This month, we are focusing on the brain and how assessing common exposures to pesticides and toxins (in-utero and beyond) may prove beneficial in the prevention and/or reversal of damage to cognitive development in babies and children. Clearing the body of toxic elements is critical for brain health and can be done through various methods, one of the most effective being chelation therapy. For better evaluation of a chelation regimen, Metametrix has recently enhanced their Nutrient and Toxic Elements profiles by adding reference ranges for expected levels of elements during chelation. While writing about the new addition of these chelated reference ranges it brought to mind the latest article criticizing chelation therapy. Recently, a Chicago Tribune article examined the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), which was organized for the purpose of investigating the use of EDTA in coronary heart disease patients.
Friendly reminder: The goal of chelation therapy in cardiac patients is to target excessive calcium deposits that contribute to the development of plaquing, potentially leading to an adverse cardio event. The chelators bind to accessible calcium, and then all are flushed from the system. The idea is to help rid the patient of the actual plaque build-up...unclog those arteries, baby! (Keep in mind, this is absolutely not a therapy prescribed for a fragile cardio patient or for a patient in the middle of an emergency cardiac situation.) Unfortunately, there's no solid way to determine the success of chelation for this purpose, outside of invasive vascular studies. At times, this makes chelation an easy target for certain detractors.
Dr Gervasio Lamas, the lead TACT investigator out of Mt Sinai Medical Center - Miami, was quoted as saying, “EDTA chelation therapy has been postulated to produce a favorable effect on atherosclerotic plaque...Indeed, when used as directed within the guidelines of TACT, chelation therapy with EDTA has proved to be remarkably safe." He added that the trial has been the subject of expansive scrutiny by many regulatory bodies, “all of which have concluded that it should continue.” And I love his ending comments, "anyone who has studied the history of medicine knows that many effective mainstream therapies are derived from empirical folk remedies and that some science-based treatments prove ineffective or even harmful.” Why is it that we seem to quickly scrutinize and label alternative therapies without taking the same approach when evaluating mainstream procedures? After all, as the doc says, even science-based therapies can be worthless and calamitous.
For comparison’s sake, (and because I like to root for the underdog) let’s compare this article with that of August 2011 Consumer Reports “Too Much Angioplasty.” This too is a controversial topic and worthy of greater public exposure, so much so that the Department of Justice and the Senate Finance Committee are investigating hospitals’ usage of the procedure and have found hundreds of patients being subjected to needless percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), aka angioplasty. Yikes…that’s scary!
But brace yourself, there’s more…additional research, including a July 2011 article from the Journal of the American Medical Association, cited that half of nearly 500,000 cases involving angioplasty in non-emergency situations, were clearly inappropriate. Is it partially because the procedure is a big cash cow? Approximately 600,000 PCI’s are performed every year in the U.S. at a cost of more than $12 billion. And with each procedure having a price tag of $10,000, it presents a super-duper economic challenge to our already cash-strapped health care system.
The article goes on to scare us further, “equally disturbing, a third of patients in another large study were not discharged with the right drugs. And without the necessary drugs to control risk factors such as high cholesterol and hypertension, heart disease can be expected to progress.”
With heart disease remaining at the top of our country’s killer list, it absolutely deserves the best and brightest minds working towards a resolution...minds from the worlds of both conventional and integrative medicine. And don’t get me wrong, PCI proves to be a remarkable intervention in many emergency situations but prior to reaching the ER, shouldn’t we start with the basics, such as:
- Preventing heart disease before it starts and focusing our efforts on healthier diets, nutrient repletion, exercise, smoking cessation, and stress management.
- Utilizing therapies, including chelation, that often prove to be less expensive and potentially more effective when implemented at the appropriate time.
There is a difference between chelation for cardiac patients and chelation for toxic burden. Heavy metal chelation is obviously a little easier to measure from start to finish, and to determine success. Depending on the toxin(s) at hand, a chelator is selected and a protocol is implemented (daily oral supplementation or periodic IV chelation therapy). In addition, replacement vitamins and minerals, glutathione, and amino acids help support the liver and other organs during the detox period. From my experience, I’ve found this to be the safest and most optimal way to chelate. With accepted protocols in place, it can be a pretty remarkable therapy.
This year, as we strive to become more medically open-minded…whether using therapies to protect the brain, the heart, or any organ vulnerable to damage from toxins, it’s always good to weigh opinions on both sides of the argument.
Check out the benefits of the enhancements that have been made to the Nutrient & Toxic Elements Profiles from Metametrix.
Best of Health ~ Dr. Rachel Marynowski