Chelation for Antiaging: The Pharmacist's Role
Removing toxic metals from thebody is one of the most importantantiaging therapies available.The results from many scientificstudies indicate that an increased accumulation(body burden) of toxic metals—such as mercury, lead, cadmium,and arsenic—increases the risk forcommon diseases, including cancer,cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer'sdisease, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Recently, nonprescription productsfor removing toxic metals from thebody have entered the marketplace.They present an important new opportunityfor pharmacists who counseltheir customers about importanthealth matters.
Removing toxic metals from thebody is known as chelation therapy.The term chelation comes from theGreek word chele, which means "claw."Chelating agents are substances thatcan "claw"or bind to toxic metals sothat they can be excreted through thefeces and/or urine. Engaging in chelationtherapy to remove toxic metals isa critically important step in slowingdown one's aging process and extendingthe length and quality of one's life.The purpose of this article is to reporton and review some of the newly availableOTC chelation products.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid(EDTA) is a synthetic amino acid that isrecognized by the FDA as an approvedsubstance to treat lead poisoning.Intravenous (IV) EDTA chelation therapyis very effective. For example, an 18-year follow-up of patients who hadundergone a series of EDTA chelationtreatments revealed a 90% reduction incancer deaths. One of 59 treatedpatients died of cancer (1.7%), whereas30 of 172 (17.6%) nontreated matchedcontrol patients died of cancer.1
IV EDTA chelation therapy has beenavailable for years, but a series of 20 or30 IV EDTA sessions is an expensive($100-$125/treatment) and time-consuming(3-4 hours/treatment) processthat can be administered only by physicians.Fortunately, a number of effectiveOTC toxic-metal detoxification productshave become available recently.
EDTA is not well absorbed orally. AnOTC product named Detoxamin,which is a time-released EDTA rectalsuppository, recently entered the marketplace,however. Rectal absorption isvery efficient. When inserted rectallyat bedtime, each Detoxamin suppositorygradually delivers 750 mg of calciumEDTA into systemic circulationthroughout the night.
Two Detoxamin human clinical trialshave been completed. Althoughtheir results have not been published,both have reported a high level of successat removing lead. One trial was apilot study conducted in 2003 at theLiving Longer Institute in Cincinnati,Ohio. The other was a trial conductedon the removal of lead in Puerto Ricanchildren with known elevated lead levels.Urine and fecal analysis from oneof these human trials also reported theexcretion of significant levels of mercury,aluminum, and arsenic.
DMSA is chemically known as meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid. It is availablecommercially in a product namedCaptomer, from Thorne Research.DMSA is another nonprescription chelatorof toxic metals. It is an orallyadministered, water-soluble agent witha wide therapeutic range and low toxicity,which make it one of the mosteffective chelating compounds available.2 Because DMSA-chelated toxicmetals are excreted in the feces, it isimportant that patients using DMSAhave regular bowel movements.Hence, individuals who are constipatedshould not use DMSA until normalbowel elimination is restored.
Numerous studies have been publishedthat document Captomer's successat removing toxic metals. It isavailable in 100-and 250-mg capsules.There are several different protocols forusing Captomer. Other companies alsooffer oral DMSA capsules.
Glutathione performs 2 critical functions.It is one of the body's most effectiveagents for binding with and detoxifyingtoxic metals, and it alsofunctions as a powerful antioxidant toreduce free radical damage. Hence,substances that increase glutathionelevels will help protect the bodyagainst toxic metals. Nutrients such asselenium,3 lipoic acid,4 cysteine,5 and/or N-acetylcysteine6 and the herb milkthistle7 are each known for their abilityto increase glutathione levels in thebody and to enhance the removal oftoxic metals.
Other Oral Chelation Formulations
Other formulations are now beingoffered by many companies. These formulationsusually contain EDTA alongwith supportive agents such as chlorella,garlic, malic acid, and other nutrients. One product, Essential DailyDefense, was formulated by Garry Gordon,MD, DO, who is the father of themodern chelation movement. VitaminResearch Products offers Oral ChelatoRx;Life Enhancement offers EDTAChelator Complex; and the Life ExtensionFoundation offers Pure-Gar w/EDTA.
Opportunities for Pharmacists
Serious toxic-metal problems mustbe managed by an experienced physician.It is becoming increasingly recognized,however, that virtually everyonehas a chronic accumulation oftoxic metals in the body, which contributesto health problems and acceleratesthe aging process. Pharmacistswho take the time to become knowledgeableabout the correct use of OTCdetoxification products can provide amuch-needed service. At the sametime, guiding customers on detoxificationprotocols also can become a newsource of income for pharmacists whocharge for their consultation time.
Dr. Pelton is director of education atIntegrative Health Resources Inc.
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