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Chelation Therapy/Heavy Metal Detoxification

For decades, people around the world have benefited from chelation therapy. It is a safe and effective non-surgical treatment used by many practitioners. Chelation therapy is comprised of intravenous treatments using several different man-made amino acids, such as EDTA, DMSA, and DMPS. The treatment is designed to help you feel better and live your life with more vitality.

Chelation therapy is effective in the treatment of heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. In addition, chelation improves blood flow to the organs throughout the body, making it an effective treatment for fatigue and memory loss. It also reduces inflammation by neutralizing oxygen free radicals. Finally, chelation therapy is the only treatment for heavy metal burden and detoxification. Heavy metals are elements that exist in the environment as industrial pollutants and contaminants. The most toxic heavy metals are lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. Analysis of the blood, hair, and urine can determine if a patient is overburdened with these elements.

P-K Protocols incorporate both oral and intravenous Phospholipid exchange. This can stabilize the cell membrane structures, allowing for better cellular integrity, detoxification ability, and overall function. It has been extremely beneficial in many neurological and age related disorders.

For more information about Heavy Metal Detoxification, please visit http://www.mercurypoisoned.com/chuck_balzer.html

For more information on mercury poisoning, watch the following Clips from 60 Minutes:

Mercury Exposure and How it Alters Brain Structure, watch it here


Questions And Answers


When blood vessels are blocked by calcification, cholesterol, or inflammation reduction of blood flow is seen, thus starving vital organs for oxygen and other nutrients. This then causes the cell walls to become weakened, allowing calcium, sodium and other elements to enter. When calcium accumulates to a critical point, deposits form, like concrete. This can cause coronaries and other arteries to go into spasm, reducing the blood supply to vital organs.


Chelation therapy promotes health by increasing the blood flow with enhanced collateral circulation. EDTA removes metallic irritants, allowing leaky and damaged cell walls to heal. Scientific studies have proven that blood flow improves after chelation. Your doctor will discuss a complete program with you that should include regular exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, proper nutrition and avoiding tobacco and other damaging habits. 


Chelation therapy is a very safe medical procedure. Over 400,000 patient have been treated with chelation and not one death has been directly caused by chelation, when it is properly administered by a physician who is fully trained and competent in the use of this therapy. Side effects are possible, as with all drug therapies. You may experience vein irritation, mild pain, headache and fatigue. Occasionally a mild fever occurs. Adjusting the frequency and length of treatments easily controls these side effects. Side effects usually diminish after a few treatments. Most people do not experience any side effects at all. 


If you experience chest pain or leg pain while walking; shortness of breath; discoloration in your feet; transient loss of vision; paralysis; or rapidly failing memory, see your doctor! Any unexplained or persistent symptoms that affect your heart, head or limbs should be explored for circulatory problems.


Physicians must take courses to train in the safe use of chelation therapy. The American College for Advancement in Medicine offers these courses twice a year. The FDA has approved chelation therapy for the treatment of lead poisoning and several other conditions. Treatment for collateral circulation is not yet an allowable claim for inclusion in the marketing literature of EDTA.



Our son began treatment with Dr. Dornfeld during his senior year in high school (age 17). This was after our child study case manager suggested we seek a "holistic" approach to treatment.  Our son was classified as perceptual/neurological impaired and general learning disabled in first grade.  His behavior, scholastic performance and social skills were inconsistent?at times he was withdrawn and had difficulty following instructions, while at other times he could mainstream. He had very poor self esteem for many years and appeared "trapped" inside his shell quite often, typical of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder/ Aspergers Syndrome.

When we started our work with Dr. Dornfeld, our son had difficulty maintaining eye contact, had attention deficit issues and trouble staying on task.  He had some obsessive compulsive affects and occasional tics.   Dr. Dornfeld put him on a vitamin supplement therapy program, worked on trying to balance his diet and Gastrointestinal tract in order and made Ben feel like a person.  We had him tested and found he had high levels of heavy metals, especially aluminum, mercury and arsenic.  We began weekly or bi-weekly Intravenous Chelation treatment, altered his diet (example-switch to organic poultry), added a few more supplements, and removed heavy metal sources from entering his system (example-changed to stainless steel pots, no canned products, avoid teflon coated cookware and better water filtration).

Since the treatment began, our now talented son, enrolled in a work/life skills education program at JFK Hospital in Edison.  He has lost 35 pounds (maintained for almost 2 years), and has dramatically reduced metals in his body. No longer is he obsessive, he has no tics, and he is much more sociable with others.  He has learned new job and social skills and has just been hired to work at a nationally known food chain as a dining room associate.  He  now has friends, joined several social organizations, and engages in physical activity daily.  Most of all, he is happy and his self confidence continues to grow.

My husband and I both strongly believe, that Dr. Dornfeld's treatment has contributed significantly to our son's success and well being. I look at him and smile often after watching him progress with these safe adjustments and treatments performed at Family Wellness Center.


Ellen L.

I feel strong and much clearer with these therapies...

In 2007, I first had an Embolic stroke. At that time I was also diagnosed with factor V Leiden blood deficiency and put on coumadin and lovonox. Seven days after being discharged from the hospital I had a hemorrhagic stroke. I was unable to drive for one year. I had inpatient treatment of cognitive, PT, OT therapy for 11 days. Then, I continued for one year as an out patient with PT, OT and cognitive therapy, three times a week.

In late September 2009, I tried the Hyperbaric chamber treatment. I was able to notice some improvement in a short time. After 26 hours of treatment, my mind was able to focus, make clear decisions, and my balance was much better, and I am back to walking a 1/2 hour daily,. I have been able to work out at the gym about once a week. As of January 2011, I am continuing with the Hyper baric therapy once a week. In addition I also have acupuncture two to three times a week. I also added a detoxification program with intravenous Chelation therapy. I feel strong and much clearer with these therapies now and look forward to the continuing to reverse the damage from the stroke, the environment, and continue to reverse my memory loss.

