A chelation doctor is a medical doctor who administers chelation therapy. A primary use of this is to remove toxic heavy metals from a patient’s body. This treatment is also used to rid a patient of damagingly high levels of calcium, a condition known as hypocalcaemia. Another typical use is in controlling levels of digoxin, from digitalis medication, which can reach toxic levels in some patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Examples of heavy metals that a chelation doctor can help remove are lead, mercury, cadmium, and iron, among others. To effect the removal, the physician can use a variety of chemicals, administered in an assortment of ways. These can be administered intravenously, injected into muscle tissue, or taken orally.
Use of the chemical ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in lead chelation has dated from the 1950’s. Some other substances that a chelation doctor may use include dimercaprol (BAL), which is primarily used in treating arsenic and mercury poisoning, and desfuroxamine mesylate, for iron toxicity. D-penicillamine can be given for lead, arsenic, or mercury poisoning. Calcium disodium versante is often used for lead toxicity, and is usually given in combination with BAL, because each compound removes heavy metals from different areas of the body.
Heavy metal chelation treatment is not without its risks. Since this is the case, a chelation doctor usually monitors his or her patients in a hospital setting. Some side effects of treatment may include burning at an injection site, headaches, allergic reactions, deficiencies of vitamins and minerals necessary for a person’s health, and potential kidney damage.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of chelation for heavy metal poisoning, hypocalcaemia, and high levels of digoxin. There are, however, a number of claims that chelation therapy could have broader applications. One of these is that it can be used to help patients with arteriosclerosis, or blocked arteries. During studies done in the 1960s, it seemed that chelation therapy using EDTA might be effective against this disease. Scientific studies since that time, however, have found that this treatment is not successful in alleviating arteriosclerosis.
Other controversial uses of chelation therapy include using it to treat autism, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, among other conditions. Sometimes a chelation doctor will try to treat these conditions, but as of 2010, no well-designed clinical trials have been done to prove or disprove the efficacy of chelation treatment for these problems. These alternative uses are not approved by the FDA, but are not restricted either.