Chelation is a chemical process by which a metal or mineral (e.g., lead, mercury, copper, calcium) is bonded to another substance. It is a natural, indeed, a vital process that goes on continually in our bodies. Chelation therapy employing the weak acid, EDTA, has been shown for decades to safely improve blood flow and relieve symptoms associated with atherosclerotic vascular disease in more than 80% of patients so treated.
Although the mechanisms involved in chelation are extremely complex, chelation therapy can be understood simply as the removal of calcium and other minerals that promote blood clotting and promotes atherosclerosis. Since these metallic catalysts also cause excessive oxygen free-radical proliferation, EDTA chelation also helps reduce pathological lipid peroxidation of cell membranes, DNA, enzyme systems, and lipoproteins. This allows the body's natural healing mechanisms to halt and often reverse the disease process.
EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid) is a common man-made amino acid. You cannot get it from foods. It is used by the carload as a food additive and has been used for decades to prevent banked or drawn blood from clotting. EDTA is relatively nontoxic and risk free, especially when compared with other conventional medical treatments for protection from heart disease (like coronary artery bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty). When administered by a properly trained physician, IV EDTA has an extremely low risk of side effects- less than 1/10,000 patients. Oral EDTA, which does not require a physician's intervention, is probably even safer.
Oral EDTA has been used since the 1940s for removing lead from the body. Observant doctors who treated people with high blood lead levels noted that their symptoms of occlusive vascular disease were also disappearing. Although oral EDTA was clearly effective, it was supplanted during the 1960s as the standard of treatment by intravenous chelation for reasons that have more to do with politics than medicine.
Despite its well-documented safety and efficacy, EDTA chelation therapy has been the subject of a vociferous campaign of smear and suppression by the governmental/medical/pharmaceutical complex. Nevertheless, it has survived and prospered thanks to a relatively few courageous physicians, many of whom are members of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). To date these physicians have treated close to a million patients with occlusive vascular disease with a success rate that conventional medicine can only dream of.
The "Father" of the modern chelation movement, and one of the cofounders of ACAM, is Garry F. Gordon, MD, DO. A world-renowned expert on chelation therapy, nutrition, mineral metabolism, and alternative and preventive therapies, Dr. Gordon wrote the original protocol for the safe and effective use of EDTA. He has published many scientific papers and is co-author of the best-selling book, The Chelation Answer. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Gordon describes the state of the art in oral and IV chelation therapy, and he explains why nearly everyone can benefit from this remarkable but, sadly, underused therapy.
Life Enhancement: How does EDTA work as a chelator?
Dr. Gordon: EDTA is closely related to vinegar, ordinary acetic acid! It's actually a weak acid. If you put an eggshell in vinegar, it'll dissolve. In the same way, EDTA will take calcium off your arteries. But, amazingly enough, it washes part of the calcium down, out through the kidneys. At the same time, through a complex action of the parathyroid gland, EDTA actually stimulates bone growth. Thus, even though it's removing calcium from plaque in blood vessels, it has the ability to make bones stronger.
LE: EDTA also reduces blood clotting that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Is it any different from aspirin in this regard?
Dr. Gordon: There was recently a 31-page supplement published in the Lancet (November, 1996), in which it is pointed out that common anticlotting therapies like aspirin and coumadin are effective against only about one-third of excessive platelet aggregation and coagulation. None of them gets at the whole problem. EDTA, on the other hand, appears to have effects against all clotting mechanisms.
LE: Isn't such a powerful anticlotting therapy dangerous? Couldn't you actually cause a blood clot to break loose?
Dr. Gordon: No, we have never lost anybody from a blood clot breaking loose. Yet, we don't have anybody who takes EDTA on a regular basis bleed to death when they have an auto accident or cut themselves shaving, either. So I've got the best of all worlds. I don't have to bring you in for blood tests every week; and I don't have to keep your blood so thin that it's dangerous, like physicians who prescribe coumadin do. And, yet, even if you get angry or eat a heavy meal, have too much sugar, or if you're diabetic whatever other blood-thickening risk factors you've got, you virtually can't get a clot if you're protected with a total oral-chelation formula. The amazing thing is my patients just about don't die!
LE: Do you have to worry about removing other, more beneficial, metals as well?
Dr. Gordon: We know that EDTA is a nonspecific chelator, and we know that everyone who takes EDTA will have less lead in their blood and, presumably, in their body. But, zinc also comes out very fast in the urine, so when you take EDTA, you can induce zinc deficiency easily. I suggest taking it with an aggressive multiple vitamin mineral supplement, emphasizing zinc. A pregnant woman has to be especially careful, because if she becomes zinc deficient, her fetus may develop abnormally.
LE: Why do you combine EDTA with garlic?
