Rapid injection of calcium-EDTA: dangerous and unproven – Letters to the Editor
Editor: I have recently received many inquiries about a practice of some chelation doctors who inject calcium EDTA very rapidly and claim that it effectively treats cardiovascular disease. I strongly advise against this practice. It is of no proven benefit and is potentially dangerous if the full dose of EDTA is given rapidly.
An alarming aspect of this recent practice is that a full 3-hour dose of EDTA is being injected over just a few minutes’ time, causing toxic blood levels for many patients. Nothing has changed in the approved ACAM chelation protocol that would allow rapid infusions of a full dose of EDTA in less than 3 hours, or to allow the use of calcium EDTA. The only method of chelation therapy proven to be both safe and effective in clinical studies, backed by nearly 50 years of experience, is slowly administered infusions over 3 hours or longer of the full dose of disodium EDTA (with added magnesium).
It is convenient for chelation practices to give faster treatments. Clinics could treat more patients in a day without tieing up valuable floor space for 3 hours or longer and without the need for a large nursing staff. Patients are being told that a shorter treatment is just as good as the standard treatment. It is not! Calcium EDTA has never been shown to provide the benefit of disodium EDTA. And it can be dangerous unless a greatly reduced dose of EDTA is used. To administer the full dose in less than 3 hours can damage the kidneys.
Calcium EDTA does not cause blood calcium levels to drop and therefore does not cause painful spasm in the vein. It can be pushed in rapidly without dangerously lowering blood calcium levels. Harmful side-effects are therefore not immediately apparent. However, the potential for kidney toxicity is equal to disodium EDTA. To be safe, a lower dose must be given if chelation is infused in less than 3 hours, with correspondingly less benefit. The faster the infusion, the lower the safe dose will be.
Calcium EDTA does remove lead from the body, but lead removal is just one of the many benefits seen using disodium EDTA. There is no evidence that calcium EDTA is effective in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
A Swiss doctor named Walter Blumer has been giving low doses of calcium EDTA by rapid infusion for many years. But Dr. Blumer treated only lead toxicity, not cardiovascular disease. He also gave a much lower dose of calcium EDTA. Patients might suffer kidney damage if the full 3.0 gram dose is rapidly forced in, even when using the calcium form of EDTA. The potential for renal toxicity is the same for both calcium and disodium EDTA. That is one very important reason to give it slowly. The half-life of EDTA in the body is less than one hour. Slow infusions prevent blood concentrations from rising to toxic levels. Rapid injection of a full dose of all forms of EDTA can therefore overload the kidneys, which are the only route by which EDTA can leave the body. It is only pain at the site of injection and excessive lowering of blood calcium that is avoided by using calcium EDTA.
It is also likely that transient lowering of blood calcium, which only occurs with disodium EDTA, is one mechanism by which chelation therapy benefits cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. Blood calcium is not affected by calcium EDTA, which may actually prevent the full benefit of chelation therapy.
EDTA remains outside of the cells within the body, while much of the benefit occurs inside of cells. By bathing exterior cell walls with EDTA for several hours, thus maintaining a prolonged transmembrane diffusion gradient, it is possible to gradually balance mineral and trace element metabolism within the cells. That process is facilitated by slow and prolonged infusions. This is also the reason why the so-called “short bottle” of disodium EDTA (half the dose in 90 minutes) is less effective than full-dose 3-hour infusions.
The Swiss report of Dr. Blumer, deceptively used to support the use of calcium EDTA, lists subjective improvement of a few nonspecific symptoms such as dizzy spells, anxiety, palpations, fatigue, and various aches and pains. Dr. Blumer did not provide evidence for a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in his patients. I personally discussed this with Dr. Blumer when we attended a medical meeting together in Munich. He told me that his patient charts had been analyzed by professors and statisticians from a nearby medical school who were unable to find evidence of benefit for cardiovascular disease using calcium EDTA during an 18-year follow-up period, although the incidence of death from cancer was reduced in leadexposed patients. Lead is one cause of cancer. Those same patient charts are being used in a misleading way to support the rapid injection push of calcium EDTA in treatment of atherosclerosis.
I know of no scientific evidence that toxic metals such as lead are a principal cause of atherosclerosis, although they probably do contribute to some degree. When cells become diseased, inflamed, or starved for oxygen by arterial plaque, they tend to accumulate a wide variety of metals, such as calcium, which leak in through sick cell membranes. Mercury, lead and antimony enter the heart muscle in idiopathic cardiomyopathy. What is often overlooked is the fact that essential nutritional metals also accumulate in those same diseased tissues – including zinc, chromium, molybdenum and others. Rather than being a cause of the underlying disease, this phenomenon could well be a secondary effect, brought about by loss of cell membrane integrity.
Elmer M. Cranton, MD[C]
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