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Rapid Injection of Calcium-EDTA IS Dangerous and Unproven

 We receive inquiries about chelation doctors who inject the calcium form of EDTA, sometimes very rapidly. There have been misleading claims that calcium-EDTA effectively treats atherosclerosis and other forms of cardiovascular disease. We strongly advise against this practice.

NOTE: "calcium-disodium EDTA" is the same as "calcium EDTA," the erms are used interchangeable. The only proven form of EDTA for best results does not contain any calcium.

Calcium-EDTA has no proven benefit in the treatment of age-related diseases, coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis. Calcium-EDTA is also potentially dangerous if the full dose of EDTA is injected rapidly. Calcium-EDTA is equal to disodium-EDTA in its potential to harm the kidneys if given too rapidly. A slow 3-hour infusion was established many years ago as the only safe way to administer a full therapeutic dose of any form of intravenous EDTA.
 
It is frightening to learn that the full 3-hour dose of EDTA is being injected in just a few minutes. Nothing has changed in the approved chelation protocol to allow infusions of the full dose of EDTA in less than 3 hours, or to change from disodium-EDTA to calcium-EDTA. The only form of chelation therapy proven to be both safe and effective is intravenous disodium-EDTA, administered slowly over approximately 3 hours. That protocol is backed by 50 years of experience and many scientific studies—as summarized on this website
 
Patients would like to spend less time during treatment and chelation clinics do not want to tie up expensive and limited office space for longer than necessary. But patients should not be cheated in the process. In that way, doctors can treat more patients in a day, without the need for a large amount of costly floor space, and without the need for a large nursing staff. Patients are being told that a shorter treatment, using calcium-EDTA, is just as good as the standard treatment. It is not! Calcium-EDTA has never been shown to provide the same benefits of disodium EDTA. It can also be dangerous unless administered slowly.
 
Calcium-EDTA does not cause blood calcium levels to drop, like disodium-EDTA, and therefore does not cause nervous twitches or pain at the site of infusion. Calcium-EDTA can be pushed in rapidly without pain or immediate side efects. That can deceptively make it appear safer. Harmful side-effects will not immediately be apparent. Kidney damage may occur slowly and does not cause symptoms until it is far advanced, dectectable only with laboratory testing. When given rapidly, the potential for kidney toxicity is equal to disodium EDTA. For patient safety, a lower dose must be used if EDTA chelation is administered in less than 3 hours, with correspondingly less benefit. The faster the infusion, the lower the safe dose will be.
 
Calcium-EDTA does remove lead from the body, but lead removal is just one of the many benefits also seen with disodium-EDTA. There is no scientific evidence to show that lead is an important cause of atherosclerosis and there is no evidence that calcium-EDTA is as effective in treating cardiovascular disease.
 
Reference is sometimes made to the fact that intermittent small doses of slowly infused intravenous calcium-EDTA (one gram over 2 hours) improved kidney function in a study reported from Taiwan. Improvement in kidney function has been reported in published studies following both calcium- and disodium-EDTA, but the EDTA was given very slowly and resulting improvement is not related to improvement in cardiovascular disease.

Although lead is removed by calcium-EDTA, lead levels were not in a toxic range in the patients treated in that Taiwan study. Kidney function was mildly impaired on average and did improve following treatment. How EDTA improves kidney function is unknown, despite some theoretical mechanisms. The supposition that improvement relates to lead removal is purely hypothetical. There are other potential explanations, such are reduction in cross-linkages with subsequent reductions of organic residue at the glomerular filtration sites, which could also reduce elevated blood pressure. EDTA in any form is selectively filtered through the kidneys and highly concentrated in the urine. Its activity at that site is therefore not comparable to its action on blood vessel walls.
 
THE EXAGGERATION OF HEAVY METAL DETOXIFICATION

Although mercury, arsenic and lead toxicity do occur, they do not are not contribute significantly to coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis. Laboratories used by some chelation clinics tend to exaggerate toxic threshholds, deceptively frightening patients into believing they are toxic when levels are actually in a safe range.

EDTA does not significantly remove mercury from the body. DMSA by mouth speed the excretion of mercury. lead and arsenic, but DMSA is not a true chelating agent. If heavy metal detoxification is the goal, DMSA can be purchased without a prescription and taken by mouth at home, without the need for frequent clinic visits. EDTA in any form is relatively effective for mercury  toxicity. DMPS was once used but no longer has a place in treatment.    DMSA is now the treatment of choicefor mercury toxicity.
 
Most lead in the adult body is tightly bound deep within bones. EDTA does remove the small amount of lead that is free in body fluids, but more lead soon seeps out of the bones causing a rebound in body fluids. Intermittent DMSA by mouth, taken Monday, Wednesday and Friday for several months can gradually reduce total body lead.
 
A Swiss doctor, Walter Blumer, once reported on his use of intravenous calcium-EDTA by rapid infusion. But Dr. Blumer treated only lead toxicity, not cardiovascular disease, and he used lower doses. He treated mostly young people who had much greater kidney function than older patients with established vascular disease. Dr. Blumer did not investigate or follow-up the potential kidney problems. Some patients will suffer kidney impairment if the full 3.0 gram dose is forced in rapidly, even when using the calcium form of EDTA. That is one very important reason to give it slowly.
 
The half-life of EDTA in the body is less than one hour. Rapid elimination through the kidneys prevents the blood and kidney levels from rising dangerously high during a slow 3-hour infusion. Rapidly injecting a full dose of any form of EDTA may overload the kidneys, because the kidneys are the only route through which EDTA leaves the body.
 
