Chelation therapy began as a treatment for mercury poisoning. It has since been used to support cardiovascular, liver, pancreas, and kidney function, just to name a few.
Toxins such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and iron in large doses can cause a host of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, ADHD, auto-immune illnesses, and even death. First used for the treatment of toxic amounts of mercury, chelation therapy has increasingly become part of many natural health practitioners’ toolkits because they have found it helps patients eliminate toxins, reverse life-long conditions, and achieve better overall health.
While chelation therapy has been met with skepticism in some conventional healthcare circles, both naturopathic and medical physicians agree that knowing a patient might be predisposed to developing a health condition in the future is extremely beneficial to maintaining good health in the present.
What Is CAM?
I’ve found that in order to eliminate future suffering, the patient first needs to be properly informed about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The definition of CAM is broad and varied. Using the National Institutes of Health (NIH) definition of CAM as "the array of health care approaches with a history of use or origins outside of mainstream medicine," nearly 40% of Americans used CAM in 2007, compared to only 36% in 2002, according to NIH.
This increase is encouraging. It means that more people are arming themselves with more and better information about the use of CAM and putting it to the test for themselves. While everything we use as naturopathic physicians must be backed by science, it is a patient’s own experience that will drive their health decisions. When you do what your doctor tells you and you feel better, you keep doing it. It’s that simple.
"For decades, we thought it was the animals that we were eating that were causing all these terrible health conditions. But with more scientific research, we have found it’s the carbs."
Step One: Test
In my practice, I’ve seen several patients that had they been given the right tests, might have found out they were pre-diabetic 10 or 20 years before they were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In cases such as these, the patients could have been spared years of frustration and mounting health issues.
First, a base-level must be established. Your practitioner will order different panels of tests to determine what is going on in your body. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out what tests are being done and why. A careful and experienced practitioner will happily answer your questions. Once your tests come back, your practitioner will explain to you what levels are optimal for you and what may be of concern, and also what is completely out of whack. They can then recommend supplements, functional foods, or other changes to help turn problem areas around according to your needs. Here again, knowing your specific levels before something turns into a problem is helpful. For example, if a patient’s panels indicate a slight increase in blood glucose, their practitioner could recommend adjusting their diet and lifestyle a small amount now instead of a large amount later; thus, possibly, side-stepping or preventing a major health issue, such as diabetes, from developing.
Step Two: Re-test
After your initial tests, you will be re-tested after a certain period of time, usually about three months. This will help you and your practitioner create the right protocol for you.
Chelation and You
Depending on your test results and your practitioner’s preferred modalities, chelation therapy may or may not be part of your treatment. A change in diet is often a very effective treatment alone. In my capacity as a certified nutrition specialist, I have studied food and diet for a long time. For decades, we thought it was the animals that we were eating that were causing all these terrible health conditions. But with more scientific research, we have found it’s the carbs. According to a 2017 scientific review of 268 studies of ketogenic diets published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, eating less carbohydrates has a beneficial effect on tumor growth and survival time. I fully subscribe to this viewpoint. Ketogenic diets consisting of more lean meats and protein help and lower glycemic fruits and vegetables cause our bodies to use less insulin, which is a rescue hormone, so that we can break down our food and turn it into energy better.
If your practitioner does recommend chelation therapy, there are different chelating agents that can be used. They can be administered intravenously or orally. EDTA is often used for cardiovascular support. It helps eliminate lead, cadmium, and aluminum. DMSA is regularly used as support for children with autism. It helps eliminate mercury.
"Supplements are also key to successful chelation therapy. It is important to help patients who are detoxing to keep their liver, gut, kidneys, pancreas, and other organs and systems involved in filtering the blood or elimination functioning well."
Supplements are also key to successful chelation therapy. It is important to help patients who are detoxing to keep their liver, gut, kidneys, pancreas, and other organs and systems involved in filtering the blood or elimination functioning well. I use Ozone therapy, an oxygenating treatment, in tandem with chelation to help patients’ tissues recover from the detox process.
Besides supplements, a healthy intake of organic, ketogenic food is also essential. I recommend patients choose thicker-skinned fruits and vegetables to eat because environmental toxins, which may be in the soil, water, and air and even in organic foods, can permeate thin-skinned foods. In terms of using spices, you need to be very careful too. Herbs can be contaminated. Be aware of where your herbs come from and how they are grown, dried, and preserved.
Lastly, I recommend my patients also engage a counselor before starting chelation therapy. I believe wholeheartedly that the mind and body are not separate. Because of this, there can be an emotional component to detoxing. I always tell my patients we are going to clean their bodies on a cellular level so some stuff may come up. Remembering physical and/or emotional traumas is not uncommon, and I want them to have the proper support to work through these so that their treatment can be beneficial to their total health.