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EDTA for the Removal of Systemically Toxic and Cytotoxic Heavy Metals
By Dr. Michael W Roth

On a daily basis our bodies come in contact with harmful compounds that can cause numerous health challenges and a decreased quality of life. Harmful toxins are found in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink; it’s inescapable. Yet, one that is often overlooked by even the medical community is heavy metals. Common metals such as lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium and arsenic are widespread toxic elements that are exceptionally harmful to humans.  Awareness of the dangers of these toxic heavy metals has increased in recent years, but much more needs to be studied and understood.  

A "heavy metal" is a metal with high atomic weight and specific gravity greater than 4. With both slow and prolonged (chronic), as well as acute exposure to inorganic heavy metals causes systemic intra-cellular and extra-cellular cytotoxins to the brain, nervous system and body. Just about any contact with inorganic heavy metals is harmful.  Therefore, it’s important to understand this for prevention and removal when one IS exposed.

There is also a fundamental difference between organic and inorganic metals and minerals. Organic metals and minerals occur naturally with carbon attached, generally in whole food sources.  For example, the common banana contains organic calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.  In trace amounts these are not harmful; in fact, they are required and essential to maintain health.  The body can process and utilize these natural elements when consumed in their organic (containing living carbon) form.  Inorganic sources, those without active carbon, come from synthetic (inert) chemicals and toxic environmental substances, where they are inhaled, absorbed through skin, or otherwise ingested to the detriment of the patient. These natural elements, which are beneficial in an organic form, can be highly dangerous in an inorganic arrangement.

Constant exposure to heavy metals is concerning. The most harmful heavy metals are: aluminum, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, cerium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, platinum, silver, tellurium, thallium, tin, uranium, vanadium, and zinc.  Again, in their natural, organic form, many of these elements (metals), and minerals are essential to maintain a proper level of energy, health and wellness.  However, a single exposure, large or small, of any one inorganic metal may cause acute and/or chronic toxicity.  Heavy metal toxicity could lead to a number of health problems, including, but not limited to: damaged or reduced mental and central nervous function, lower energy levels, and damage to the brain, blood composition, lungs, kidneys, liver, and other vital organs.  Long-term exposure may result in slowly progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that mimic Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis.1

While acute toxicity is relatively easy to diagnose due to immediate and severe symptom onset, chronic symptomology is generally more difficult to associate to a specific cause because the symptoms generally develop slowly over years of sustained exposure.  Patients may fail to seek treatment or diagnosis due to the chronic nature of symptoms which may present as various other diseases or ailments such as:

  • nausea

  • impaired cognitive, motor, and language

  • nervousness and emotional instability

  • insomnia

  • allergies

  • auto-immunity

  • muscle and joint pain

  • general and chronic malaise

  • weakened immunity

  • intestinal dysbiosis, irritable bowels, etc.

  • pain and inflammation


There are several valid testing methods that are effective in determining the level of heavy metals in the body such as: fecal and urinalysis, hair and/or blood analysis. Each type of test will yield a different picture of what is going on in the body at a specific time.  Hair analysis can give a snapshot of what heavy metals were in the body at the time of the hair’s growth. Toxic elements may be 200-300 times more highly concentrated in hair than in blood or urine; therefore, hair has become one of the tissues of choice for detection of recent and chronic exposure to heavy metals.  Specific blood analysis can measure the level of heavy metals in the body at the time the blood is drawn. Also, fecal and urinalysis can measure the level of heavy metals being excreted by the body pre- and post-treatment.  None of these tests are meant as stand-alone, but to be used in conjunction with one another to present a comprehensive view of the role heavy metals are playing in a person’s body. Ultimately a clinical diagnosis of a person’s symptoms is extremely telling.

The human body has no physiologic or metabolic capacity or ability to remove toxic heavy metals from extra-cellular spaces, interstitial fluids or fatty tissue.  Because of this, chelation or detoxification therapy has become the treatment of choice for this process.  It helps reduce or even eliminate the levels of heavy metals in the body, thereby reducing the production of free radicals and preventing peroxidation or breakdown of cell membranes, DNA, enzymes, lipoproteins and many other key metabolic and neurological functions.  Additionally, reducing “free-radical” threats and damage may free up the body's natural healing mechanisms so it can focus on halting and possibly even reversing the progression of disease.

In technical terms, a chelate is a molecular compound formed when a metal ion is bounded by two or more atomic groups within a molecule, such as EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic Acid).  EDTA has been known as a broad-based chelator of heavy metals since the 1920’s when it was used industrially, and now is one of the most widely used chelating agents in medicine with the capacity to attach and remove (chelate) almost every positive ion in the periodic table. 

