CHELATION THERAPY: DRUG AND NON-DRUG.
Many patients carry around a “drug-fix” mentality; many physicians contribute to this mentality. This is a mentality, partly due to all the medical advertising that we are constantly exposed to, that there is a single drug out there, somewhere, which will take care of our detoxification problem. What is better than the drug-fix mentality? It is a mentality that views healing as a journey; there is a tentative, individualized plan. Then we get started and, as we go along, we continue to test, to re-evaluate, and to make adjustments. We find out what works well and what products or approaches need to be abandoned. The testing and the trials are needed to find out what products and approaches are needed as we go along. Use of a detoxification product is just one step along the way,somewhere in the middle of a longer journey, that may include improving diet and body chemistry, improving kidney and liver function, improving bowel function, getting rid of unfriendly bacteria, yeast and other parasites; good healing is always individualized and it usually involves many products and therapies.
Perhaps driven by our drug-fix frame of mind, patients who have had their toxic dental work replaced are hunting for a chelation drug that will pull the heavy metals out of their tissues, put them into the urine, the feces and, in a month or two’s time, rid them of their toxic heavy metal problems forever. To chelate means to grab, as with a claw, and the word “chelate” comes from the Greek word for claw. The chelation chemicals generally grab the mercury, lead or other toxic atom and hang onto it until the whole molecule is passed out of the body. In the real world, however, there can be problems with the process. One, the chelating chemical can drop the toxin before it has traveled all the way out of the body, causing “retoxification,” i.e. more toxic symptoms in various parts of the body. Two, the chelating chemical can remove beneficial trace minerals, such as zinc, causing a deficiency in that mineral unless it is replaced successfully. Third, the patient may be allergic to the drug itself and the drug may have adverse side effects, sometimes severe, that vary considerably from patient to patient. Sometimes adverse effects have been felt just from using the drug for a “chelation challenge” test - an oral dose of EDTA, DMPS or DMSA is taken and the patient’s urine is captured over a 24 hour period and then tested to see what level of toxins the drug has been able to pull out from the patient’s tissues. Because of all of the concerns, there has been an intense search for safer protocols for the use of chelating agents, and a search for safer agents, including a search for new products that are not drugs at all. Do the benefits of DMPS, DMSA or EDTA, continue to justify the risks, especially in light of newer, safer alternatives? Clearly the chelation drugs have helped some patients to detoxify, sometimes dramatically. Among the older established drugs, EDTA is perhaps the best known because EDTA is a standard drug used to treat lead-poisoned children and it has been used, with considerable success, to improve cardiovascular function by removing abnormal accumulations of metallic elements from the blood vessel walls and cell membranes. EDTA chelation therapy has helped reverse arteriosclerosis, and other chronic problems. But many pracititioners have backed away from EDTA use for people who have amalgam fillings and need to detoxify the mercury. For one, EDTA only weakly binds mercury. Second, there is a study that raised a red flag over its safety; a 1993 study by Duhr and others suggests that the complex that EDTA forms with mercury can interfere, even at low concentrations, with tubulin polymerization in nerve cells in the brain. The upshot is that, if EDTA can get into the brain, there, in combination with mercury, it could lead to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or other diseases of the brain. Physicians still using EDTA have insisted that EDTA does not cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore it doesn't matter what it would do inside the brain. What if a person's blood brain barrier has been damaged? It seems, all too often, that blood-brain barriers have been.