Circulation with EDTA Chelation Therapy*
by Michael B. Schachter, MD, FACAM
attacks are associated with atherosclerosis, a process that results in the
accumulation of fats, calcium and other substances in the arterial wall. As a
coronary artery narrows, it may become blocked. This results in a reduction of
the blood supply to an area of the heart. Heart tissue is damaged and if the
area is large enough, the person may die.
process of atherosclerosis that is so common 'in Americans can also lead to
other diseases. For example, strokes are largely the result of atherosclerosis.
A blockage of arteries to the legs can lead to a condition known as intermittent
claudication, which is a painful cramping of the legs when walking.
Conventional Therapy for Heart and Blood Vessel Disorders
treatment for coronary artery disease has generally emphasized coronary artery
bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty and/or medications, although some doctors
also discuss diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors. But, a remarkably safe
and effective treatment for all forms of atherosclerosis has largely been
ignored by the vast majority of conventional physicians. This treatment is
called EDTA Chelation Therapy.
Is EDTA Chelation Therapy?
word "chelation" (pronounced key lay' shun) is derived from the Greek
word "chele" meaning the claw of a lobster or crab. It refers to a
chemical compound being able to grab onto a mineral in a firm claw-like way.
Chelation therapy is the treatment of choice for removing toxic metals, such as
lead from the body. EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetra acetic Acid) is a synthetic
amino acid that is currently approved by the FDA for removing lead and other
toxic minerals from the body.
chelation therapy was first used around 1950 to treat workers suffering from
lead poisoning. Several workers, who also had angina from coronary artery
disease, reported unexpected 'improvement of their angina. Intrigued by these
findings, several physicians subsequently conducted a number of clinical studies
which confirmed the benefits of EDTA chelation therapy for all forms of
cardiovascular disease. However, since these studies were not double-blind
placebo controlled studies, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
not yet approved the use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disorders.
lack of approval by the FDA for the use of EDTA chelation therapy for
cardiovascular disease does not prevent physicians who believe in its benefits
from administering it to their patients. Once a drug is approved for one
indication, it may be used for other purposes, as long as there exists some
medical evidence that it is beneficial.
the mechanisms are not fully understood, EDTA, when dripped into the
bloodstream, appears to improve circulation. The EDTA combines with certain
metals or minerals, forming a complex, which is eliminated by the body in the
urine. Analysis done before and after the therapy often reveals improved
circulation after a series of infusions.
It Is Administered
'intravenous infusion of EDTA lasts approximately Four hours. At least twenty to
thirty treatments are usually required for symptomatic patients. One or two
treatments are given each week. Follow-up maintenance treatments are
administered at longer intervals when indicated.
chelation therapy is generally administered by physicians in the context of a
full therapeutic program involving dietary changes, nutritional supplements, an
exercise program and recommendations for stress management. Medication is given
when necessary and appropriate. With this approach, physicians using this
therapy report good to excellent results in 70 to 80% of their patients who have
problems due poor circulation involving the heart, legs and/or brain. Symptoms
that may improve include: chest pain due to angina, shortness of breath, pain
and cramps in the legs with walking, dizziness, impaired memory and generalized
weakness or fatigue.
The Whole Body
contrast to bypass surgery, which treats only the particular arteries that are
bypassed, EDTA chelation therapy treats all of the arteries in the body
simultaneously. This leads to improvement in circulation to the heart, the
brain, the legs and organs of the body. Recent studies show that with treatment
there is a gradual reduction of atherosclerotic plaque. In large arteries
and improved blood flow. However, chelation therapy appears to work mainly by
improving the circulation in small vessels and promoting the growth of new blood
vessels. Large vessel blockage to the legs or brain or heart may still benefit
from bypass surgery or angioplasty. These treatments are not mutually exclusive
and patients who undergo bypass surgery often benefit from chelation therapy
either prior to or after the bypass surgery.
cost for each infusion ranges between $90 and $125 in the Metropolitan area. The
cost for a full program of thirty infusions over a three or four month period,
including office visits, diagnostic tests and nutritional supplements is
approximately four to five thousand dollars. Unfortunately, as of this writing,
the cost of the infusions and nutritional supplements are usually not covered by
Medicare or other medical insurance because, as mentioned previously, the
treatment is not yet approved by the FDA for cardiovascular disorders.