Thank you for your sincere caring and your help!

Karen O. -- DOB 1-31-1942

On behalf of our son and our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for everything that you have done...

Dear Dr. Dornfeld,

Our son, Christopher, is four years old and has been a patient of yours since September, 2008. At the time, he was two years, ten months old and had received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder the month before from Children's Specialized Hospital in Toms River, NJ.

I would like to share with you the changes, all positive, that have transpired since we implemented the DAN! Biomedical protocol to treat our son's autism. I'd like to emphasize "all positive", because we firmly believe that Christopher's improvements would not have been possible without your guidance under this life saving protocol.

Christopher was a normally developing baby until around 14 months old, when he started to lose the few words he had and slowly became withdrawn. In October 2007, right before his second birthday, he was enrolled in the Early Intervention system, where he received speech, occupational and developmental therapies. We also had him enrolled with a private speech therapist for additional help. We simply thought he had a speech delay. By the time he was diagnosed with ASD on August 12, 2008, he had a grand total of three words, could not point with his index finger, flapped his hands uncontrollably, and only had fleeting eye contact. He had never had a solid bowel movement, although his eating and sleeping habits were normal.

One week after this devastating diagnosis, we put Christopher on the gluten-free/casein-free (GF/CF) diet, cold turkey. He took to it immediately, to our immense relief. He had a brief "detox" period of about two weeks as the effects of gluten and casein were leaving his system (although he continued to enjoy the GF/CF foods). By the end of that month, he had added five words to his repertoire. He had the first solid bowel movement of his life. His therapists all commented on his improved concentration. Two weeks on the GF/CF diet did what nine months of Early Intervention could not crack. We knew we were on to something, yet also knew that we were a long, long, heartbreaking distance away from even thinking about a light at the end of the tunnel.

Christopher started the DAN! Protocol under your care on September 23, 2008. After the required stool and hair samples, we hit the ground running with supplementation:

  • Methyl B-12 liquid drops
  • Fish oil supplementation
  • Probiotic supplement
  • Digestive enzyme
  • Zinc supplement
  • Epsom salts in bathwater

It wasn't until after this regimen was started that Christopher was able to sing the melodies (without words) of songs and perform movements to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the like. This was completely absent only a month before.

As the months progressed, supplements were added and adjusted. These included Grapefruit Seed Extract and Saccharomyces Boulardii to combat yeast, Intestinal Support, Vita Spectrum multivitamin and calcium supplementation. His progress was slow and steady. He started preschool through our town's special education program on his third birthday (November, 2008).

January, 2009 was a breakthrough time, when Christopher was started on chelation using oral DMSA. Mercury, arsenic and nickel came out at alarmingly high levels for such a little body. This wasn't all: As the chelation cycles progressed, more and more metals were shed. Concurrently, Christopher's vocabulary increased to more than twenty words, and for the first time, two-word phrases. By March of that year, small episodes of appropriate pretend play were emerging. Relatives who hadn't seen him for some time couldn't believe the child they were observing. By May of that year, I stopped counting Christopher's words and phrases - he had too many to count.

In July 2009, we switched from oral methyl B-12 to injection, and Christopher started to break out of this autistic prison even more. Now seven months in preschool, his teacher told us that in her entire career, she had never had an ASD child make so much progress in such a short period of time. He was fully potty trained that summer. It took six weeks total. His neurologist commented that for a male ASD child to be fully potty trained at three-and-a-half was exceptional.

Implementation of the DAN! Protocol has literally saved our son. Our hearts break when we think of the hundreds of children who could be recovering under this program, but because of lack of knowledge, lack of money or just plain apathy, they go untreated. Personally speaking, we don't need a double-blind study to show that something is working. We just needed two eyes and common sense. Our son is progressing; our son is getting better. Some day we will say that our son has recovered.

On behalf of our son and our family, we want to express our sincere gratitude for everything that you have done for those who, through no fault of their own, have had to wage this devastating battle.

With many thanks,

Chris and Nancy Marrow
Oakhurst, NJ

Autism Improvement!!! Thank you Family Wellness Center

Our son has been on a biomedical program for 1 year, along with ABA, speech and occupational therapy. Prior to this he had little language, sleep problems and other issues. At 2 ˝ he was diagnosed with ASD and at 3 we found out he had celiac disease. This began our journey to the Family Wellness Center and ultimately the road to recovery for our son. His doctor started with a comprehensive range of testing. This allowed him to identify deficiencies and imbalances which could point to the underlying causes of his disorder. We have certainly seen improvements with regards to his general health, well-being, sleep and language processing This was mainly due to the biomedical interventions (including; minerals, vitamin supplements, dietary changes,Chelation therapy and methyl B-12) and the care received at this great "practice". The little boy we love today is far more expressive and has an infectious personality. He may not be a ‘typical’ four-year old (he still has some verbal delays and behavior issues), but he has begun the mainstreaming process at school and, most importantly, has found his voice. We would recommend that any parents of a child on the spectrum give biomedical treatments a try, and we feel fortunate to have found Family Wellness Center to help our son. (L.S.)

I was 22 years old but certainly felt as if I was trapped in a 70 year old body...

Theresa Hoffmann

Hope is a beautiful thing. The first time I saw Doctor Dornfeld, I had almost given up on life. I was 22 years old but certainly felt as if I was trapped in a 70 year old body. Nothing seemed easy. Every day was a struggle. I had so many health issues and too many symptoms impacting my life.

I was always tired no matter how much I slept. Nothing seemed to make a difference. My body was severely fatigued. Further, I experienced loss of memory, anxiety, intestinal issues, hormonal imbalances, depression, hair loss, brain fog, etc.

I experienced a near-syncopal episode more than once and I had developed a very low blood pressure of about 80/40.

After being finally diagnosed with mercury toxicity and malabsorption in my GI tract, I started chelation therapy in early summer of 2007.

