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Chelation Therapy

Binding of a metal ion by a large molecule to form a soluble complex; chelation therapy uses large molecules such as EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) to remove excess metals (like lead or iron) from tissues and enable their excretion.


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How Does It Work?

Chelation therapy uses special drugs that bind to metals in your blood. You get the chelating medicine through an intravenous (IV) tube in your arm. It’s also available in pill form. Once the drug has attached to the metal, your body removes them both through your pee.

What Other Conditions Does It Treat?

Some natural health care providers and supplement companies claim they use chelation therapy to reduce symptoms of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, or heart disease. Yet this treatment is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat metal poisoning.

Heart Disease

You get this when fatty deposits called plaques form in your arteries. These substances cause your blood vessels to narrow. They also make them less flexible, so less blood can flow through them. Artery plaques contain calcium. The chelating drug disodium EDTA binds to this mineral. The idea is that chelation therapy clears it out of the blood vessels. It removes plaques, too.


Chelation therapy won’t treat diabetes. However, people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing heart problems. Chelation therapy may reduce this risk.

A 2015 subgroup analysis found that EDTA did reduce the risk of heart problems in people with diabetes, but not in those without diabetes. While these initial findings are promising, several more large-scale clinical trials involving participants with diabetes are needed.


Some people believe that thimerosal causes autism. Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury and is used in some vaccines. However, this 2010 study debunked this. Vaccines don’t cause autism.

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