Chelation Therapy Side Effects

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Chelation therapy is a treatment used to purge the body of toxins such as calcium buildup (hypercalcemia) and heavy metal poisons. It may also be used to mitigate cardiovascular (heart disease) issues and digitalis toxicity. Normally chelation therapy is performed on an outpatient basis. When toxicity is high and potentially life threatening, however, and a larger dose of chelating agent is necessary and the chelation treatment must be administered in the hospital where side effects can be monitored and treated more effectively.

Types of Chelation Therapy

Intravenous chelation has been the accepted method to treat heavy metal poisoning for many years. Oral chelation has become a more recently-used type of treatment that consists of ingesting a liquid or pills that contain a chelating agent. The chemical agent attaches to the toxins, which are eventually expelled from the body. Although studies indicate oral chelation (with Penicillamine (PCA)) is as effective a lead poisoning treatment as intravenous chelation (with Calcium Disodium Versenate (Ca-EDTA)), the full benefit of oral chelation remains subjective. There are side effects associated with both therapy methods and physicians and trained professionals remain obliged to treat severe chelation cases with intravenous therapy which does not resultant in the Ca-EDTA-lead compound being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract.

Chelation Therapy Side Effects

Chelation treatment side effects are usually minor and can easily be controlled by changing the dosage and/or treatment frequency and ensuring fluids and nutrients are replenished during and after the process. Chelating agents diminish a body of its vitamins and minerals. Side effects may be reduced by administering sufficient quantities of liquids and vitamins with the chelating agent. Any critical reduction in certain nutrients, such as calcium, may result in a fatal condition of hypocalcemia.

Diarrhea is often confused as a side effect when it is actually part of the body’s chelation treatment discharge, along with frequent urination and profuse sweating. Weight loss should also be expected by those suffering fluid retention prior to chelation therapy.

Most side effects of oral chelation are a result of lost body fluids and nutrients.

• Convulsions and joint pain may occur when the chelating agent dosage is too high.

• Severe headaches may be caused by fatigue, dehydration, and low blood sugar.

• Excess sweating during chelation therapy results in dehydration and magnesium loss, which causes cramping (due to salt loss).

• Skin irritations may result from decreased zinc or Vitamin B-6 levels.

• Fainting may occur due to a sudden drop in blood pressure (good news for those suffering from high blood pressure).

Fatigue results from nutrient loss during treatment.

Mitigating Chelation Therapy Side Effects

Headaches may be mitigated by eating and drinking sufficient amounts of liquids prior to, and during, chelation treatments.

Nausea may be reduced with Vitamin B6 supplements.

Prevent fatigue by eating a high potassium, magnesium, and zinc diet (or by taking these mineral supplements) prior to, during, and after the treatment.

Convulsions may be immediately remedied with a calcium gluconate injection and prevented in the long term by modifying the chelation dosage.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Chelation Therapy Side Effects," in, March 25, 2016, (accessed August 10, 2022).