REBUTTAL: Dangers of Calcium Disodium EDTA
Analysis/Rebuttal - Italicized Emphasis by Dr. Michael W Roth
This is an article that was published and updated May 27th, 2019. I came across it in May of 2022 and wrote a rebuttal, addressing all the false and biased statements made. I also sent in my rebuttal to the publication and the editors mentioned they would review and address the misinformation. The author's comments are in regular black type, mine are in red bold. I've also bolded, underlined and italicized specific points in the authors statements.
Dr. Roth: The title, "Dangers of Calcium Disodium EDTA", is blatantly misleading as further reading reveals the inappropriate and fear-conjuring wording which, when reading through the article, belies the title…
By Andra Picincu, CN, CPT Updated May 27, 2019 Reviewed by Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Calcium disodium EDTA is used to protect packaged food from spoiling.
Dr. Roth: Calcium disodium EDTA has remarkable natural preservative properties and is safe enough that it has been approved to be included in food products.
Pickles, mayo, canned mushrooms and pecan pie filling have one thing in common: they all contain calcium disodium EDTA (E385). This ingredient is used in a variety of products, from foods and dietary supplements to detergents. Health care professionals often prescribe it for acute and chronic lead poisoning. The potential risks of EDTA depend largely on how it is used, but side effects are rare.
Dr. Roth: By the author’s own admission, health care professionals use it for heavy metal detox and is very low risk with rare side effects. Anything used outside or in excess of prescribed methods has potential risks, even water.
Calcium disodium EDTA is unlikely to cause adverse reactions when consumed in low doses. Higher intakes, though, may lead to mineral deficiencies and affect digestion. This food additive is considered safe.
Dr. Roth: Most health care professionals know that EDTA is not mineral specific and therefore usually recommend taking a mineral supplement to offset any mineral chelation effects.
As a chelating agent, EDTA may affect heart and kidney function. Additionally, it's often misused, which increases the risk of side effects.
Dr. Roth: Over 10,000 papers have been published attesting to the benefits of EDTA chelation therapy including benefits to the cardiovascular system and kidneys.
What Is EDTA?
Ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) is one of the most commonly used food preservatives worldwide. It's also known as edetate calcium disodium or EDTA calcium disodium. Food manufacturers add it to mayo, salad dressings, spreads and canned legumes to preserve their color and flavor. Fermented malt beverages and distilled alcoholic beverages may contain this ingredient, too.
Calcium disodium EDTA has been approved by the FDA as a food additive. It has the role to stabilize mixtures of oils and fats, promote color retention and extend food shelf life. This compound is also used in cosmetics, soaps, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Roth: Not only has EDTA been approved as a safe food additive, it’s also been approved by the FDA for heavy metal detoxification.
At its core, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is a chelating agent that can form four or six bonds with a metal ion. Medical professionals use chelating agents to treat metal toxicity. EDTA is no exception.
This compound can be injected intravenously or intramuscularly. Its role is to rid the body of heavy metals, such as mercury or lead. According to a research paper published in Coordination Chemistry Reviews in May 2014, chelation therapy is often misused and may cause severe adverse reactions. Additionally, most claims made by practitioners lack scientific proof.
Dr. Roth: As mentioned anything can be abused, but the burden of proof regarding claims by practitioners lacking scientific backing, lies with the author as again, there are over 10,000 peer-reviewed published papers regarding EDTA health benefits.
Risks of EDTA Chelation Therapy
Chelating agents, such as EDTA, have been used for decades in the treatment of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and other ailments. However, few studies support their effectiveness.
Dr. Roth: The last sentence is completely false as massive research and testimonials will attest to.
A March 2013 clinical trial published in JAMA assessed the impact of EDTA chelation therapy on individuals with a history of myocardial infarction. The risk of cardiac events decreased by 18 percent in subjects who received 40 infusions of a chelation mixture containing heparin, calcium disodium, electrolytes and other compounds. It's important to note, though, that 16 percent of participants left the study because of the side effects.
Hypocalcemia, or low calcium levels, occurred in 52 subjects in the chelation group and in 30 subjects in the placebo group. Another 57 chelation patients and 71 subjects in the placebo group experienced heart failure. One death was reported in each group. Researchers attribute these adverse effects to the study therapy.
