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Some science behind the scenes


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, widely abbreviated as EDTA, is an aminopolycarboxylic acid and a colourless, water-soluble solid. Its conjugate base is named ethylenediaminetetraacetate.

Its usefulness arises because of its role as a hexadentate ("six-toothed") ligand and chelating agent, i.e. its ability to "sequester" metal ions such as Ca2+ and Fe3+. After being bound by EDTA, metal ions remain in solution but exhibit diminished reactivity. EDTA is produced as several salts, notably disodium EDTA and calcium disodium EDTA

In effect, EDTA is used to bind metal ions in the practice of chelation therapy, for treating mercury poisoning and lead poisoning and other heavy metal poisoning. It is used in a similar manner to remove excess iron from the body.

It should be fairly obvious that EDTA should never be used if you are short of any of the essential metals such as iron. In effect if you are Anaemic EDTA should not be used. Although metals such as lead and mercury are simply toxic to the body which has no use for them, we need small quantities of magnesium, zinc, manganese, even copper. So leeching these from us simply imbalances our system. Thus any use of EDTA has to be carefully combined with dietary adjustments to ensure these minerals do not fall to dangerously low levels. I have listed the problems associated with deficiencies in the section on Mineral deficiency

The U.S. FDA approved the use of EDTA for lead poisoning on July 16, 1953.

Its use in anything other than heavy metal chelation therapy would be unwise given its possible side effects. But if stool, urine or blood samples show heavy metal poisoning, then clearly EDTA, carefully monitored and administered has a role.

Given the number of Brain damage related diseases – Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, ADHD, Autism, Alzheimers and even illnesses like Manic depression and Schizophrenia, that appear to be linked to heavy metal exposure, there is every reason to test for the presence of heavy metals in these diseases.

There may also be a role for EDTA in a number of auto-immune disorders which can be caused by heavy metal poisoning such as rheumatoid arthritis. Again it is important to test first to see what the actual cause is because many of these diseases can also be caused by toxins for example on which EDTA would have no effect.

Once the heavy metal has been exuded from the body, then EDTA is no longer needed, this is not a 'regular medicine', it is a short therapy based treatment with a very specific use.

According to eHealthme in 2013, despite years of use, only 37 adverse reports had been filed for EDTA and it is clear that in a number of these EDTA had not been correctly used. One patient even had anaemia and suffered from severe dizziness after taking it. This is mis-prescription. Others had heart problems but with no links to heavy metal poisoning. As such it is more than likely the adverse effects were due to essential mineral depletion.


A useful quote from a paper

From EDTA and Chelation Therapy: History and Mechanisms of Action, an Update  Garry F. Gordon, MD, DO, MD(H)
...... In the past 50 years, it is estimated that over one million patients have received intravenous chelation therapy with one widely used chelator, EDTA. Unfortunately, I believe we may have still failed to discover the primary mechanism(s) of action responsible for the frequently dramatic clinical improvements seen in numerous apparently unrelated conditions treated with EDTA and/or other chelators, unless it is simply that the binding and/or removal of toxic metals permits improved metabolic functioning in a variety of conditions. With science documenting the adverse effects of commonly encountered low levels of heavy metals on health, it is possible that chelation therapy is being vastly underutilized in standard medicine and that combinations of new and existing Chelating agents may need to be employed to deal with the broader spectrum of toxic metals now being identified as contributors to
many if not most diseases...


Only for use by doctors under medical supervision and after appropriate tests have been completed.

University of Maryland Medical centre

Chelation therapy is a treatment that involves repeated intravenous (IV) administration of a chemical solution of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, or EDTA. It is used to treat acute and chronic lead poisoning by pulling toxins (including heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury) from the bloodstream. The word "chelate" comes from the Greek root chele, which means "to claw." EDTA has a claw-like molecular structure that binds to heavy metals and other toxins.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved EDTA chelation therapy as a treatment for lead and heavy metal poisoning. It is also used as an emergency treatment for hypercalcemia (excessive calcium levels) and the control of ventricular arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) associated with digitalis toxicity.................

Lead poisoning and heavy metal toxicity

Chelation therapy using EDTA is the medically-accepted treatment for lead poisoning. Injected intravenously and once in the bloodstream, EDTA traps lead and other metals, forming a compound that the body can eliminate in the urine. The process generally takes 1 to 3 hours. Other heavy metal poisonings treated with chelation include mercury, arsenic, aluminum, chromium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, selenium, zinc, tin, and thallium. Chelating agents other than EDTA are also used to clear several of these substances from the bloodstream.

Digoxin toxicity

EDTA has also been used to treat digoxin toxicity, although most doctors prefer to use other methods. In this case, EDTA helps remove excess levels of digoxin, a medication that is used to treat abnormal rhythms of the heart.