I went through many EDTA sessions followed by urinary challenge tests to evaluate my improvement. I felt a change in my well being within the first couple of treatments, and my energy level started to improve. However, I did experience some side effects from the chelation owing to the multitude of toxins that had been released. I facilitated the detoxification process with help of added supplementation suggested by Dr. Dornfeld.

Later my treatment was advanced to DMPS, since the mercury needed a more advanced treatment. I stopped DMPS in December of 2007, and felt like life was given back to me once again, after having endured over 10 years of pain, and inappropriate treatments.

I can't thank Dr. Dornfeld enough for the joy I'm able to experience again each day.

I continue with Chelation once a month and have recommended this alternative method for clearing blocked arteries to others...

Patient: H. W.
Chelation Therapy since 2003

About 3 years ago, I felt ill with chest pain and had difficulty breathing. I went to the Emergency Room at Jersey Shore Medical Center. Preliminary tests showed an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. The irregular heartbeat improved in about an hour. I received medication for high blood pressure and was admitted for more workups – EKG, echo cardiogram, stress tests, etc. and the attending cardiologist diagnosed a possible blockage behind the heart.

After consulting with Dr. Dornfeld, I started Chelation Therapy about a week later. I went twice a week for one year, then once a week for another year. A follow-up stress test, about 3 years later, revealed no abnormalities or blockages.

I feel good, work out at a gym 2 or 3 days a week, and am being weaned from the blood pressure medication. I continue with Chelation once a month and have recommended this alternative method for clearing blocked arteries to others. I am 82 years old.

I would urge you to seriously consider this alternative therapy...

Patient: C. B.
Chelation Therapy Patient

For many years I listened with great interest to the endless stream of amazing stories my parents would recount upon returning from their monthly Chelation Treatments. I determined then, some 20 years ago, that “some day” I would also take these treatments to prevent heart disease and circulatory problems which had plagued my parents. These treatments proved successful in enhancing and extending their lives far beyond their predicted longevity.

A sudden TIA hastened my “some day”. I joined the host of others who were finding new life through these artery cleansing, circulation enhancing IVs. My list of amazing stories increased rapidly as I listened first hand to those who had been afflicted with metal toxicity, heart disease and diabetes, most having cardiac surgeries in their histories. For many, usually at the urging of a friend, trying Chelation was a last ditch effort to hang onto their life – a hope whereby they might attain some measure of health and possibly eradicate their pain and shortness of breath upon even slight exertion. For them, the results of these treatments far exceeded their expectations. For me, Chelation Treatments have kept my arteries clear while feeling younger and more energetic than a 73 year old should.

Over the years of my experience with Chelation, I have watched many lives change – most now actively engaged in pain-free, occupational and recreational activity. It strongly confirmed to me that Chelation is one of the best and wisest things anyone can do for their heart, circulation and overall health. I would urge you to seriously consider this alternative therapy as a way to a richer, longer, healthier life.

...after completing a few months of treatments, I feel like a new man!

My name is F. Gary Stover Jr. I am now 39 years old and feeling incredibly well. One year ago I was not sure that I would ever be able to say those words. My history goes back a few years to when I first started feeling ill. I went to various Physicians complaining of symptoms including headaches, body-aches, nausea, G.I. problems and a lack of energy. Each doctor would usually treat me with a course of antibiotics (after which I would feel even worse), prescribe a bunch of blood tests, give me a prescription for something and tell me that I would feel fine in a few weeks.

This went on for about three years with my health getting progressively worse and my list of complaints steadily adding up. I was now feeling very depressed, I had lost over 40 pounds, and was not able to work due to my total exhaustion. I had give up on going to any more doctors because none were able to say what was wrong with me, yet the list of medications I was on was growing and growing. I truly looked like a terminally ill person.

I decided that I would give a doctor one more try when I heard about Dr. Dornfeld and his experience in practicing both Traditional and Alternative, or Complimentary Medicine. He listened to my story, took one look at me and said I was probably suffering form a toxic build-up of metals and pesticides, from years of exposure. He indeed quickly confirmed this with a hair analysis and other tests that clearly explained what he had suspected. Dr. Dornfeld immediately started me on a course of I.V. Chelation and vitamin therapy, explaining how the EDTA would help clear my body of what causing so many problems, and the I. V. vitamins would replenish what I was so lacking.

I have to say that now, after completing a few months of treatments, I feel like a new man! My energy is back, I have been able to return to work and I can actually enjoy life once again. My friends now see me and cannot believe that “I am back to my former self.” I have to credit Dr. Dornfeld with doing what I thought no doctor would ever be able to do; diagnosing my illness and giving me back my life. I thank him from the deepest depths of my heart.

With the addition of hyperbaric oxygen chambers to his office, we have been able to add that into my therapy, resulting in an even greater improvement in my quality of life. The combination of these alterative treatments, along with Dr. Dornfeld’s knowledge of diagnosing what many other doctors could not, is absolutely unmatched in any other practice I have visited. I cannot thank him enough.

Thank You again Dr. Dave!

I ... have gone from extremely ill to almost well in less than 2 months...

Dr. Dornfeld, I wanted to write to compliment you on the extraordinary health care services offered at your Family Wellness Center.

As you know, I have suffered from chronic health problems for over 15 years and, in 2007, developed a severe systemic fungal infection, including most of my digestive tract. I lost 60 pounds over the course of the infection, became unable to work. I was hospitalized 4 times in early December due to the severity of my condition, which alluded over a dozen doctors at some of the most highly regarded hospitals in NYC and NJ, while my condition grew worse daily.

Not only were you able to readily test for and confirm the suspected infection, but you also found extremely high levels of toxic metals in my system that no other doctor has ever tested for or suggested as a potential cause for my chronic health problems.

