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Chelation Therapy

Better Living Through Chemistry

by Michael Braunstein

An advantage of chelation is that it operates on a molecular level. If the body's arteries are diseased, they are diseased down to the smallest vessels. Surgery and angioplasty cannot reach the very smallest. But a chelation molecule can. And, by the way, so can improved diet. Dietary and lifestyle changes should be a part of chelation therapy.

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I like smoke and lightning, Heavy metal thunder; Racing in the wind and the feeling that I'm under."
      -- "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf

Heavy metal was fun to listen to in the '70s. It didn't do too much damage and wasn't really dangerous, though some would consider it a little radical. But these days, the same baby boomers who applied that term from elementary chemistry to music in the '70s, are finding another influence of heavy metal is gaining importance. As that generation turns in their dancing shoes for golf shoes, the nation's number one affliction, heart disease, becomes a very real concern. And there is a role heavy metal plays in that.

Heavy metals are the group of elements that include lead, mercury, copper and others. As byproducts of the greatest cause of disease known to man, the industrial revolution, they have become more prevalent than ever in our environment and our food chain. All of us have surprising amounts of toxic metals in our bodies. They can wreak havoc on our health before becoming apparent as poisons. When these metals react with what are known as free radicals, even more damage occurs. Fortunately, there's an antidote for metal poisoning.

In the 1890s, scientist Alfred Werner described the chemical reaction we call chelation. Chelation is a natural process, constantly taking place in our bodies, without which life would be impossible. The term uses the Greek stem chele, which means claw. That graphically describes what a chelating agent does. Werner found that chelating molecules have an affinity for other molecules or atoms. These chelates seek out atoms of metal and bond to them. Certain naturally-occurring molecules help the body through chelation. Hemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen to the cells, chelates iron. Vitamin C chelates free radicals. But the most effective chelating substance is a synthetic amino acid called ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid or EDTA. It was invented in 1935 by a man searching for a chemical that would effectively remove calcium from water used to dye fabrics. EDTA rapidly bonded with the calcium and was able to purify the water. That is how chelation removes toxic metals from the body. It clamps onto heavy metals like a claw and the body eliminates them in the urine.

By the 1940s, chelation with EDTA was the preferred treatment for lead poisoning, and an antidote for some snake venom. Then, as now, it was administered intravenously by a physician or nurse in a measured amount. After a number of treatments the offending substances had been purged from the body. But in the 1950s, a doctor named Norman Clarke noticed that the patients he treated for blood poisoning benefited in other areas as well, notably those associated with improved blood circulation. One of his patients suffered from acute angina or chest pain associated with poor circulation. After chelation therapy, the angina was gone. Clarke, knowing the role calcium plays in arterial plaque formation, postulated that chelation was removing it from the vessel walls. Turning his efforts to heart disease patients, he saw rapid improvement in their conditions. He and his colleagues reported their findings in the American Journal of Medical Science and a new use was found for chelation using EDTA.

There are many chronic conditions related to poor blood circulation. They include diabetes, stroke, Parkinson's disease, hypertension, gallstones, senility and others. Reportedly, these conditions are also ameliorated by chelation therapy.

Too true, Neil! Rust never sleeps; not on my car, not in my body. And in both cases, rust is harmful. Consider the common thread in both -- metal. And here is where the damaging effects of "free radicals" become understandable.

All atoms and molecules have nuclei with electrons flying around them. Nature likes balance so in most cases the electrons balance out the protons. But shift happens. A little bump here, a little extra magnetic pull there, radiation (as in too much sun,) or even fried foods, and some of the atoms in our body lose an electron. Now we have what is called a free radical. It's like a "loose cannon" looking for something to bump into. And because nature likes balance, free radicals immediately look for an electron to steal. They become scavengers.

One of the worst places for a free radical to pick off an electron is from the blueprint molecules known as DNA. When that happens, the building code of the cell is altered and cancer may result.

The body can handle significant changes but balance is the key. If the number of free radicals is too great, the body is overwhelmed. When a free radical bumps into a shard of heavy metal in the body, (and they are molecular shards!) millions of free radicals are created in a chain reaction. Now the scavenging increases and the body can't cope. This concept is why the current interest in "anti-oxidants."

Rust is nothing but oxidation, the effect of free radicals of oxygen. Anti-oxidants are good. Free radicals are bad. That's why Vitamin C is good; it's an anti-oxidant. It picks up free radicals and makes them inoperable. Chelation's role in this is that it removes an important co-reactive with the oxidizing radicals: metal. Now there is less oxidation and fewer free radicals to damage systems such as the body's DNA.

An advantage of chelation is that it operates on a molecular level. If the body's arteries are diseased, they are diseased down to the smallest vessels. Surgery and angioplasty cannot reach the very smallest. But a chelation molecule can. And, by the way, so can improved diet. Dietary and lifestyle changes should be a part of chelation therapy.

The interplay of free radicals, heavy metals and anti-oxidants in heart disease and circulation disorders is complex. For this reason, chelation is always performed under a doctor's guidance. It is, after all, what is called an invasive therapy. It infuses the blood with a drug called EDTA. And, it is not without its detractors. As with any invasive therapy, it is important that patients be well-informed. A national certifying body lists the credentials of chelation-providing physicians. It is called the American College for Advancement in Medicine located in Laguna Hills, Calif. They welcome requests for information.

For now, turn down the radio and stay away from heavy metal.

Be well.

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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.

Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.

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