Forty-Something Forever:

A Consumer’s Guide to Chelation Therapy

© 1997 by Harold and Arline Brecher, Book Review by Denice Moffat

What is Intravenous Chelation? The name chelation comes from the Greek work ‘chele’ meaning to grab like the claw of a crab or lobster. When a substance is chelated it is grabbed, trapped and transformed by the chelating agent. In the case of intravenous chelation, the chelating substance is calcium ETDA (Ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid). 

EDTA removes chromium, iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminum. EDTA is the treatment of choice for lead poisoning but some of these other minerals our body uses beneficially so it’s important to work with your chelating doctor to replace the good minerals through supplementation.  The authors discuss vitamins, minerals, food additives, and how to shift your lifestyle during and after chelation and they do a pretty good job of it too.

Did you know that EDTA in solution is the substance used to keep the heart donor’s heart alive before it is transplanted?

Just some facts:

  • The hospital is not a place to get well. About 100,000 people die every year leave the hospital of nosicomial (hospital-originated) infection. Another 20% leave the hospital with diseases they never had when they went in.
  • Surgical procedure complications nearly double in the month of July studies show.
  • About 5% of the heart-bypass patients die from the surgery. The older you are, the higher the risk and women are 77% more likely as men to die as a result of bypass surgery.
  • Nearly one in five patients suffers long-lasting mental impairment, memory loss, reduced mental functioning and temperament alteration. Up to 20% suffer from serious depression for a year or longer say the authors.  This is most likely caused from oxygen deprivation to the brain during the surgical procedure. (I believe anesthesia is also an issue here but we have homeopathics to get those out of the system.)
  • Thirty to fifty percent of those undergoing bypass surgery have recurrence of symptoms within the first year.

Gee, well this doesn’t sound so promising but what does a person do who has blocked arteries? Well, the answer for you may be intravenous chelation.

The Brecher’s write in a down-to-earth, understandable way as they explain the different heart medications, what each does and how it works on the body. Definitely a must read if you’re on any heart medications or have any circulatory issues..

What does intravenous chelation help?

  • Age Spots
  • Agent Orange Toxicity
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis of all kinds
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancers
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Carotid Artery Blockage
  • Chest pains
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chronic infection
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Diabetes and Diabetic Ulcers
  • Disturbed equilibrium
  • Foggy thinking
  • Hair Loss
  • Headaches
  • Hearing and sense of smell
  • Heart Arrhythmias
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Impotence
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Kidney Stones
  • Leg cramps
  • Leg ulcers
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Platelet aggregation and increased stickiness
  • Poor memory
  • Poor vision
  • Reynaud’s Disease
  • Ringing of the ears
  • Schizophrenia
  • Scleroderma
  • Senility
  • TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks or mini strokes as some call them)
  • Venomous Snake Bites 

Smoking is a big no-no for people with heart disease of any kind.  It eliminates the effectiveness of heart medications and displaces necessary oxygen in the lungs. Cigarette tobacco also contains the heavy metal cadmium. Chelation is NOT as effective when patients continue to smoke (but at the clinic in Mexico where I went there was actually a smoking porch outside with a big line of people on their IV drips smoking the whole time! People just do the best they can.) 

Do you take low-dose aspirin as a preventative for heart attacks? Well, studies have shown that this works but taking it long term increases the incidence of strokes and macular degeneration. (Dr. Denice’s note: And blood typo O people have thin blood to begin with so thinning it out even further causes all those little bruises you see on the skin of older people.) 

How is IV Chelation done? Therapeutically, EDTA is diluted with some other vitamins and buffers by mixing it with a liter of intravenous saline solution. This solution is slowly fed into the patient a drop at a time using an intravenous (usually butterfly) catheter which is inserted by a skilled technician. The solution drips into your body over a period of 3-4 hours. The clinics I’ve been to are set up with about 40 Lazy Boy recliners so you can relax while you’re having your treatment. The nurses bring you orange juice, coffee and snacks sometime during the treatment. A heated bean or rice bag applied to your arm helps heat the solution making things more comfortable. 

Contraindications for Intravenous chelation: IV chelation is not recommended for people who have cerebral aneurysms and brain tumors (but not other types of cancer). (Denice’s note: If you’ve had bypass surgery then you’ll have to wait 3-8 weeks after the surgery was done. Chelation is not safe is you have a urine creatinine of >3 or evidence of renal insufficiency. Coumadin levels will need to be adjusted if the patient is scheduled for more than three chelations in one week—these were not listed in the book.)   

Is IV Chelation safe? I asked this question of the doctor who ran the chelation clinic that I had treatments at several years ago. Of the tens of thousands of treatments she had given over the years she said only one person had died on her, “but that was a man coming up the stairs for his first chelation treatment. He hadn’t been chelated yet so I guess that doesn’t count “she said. I guess she’s right. 