use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease remains quite
controversial and is generally not subscribed to by most physicians in the
United States or by major medical organizations, such as the AMA and the
American Heart Association. Their position is that this treatment is “unproven”
for the above mentioned conditions. However, a national medical association
known as ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine) has sponsored
educational seminars and conferences for physicians on the use of EDTA chelation
therapy for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders since 1974. It has
established a protocol for the safe and effective administration of EDTA. Many
of its members have been certified in the use of chelation therapy by the
American Board of Chelation Therapy (ABCT)
Published Studies Supporting EDTA Chelation Therapy
contrast to the view held by most conventional physicians that there is no
medical literature to support the use of EDTA chelation therapy for
cardiovascular disease, a, great number of published positive clinical studies
do exist. At least 40 clinical studies have been published and only one study
has shown negative results. This negative study, which was published in two
papers, was conducted by vascular surgeons in Denmark. The vascular
surgeons, whose pocketbooks were being hurt by chelation therapy, had vehemently
attacked it in the media for two years prior to the study. The study appears to
be severely flawed and is currently being investigated by a Danish agency
concerned with integrity in science.
recent very important study was published in the Journal of Advancement in
Medicine. Fall# 1 993.' It was a meta-analysis concerning the effectiveness of
EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease. What is a meta- analysis you
might ask? It is a sophisticated study about other studies on a particular
subject. L. Terry Chappell. M.D. and John P. Stahl. Ph.D. identified 40
published studies on the use of EDTA chelation therapy for cardio- vascular
disease. Nineteen studies met the criteria for inclusion. These nineteen studies
included data on 22,765 patients. A high correlation coefficient of 0.88
indicated a, strong relationship between EDTA chelation therapy and improved
cardiovascular function. Eighty-seven per- cent of these patients demonstrated
clinical improvement by objective testing.
example of a positive study, included in the meta- analysis and published in
1988 in Medical Hypothesis by Dr. Efrain Olzewer and Dr. James P. Carter
is entitled "EDTA Chelation Therapy in Chronic Degenerative Disease".
An analysis was carried out on the treatment results of 2,870 patients with
various degenerative and age associated diseases. Using Qualitative, but
nevertheless standardized criteria for improvement, the analysis showed either
marked or good improvement in:
93.5% of heart patients with coronary disease
2. 98.6% of patients with arteriosclerotic vascular disease of the legs
3. 54% of cerebrovascular and other degenerative diseases of the brain.
study was carried out in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
second study done by the same researchers along with a third clinician, Dr. Fuad
Calil Sabbag, was a double, blind placebo controlled study, on a small group of
only ten patients with advanced atherosclerotic vascular disease of the legs, a
condition which results in pain in the legs when walking. This was essentially a
black and white study, in which all patients treated with EDTA improved and
those who received the placebo did not. This study was published in a peer
review Journal. The National Medical Journal in March 1990.6
third study conducted by Doctors Rudolph and McDonagh was published in the
Journal of Advancement In Medicine. Vol. 4. 199 I.' It involved 30 patients with
atherosclerotic blockage of one or both of their carotid arteries, shown by
doppler imaging studies. The carotids are the large neck arteries that carry
blood to the brain. Blockage of a carotid artery may lead to a stroke. The
blockage was measured before and after 30 EDTA chelation therapy infusions given
over a ten-month period. Results indicated a significant reduction of blockage
in these patients and a marked increase in blood flow to the brain. The overall
intra-arterial obstruction decreased more than 20 percent. Patients with more
severe stenosis had an even greater reduction.
Effectiveness Of EDTA Chelation Therapy
the justifiably great concern about the costs of a health care program, one
important question is whether or not EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular
disease would be cost effective. Fortunately, this question has been answered by
a study in Denmark, which was published in the Fall 1993 issue of the Journal of
Advancement in Medicine (the same issue that had the meta analysis study
discussed above). C. Hancke, MD and K. Flytile, MD reported on 470 with
cardiovascular disease who were treated with EDTA chelation therapy. A variety
of parameters were evaluated, most of them being objective. Eighty to ninety-one
percent improved, depending on the measurement used. Of 72 patients referred for
coronary bypass surgery, only 7 required this procedure following chelation -
OF30 patients with arterial blockage of their legs who were referred for
amputation of a leg, only 3 required amputation following chelation. Aside from
the incredible savings in mortality and morbidity with EDTA chelation therapy as
compared to surgical intervention, the estimated cost savings of insurance money
in this study was three million dollars. In the United States, the estimated
cost savings if EDTA chelation therapy were done on a large scale would be eight
billion dollars per year on the savings from coronary bypass surgery alone.
of the FDA Approved Study Of EDTA Chelation Therapy
1986, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Investigational New Drug
(IND) certificate to two research organizations to study EDTA chelation therapy
in patients with arterial blockage in the legs (intermittent claudication). This
double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial was encouraged and partially
funded by ACAM physicians and their patients. It was begun at Walter Reed Army
Hospital in Washington. D.C. and plans called for patients to be treated at two
other military hospitals. In order for this study to be completed, 120
patients would need to be treated. Treatment
of more than thirty patients was completed at Walter Feed Army Hospital.
