If a mainstay treatment of natural medicine doctors is shown to be safe and effective by government research, what do you do? Ban it! Action Alert!
Congress passed the Drug Quality and Security Act in response to bad medicine from a rogue compounded-drug company, which the FDA had known about and refused to shut down. The FDA, ever the opportunist, and always working for the interests of Big Pharma, followed by writing regulations that threaten patient access to everything from estriol to nutrient IVs. So far there has been a two-pronged attack: either ban the substance from being compounded, or make it so expensive that no one can use it. Prices of many compounded treatments have already doubled or tripled in some cases.
Individualized chelation medications are now on the chopping block as well.
Chelation is used by integrative physicians to remove heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic from the body. Doing so can clear up many, many health conditions and prevent worse ones from developing. The process involves injecting patients with organic chemicals—such as edetate disodium (EDTA), which is typically compounded—that bind and remove the heavy metals present in the bloodstream. In IV chelation, mineral and nutrient IVs are typically added to support the body during the detoxification process.
Think of your body as a bathtub, slowly being filled with environmental contaminants that we are constantly exposed to in the modern world—like the pesticides on your tomatoes, the arsenic in your rice, the BPA in your plastic food wrap, or mercury in the fish you eat or the amalgam your dentist uses. If your “bathtub drain” is clear, these toxins will exit the body naturally. If the drain is clogged—because of an ill-functioning system caused by genetic mutations, stress, the accumulation of many exposures, a poor diet, or other lifestyle factors—your “tub” will overflow, making every fresh chemical exposure a new assault. This is why chelation is so helpful for some—it returns the body to homeostasis by removing many of these harmful toxins.
Research has demonstrated that chelation is both safe and beneficial. The federally funded TACT (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) study, which included 1,708 patients across the US and Canada, showed that chelation reduced cardiovascular events in patients who were over 50 and had previously experienced a heart attack. The results of this randomized, double-blind study were even more profound for diabetic patients, who experienced a 43% reduction in death from any cause over five years.
Research based on the TACT trial also showed that concerns over the safety of EDTA were largely unwarranted. One study concluded: “The experience with 55,222 infusions of edetate disodium or placebo in TACT shows that this therapy is extremely safe when used according to the TACT safe infusion protocol.”
Surely this evidence would be enough to convince the skeptics that there is something to chelation, right? Wrong!
The medical establishment has been hostile to chelation and the doctors who perform it for decades. A few years ago we reported that doctors were not only advised to reject chelation therapy—they were asked to report on colleagues who practiced it. Continuing education conferences attended by doctors highlighted the dangers of chelation while dismissing the benefits.
The results of TACT shocked cardiologists and sent the medical mainstream into a frenzy of excuses. When the results were brought to the FDA as evidence of the viability of chelation in improving cardiovascular health, the agency stonewalled and said it would require another study in order to approve it.
The Pharma-funded media went into attack mode. Forbes called the study “highly controversial” and said, “Most physicians and scientists have dismissed chelation therapy as lacking any evidence or rationale.” The Associated Press, in one of the most slanted, sneering, CAM-bashing pieces of “reporting” we’ve ever seen, called it “fringe medicine” despite the indisputably positive results of this government run-study.
We also know that state medical boards have a history of targeting doctors who use chelation. Three states—Oregon, Tennessee, and New Hampshire—allow chelation only for the treatment of heavy metal toxicity that is verified by a blood test. Never mind that the blood test for these metals is often unreliable.
Natural health advocates are all too familiar with this dynamic: doctors on the cutting edge of science and medicine are attacked and undermined, particularly by those who benefit from the status quo either monetarily or in career standing. If chelation is shown to improve cardiovascular health, the need for blood thinners and cholesterol-reducing pharmaceutical drugs (two of the primary methods conventional doctors use to manage cardiovascular health) is sharply reduced—more evidence that pharmaceutical interests are behind the assault on individualized medicine that would eliminate compounded EDTA, as well as the biased mainstream media coverage of the topic. Again never mind that both blood thinners and cholesterol reducing drugs are themselves dangerous and often harmful to the patient. Why worry about the patient when billions of revenue is at stake?
Efforts are currently underway to replicate the findings of the first TACT study in a second federally funded trial, “TACT 2.” If TACT 2 is positive, it will move chelation from the shadows into the light and introduce a completely new mechanism to improve cardiovascular health. TACT and TACT 2 have the potential to change cardiology by forcing the realization that environmental toxins have an effect on the heart and blood vessels and are therefore risk factors that should be taken into account when assessing patient health.
Chelation therapy has been used by many physicians and administered to thousands of patients since 1952. An informal survey of our readers revealed that body detoxification—whether through chelation, or through sauna or special dietary methods—is among their top ten most popular integrative therapies.
Unfortunately, the success of EDTA in reducing cardiovascular events could become a moot point if the FDA declares that it cannot be compounded, either making chelation almost completely unavailable or clearing the way for Big Pharma to patent an expensive chelation drug. The recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, where high levels of lead were found in the city’s water supply, underscores the desperate need for more tools to combat environmental toxins.
Action Alert! Send a message to the FDA urging them not to restrict consumer access to chelation with EDTA. Please send your message immediately.