Fortunately, your center offers a wide variety of unique treatment options, all of which are helping me to recover fairly quickly. Due to the severity of my condition, I chose to take advantage of all of the following options, including:

• IV vitamin C and Alpha Lipoic Acid drips to fight the fungal infection as well as symptoms of arthritis.
• IV Chelation to remove toxic metals and improve my cardiovascular health.
• Glutathione pushes to give me increased energy.
• Hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase oxygen throughout my cells to speed healing.
• Acupuncture to treat pain, stress, and other symptoms of the infection.
• Massage therapy for pain and stress.
• Dietary supplements (anti-fungal, antioxidants, energy, general health, etc.).
• Mainstream medication, including safe alternatives to narcotic and anti-inflammatory medications that had been previously prescribed in very high doses.

I found each of the above treatment options to be very effective as part of my overall treatment and, as a result, have gone from extremely ill to almost well in less than 2 months. Thanks to these treatments and related dietary changes, I no longer show any signs of being pre-diabetic, and my blood pressure is better than it’s ever been, without medication.

Aside from the treatments, I also want to compliment you and your staff, all of whom are extremely knowledgeable and courteous and have played such an important role in my ongoing recovery. Thanks to all of you, I expect to be able to go back to work in the next month or two.

I am, of course, extremely grateful and recommend you, your staff, and the Family Wellness Center every chance I get.

Many Thanks!
Dirk B.

Progressive Hair Loss was mostly reversed with Chelation therapy…

I'm a 38-year old male and around 8 years ago, I noticed a small patch of hair missing from my beard when I shaved in the morning. I didn't think anything of it but over the years, I noticed more and more patches (primarily in my beard). 4 years ago, as I was getting my hair cut for a friend's wedding, the person cutting my hair stopped midway through the haircut and said that I needed to see something. She handed me a mirror so that I could see the back of my head and she showed me 3 or 4 spots (each about the size of a quarter) where my hair had stopped growing. Not knowing what was wrong, I went to my doctor. I was diagnosed with alopecia areata. By all accounts, this is not a life threatening condition but watching my hair fall out in clumps didn't exactly make me feel healthy. Over the next 2 years, I went to see many doctors; from general practitioners to dermatologists, thyroid experts, etc. The answer was always the same. I had alopecia areata and there was no known cure. Basically, my body was attacking my hair follicles as if they were a harmful, foreign agent. I did countless hours of research, contacted the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, went through numerous tests and even had an expert from British Columbia fly in to meet me in New York. I was told that there was nothing that could be done other than what I was already doing (which was basically getting 30-40 painful steroid/cortisone injections in my scalp and eyebrows once per month). The hair loss was getting worse and was now evident all over my body. Around 2 years ago, I had to shave my head. I had lost approximately 75% of the hair on my scalp and 90% of my eyebrows.

I was still looking for answers and started to see Dr. Dornfeld. I started taking the supplements he suggested and changed my diet. I even went on an all-organic diet for 3-4 months (some positive results were evident when I tried this but I seemed to peak after a couple of months and then not see any more changes). I continued to do the steroid injections with my dermatologist. I noticed some changes. My eyebrows were growing back (and sometimes falling back out) and the hair on my scalp seemed to be coming back in some places. While progress was clearly being made, it certainly wasn't a "success". Less than a year ago, Dr. Dornfeld suggested that I have a hair analysis performed to see if I had abnormal levels of heavy metals present in my body. The results came back and showed very high levels of aluminum, mercury and arsenic. He suggested that I start Chelation treatments. I resisted for a while but I eventually agreed to try it. At this point, what did I have to lose? Nothing else was really working. After a few months of treatments 1 or 2 times per week, I started noticing more hair growth. My eyebrows mostly grew back and even my eyelashes were filling in again. The hair on my scalp was even coming back. Toward the end of 2008, I decided to let my hair grow back in to see if it would fill in all the way. There were some small bald patches but, after a month or so, I had an almost full head of hair (the few bald spots are not visible at this point). I even got my first haircut in 2 years the other day.

As I mentioned earlier, I have done a lot of research. It all says that this condition is unpredictable and hair loss/re growth is often cyclical. It's possible that Chelation had nothing to do with the spontaneous re growth of hair. But, after years of trying other methods, the absolute best results came after trying Chelation. As many doctors have told me, they don't believe in coincidences. I have not felt any side effects and feel completely safe undergoing this treatment. There is no guarantee that my hair won't fall out again partially or totally but, if you have this condition, I certainly think this method of treatment has merit and should be explored.

Nick C.

Cardiovascular Chelation

by John Parks Trowbridge, MD

Personal Pollution and Matters of the Heart

"This can't be happening" is often the first thought. Gripping, gnawing chest pains give way to a heavier, crushing feeling that generates fear. The idea of "indigestion" soon gives way to "impending doom." In this setting, 9-1-1 is sometimes a reluctant last resort, after antacids and resting produce only a pitiful response.

The arrival of paramedics brings reassurances from technicians who methodically start oxygen, apply EKG leads, and prepare for transport. Nurses and doctors in the emergency room go about their duties calmly and with dispatch – starting IVs, administering medications that relieve the urgent worry. Transfer to the coronary care unit is swift and easy, and monitors beep with the soothing monotony of a metronome.

From A to Z, everything about the medical team responses engenders trust and dependence in the patient: "These folks really know what they're doing. Thank God I got here in time." Trusting eyes gaze into the cardiologist's face, searching for any clues that the situation is worse than it might appear. Again, reassurance: "You're here, you're safe – we need to do some tests to figure out how best to fix you now."

Slippery slope? Conveyor belt? One-way road to a "dead" end? Many terms have been applied to the "work-up" and "treatments" offered in modern cardiology and cardiovascular surgery. In point of fact, major studies 30 years ago showed that one in six bypass operations are life-saving, when high-grade blockage is worsening in the left main artery or early in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery (the "widow-maker" or "artery of sudden death").1

Then what of the other five in every six patients? Therein lies the rub.