More than five million successful treatments have been given at this point in time and that number is quickly rising. 

Are there any side effects to the Chelation Therapy? Yes but they are mild if they do occur. Sometimes the patient will experience decreased blood sugar, occasional leg cramps (the EDTA also draws out calcium from the body and lining of the blood vessels which helps decrease arteriosclerosis), mild headache or wooziness. These symptoms can be dealt with by eating a full meal before being chelated and taking your supplements. Localized pain from the catheter and cold fluids going into the vessel can be managed with a hot pack and raising the arm up over the head. 

How much does IV Chelation cost and is it covered by insurance?  To have IV chelation in the United States your doctor should be certified to do the procedure by the American College for Advancement in medicine.  Some people believe that the treatments in the US are not as strong but if they are ACAM certified the practitioners follow a specific protocol and it’s important to balance out the solutions so that the blood cells will be happy about the concentration and not be damaged so I don’t know if I believe the weaker solution comments. 

Many insurance companies cover chelation treatments if your doctor recommends them or you are a poor candidate for surgery. A recommendation for 20 initial treatments then five treatments per year as a maintenance program is routinely suggested. 

Dr. Moffat’s Note: I have a fairly large “snow bunny” practice (retirees going to Arizona during the winter) and many of them go over the border from Yuma, AZ into Mexico to get their chelation done. It runs about $75/treatment down there (just about half of what the states charge when I last checked). 

Transportation is included in the process and a taxi picks you up at the border then drives you to the clinic and back so you don’t have to drive your own car (which is not recommended—they drive crazily down there and you’d need special insurance to cross the border).  

Pre-treatment blood work (within 15 days of doing the first chelation) costs extra and is necessary before the treatments start. 

There are doctors just over the border in the United States who will perform the blood tests. You’ll need to fast for several hours before blood is taken.  They then fax the results to the Mexico clinic. Before your first chelation the doctor in charge at the clinic will do a physical exam and ask you questions about medical history, your diet and habits. 

One of the challenges with going to a Mexican clinic is that the phlebotomists and nurses all speak Spanish and can’t communicate with the Americans that well. I once sat with a frightened first-timer and patiently explained in detail why the nurses wanted to put in a larger catheter (she was so frightened that her veins collapsed). I ended up literally holding her hand the whole four hours as I was getting my own treatment accomplished. Her husband had received several treatments previously, but I don’t think she trusted him and she probably didn’t think she came back for the rest of her series. It’s good to know what you’re getting into before you sign up for a set of treatments. 

What is in the Chelation solution? The solution contains 500 ml. Normal Saline as the base solution in which Magnesium Sulfate (for high blood pressure cases) or Magnesium Chloride (for normal or low blood pressure cases), Potassium Chloride, B-complex, Vitamin C, EDTA, Sodium Bicarbonate, Lidocaine, Vitamin B6 and B12 and sometimes Gerovital H-3 (in Mexico) is added. The osmolarity of the solution should equal 310 mm/liter so that the body will accept it safely. Sometimes an extra injection of Calcium is given if the patient feels pain and the vessels are trying to spasm. Often an injection of Vitamin B-12 is given in the arm at some point in the treatments. 

What about oral chelators? Can I use them instead? In my experience these have not proved to be useful. The authors of Forty Something Forever agree, “EDTA doesn’t work via the digestive tract” according to their research. They also agree with me that products advertised as an EDTA substitute (many containing Butcher’s Broom) also do not work although live, raw fruits and vegetables and natural high-quality Vitamin E, pychnogenol and other antioxidants are pretty good in preventing plaque buildup. Other practitioners believe that oral chelation supplements work. You will see Ora-Plus, PGF-400 (garlic supplement) and Lipex (cholesterol lowering) among others. 

Supplements often recommended as a circulatory protocol include CoQ10, Vitamin C (not just Ascorbic acid which is only one molecule of the vitamin), a mixed tocophorol Vitamin E, a calcium/magnesium trace mineral supplement and fish oils. 

This is an awesome lay person’s reference book for those of you who are having heart issues or contemplating bypass surgery.

If you are thinking this treatment sounds scary you should get educated and read the book to learn more or check out the websites and references below. Talking to others who have had chelation treatments is also very edifying.  Forty Something Forever is a good place to start. There is lots of information describing the whole picture of health including diet, fats, recipes, references and resources. You’ll be glad you read it. 

One thing to note about chelation therapy—it is NOT an alternative to changing unhealthy lifestyle choices that got you sick to begin with. You are in charge of your life and health practitioners are here to help you learn about and make better choices. We’re happy to do that too! 

Links and Helpful References: