Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note, where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
This week, we’re going to talk about Chelation Therapy and EDTA. What they are and how they can be useful.
What is Chelation, and do you do it at Performance Medicine?
This is one of the more common questions we get being an integrative medical clinic.
Chelation is a Latin term for “clawing”. What that means in medical terms is “removing” or “detoxifying”.
I first learned about chelation when I was a kid. One of our neighbors, who was a chemist at Eastman, was always going off to get chelation treatments. I don’t know why he got them other than he was older and he believed that these treatments were helping him live longer.
My surgeon dad was skeptical of it. So I used to think it was quackery.
Being a physician for as long as I have now, I’m always looking for outside the box things you can do to keep yourself young and healthy and prevent disease. So I’ve become really interested in chelation, which in Tennessee where I practice, you can’t get done through an IV.
Chelation and EDTA
Chelation is a simple way of detoxifying your body of lead and heavy metals. The main agent used is called EDTA. It turns out that this is a really inexpensive substance that is similar to the vinegar that you use in your house. It’s safer than an aspirin.
In fact, it’s so safe that they add it to baby food and is also used as a safe preservative to prevent browning of foods and keep fish looking fresh.
It’s a safe preservative. It’s a powder or liquid that they put in the food. It’s actually a part of the food.
Tennessee is behind the times with a lot of medical things. The Board of Health doesn’t like IV Chelation, which involves inserting this chemical into the vein. There are other chelators in addition to EDTA by the way. EDTA is just the main one.
IV Chelation takes a lot of time, effort and expense. But it’s obviously more potent when going through the veins. At the time of this writing you can do it in North Carolina and Virginia (as well as some other states), and if one of my patients needs it I’ll send them to places that do it in those states because they are close by.
It’s very safe.
You can also get chelation through a tiny pill. It’s like a vitamin, and it’s called EDTA.
There are two different reasons for taking chelation. It was discovered for heavy metal toxicity as I mentioned above.
Today, we’re going to talk about it from the heart disease perspective.
I’ve been taking it for 6 months myself. As I mentioned in a previous Note, my CT Calcium Score was perfect 10 years ago, and now it’s not. That’s when I decided to start taking EDTA.
It can help prevent cardiac disease. It clears calcium from your arteries.
Why is this important? While calcium deposits in your arteries, joints, kidneys, and brain, it can also cause plaque to form in your coronary and carotid arteries. I.e. Contributing to heart attacks and strokes.
When you think of chelation, you probably think of heavy metals. In my opinion, its greater use is in preventing heart disease. Heart disease can start as calcium deposits in your arteries. That’s why we get CT Calcium Scoring on your heart to see how much calcium plaque you’ve laid down in your coronary arteries that can lead to a heart attack.
EDTA will help lower your blood pressure. It scrubs your arteries and keeps them clean. Obviously, it’s also great for heavy metals.
For the average person who is aging, it serves a greater function in cleaning out your arteries of calcium plaque. It does the same thing for joints.
I like to think of it as an “artery scrubber”. It does this for your kidneys and your blood vessels. It even helps with erectile dysfunction, because that is essentially plaquing of the arteries. It helps with pain in the legs from blocked arteries too.
I’ve seen this help people find pulses again in their feet.
It can also possibly help prevent dementia.
There’s no reason not to take it. It’s as safe as household vinegar. It’s as safe as taking an aspirin.
Side Note: Taking EDTA and an aspirin can help prevent the progression of hardening of your arteries.
The pills are inexpensive, and you don’t have to go get an IV. A lot of cardiologists are actually taking this themselves. They’re not going to be very open about it because it’s “alternative”.
IV or Pill
It’s more potent in the IV. If there is a critical time period to get it done, then you might want to seek out IV Chelation. If you’re facing getting a stenting procedure or a bypass operation, IV is going to be faster.
EDTA is preventative medicine. You start this early on patients that have risk factors. If they have mild hypertension, or have had mini strokes. Or if they have pain in their legs. There’s no reason not to take EDTA.
When should you start taking EDTA? Well, it depends on risk factors. Some may need to start at 40. Others may not need to start until 50 or 60.
If you have an abnormal CT Calcium Score, which shows your arterial age, you might want to consider taking EDTA. You can find this number out by doing a Carotid IMT Ultrasound, which we do in our Kingsport office. The next date we are doing this ultrasound is October 29th from 9-12PM. If you want to reserve your spot, make sure you call the Kingsport office.
What we are trying to do is predict 10 years from now if you’re going to have an event. Heart attacks and strokes kill so many Americans every year.
This is all preventive. And EDTA is one of those great, inexpensive, no brainer treatments.