'Treating' with Tests

Everyone knows about the routine resting heart tracing: 12-lead EKG, often with a "rhythm strip" of several seconds. The predictive value is minimal in the absence of symptoms or an irregular pulse.2 A 24-hour (or longer) Holter monitor gives valuable insights into rhythm disturbances but has little use in confirming "ischemic" disease, where blood flow to regions of the heart muscle is becoming compromised. Worthy of comment is that ischemic patterns can be documented in patients without blockage in the heart arteries but with magnesium deficiency or other conditions creating episodes of heart artery spasm. Vasospasticity can constrict blood flow transiently, and chest pains, shortness of breath, weakness, pale complexion, and sweating can mimic heart "angina pains" or even "myocardial infarction (MI)."

Angina simply means reversible chest pain events, often responding to nitroglycerin-type medications. The success of these drugs produces further patient trust that the cardiologist "knows how to treat me." Myocardial infarction results from sudden blockage of blood flow to a (small or large) portion of the heart muscle. A heart artery already narrowing from deposits of plaque is more easily blocked completely by sudden formation of a platelet plug, also called a "thrombosis" (ACS or "acute coronary syndrome"). More recent studies show that the gunk in plaque is more likely to break off if a smooth hardened surface has not formed (so-called vulnerable plaque). Such free-floating chunks will always find a smaller arteriole and lodge there, blocking blood flow beyond … a heart attack.3

Vasospastic episodes can occur in patients who have artery blockage disease and in those who do not. When tests show minimal blockage that should not be causing angina episodes, cardiologists are sometimes stumped and nevertheless recommend "revascularization" procedures: balloon angioplasty, stents, even heart artery bypass. Each of these operations is based upon a "Roto-Rooter" plumbing concept of heart disease: open the plugged pipes or simply route around them.

This "conventional cardiology concept" comes from the tests upon which they rely in figuring out how to fix heart disease.4 Simply stated, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, then all the problems you see look like nails." Since many cardiology tests look at the "plumbing," the treatments advised are designed to address flow blockages that can be seen. That viewpoint creates the fundamental restriction – blinders, if you will – preventing well-trained cardiologists from being able to see the value of treatments other than those in their "plumber's toolkit."

One of the most widely known heart tests is the "stress EKG." A blood pressure cuff is applied, patches with electrical leads are placed on your body, you begin to walk on a treadmill, and the workout is gradually increased to a jog.5 If your legs become fatigued, if you become short of breath, or if the heart tracing shows certain changes – "flags" that indicate problems – then the test is concluded; otherwise, you race along to a calculated heart rate. Comparing your blood pressure changes to the exercise heart tracing gives a hint of how well your heart muscle is working; in other words, how well your blood is flowing to your heart and other muscles.

Even a "negative" ("normal") stress test is often followed by a "nuclear stress test," simply because your cardiologist "wants to be sure." This examination starts with a stress test followed immediately by a radioactive "tracer" injected just as a fancy Geiger counter is placed over your heart. About four hours later, you are placed under the Geiger counter again. Images "after exercise stress" and "at rest" are compared – if the tracer pictures after exercise show "holes" that later "fill," you have blockage disease restricting the blood flow. If the "holes" don't "fill" later at rest, then you have had one or more heart attacks where muscle tissue has been replaced by thickened scar. No "holes" after exercise? Then you appear to have adequate blood flow to your heart muscle.

Even a "negative" ("normal") nuclear stress EKG is often followed by a "coronary angiogram" (heart artery "pictures" – also called an "arteriogram" or "catheterization"), simply because your cardiologist is "being complete" in your evaluation after being admitted for chest pains. Trusting your doctor – and reassured by your test reports so far – you naïvely consent to this much more invasive test. A catheter (tube) is placed into a large artery (as in your groin) and advanced to your heart, where X-ray dye can be injected to outline the pattern of your heart arteries. One tiny technicality: the severity of diameter narrowing is commonly overestimated by 30% to 60%.6 [As the "gold standard" for coronary artery disease, angiograms have several limitations. Recently developed computerized coronary angiography instruments (not yet widely available) will help to work around some of these errors of interpretation.]

Bingo! Narrowing is likely to be identified, since you did come in with chest pains. Now your cardiologist has a reason to recommend "balloon angioplasty" (another tube, this one with a blow-up tip that crushes blockage against the wall of the artery), often with placement of a "stent" (sort of a Chinese finger-trap in reverse, where it is inserted stretched out then "springs open" to press against the wall of the blood vessel). Modern stents are "radioactive" or coated with "chemotherapy," to reduce your body's attempt to cover over this strange device, thereby narrowing the artery again.

Balloons? Chemotherapy? Radio­activity? You might have a few questions, but your cardiologist is reassuring that you'll probably be able to avoid "open heart surgery" (a bypass operation). Now that's appealing! Once again, you innocently consent to another procedure, hoping that your future will be bright and comfortable. But the results from surgery can't ever be guaranteed.

Speaking of surgery – what happens if your cardiologist invites a cardiovascular surgeon to discuss a bypass operation with you? For the vast majority of patients, the answer is simple: your lack of knowledge about options will mean that you trustingly agree to have the surgery. Americans are suffering in droves, like lemmings to the sea: in the US in 2005, 469,000 coronary artery bypass procedures were performed on 261,000 patients. An estimated 1,265,000 "stent" procedures were performed; approximately 69% of these were performed on men and approximately 50% on people aged 65, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. During 2006, some 2,192 heart transplantations were performed.7

But What If You're 'One of Those Five'?

If only one in six patients has a heart bypass operation8 that is life-saving or life-extending, what is the situation for those other five patients who also often undergo the surgery? Most survive, some do not, many feel better … but their improvements might well have been possible with modern medications and lifestyle changes alone.9 Virtually every "open-heart" patient will suffer some slight or significant degree of "pump syndrome," neurological or mental changes associated with the heart-lung pump.10 About 1 in 20 bypass patients will die during or soon after surgery. Of those who survive, over half can be expected to suffer fairly dire concerns over the next 12 months: heart attack, stroke, heart rhythm disturbance, congestive heart failure, or rising blood pressure. And each of these events will force these patients back into the trusted arms of their cardiologists and consulting medical specialists.

