The facts

In chelation therapy, a chemical called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is administered intravenously with the aim of cleansing the blood of toxins or excess minerals.

This type of chelation differs slightly from the original therapy that has long been used to treat lead or other heavy metal poisoning. Some receiving the treatment noted additional health benefits after treatment, which sparked interest in other uses for the therapy.

Supporters of chelation recommend it to help treat cardiovascular conditions (including peripheral arterial disease and atherosclerosis) and diabetes. One theory about chelation centers on EDTA's unproven ability to break down arterial plaques and remove excess calcium.

A word of caution

The safety and effectiveness of chelation therapy to treat heart disease has not been proven. Treatment with EDTA can result in a number of side effects ranging from a burning sensation at point of injection, headaches, and nausea to kidney damage and dangerous changes to blood pressure, heart rate, and calcium levels in the blood.

Speak with your doctor before considering chelation therapy, as the treatment can be risky for certain people. Chelation therapy treatments should only be done under the supervision of a qualified medical care provider.