One of the most common tests I recommend for my patients with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the hair mineral analysis test. This test helps to reveal some of the more common mineral deficiencies and excesses, and also will show some of the more common heavy metal toxicities one will have (mercury, lead, aluminum, etc.). Some of my patients have asked whether chelation therapy can help to detoxify these heavy metals. Although chelation therapy is commonly used for atherosclerosis and other circulatory issues, there are other benefits, including removal of some of these heavy metals.
So what is chelation therapy? Well, it’s important to understand that there are different types of chelation therapy. With intravenous chelation, a metal or mineral binds to another substance, usually EDTA, which is an amino acid compound. This is usually for cardiovascular conditions, such as artherosclerosis. This requires multiple treatments, as many people will go through a few dozen sessions. Then there is DMSA, which is taken orally to help with heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.
Are There Risks With Chelation Therapy?
Although chelation therapy for the most part is safe, there are some risks involved. With regards to intravenous chelation therapy, there can be a reaction where the injection takes place, an overdose is possible, etc. Some sources claim it can damage the kidneys, although this doesn’t seem to be conclusive. With both types of chelation therapy there does seem to be a risk of removing some of the beneficial minerals as well, such as zinc, copper, iron, etc.
Some sources feel that chelation therapy not only isn’t effective, but can be dangerous. Here is one example of what is out there if you perform a search for the term “chelation therapy risks”:
“Chelation therapy has many side effects. It leaches vitamins and minerals from the body, forcing patients to take high doses of supplements. Because chelation therapy lowers calcium levels, over time it can cause bone damage. It can also cause kidney failure, low blood pressure, convulsions, cardiac arrhythmia and respiratory arrest. Some people can have a dangerous allergic-type reaction to chelation therapy. Less dangerous but still uncomfortable side effects include nausea, vomiting and pain at the site of injection.”
My Experience With Chelation Therapy
I personally have never received intravenous chelation therapy. But I have had numerous patients who have received this type of treatment, and many of them claimed it has helped them. However, I also know some people who received chelation therapy for heavy metal toxicity issues and thought that it negatively affected their health. I know a couple of healthcare professionals who administer intravenous chelation therapy. One of them is located in Florida, and when I visited his practice a number of years ago I spoke with some of the patients there who were receiving the treatments, and most seemed happy with the results. Of course since it was intravenous, those that were there were receiving treatment for cardiovascular issues, and not heavy metal toxicity. But for the most part it does seem to be a safe treatment option with some benefits. Of course just about every treatment comes with its own set of risks, but it all comes down to risks vs. benefits.
When it comes to avoiding bypass surgery or other cardiovascular procedures, there is almost no question that I would give intravenous chelation therapy a try, even though there are potential risks involved. With regards to using chelation therapy to remove heavy metals, I’m still not fully convinced that this should be the primary option. My main concern is that some of the “good” minerals of the body will also be removed. And while one can supplement with these minerals, if there are other ways to detoxify the body without having this happen then this of course would be preferable. So I usually recommend other protocols first, and will resort to DMSA only if I feel like it’s absolutely necessary.
Some healthcare professionals claim that intravenous chelation therapy can be used to help with other conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and even autism. I’m not sure if there is any evidence to show that chelation therapy can help with any of these conditions.
Is Oral EDTA Chelation An Option?
Even though the focus of this article is on using chelators to rid the body of heavy metals, I figured I’d briefly touch upon oral EDTA chelation. Apparently this isn’t as effective as receiving chelation therapy intravenously. I’m not sure if there have been any studies confirming this, as those practices which administer intravenous chelation therapy seem to be quite profitable, some charging in excess of $100 per session, usually requiring multiple sessions which can easily cost thousands of dollars. And so if oral chelation was proven to be just as effective then this obviously would serve as a big blow to those administering intravenous chelation therapy. Keep in mind I’m not suggesting that most doctors are in it for the money, and I’m also not suggesting that oral chelators are just as effective as intravenous chelation therapy. The truth is I don’t know if oral EDTA chelators are as effective, and so if I was facing bypass surgery I personally would choose to get it done intravenously.
In summary, for those people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis who have one or more heavy metal toxicities, chelation therapy might be able to help with this. However, I usually don’t recommend chelation therapy as a first line of treatment for these conditions, as there are other protocols I would first have the patient follow, and then perhaps I would recommend DMSA if these didn’t correct the problem.