Perhaps one of the best reviews of the limitations, side-effects, and outright hazards of angioplasty, stents, and bypass surgery can be found in several chapters of the book, Is Heart Surgery Necessary? What Your Doctor Won't Tell You, by Julian Whitaker, MD.1 Before undergoing any of these procedures, every patient owes his family – and him- or herself – the time to read and understand these risks, in order to question his doctors appropriately and be able to give an actual informed consent, should he so choose.

What About Treating the Patient?

Wait! Can you actually afford to wait, do you have the time – the luxury – to read this and other books, to get the true details for yourself? While doctors sometimes give the impression that "you're a ticking time bomb, we've got to move quickly," published studies have shown quite the opposite conclusion. Harvard cardiologist Peter Graboys showed, 20 years ago, that patients who chose to wait before having bypass surgery suffered no deaths from heart disease over the next 2½ years.11 A second study showed only a 1.1% annual death rate from heart disease over the following five years for those who politely (or not so!) declined to have an angiogram, likely concluding that this was just "a map for surgery" that they were reluctant to undergo.12 This rate is far below an estimated up to 5% death rate for bypass surgery. Balloon angioplasty surgery offers an estimated 1% deaths, but recurrent procedures are quite likely.

Recognize that Harvard's cardiology staff used only routine medications available at that time, along with "usual" lifestyle changes – diet, exercise, and so on. As conventional physicians, they had little interest (or faith) in integrative technologies such as nutritional supplements or chelation therapy. The combined use of (even more modern) medications now, along with specific "orthomolecular nutrition" and chelation, would be predicted to enhance further the startling results that they obtained with minimal effort, and clinical experience supports that expectation.

Rather than progressing rapidly to invasive and potentially risky tests, an integrative physician sometimes will order a set of echocardiograms, basically "sonar" ultrasound pictures of heart muscle performance. When valves and heart muscle function appear reasonably normal and the "ejection fraction" (percentage of blood pumped from the heart with each beat) is normal or almost so, then performance has been preserved even though blockage disease might be present. Activity or exercise might display reduced capacity, consistent with blood flow reduction. A patient with frequent angina, and especially with chest pains at rest, is more likely to have blockage changes best treated first by surgery unless he or she refuses and an aggressive nonsurgical treatment program is pursued.13

The recent availability of "heart scanners" (EBT, or electron beam tomography) has helped to quantify the degree of blockage present as well as its location. This 10-minute test uses minimal radiation and gives reasonably reliable pictures, from which a heart artery diagram of calcium-hardened blockage can be constructed. Again, "high-grade" (severe) blockages early in the left-side heart arteries can move a patient toward the "surgical option" for best survival, with follow-up chelation to treat the underlying cause.

An integrative physician offering chelation therapy will, of course, review and consider cardiology tests available from other specialists in order to best plan a treatment program. Angiogram pictures, though, will rarely be required.

Nonsurgical Treatment of Heart Disease?

Can blockage disease be effectively and safely treated without surgery? The answer, as demonstrated by dozens of clinical studies and case reports over the past 50 years, is an unreserved "Yes!"

However, reduction of blockage should be considered only a possible and desirable side effect and not the goal of a chelation treatment program. An early thought in the late 1950s was that chelation "worked" by removing artery blockage. This seemed a logical way to explain observed improvements in heart function, EKG patterns, congestive heart failure, chest X-ray images, angina chest pains, shortness of breath, and activity levels.14 Without question, some patients do show reduced blockage, as demonstrated by before-and-after-treatment heart scan images in two patients reported to the American Chemical Society in 1994.15 Of interest is that virtually 9 out of 10 patients show improved heart performance – but not all of those show reduced blockage disease by any test performed.16

Another factor to recognize is that our tests are less than precise in quantifying the degree of blockage present, whether improving or worsening patterns. Several assumptions are made in each test setting (heart, carotid neck arteries, abdominal aorta, legs, and so on). The presumed "gold standard" – such as heart angiograms – are difficult to interpret at best … and the same test can be read differently on different days … by the same cardiologist. If blockage doesn't disappear with chelation, then what could explain the obvious and dramatic clinical improvements in the vast majority of patients? In actual fact, blockage probably is reduced in many arteries: a 10% to 15% increase in "cross-sectional diameter" (the area through which blood can flow, where larger diameters have less resistance to flow) produces double (or more) blood volume delivered to tissues downstream.17 Current tests fail to reliably detect such small reductions in blockage with increases in blood vessel diameter – but the patients can clearly feel and enjoy the improvements, as overwhelmingly noted with chelation therapy. The use of artery bypasses and stents is based upon increasing the diameter of a "feeding" vessel, but such operations involve many risks and the duration of improvements can be limited. Indeed, the diameter increases of bypasses and stents are noted only at the operation site and not generalized throughout the arterial system as with chelation therapy.

Studies documenting patient improvements with chelation are well summarized elsewhere.18-20 What has received very little attention is how much these improvements can be attributed to decreased toxic metal burdens – coincidentally reducing inflammation – and other mechanisms. When platelets have less free radical inflammatory injury, they become less "sticky," less likely to form sudden "clots" or "plugs" and completely block ailing arteries. When magnesium is provided in large doses, blood vessels more readily dilate to increase flow volume and have less spastic tendency to restrict flow. Vitamins B6 and C, amino acids lysine and proline, essential fatty acids, zinc – these and other nutritional supports that are provided during a series of chelation treatments clearly help to stimulate improved clinical function, detoxification, and tissue repair. Even nattokinase (or lumbrokinase), which lowers blood flow "viscosity" by reducing free-floating monomer fibrin strands, might help explain some of the benefits seen in advanced chelation programs.

What About 'Personal Pollution'?

All chelating medications share in common one key property: forming a particular chemical bond with certain positively charged ions (metal atoms).21 This drug–metal complex allows for easier removal of the metals through the kidneys. In many cases, the chelating drug prefers to bond with so-called heavy metals that are toxic to the body. Reducing the presence of toxic metals allows for usual "physiologic" chemical reactions to proceed more normally.

