1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.



Updated July 09, 2014

What is Chelation?

Chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun) is the use of a chemical substance to bind molecules, such as metals or minerals, and hold them tightly so they can be removed from the body. Chelation is said to remove excess or toxic metals before they can cause damage to the body. It was first used in the 1940's by the Navy to treat lead poisoning.

The most common form of chelation therapy uses a man-made amino acid called EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid). EDTA removes heavy metals and minerals from the blood, such as lead, iron, copper, and calcium, and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating lead poisoning and poisoning from other heavy metals.

Although it is not approved by the FDA to treat arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), EDTA chelation is used by some physicians and alternative medicine practitioners to improve circulation and treat this disorder by removing calcium deposits and plaques from the arteries. Popularity of this treatment is growing, however this use is still considered controversial among the medical community.

The National Institutes of Health is conducting a $30 million study to test whether EDTA chelation therapy and/or high-dose vitamin therapy is effective for the treatment of arterial disease.

Conditions Treated

  • Circulatory disorders, such as coronary artery disease, angina, gangrene
  • Lead or other heavy metal poisoning

What a Typical Treatment is Like

Before beginning treatment, tests are conducted on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, kidney function, and circulation to ensure safety. During the chelation treatment, a needle is inserted into the patient's vein, which is connected to an intravenous (IV) drip containing EDTA.

A typical session is about 3 hours long, and they are scheduled 1 to 3 times a week. Twenty to 30 sessions are usually necessary.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.