Chelation therapy
EDTA chelation became well known during the 1950s when it was proposed as a method to cleanse the blood and blood vessel walls of toxins and mi...

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DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Chelation therapy may cause serious side effects, such as dangerously low calcium levels in the blood, bone marrow damage that leads to low levels of blood cells, kidney damage (with elevated creatinine levels), very low blood pressure, fast heart rate, increased risk of bleeding or blood clots (including interference with the effects of the blood thinning drug warfarin [Coumadin®]), bacterial blood infections, seizures, allergic or immune system reactions, heart rhythm abnormalities, and unstable blood sugar levels. Other side effects may include fever, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal upset, excessive thirst, increased sweating, headache, decreased thyroid function, fatigue, low white blood cell count (leukopenia), low blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia), or inflammation of the uvea (uveitis). Severe reactions have occurred causing people to stop breathing. Although deaths have been reported in people receiving chelation, it is unclear if chelation therapy was the direct cause. One possible cause may be due to the loss of calcium.

Chelation may be dangerous in people with heart, kidney, or liver disease or with conditions affecting blood cells or the immune system. Use during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or in children may also be dangerous due to potential toxic effects.


This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ( William Collinge, PhD, MPH (Collinge & Associates); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); David Lee, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy-Worcester); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).


DISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

Anand A, Evans MF. Does chelation therapy work for ischemic heart disease? Can Fam Physician 2003;49:307-309.

Anderson TJ, Hubacek J, Wyse, DG, et al. Effect of chelation therapy on endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease: PATCH substudy. J Am Coll Cardiol 2-5-2003;41(3):420-425.

Bell SA. Chelation therapy for patients with ischemic heart disease. JAMA 4-24-2002;287(16):2077-2078.

Chappell LT, Stahl JP, Evans R. EDTA chelation therapy for vascular disease: a meta-analysis using unpublished data. J Adv Med 1994;7:131-142.

Ernst E. Chelation therapy for coronary heart disease: an overview of all clinical investigations. Am Heart J 2000;140(1):139-141.

Grebe HB, Gregory PJ. Inhibition of warfarin anticoagulation associated with chelation therapy. Pharmacotherapy 2002;22(8):1067-1069.

Huynh-Do U. [Gout nephropathy--ghost or reality?]. Ther Umsch 2004;61(9):567-569.

Knudtson ML, Wyse DG, Galbraith PD, et al. Chelation therapy for ischemic heart disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 1-23-2002;287(4):481-486.

Morgan BW, Kori S, Thomas JD. Adverse effects in 5 patients receiving EDTA at an outpatient chelation clinic. Vet Hum Toxicol 2002;44(5):274-276.

Najjar DM, Cohen EJ, Rapuano CJ, et al. EDTA chelation for calcific band keratopathy: results and long-term follow-up. Am J Ophthalmol 2004;137(6):1056-1064.

Quan H, Ghali WA, Verhoef MJ, et al. Use of chelation therapy after coronary angiography. Am J Med 12-15-2001;111(9):686-691.

Schnabel P, Erdmann E. [Is chelation therapy in coronary heart disease useful?]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 8-16-2002;127(33):1715.

Strassberg D. Chelation therapy for patients with ischemic heart disease. JAMA 4-24-2002;287(16):2077-2078.

Villarruz MV, Dans AL, Tan FN. Chelation therapy for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease [protocol]. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002;(4):CD002785.

Wong SS, Nahin RL. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine perspectives for complementary and alternative medicine research in cardiovascular diseases. Cardiol Rev 2003;11(2):94-98.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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