Chelation Therapy Study

Chelation therapy has been proposed as the appropriate treatment for reducing the abnormal accumulation of essential heavy metals, such as Fe, Cu, and Zn, or nonessential and poisonous metals, such as lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and aluminum (Al). Toxic metals such as mercury and lead are thought to accelerate the aging process and correlate with cardiovascular disease. The human body cannot break down heavy metals, which can build up to toxic levels in the body and interfere with normal functioning. EDTA and other chelating drugs lower the blood levels of toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium by attaching to the heavy metal molecules, which helps the body remove them through urination.In addition, the recent evidence indicates that chelation benefits patients, at least in part, by removing abnormal accumulation of essential nutritional trace elements from diseased organs and arterial walls.

Effective chelation treatment of metal poisoning requires more study to understand the physical and chemical characteristics of chelators and toxic metals, effective administration route and dosages of chelators, level of toxicity, and intra and extra cellular distributions.

The Riordan clinic has decades of experience using chelating agents to safely remove toxic minerals from the body.  Our Bio-center laboratory is able to analyze mineral levels in hair, urine, and blood.  Patients who have been treated for undergone heavy metal detoxification at the Riordan Clinic report improved memory, less fatigue, and other ‘wellness’ benefits.  The Clinic’s approach to this point has been to treat with intravenous EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid).  Our Research Institute has been examining other chelating agents.

In a pilot clinical study using five rounds of chelation in five subjects, we compared chelation using intravenous EDTA to that using oral DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid).  In our experiments, we examined urine levels of two-dozen different minerals.  Our findings indicate that success (as indicated by increases in urinary mineral excretion) varies for different minerals.  For example, EDTA was more successful in chelating cadmium and aluminum, while oral DMSA was more effective in chelating lead and arsenic.  The results of this study have been published in peer-reviewed journals:

  • Efficacy of oral DMSA and intravenous EDTA in chelation of toxic metals and improvement of the number of stem/ progenitor cells in circulation. Mikirova NA, Casciari JJ, Hunninghake RE;  Translational Biomedicine 2011; 2: 2
  • EDTA Chelation Therapy in the Treatment of Toxic Metals Exposure. Mikirova NA, Casciari JJ, Hunninghake RE, Riordan NH;  Spatula DD. 2011; 1(2): 81-89

We have been examining the effects of toxic metals, and chelation therapy, on white blood cells.  In the study described above, we found that chelation therapy increased lymphocyte and monocyte counts.  In a separate set of experiments, we found that mercury (bound to organic molecules) is extremely toxic to stem cells in the laboratory.  Lead, to a lesser extent, is also toxic to these cells.   As stem cells are important in combating aging and repairing tissue damage, this suggests an additional mechanism by which toxic metals can affect health.

Because our interest in chelation therapy stems at least in part from its effect on the risk of cardiovascular illness, we developed a diagnostic technique to monitor the effect of treatments on cardiovascular risk factors.  Our method, based on detection of circulating endothelial microparticles in blood samples, was published in journal:

  • Increased Level of Circulating Endothelial Microparticles and Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Mikirova NA, Casciari JJ, Hunninghake RE and Riordan NHJournal of Clinic & Experimental Cardiology 2011, 2:9

In summary, the results of our studies demonstrated:

  • The efficacy of the chelating agent depends on the EDTA-metal complex stability constant. This constant is one of the highest for lead, but the level of chelation also depends on the presence and concentration of other metals. The 24–hr urine samples collected after the first EDTA (calcium or sodium EDTA) treatment demonstrated the increase in lead, aluminum, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc levels.
  • Chelation using 3 g of EDTA resulting in a 2-3 times increase in excretion of toxic metals such as lead and aluminum.  In comparison with spontaneous release, the level of zinc in urine was increased in average 26 fold, manganese 20 fold, iron 3-6 fold and calcium 2 fold.
  • Ca-EDTA and Na-EDTA demonstrated the same effectiveness in lead chelation and a higher efficacy of Ca-EDTA in chelation of aluminum.
  • We demonstrated a non-linear effect of chelation on the dosage of EDTA, and the effect was more pronounced for toxic metals in comparison with essential metals.
  • Our data showed that it can take many chelation sessions to remove all of the heavy metals, which had built up in the body, depending on the heavy metal involved, and it may take weeks or months to recover.
  • According to our data, higher concentrations of toxic metals were measured for lower concentrations of trace metals. We found the decrease of the body burden of aluminum and lead with increased levels of essential metals.