The word chelate comes from the Latin word for crab. This aptly describes what a chelator does, which is “grab” heavy metal ions such as lead and mercury from the body’s tissues. This chelator and metal combination is then excreted in the urine, removing the metals from the body.
The Controversy For many years, it was thought that chelation therapy for arterial disease removed the calcium from plaques thereby shrinking them and increasing blood supply. Since the calcium found in plaques is very heavily bound and is usually found in stable plaques which only rarely cause heart attacks, this scenario is probably incorrect.
Now theories on how chelation therapy treats arterial disease focus on the possible removal of excess calcium from inside the cells and replacing it with magnesium and on the possible removal of small amounts of heavy metal ions from intracellular enzymes.
Even though we are not sure how chelation therapy works for these problems, many GMG patients feel better after having this treatment, experiencing less chest pain and having an increased ability to walk without pain. A lot of controversy remains in the medical community as to whether or not chelation therapy is really effective for arterial disease.
There have been many clinical studies that demonstrate positive effects for chelation therapy, but most of these have not been of the double blind, randomized type usually recognized by conventional medicine.
Currently, there is a $30 million NIH sponsored national study underway that will hopefully answer these questions. The results should be available in 2007. Until then we have to treat patients on an individual basis. Dr. Gracer believes in letting people choose for themselves whether or not to have this therapy after extensive education and thought. Chelation is not dangerous and it does have positive effects for many persons on a clinical basis.
As with all of the therapies that we perform at the Gracer Medical Group chelation therapy should not be the sole treatment or approach for a given problem. It is only after careful evaluation that the proper therapy or combination of therapies can be determined.
Key Benefits of Chelation for Atherosclerosis
- Increased circulation to heart, legs, or brain
- Less chest pain
- Better exercise tolerance
- Possible delay or reversal of atherosclerosis