EDTA is used in dentistry as a chelating agent for smear layer removal from root canal walls.

Available Forms

EDTA is a synthetic chemical and not found naturally. Because there is concern that EDTA may deplete important vitamins and minerals, EDTA chelation therapy is often given with essential nutrients (including calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium).

There are advertisements for oral chelating agents available on the market, some of which contain EDTA. However, they have not been studied in clinical trials. Some manufacturers promote topical EDTA solutions as well. These also lack substantial research. Speak with your physician.


For heavy metal toxicity: EDTA chelation therapy is often given intravenously with calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B and C over a period of 1 to 3 hours. The recommended adult dosage varies depending on the size of the person and the amount of lead or other metal in the body. The amount used would be determined in a hospital setting.


The most common side effect is a burning sensation at the site of the injection. In addition, some people may have an allergic reaction to EDTA. Other serious side effects that have been reported include low blood sugar, diminished calcium levels, headache, nausea, dangerously low blood pressure, kidney failure, organ damage, irregular heartbeat, seizures, or even death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been deaths associated with hypocalcemia (low levels of calcium) from intravenous chelation therapy.

A qualified health care provider will monitor blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, organ function, and other vital statistics during treatment with EDTA. EDTA may lower levels of nutrients such as calcium, zinc, and potassium. Your provider will perform blood tests to monitor vitamin and mineral levels before, during, and after EDTA chelation therapy. Your doctor may recommend supplemental vitamins and minerals, either orally or intravenously.

Possible Interactions

Antibiotics, Cephalosporins: Animal studies suggest that EDTA may increase the absorption of cefmetazole, an antibiotic in a class known as cephalosporins.

Vitamins and minerals: EDTA chelation therapy may decrease levels of certain vitamins and minerals in the body, including vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Warfarin (Coumadin): EDTA has been reported to decrease the effectiveness of Warfarin. Decreasing the effectiveness of Warfarin can increase the risk of infection.

Insulin: EDTA can decrease blood sugar, as does insulin. Together they may dramatically reduce blood sugar levels.



Many of these might be better recorded as observations and may be added in due course: 

Scharffenberg RS. EDTA Chelation Literature: Subject Index. North Hollywood, CA: American Academy of Medical Preventics; 1976.

Casdorph HR. EDTA chelation therapy: efficacy in brain disorder. J Adv Med. 1989;2(1/2)131-153.

McDonagh EW, Rudolph CJ, Cheraskin E. The effect of EDTA chelation therapy plus supportive multivitamin-trace mineral supplementation upon renal function: a study in blood urea nitrogen. J Holistic Med. 1983;5:163—171.

Boyle AJ, Mosher RE, McCann DS. Some in vivo effects of chelation—I: rheumatoid arthritis. J Chronic Dis. 1963;16:325-328.

Quig D. Cystein metabolism and metal toxicity. Alternative Medicine Review. 1998;3(4):263-270.

Quig D. Metal Detoxification: a research based Update. Paper presented at: IOMA Conference, March 17, 2000; Westminster, CO.

Oser, B, Oser M, Spencer HC. Safety evaluation studies of calcium EDTA. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1963;5:2142-2162.

White JC. Effects of ethylenediamine Tetraacetic acid (EDTA) on platelet structure. Scand J Haemat. 1968;5:241-254.

Leipzig LJ, Boyle AJ, McCann DS. Case histories of rheumatoid arthritis treated with sodium or magnesium EDTA. J Chronic Dis. 1970;22:553-563

Vohra F and Kratzer, FH. Influence of various chelating agents on the availability of zinc. J. Nutrition; 82:249-56

Domingo JL. Developmental toxicity of metal chelating agents. Reprod Toxicol. 1998;12(5):499-510.

Gordon GF. Oral chelation with EDTA. J Holis Med. Spring/Summer 1986;8(1&2):79-80.

Wishinsky H, Weinberg T, Prevost EM, Burgin B, Miller MJ. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid in the mobilization and removal of iron in a case of hemochromatosis. J Lab Clin Med. 1953;42:550.

Halstead BW, Rozema, TC. The Scientific Basis of EDTA Chelation Therapy. 2nd ed. Landrum, SC: TRC Publishing; 1997.

Bell RF, Gilliland JC, Boland JR, Sullivan BR. Effect of oral edathamil calcium-disodium on urinary and fecal lead excretion. AMA Arch Ind Health. 1956;13:366-371.

Cotter LH. Treatment of cadmium poisoning with edathamil calcium disodium. JAMA. 1958;166(7):735-736.

Lin JL, Lim PS. Disappearance of immune deposits with EDTA chelation therapy in a case of IgA nephropathy. Am J Nephrol. 1992:12:457-460.

Levine WG, ed. The Chelation of Heavy Metals. Oxford, England; Pergamon Press, Ltd: 1979.


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