Oral Chelation: More Fantasy Than Fact

It seems that I have to address this issue about every four to five years, and since I am getting questions from patients indicating that they want to take oral chelation like their friends, I thought I should address it again. I especially want to address it after a patient brought me an article on oral chelation product that quoted some of our results. The problem is, the promoter did not have the courtesy to tell the readers that we have never used his product, or that all our work was on intravenous chelation, not oral. The patient is left, however, with the impression that we endorse not only his product, but also the concept of oral chelation, both of which could not be further from the truth.

To understand my negative position or oral chelation, let us first examine some of the facts.

Fact 1: Dosage

In our intravenous chelation treatments, we use dosages in the range of 1500 to 3000 mg of EDTA (the actual chelator). The oral products might have a dosage of as much as 100mg, but if they contain EDTA, it is in the 50mg range, or 1% to 3% of the amount we use.

Fact 2: Form in which EDTA enters the Body

When the oral form EDTA mixes with minerals in the stomach, the chelation of calcium occurs, so it enters the circulation already complexed with calcium. It will be very difficult for the oral EDTA to chelate calcium from abnormal body sites if it has already combined with calcium before it enters the bloodstream. We use the disodium (non-calcium containing) form of EDTA, so it enters the blood stream without calcium and can effectively mobilize abnormal deposits of calcium.

Fact 3: Effect on Parathyroid Hormone

There are two theories on how chelation is postulated to work. One of these is the Parathyroid Theory. For those interested in the details, you can read about the way EDTA works in the History of Chelation Therapy section of our website. In general terms, however, when the disodium form of EDTA is infused into the veins, it lowers the serum calcium. The causes a release of parathyroid hormone from four small glands located behind the thyroid gland. This hormone appears to assist in the breakdown of calcium deposits in the bone and soft tissue. Paradoxically, it hits the bone with such force that it wakes up the bone-manufacturing cells and helps improve osteoporosis. Without this parathyroid effect, a major component of chelation would not be present, and the oral agents do not give this parathyroid hormone release.

Fact 4: Effect of Iron, Copper, and Heavy Metals

The other theory as to how chelation works centers on its effect on metals in the body. Free iron and copper can cause the acceleration of what we call free radical reactions. A free radical is a highly energetic molecule that, when formed, plays havoc with the cell membranes. Removing copper and iron reduces the level of these free radicals in the tissues. In addition, EDTA removes the heavy metals lead and cadmium, which can contribute to hypertension. Now granted, oral chelation may removed some of these, but remember, the oral chelation products only contain 1% to 3% as much of the active ingredient we give intravenously.

In Summary

Oral Chelation products may be good general vitamins but, just remember, chelation it is not. In the winter of 2011, the FDA forced the companies making these products remove any association with chelation from the label and packaging.