Dr. Roth: As mentioned, a mineral supplement is highly recommended by health care professionals when undergoing chelation therapy. However, it’s interesting to note that according to the author, more subjects in the placebo group experienced heart failure than in the controlled chelation therapy group. All subjects had comorbidity and were susceptible to heart problems already.
According to Coordination Chemistry Reviews, most claims supporting this therapy may look scientifically sound but are often unreliable. The review cited one study conducted on 153 subjects with peripheral vascular disease in which EDTA didn't produce any significant results compared to a placebo. In clinical trials, it failed to improve atherosclerotic risk factors, physical performance or angina symptoms.
Dr. Roth: Burden of proof with the author. A plethora of clinical studies show the cardiovascular benefits of EDTA chelation. The author also does not specifically reference this review or study.
Calcium disodium is approved by the FDA for treating heavy metal toxicity, but not heart disease, autism, diabetes and other conditions. Alternative medicine practitioners, though, often misuse this chelating agent and make false claims. Furthermore, EDTA chelation therapy may cause mild to severe side effects, including but not limited to:
Nausea and vomiting
Burning sensation at the injection site
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Bone marrow depression
Dr. Roth: The author makes a biased statement by claiming that alternative medicine practitioners often misuse EDTA and make false claims. Also, initially, the author states that “side effects are rare”, then EDTA chelation therapy may cause mild to severe side effects. Which is it? I.V. chelation therapy does not come without side effect risks since that method is most aggressive, but it can only be administered by licensed medical doctors under controlled circumstances. There are other methods of administration such as oral, rectal and transdermal that cause negligible side-effects if any.
The FDA points out that Calcium Disodium Versenate, the injectable form of EDTA, should not be administered to people with hepatitis, anuria or kidney disease. In some patients, this substance can affect the kidneys to the same extent as lead poisoning. Additionally, it interferes with zinc insulin preparations. Common adverse effects include fatigue, chills, irregular heartbeat, excessive thirst, lack of appetite, tingling and allergic reactions.
Dr. Roth: That’s why the injectable form of EDTA should be and is almost always administered by licensed medical doctors.
Is Dietary EDTA Safe?
This food additive is generally recognized as safe. The maximum acceptable intake is 1.9 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day, according to a research paper published in the_ EFSA Journal_ in August 2018. Large doses of EDTA may deplete your body of zinc. However, most foods contain only small amounts of calcium disodium, so overdosing is unlikely to occur.
In 2016, the Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture reviewed several food additives and their toxicity. Calcium disodium (E385) doesn't appear to have any side effects when consumed in low doses.
High intakes, on the other hand, can affect the absorption of zinc, copper and iron, leading to mineral deficiencies. They may also cause stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, hematuria (blood in urine) and other adverse reactions.
Dr. Roth: Already addressed.
If you prefer to avoid this additive, check food labels for E385. Cosmetics and personal care products may contain EDTA, too. Hair bleaches and dyes, shampoos, bath soaps and moisturizing creams are just a few examples. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there is no association between calcium disodium and cancer, immunotoxicity, allergies and reproductive disorders.
Dr. Roth: I’m not sure exactly what point the author was trying to make other than an alarmist title. The article seems rather to support the benefits of EDTA chelation therapy rather than the so-called “dangers.”
EFSA: "Scientific Opinion on the Evaluation of Authorised Ferric Sodium Edta as an Ingredient in the Context of Regulation (Ec) 258/97 on Novel Foods and Regulation (Eu) 609/2013 on Food Intended for Infants and Young Children, Food for Special Medical Purposes and Total Diet Replacement for Weight Control"
Dr. Michael Roth is a retired doctor of chiropractic with extensive knowledge and experience in nutrition and health. After running a successful chiropractic office for nearly 15 years, "Dr. Roth branched out into peripheral realms of health study to enable him to offer his clients a more complete and overall knowledge base of wellness. With a goal to glorify the Lord, he is dedicated to provide for and educate the public regarding the gaining and maintaining of dynamic health and effective body cleansing. Dr. Roth also developed a unique topical EDTA cream for the safe, gentle and effective removal of toxic chemicals and heavy metals from the body. He can be reached at: email@example.com