The Swiss report by Dr. Blumer, whose research has erroneously been used to support the use of calcium-EDTA in the treatment of atherosclerosis, lists subjective improvement of a few nonspecific symptoms such as dizzy spells, anxiety, palpations, fatigue, and various aches and pains. Dr. Blumer did not provide evidence for a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in his patients. In personal conversations with Dr. Blumer at a medical meeting, he stated that his patients' records were analyzed by professors and statisticians from a nearby medical school They were unable to find evidence for benefit in atherosclerosis and other forms of cardiovascular disease using calcium-EDTA (although the death rate from cancer was greatly reduced in lead exposed patients during an 18-year follow-up). Lead is one cause of cancer. That report is now being cited in a misleading way to support the rapid intravenous push of calcium-EDTA to treat coronary heart disease.
 
In the published study from Taiwan, calcium-EDTA did improve kidney function and lowered blood pressure somewhat. Removal of lead was thought to be the mechanism, although the patients did not have blood lead levels in the toxic range. Calcium-EDTA was not pushed in rapidly. It was given quite slowly and safely—at an even slower dose-rate than permitted by the approved protocol. Kidney function did improve but there are a number of possible mechanisms other than removal of lead. Lead removal was only one theory. There was no report of improvement in coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis using calcium-EDTA.
 
Transient lowering of blood calcium using disodium-EDTA can remove calcium from blood vessel walls. That is one mechanism by which chelation therapy can benefit cardiovascular disease. Calcium in blood vessels is not removed by calcium-EDTA.
 
EDTA is unique and quite unlike any other form of medical treatment. EDTA does not enter cells of the body and it does not enter into any of the body’s metabolic pathways. EDTA remains in extracellular fluids, continually flowing past and washing the outside surfaces of trillions of cells—slowly rebalancing metallic elements from within those cells and cell walls. Shortly after infusion, EDTA is excreted intact in the urine.
 
The slow 3-hour infusion is very important—not just the total dose. Prolonged exposure allows a sustained effect within cells to slowly rebalance intracellular metallic ions, across cell walls that are otherwise impervious to EDTA. That process requires time, both to remove toxins and to restore a desirable balance of intracellular nutritional elements that  can accumulate abnormally with age.
 
When cells become diseased, inflamed, or otherwise starved for oxygen by arterial plaque (atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries"), a variety of essential metals, including calcium, iron, zinc, chromium, and cobalt, leak in through inflammed cell walls and can accumulate to  toxic levels. Mercury, lead and antimony may enter the heart muscle in idiopathic cardiomyopathy. What is often overlooked is the fact that otherwise desirable and essential nutritional trace metals accumulate in diseased tissues.
 
This normalizing action of EDTA on essential trace elements within cells and cell membranes may be more important than removal of toxic elements. Fifty thousand or more metallo-enzymes in the body require a correct balance of metallic trace elements to function. Without these, there would be no life. Metallic elements are the "sparkplugs" of metabolism. Those essential metals can accumulate abnormally with age and disease, poisoning enzyme activity. Every metal is toxic in excess.
 
The chelation process is somewhat analogous to the action of a clothes washing machine that slowly draws out dirt and grime. Using a higher concentration of detergent for only for a brief time would not clean as well, and too much detergent all at once may cause damage. The same is true for EDTA. Too much EDTA all at once can damage cells, especially in the kidneys. (Kidneys are equally susceptible to toxic levels of both calcium-EDTA, magnesium EDTA, and disodium-EDTA.) 

The slower infusions might be compared to setting a clothes washing machine to a 15 minute wash cycle instead of a 5 minute cycle. The clothes are washed cleaner. 
 
The washing machine comparison also explains why EDTA chelation should be given intravenously for benefit. Taken by mouth or EDTA suppository, a tiny five percent fraction of the EDTA that is absorbed and enters so slowly and is excreted so rapidly that it never reaches an effective blood level at the cellular level.
 
Most medicines remain active in the body for many hours or even days. EDTA does not. Within minutes of infusion, a substantial portion of the administered dose is excreted into the urine. During a 3-hour chelation treatment, half of the initially infused EDTA can be excreted within the first 45 minutes, 75% can be gone within 90 minutes and by the end of a 3-hour infusion almost all of the EDTA initially entering the circulation has been lost. A slow continuous infusion maintains a safe, effective blood level for a long enough time to bring for full benefit. Benefit from a 3-hour infusion occurs by continuously replacing the EDTA as it is rapidly removed in urine during the time of treatment. For full safety and benefit, EDTA must be infused slowly, at a dose-rate computed to safely keep cells constantly bathed in a fully effective concentration of EDTA. The dose-rate of infusion is computed individually for each patient (adjusted for weight and kidney function) to exactly replenish EDTA as it is progressively lost in urine over three hours.
 
Unlike adding detergent to a washing machine, EDTA quickly leaks out through a "hole in the bottom," as the kidneys rapidly remove EDTA from the circulation. The rate of loss can vary greatly from patient to patient and is estimated by a laboratory test (serum creatinine). As kidney function declines with age, the dose-rate of EDTA is adjusted by an equivalent amount. The concentration of EDTA is kept the same level for all patients during the several hours of therapy—regardless of age, weight, gender, and kidney function. A lower dose in an older person can result in the same blood level in another patient, so the potential for benefit is the same.
 
One way to look at the process of chelation therapy is to imagine a large bucket with a hole in the bottom. If you desire to pour water into the bucket at a rate to keep a constant level, you must add water faster if the hole is bigger, and more slowly if the hole is smaller. That is exactly how the blood level of EDTA is kept within safe and effective limits. When kidney clearance is reduced with age or disease (a smaller hole), EDTA is added more slowly to keep the circulating concentration of EDTA at an equal and constant level for every patient. Otherwise the concentration of EDTA could become excessive, resulting in harm to the kidneys.

Copyright © 2012 Elmer M. Cranton, M.D., all rights reserved

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