Molecules of certain compounds have the ability of forming more than one bond with a metal ion. Such compounds are known as chelating agents which form a stable ion complex. The soluble complex formed is known as a chelate, in which the metal ions forming the complex get inactivated, thereby failing to undergo their normal reaction with other ions. This ability of chelating agents of forming complex molecules with metal ions is used in Chelation therapy.
This therapy was first used during World War I, to diffuse the effects of poison gas containing the heavy metal - arsenic. However, the chelating agent used for treatment showed up severe side effects. Medical advancement lead to the development of chelating agents which were safe, effective and beneficial. Various benefits associated with this therapy are discussed below.
Removal of Heavy Metals
Heavy metal poisoning is very dangerous and can prove to be fatal. Chelation therapy is carried out to treat heavy metal intoxication in the body. Chelating compounds are administered into the body orally, intravenously or intramuscularly. These compounds form chelates with toxic metal ions, forming soluble complexes, which are excreted out of the body via urine after going through filtration in the kidneys. Metals like mercury, iron, lead, zinc and copper can lead to organ failure which is why, their removal becomes essential.
Reduction of Free Radicals
The production of free radicals in the human body is not acceptable. Free radicals cause aging, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, oxygen deficiency due to which cells deteriorate. Heavy metals lead to the production of free radicals in the body which are controlled by administering chelating agents which remove these metals from the body. Free radical reduction ultimately leads to cell repair and healthy body.
Reduction in Blood Stickiness
Chelation therapy using ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is thought to reduce the formation of blood platelets. Reduced platelet content makes the blood more fluid which is capable of easily passing through partially blocked or narrow arteries.
Removal of Unwanted Calcium
Hardening of arteries is caused due to the deposition of plaque in the blood vessels. Plaque formation greatly reduces the efficiency of the heart. Calcium is one of the constituents of plaque, which is required to be removed. Use of chelating agents reduces calcium content of the plaque, making it softer thereby, depleting its layers from the blood vessels. Chelation therapy has proved its utility in some cases of heart diseases. Even then, the American Heart Association does not recommend it for the treatment of heart-related problems.
Optimization of Cholesterol Levels
High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) is considered as good cholesterol while Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) is considered bad for the body. Chelating agents are used to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the quantity of good cholesterol in the body. In this way, it helps in maintaining cholesterol levels in the body.
Improvement in Mental Health
Researchers suggest that chelation therapy improves mental well-being of an individual. People who have undertaken this therapy were found to be more attentive, active and happy. Reason behind this change is attributed to improved functioning of brain due to removal of toxins and improved cellular activity. However, some researchers do not buy this point and consider it as a "placebo-effect".
Prevention of Cancer
Presence of free radicals in the body can lead to the development of cancer. By controlling free radical production, chelating agents indirectly reduce the incidence of cancer in patients. Some researchers claim that the incidence of death is reduced in patients after treatment with chelating agents even though, the mechanism of action is not clear.
Medical conditions which are said to be benefited by the use of this therapy are given below -
- Heavy metal intoxication
- Coronary artery disease
- Hearing problems
- Parkinson's disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Autoimmune conditions
Though the benefits are many, there are some side effects of chelation therapy that you should know before you opt for it. This therapy is quite inexpensive as compared to other medical procedures because of which many doctors use this method of treatment for various conditions. It is also liked by homeopaths to provide relief to patients suffering from various ailments.