Unfortunately, the Persian Gulf War and funding problems resulted in cessation
of the project, which is currently on hold. The code of which patients actually
received EDTA and which received placebo has not yet been broken. Following the
war, a pharmaceutical company agreed to fund the entire project, but then
reneged after hiring a long time opponent of chelation therapy as their new
medical director. The study is set up in such away that significant financial
benefits would accrue to a company that funds the project, if the trials are
successful, as expected. Consequently, members of ACAM are currently seeking the
funding to complete the studies. If the FDA approves EDTA chelation therapy for
cardiovascular disease, health insurance coverage for the treatment would be
Personal Experience With EDTA Chelation Therapy
personally have been chelating patients
with cardiovascular disease since 1976, first in my office in Nyack and since
April. 1991 in my new modern facility in Suffern. I estimate that I've
chelated at least 1,200 patients during this time with approximately 25,000
have been active in the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM)
almost since its inception (as the American Academy of Medical Preventics , AAMP
in 1973) and served as its President from 1989 through 1991. A diplomat of the
American Board of Chelation Therapy (ABCT) I have also served on this Board. I
lecture to physicians at ACAM workshops, designed to teach physicians from ail
over the world about how to do EDTA chelation therapy.
of my family and I have received chelation therapy and have benefited
considerably. It is interesting to note that virtually all chelating physicians
have either taken the treatment themselves or recommended it for their families.
This treatment is one of the most gratifying procedures in my office
because most of the patients improve.
is an example of a typical chelation therapy patient. A 50 year old oriental man
(Y. O.) had 3 angioplasties from January through June 199 1. The first remained
open 12 weeks, the second 8 weeks and the third IO weeks. A fourth was
recommended and if it didn't work, his cardiologist suggested that coronary
bypass surgery was the only alternative. When first seen in October 199 1, Mr.
0. could walk only two city blocks without severe chest pains. After twenty-four
EDTA infusions along with the entire chelation therapy program. Mr. 0. could
walk I- 1 1/2 hours, three times per week with little or no discomfort. At the
same time, cardiac medications have been reduced by half.
Sloth-Nielsen, J., Guldager, B., Mouritzen, C., et al, "Arteriographic
Finding in EDTA Chelation Therapy on Peripheral Arteriosclerosis.", American
Journal of Surgery, August 1991.
Guldager, B., Jelsnes, R., Jorgensen, S.J., et al, "EDTA Treatment of
Intermittent Claudication - A Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Study.", Journal
of Internal Medicine, 1992.
Cranton, M.D., E.M. & Frackelton, J.P., "Negative Danish Study of EDTA
Chelation Biased." Townsend Letter for Doctors, July 1992.
Chappell, M.D., L. Terry & Stahl, Ph.D., John P., "The Correlation
Between EDTA Chelation Therapy and Improvement in Cardiovascular Function: A
Meta-Analysis", Journal of Advancement in Medicine. Fall 1993.
Olszewer, M.D., Efrain & Carter, M.D., Ph.D., James P., "EDTA Chelation
Therapy: A Retrospective Study of 2,870 Patients", Journal of
Advancement in Medicine, Spring/Summer 1989.
Olszewer, M.D., E., Carter, M.D., Ph.D., J.P. & Sabbag, F.C., "A Pilot
Double-Blind Study of Sodium-Magnesium EDTA In Peripheral Vascular
Disease", The National Medical Journal, March, 1990.
Rudolph, D.O., Ph.D., C.J., McDonagh, D.O., A.C.G.P., E.W. & Barber, B.S.,
A.C.S.M., E.T.T., R.K., "A Nonsurgical Approach to Obstructive Carotid
Stenosis Using EDTA Chelation", Journal of Advancement in Medicine,
Hancke, M.D., C. & Flytlie, M.D., K., "Benefits of EDTA Chelation
Therapy in Arteriosclerosis: A Retrospective Study of 470 Patients", Journal
of Advancement in Medicine, Fall 1993.
article was originally printed in the 1994 issue of Innovation, a
periodical published by the former Foundation for
Advancement of Innovative Medicine (FAIM).
2000 Michael B. Schachter, MD