high doses of vitamin C and certain B vitamins to promote the reduction, or stabilization of the oxidized LDL-cholesterol, which allows it to dissolve back into the bloodstream. An artificial amino acid, ethylene-diamine-tetraacetic acid, helps grab calcium (and other more toxic metals) and allow the kidneys to remove them from the body.
The IV infusion is given with plenty of anti-oxidants to help the body avoid harm as these toxic metals come out of their hiding places.
Extreme care must be used when this therapy is given to folks without good kidney function. When the therapy was first used, there were problems with dosing and speed of administration, which caused kidney failure and problems due to extremely low blood calcium, which can be dangerous, causing seizures and other problems. When appropriate protocols are used, such as those recommended by the American College for the Advancement of Medicine, problems are rare.
What about osteoporosis? Won't chelation cause it to get worse? No, actually, it can even improve that condition due to the cyclic nature of bone-creating hormones being released into the circulation.
Why don't more people get this life-saving therapy?
Probably the biggest problem is a misunderstanding of what chelation is and does. It seems to work very well on the microscopic blood vessels in the body. Cardiologists and interventional doctors tend to not "believe" in it.
Currently, the National Institute of Health is funding a trial to assess chelation therapy, the largest study of its kind to investigate how well it works and, hopefully determine who the best candidates for therapy will be.
In many European countries, routine heart bypass surgery is not done until after a trial of chelation therapy, as it is much less expensive and helps open vessels, preventing the need for as many open-heart surgeries and catheter placed stents.
Chelation is the only proven therapy to remove heavy metals. There are other agents used for chelation. Some work better for different metals.
One of the theories of aging is, it's due to an accumulation of toxins over the life of the individual. Many patients who have completed chelation have commented on how they feel younger, more energetic, with fewer aches and pains etc. It's possible to just look at the skin and see improvement in appearance. Many practitioners of anti-aging medicine feel that chelation is the logical first place to start this form of therapy. A facelift or other plastic surgical procedure improves appearance until gravity takes hold again.
Chelation removes toxins and provides rejuvenation at the sub-cellular level. The EDTA commonly used in chelation is a good anti-oxidant by itself. This is part of how the compound works.
We all know that given a choice between listening to a musician playing an instrument or going to a full orchestra's performance, which will sound better? The same can be said of using a combination of agents that augment each other for a synergistic effect. That's how chelation is done today.
The vast majority of people will have heavy metals in their system by their fourth decade. This is not healthy, but it can provide some good news.
A urine test will show evidence of heavy metal toxicity. This provides an avenue to approach insurance companies for reimbursement.
As noted above, this is the only treatment medically indicated to remove toxic heavy metals. Since we've all been exposed to these poisons, it makes sense to try to rid ourselves of them.
The other benefits are opening blood vessels for better circulation, thus reducing the need for Viagra and its' cousins and as a good anti-aging therapy that starts working at the cellular level.
Possibly increasing your lifespan and the quality of your later years can be enhanced by chelation.
R.J. Oenbrink of Tequesta Family Practice is a board certified doctor of osteopathy. His offices are located at 395 Tequesta Drive, Suite B. Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. He is available to speak to groups on this or a variety of other topics. Please call his office, if interested, at (561) 746-4333.