Chelation Therapy

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.

If you’re interested in finding out more about chelation therapy, call us at 925.277.1100 or send us an email. Gracer Medical Group’s central location in San Ramon makes it convenient for patients from across Northern California and the Central Valley to work with us.

Chelation Therapy for Heavy Metal Toxicity

Heavy metals are normally found in very small amounts in the environment. When we are exposed to or ingest excessive amounts of these poisonous substances, they replace normally occurring ions such as magnesium inside various enzymes and other proteins. They also disrupt the naturally occurring sulfur bonds that link proteins together.

These “substitutions” alter the shape of these proteins, rendering them incapable of performing their normal function because they no longer fit into their usual receptor sites or other areas within the cells where they normally act. Heavy metal ions bind very powerfully to these proteins and they stick inside the tissues. Therefore, they are often not seen in the usual blood or urine tests used to detect heavy metal overload, giving false negative results unless the toxic exposure is intense or acute. This results in a large number of false negative test results.

Hair analysis is often used to check for heavy metal toxicity. While toxic metals are seen in hair, this type of testing is very inaccurate because of the ubiquitous contamination of hair samples and the strong binding of heavy metal ions in the tissues. Put another way, one may have a large amount of heavy metals residing in their tissues interfering with normal cellular function, but not see it in the hair, blood, urine, or stool because it is not in circulation.

The effects of this type of poisoning are a myriad of neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms-from headaches to fatigue-which can be confused with many other conditions. This is why it is important to not only test for heavy metal toxicity before discarding it as the cause of a patient’s symptoms, but why it is also mandatory to properly test the patient to be sure of the diagnosis before embarking on a complex and expensive course of chelation therapy.

Testing for heavy metal toxicity is done by using a chelating drug to absorb heavy metal ions from the tissues and excrete them in the urine. Then the urine can be tested for these metal ions. Mercury overload can come from eating a large amount of cold water fish, or even from mercury amalgam fillings. Lead is from old paint and other industrial exposure.

Chelation therapy for lead toxicity is done with IV medication. There are many protocols for mercury toxicity that have to be individualized for each patient. This is not an easy one-size-fits-all treatment.


Chelation Therapy for Atherosclerosis

Many patients with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which causes coronary heart disease (heart attacks and angina), cerebrovascular disease (strokes), and peripheral vascular disease (blocked arteries in the legs resulting in pain with walking), feel better following chelation therapy.

Atherosclerosis is caused by inflammation of arterial walls that results in deposits of fatty plaques that eventually calcify. These plaques block the arteries and decrease the blood supply to the heart, brain, or legs. The plaques can be also be unstable and ulcerate allowing a clot, or blockage, to rapidly form. This acute blockage is what causes heart attacks and most strokes.

Chelation therapy for arterial disease involves a series of IV’s over several weeks. As oral chelation has been only minimally studied and has theoretic dangers, it is not used at GMG.

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

Call us at 925.277.1100 or send us an email to explore how chelation therapy can help cleanse your body’s tissues. Gracer Medical Group is located in San Ramon, convenient for patients in Oakland, Walnut Creek, Danville, Dublin and San Ramon. We also serve residents of San Jose, Sacramento and the communities of the Central Valley.