Toxic metals insert themselves in place of appropriate metals (such as magnesium or zinc), "sitting" on active sites in enzymes and blocking needed chemical reactions. In addition, they stimulate a tremendous increase in the rate of production of "free radicals" (also described as "oxidants" or "ROTS," "reactive oxygen toxic species") that inflict lasting damage to body cell structures, especially those involved in the mitochondria, the tiny "energy-factories" that produce the ATP that powers all cell processes in all cells. (Antioxidant vitamins – such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene – glutathione, and other molecules help to protect vital molecules from free radical injury.22) Another concept to describe free radical production is inflammation, the destructive and powerful process that creates the pain of arthritis, of heat and chemical burns, and basically all departures from normal function and physiology. Blockage within blood vessels, of course, is one of these "departures."

A better understanding of how toxic metals lead to suffering and death is found in several observations over the past 40 years, almost from the time humans began in earnest to poison the planet. Animal studies have shown that heavy metals are uniformly neurotoxic, immunotoxic, carcinogenic, and directly harmful to all vital organ systems. The onset and severity of suffering depends, of course, on the dose and exposure patterns as well as cellular compartmentalization and tissue equilibration. Death follows slowly or rapidly based on the same criteria. Toxic heavy metals are throughout the environment (air, food, water, objects) and there is no way to avoid them entirely. Since they come into your body easily but leave much more slowly, all of them accumulate over time and increasingly interfere with body metabolism.

Every person will suffer some (slight or increasingly significant) degree of impairment among his or her many organ systems, based upon his or her exposures, nutritional status, biochemistry, physiology, and so on. Basically, the "weakest link" in each individual will begin to show toxic damage first. In a more global wholistic view, virtually all human ailments (including expression of genetic aberrations) can be aggravated by – or even directly attributed to – increasing burdens of toxic heavy metals.23 Since bioaccumulation from the environment cannot be avoided, attention must be directed to minimizing exposure and removing those that have gained entry. The medical procedure of removing them, of course, is called "chelation therapy."

A general idea of the magnitude of "toxicity" can be gleaned from providing tainted cage water to rodents, where their only liquid source is laced with a heavy metal. Daily water intake is based on animal weight. Thus, calculations can be made regarding how much of a particular toxic metal was required to kill any individual animal. The lowest dose that killed the first one is noted. Amounts are recorded all the way up to the highest dose, the one that finally killed the last remaining animal in a group of 100. These name for this group of concentrations is lethal dose (LD), and a number is appended, to indicate the population percentage that has succumbed to that amount of toxic metal. For example, the LD1 is the concentration to kill the first animal; LD50 is enough dosage to kill half of the subjects (50 out of the 100). The LD100 dose is the amount that will kill all of the animals.

Of greater concern to people who think they have only minimal exposure to toxics is that small amounts of different toxic heavy metals can combine to create ever more destructive changes. The overwhelming majority of people are lulled into a false sense of security that they "don't have too much toxics on board, their levels are really 'low.'" One rodent study showed that combining the LD1 level of mercury with 1/20th the LD1 level of lead in the cage water did not kill just 2 animals (addition), it did not kill 4 or even 8 animals (multiplication) – this seemingly inconsequential combination killed all 100 of the rodents (amplification).24 Extending the implications to human beings is sobering, particularly when we are making our environment increasingly toxic. Modern medicine has no other method to remove toxic metals (as or after they enter) than the chemical process of chelation. Indeed, this is the only FDA-approved method of detoxifying from this heavy-metal toxic body burden.

Treating the 'Personal Pollution'

The question, does chelation work? was well answered in the very earliest studies, in the 1950s, by Norman E. Clark Sr., MD, the "father of chelation therapy in America."25 Subsequent studies have confirmed his early observations, with rare exception (and those often criticized as having faulty scientific design or controls). But two questions arise: first, will chelation help all blood vessel problems? And second, what about over-the-counter oral products that might work just as well as the intravenous treatments?

The range of occlusive (blockage) blood vessel disorders – in the heart, neck, brain, central core (including kidneys), and legs – has been widely studied. The results are uniformly positive, though the percentages of those areas that improve rise with increasing distance from the brain. As a clinical rule-of-thumb, "brain" and "eye" problems improve significantly about 75% of the time, heart problems about 88%, and leg problems about 92%. (Some studies have suggested even better results.26,27) The differences deserve further investigation, but suffice it to say that they probably relate in some degree to different forms of calcium deposition ("hardening") in the different artery walls.

The most common diseases causing significant blood vessel blockages are diabetes (both types, especially when poorly controlled) and high blood pressure ("hypertension"). In both conditions – as in most others – the improvements with chelation can be startling. Legs scheduled for amputation – a frequent conclusion for diabetics – have been largely saved by chelation treatments.28,29 Clinical experience confirms that blood sugar control is often improved, sometimes dramatically, and dosages of insulin or oral hypoglycemics can be reduced for many patients … reducing side effects, of course.

The sugar-control implications for "metabolic syndrome" (an inaccurate title for "insulin resistance syndrome") are overwhelming. Also misnamed "cardiometabolic syndrome," this pattern shows elevating blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides, lowered HDL ("heart protective") cholesterol, along with enlarging waistline. This cluster of disease findings is associated with higher incidences of heart attacks and strokes, two of the top three leading killers in the US. Chelation therapy produces impressive results in these patients. Results in other disease conditions (such as Raynaud's phenomenon, scleroderma, sys­temic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's, and so on) are similarly encouraging.30

So the second question – "over-the-counter" items that might help – raises some interesting concerns. For example, when people order the latest hyped-up bottle from a newsletter or other brochure, are they really worsening inside while they delay seeking actual, scientific, evidence-based chelation therapy? Younger people, with lesser exposures to toxics and fewer degenerative issues, might "buy some time" with such readily obtained "nutritionals." Older folks – especially those with degenerative diseases or (even unknown) history of prolonged or extraordinary exposures – are walking straight into the lions' den. While any one individual might live a long and fruitful life without actual chelation, the vast majority are likely to succumb to the common killers, usually at the common ages. Even sequential "negative" ("normal") test reports showing minimal blockage changes in arteries are no protection against sudden blockage from "sticky" platelets or other results of localized inflammation.