Dr. Gordon: Garlic is already becoming the darling of the country. Even Jane Brodie of The New York Times, who has always attacked all the health claims made by the nutritional supplement industry, has published articles lauding what garlic can do. Garlic will chelate lead and mercury, absolutely, without question. We have all sorts of research on this. Even red dye #40 will be chelated out by garlic. An animal that will turn red on red dye #40 won't do that on garlic.
This really works; in fact, in aggressive quantities, you could lower anybody's familial hypercholesterolemia. We had one patient at Stanford University who could never get her cholesterol below 500. Once she started taking 6 tablespoons a day of the EDTA-based chelation formula, we were able to bring her down to 200...
So the more chelation we give people, the less osteoporosis they have and the less age-related calcium accumulation there is in their blood vessels. In other words, the average 80-year-old man, if you take the aorta out of his dead body, shows 140 times more calcium than he had at age 10...
Last year we got a $2.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, with full approval of the FDA, to do a study in a university medical school setting. It was to be under the chief researcher, Stephen F. Olmstead, MD, who is a cardiology professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Well, since he agreed to do this study, his life has been wrecked, because he has gone from being a legitimate, world class, widely recognized researcher to being the butt of dirty jokes from all the "orthodox" medical doctors in the state. He has been ostracized, solely because he was willing to study chelation. And despite the fact that he had a $2.5 million grant from the NHLBI, an official arm of National Institutes of Health, the dean of the medical school killed the study just hours before it was scheduled to begin, for reasons that only he knows.
We've never heard of a university turning down $2.5 million before. Off the top of it, the university is typically allowed to pocket 40% of that money for "administrative" expenses. For them to turn down 40% of $2.5 million, the dean must have been promised something pretty juicy by somebody who couldn't have the truth about EDTA come out.
Until we do such a study, anything we say is laughed at, is not publishable, continues to be called "anecdotal," and is unimportant to anybody except the million satisfied patients who have been successfully treated.
LE: How does EDTA compare with "approved" blood thinners, like aspirin?
Dr. Gordon: Everybody in the country is being told by their doctors to take aspirin to prevent blood clotting. They're all doing it. But it's not hard to get the figures (because they are well-published) that there are 3,000 deaths a year from aspirin poisoning. There's no human being that can swallow an aspirin who will not have a corrosive effect on the membrane of their stomach and cause a microhemorrhage right where the pill hits the stomach. That's a simple fact. Nobody can really refute it. By contrast, in a proper combination with other natural anticlotting substances, oral EDTA is a safe and effective alternative. It's the best blood thinner that anybody could take. Doctors also like to prescribe a dangerous poison called coumadin for thinning the blood. Coumadin is the same thing you can buy at the hardware store to get rid of mice and rats. Many people are also putting their belief in vitamin E as a blood thinner.
Now, all of these have some antiplatelet, or anticlotting, or anticoagulation effects. But, if we look at the bleeding and clotting cascade, it's a very complicated subject. That review in The Lancet points out that aspirin or coumadin or even vitamin E combined fail to hit more than one-third of the known factors involved in clotting...
LE: Who should be taking EDTA? Should you wait until you have symptoms of heart disease or should you start when you are 30 years old?
Dr. Gordon: It is on front pages everywhere that lead poisoning is rampant in America. There are studies widely available showing, without question, that the lower the level of lead, the higher the IQ, performance, and coordination of the child. Yet, as recently as 2 years ago, the enamel on certain bathtubs was still lead-based. So when you put your baby in it, you were bathing your baby in lead. We know it is too expensive to tear up all the lead-containing pipes in Boston and many other cities, and everybody is supposed to run their water before they drink it.
EDTA is an effective treatment for lead poisoning, so when you ask, who should have it, you have to consider that chelating out lead for everybody has a tremendous benefit. If I lived in Boston and my kid was 3 years old, if he could swallow the pill, I'd have him taking the pills. And of course by doing that, he'd have this wonderful side effect. He'd have less vascular disease over a lifetime, a clear-cut benefit. When it got to the point that his doctor started saying, "Well, gee, everybody in your family has died of heart attacks, you should start on aspirin," he could say, "Yes, doc, but I've got a safer alternative."...
EDTA-based oral chelation provides automatic protection against the clotting process, as well as lowering their level of lead, so that they will have a higher functioning immune system, better IQ, better coordination, and so on.
It is also my firm belief that anyone considering using aspirin for the prevention of heart attack should learn everything they can about oral EDTA. It is my belief that EDTA is as much as 300 times safer than aspirin, since we have never had anybody bleed to death, or die with oral EDTA.
At the same time, when oral EDTA is used with other natural anticlotting substances (e.g., garlic, primrose oil, maxEPA, and carrageenin), there will be synergy.
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