Chelation Therapy | Remedy or Ripoff?

Posted by Admin on August 17, 2006
Tonight, we look at a popular alternative medicine treatment used for a variety of ills: chelation therapy. It's believed to work by removing metal and mineral toxins from the body. And now a government funded study is looking to see if it can help reduce the damage done by cardiovascular disease. So is it a remedy or a rip-off? Chelation therapy has been used since the 1930’s. It involves a series of treatments, usually through the iv, of detoxifying substances, centered around a synthetic amino acid called edta—which is purported to bind up mercury and lead…and other toxins in the body. But whether that’s having any significant effect on disease states remains to be seen. Many patients swear by chelation therapy, or are at least willing to give it a shot. Like Bruce Andreozzi who gave Chelation therapy a try, “it is going to lead to a healthier life for me and maybe a longer life, I have been feeling better” The national institutes of health thought it deserved notice, and has undertaken a huge study to see if it, along with high dose vitamins, can slow the progression and dangerous consequences of cardiovascular disease.

There are many proposed theories as to how chelation therapy works for coronary artery disease. Maybe it leaches the calcium out of the plaque blocking the coronary artery. Or it removes heavy metals from the red blood cells…allowing the blood to flow more easily. Dr. Harmony Reynolds is leading the research on chelation therapy and cardiovascular disease at NYU medical center.

 “Patients are very interested in and have strong opinions about but have very little scientific evidence, and we are trying to prove whether these things are helpful in addition to standard and proven treatments for heart disease,” says Dr. Reynolds. Many integrative practitioners like Dr. Rashmi Gulati, who is is a board certified internist who also practices holistic medicine, believe in chelation therapy. “If LDL was the answer to coronary disease and stroke we would have conquered it,” she says.

Dr. Gulati believes chelation therapy is effective for many problems, not just for cardiovascular disease. . “You all know we live in a world that is loaded with pollutants at this time,” Dr. Gulati argues. Pollutants, Dr. Gulati says, are the root of the problem of numerous medical conditions for which her practice uses chelation therapy.

 “Arterial disease, hypertension, learning disabilities, schizophrenia, personality disorders, depression, fibromyalgia, depending on some of the above mentioned conditions have elevated toxic metals based upon the tests that we do for urine toxic metals, which include lead, mercury, cadmium, thallium,” states Dr. Gulati.

 I asked her, “If we were in a grand rounds, they would say gosh what is the evidence that heavy metals are contributing to all this and is this the NIH trial the first step to prove heavy metal toxicity is in fact a contributor?” Dr. Gulati responded, “Yes, it’s a very good question for the forum that we need more studies based on the chemistry and science that we have in small studies all over the world.”

 But Dr. Reynolds has an even stronger opinion…for now. “At this point there is no reason to recommend chelation therapy to anyone because there is no evidence that it works,” he believes. To be completely fair, it might be effective based on anecdotal evidence (patient reports or case histories); but as dr. Reynolds points out, and as is stated on the NIH website, significant evidence based on large, placebo-controlled studies has yet to be presented. A good piece of advice is again, talk with your family physician first, especially when it comes to treating children.

 For more information on this, you can visit "National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NCCAM)" or "Chelation Therapy Study(NCCAM Health Information)" or "Patients Medical."

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