The longer-lived European (especially Mediterranean and Baltic) societies, particularly those whose citizens remain vital and active late in life, can offer some hints as to useful dietary counsel. Sulfur – found in onions, garlic, many grains, legumes, red meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, broccoli, cabbages, even milk and asparagus – readily binds with toxic heavy metals, but only weakly. Selenium – found in brazil nuts and a variety of meats – also can bind to heavy metals. When foods are grown (or animals are raised) in sulfur- or selenium-deficient soils, they have minimal amounts of these valuable minerals. Their use as significant "chelators" – even in the form of alpha-lipoic acid or methyl-sulfonyl methane ("MSM") or N-acetyl-cysteine ("NAC") – has not been adequately studied.

Some publicly promoted products have cilantro, chlorella or other algae, and other botanical nostrums and are widely touted as helping to remove toxic metals. Again, their use as significant "chelators" has not been persuasively studied. Claims are made for EDTA in various products administered orally, but none of these have been subjected to rigorous scientific studies in any ways that successful intravenous EDTA chelation has been evaluated. Indeed, a number of formulas also have the nutritional element chromium listed as an ingredient in the same capsule or tablet. Once EDTA "finds" the included chromium, it binds more strongly than with almost anything else and is only slowly released. So, you get virtually no benefit from the chromium or chelation value from the oral EDTA.

If neither foods nor over-the-counter "oral chelators" offer much prospect of demonstrable lasting improvement, then what options exist other than intravenous chelation therapy? Here we are treading on "unstudied ground" once again. Heavy toxic metals interfere in so many ways – blocking enzyme and other metabolism reactions, creating inflammation, making "sticky" platelets, "rusting" the inner linings of blood vessels and thereby encouraging blockage, damaging brain and nerve functions, impairing immune defenses, encouraging the development of cancer, and so on. Theoretically the reduction of the total body burden, by any means, should aid the restoration of more normal functions.

Several chelation medications – such as D-penicillamine and DMSA – have been given orally, safely, for many years. Perhaps the detoxification of heavy metals cannot work nearly as successfully as intravenous EDTA. However, speculation can be offered: carefully prescribed use of various oral chelation medications might, over long periods of time, offer important benefits to people unable or unwilling to take in-the-vein treatments; however, they might forego some (possibly critical) improvements with artery blockage disease. In the near future, this would be a fruitful area for study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (in the US National Institutes of Health).

When Hot Dogs Are Banned …

Based on the studies available over the past 60 years, should we be optimistic regarding chelation therapy – whether intravenous EDTA or various oral chelator medications – finally becoming available for the majority of Americans? Absolutely not.

At a recent trial, where I was serving as an expert witness for the defense, the state medical board attorney noted: "Since EDTA and other chelation medications are approved by the FDA for removal of toxic metals, then really their use is 'conventional' medicine practice, not 'alternative' or 'integrative,' right?" My reply: "Well, yes, except for one teeny-tiny technicality." "What's that?" asked the prosecutor. "The state medical boards." "Why do you say that?" he asked, surprised. "Isn't that why we're in this trial? All of the medical boards ignore approval by the FDA, ignore the clear evidence found in the medical literature, and ignore the overwhelming reports of patient benefits from chelation – and they prosecute the doctors offering the treatment, just as you are today."

A recent pediatrics study claims that 10,000 emergency-room visits are made each year for children who are choking on hot dogs. Some six dozen reportedly die. Each year. If that many patients suffered death as a result of chelation therapy properly administered, the treatment would have been banned several dozen years ago. In sharp contrast to the "wiener losers," whenever any single patient complains of "side effects" or – as happens every few years, when a patient ill enough to finally seek chelation treatments dies anytime during the therapy program – the state launches a full-scale investigation, usually seeking to remove the "offending" doctor's license to practice medicine.31 As a society, we tolerate dozens of deaths from the lowly hot dog – at the same time we tolerate dozens of millions of preventable deaths and untold suffering from heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, macular degeneration, and amputations for gangrene, among the many disease conditions that could have been helped by chelation. When will the public demand a change of policy that we can believe in?

©2010 John Parks Trowbridge

Toxic metals have no purpose inside the body. Whenever present, they interfere with normal, necessary biochemical reactions, often by displacing and "substituting for" the usual physiologic metals in enzyme molecules. Impaired enzymes cease their conversions of "Substance A" to "Substance B," eventually bringing cell metabolism, repair, and reproduction to a standstill. Apoptosis (dissolution) of such poisoned cells is the common result. Unfortunately, the toxic metal is still present in the body and can affect other cells as well. One unexpected result of osteoporosis is due to the body's attempt to sequester ("hide") lead in the bones, keeping it farther away from more essential cells and tissues. As bone dissipates in older age, lead is released and can cause increasing damage even though it might have been present for dozens of years. These and other observations might explain many of the wonderful results claimed by most patients, as their heavy toxic metal body burden is reduced through chelation therapy.

Common Toxic Metals

lead | mercury | arsenic | cadmium | nickel | tin | aluminum | antimony … among others

Chelation drugs have long been approved as safe and effective by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the Evers case (1978) was a hallmark advance in guaranteeing that doctors may use drugs approved for one purpose for any other condition; a chelator was the subject of dispute with the government.

Commonly Used Chelators

  • Calcium-EDTA (Sodium-EDTA was recently withdrawn from the market but is available by special compounding)
  • D-penicillamine
  • DMSA
  • desferrioximine
  • DMPS (widely approved around the world, available in the US by special compounding)
  • BAL (the very first, less commonly used)

Various formulations are available, including intravenous, oral, rectal, intramuscular, and transdermal.

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