Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA)


Peer Reviewed

EDTA is a synthetic solution used in chelation therapy (pronounced key-lay-shun) for disorders including heart disease, circulatory problems, and lead/metal poisoning. Although EDTA chelation therapy has not been approved by the FDA for heart disease, it has been in the treatment of lead (and other metal) poisoning.
Chelation Therapy Word CloudIn heart disease, chelation uses EDTA to bind with calcium, which breaks up plaque and carries the deposits out of the body. EDTA chelation therapy may be considered as an alternative to heart bypass surgery.

This therapy may promote healthy circulation, which may help prevent gangrene and extremity amputation. Since EDTA chelation therapy binds to and removes metals, it has been used to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, macular degeneration (a progressive eye disease), and lupus.

Sources of EDTA
EDTA is synthetic and administered intravenously (directly into the bloodstream) over a three- to four-hour period. The chelation procedure is performed in a health care provider's facility. Several treatments are usually recommended (20 to 30 for people with heart disease). During the procedure vital statistics including blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and organ function are evaluated.

Guidelines and Cautions
If EDTA is administered too quickly, or too often (treatments should be at least 24 hours apart) serious side effects may result. An overdose may cause seizure, organ damage or failure, even death.

To help derive the most benefit from this therapy, add more fiber to the diet, eat foods low in fat, and add a variety of fresh foods (unrefined). The health care provider who oversees chelation treatment may also suggest an antioxidant supplement and multivitamin.

Zinc, chromium and B-complex vitamins should be taken during EDTA chelation therapy, because chelation agents bind with and remove certain vitamins and minerals from the body. If you are planning on undergoing EDTA chelation therapy, be sure to discuss this with your primary care physician.

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 01/18/19
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Mark R. McLaughlin, MD
While I have had some patients that describe improvement of their symptoms from various dietary supplements, there is little scientific evidence that they work. In small amounts, I do not believe they are harmful, but I am not convinced they are any more effective than adhering to a healthy, well-balanced diet. On the contrary, there is strong scientific evidence showing that patients with a poor overall nutritional status have higher complication rates from surgery.
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