Chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun) is the use of a chemical substance that binds molecules, such as metals or minerals, so they can be excreted, usually through urine, from the body. Chelation has been scientifically proven to remove excess or toxic metals from human bodies. According to Cathy Wong at www.about.com, it was first used in the 1940's by the Navy to treat lead poisoning. Chelation Therapy is also used to treat heart disease, but, according to the Mayo Clinic, The American Heart Associate does not recommend this as treatment for heart disease and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Chelation Therapy for heart disease.
Chelation Therapy can cause side effects as the chelating agents will bind to any metals in the body and may remove essential as well as toxic metals. Typically, people who receive chelation therapy are monitored for side effects which can include things such as mineral deficiencies (ex., anemia) and other problems (ex., increased blood pressure and impaired kidney function). For more detailed iformation on Chelation Therapy, please visit WebMd's page on children's health: Chelating Agents for Lead Poisoning.
Types of Chelation Therapy
There are three main types of Chelation Therapy that are used for lead and heavy metal poisoning.
1. Calcium Disodium Versenate (EDTA): The most common form of chelation therapy uses a man-made amino acid called EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid). EDTA removes heavy metals and minerals from the blood, such as lead, iron, copper, and calcium, and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating lead poisoning and poisoning from other heavy metals (Cathy Wong, www.about.com). EDTA is sometimes used in conjunction with dimercaprol (BAL).
2. Dimercaprol (BAL): British anti-lewisite (BAL) is administered through an intramuscular injection. It may be used in conjunction with EDTA.
3. Succimer (Chemet): This chelating agent is administered orally. Typically given in capsule form. It can be taken with or without food, but should not be taken with dairy products as it can bind to the calcium in dairy and not work as effectively.