The history of EDTA’s use in treating humans goes back nearly 70 years.  During the 1950’s, EDTA was utilized by U.S. Navy doctors who had to deal with lead poisoning in sailors who had been tasked with painting ships with inorganic (inert, synthetic and toxic) lead-based paint.  By the mid 1950s, chelation with EDTA was the standard treatment for lead poisoning.  Due to its rapidly expanding acceptance, ground-breaking doctors like Norman Clark, M.D. observed peripheral benefits such as improvement in cardiovascular health (i.e., cholesterol and arterial plaque removal), and thus discovered EDTA’s ability to chelate more than just inorganic lead.  

Since 1955, hundreds of papers have been published on the effects of chelation therapy in a variety of chronic diseases, with the vast majority reporting favorable results.  EDTA, a man-made amino acid, works best when it is introduced to the body directly into the blood.  While intravenous (I.V.) administration has been around since the late 1940’s, the oral route of administration was introduced in the mid 1970s, suppository capsules were developed in the late 1990s, and most recently, transdermal absorption.

An unpublished study conducted by Ted Rozema, M.D., showed that ten consecutive days of treatment with EDTA significantly reduced blood lead levels in children exposed to high levels.  After the introduction of a specific dosage of EDTA, until the time a urine specimen was collected 9 hours later, the urinary lead excretion in the children dramatically increased from 4.23 mcd/gL to 325.55 mcd/gL2.  In another unpublished study2 conducted by Maureen Pelletier, MD, CCN, at the Living Longer Institute in Cincinnati, OH, EDTA was tested on a number of patients.  The results showed significant increases in the secretion of arsenic, lead and cadmium through the bowels and arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and nickel through the urine.

EDTA in a transdermal (applied topically via an absorbable cream) form is gradually gaining momentum in alterative medicine as an effective substitute for I.V. administration.  In order for EDTA to be most effective it should be introduced directly into the blood.  This is why it has traditionally only been offered intravenously. Although the I.V. administration is well known and has been used for many years, there are disadvantages.  The invasive I.V. administration procedure requires the patient to visit their doctor’s office to receive EDTA by an I.V. drip for one to three hours, usually once to twice weekly for at least 30 treatments can be very strenuous on the liver and kidneys.  This is why liver and kidney function must be closely monitored during I.V. chelation.  Some patients may not qualify for repeated I.V. treatment due to stenosis, occlusion, vein integrity or other complications associated with long-term I.V. administration.  Finally, the cost for I.V. chelation therapy can run into the thousands of dollars.

With EDTA in a transdermal form, the disadvantages of I.V. are avoided, while an effective treatment is maintained.  The use is non-invasive and can be done from the comfort of a patient’s own home without the direct supervision of a doctor.  EDTA is administered at night before bed primarily, but can also be done in the morning. Since the human body is in a state of rest and repair while sleeping, the EDTA moves through the blood more slowly providing more effective results.  In a study done by The Biological Test Center, EDTA has been shown to stay in the body longer with an 8 hour half-life compared to a 1.5 hour half-life with the I.V. route, and the blood to tissue ratios (EDTA in blood/tissue) are higher, allowing the EDTA more time to chelate.3 

There is also an oral route of EDTA administration. The biggest disadvantage is that the EDTA has to pass through the gastro-intestinal (G.I.) tract, where digestive enzymes and acids break down the EDTA and diminish its effectiveness.  Generally, passing through the G.I. tract reduces the absorption rate of oral EDTA to approximately 5% - 15%.  Because of this low absorption rate, a patient would have to take approximately 7 to 20 times as much oral EDTA to get the same amount of EDTA in the blood as they would with direct blood absorption. There are numerous oral products being sold, however, it is known that EDTA cannot hold its integrity passing through the gastro-intestinal tract.4  

Side effects from transdermal or topical application of EDTA are minimal while still maintaining a high level of effectiveness. The patient may experience a number of side effects from detoxification including aches, fatigue or rashes.  These are all temporary and will likely cease once the system is cleansed.  These effects are almost completely absent when using a topical method of delivery.

It’s important to know that EDTA is not mineral specific and due to its high binding capability, it can also remove beneficial minerals from the body. Therefore a high-quality mineral supplement is recommended while using EDTA for detox. Use of an organic carbon-based mineral supplement is the most appropriate choice. 

It has taken many years to accumulate toxic chemicals and heavy metals, therefore, successful EDTA chelation requires a minimum 90-day sustained application, with additional time required for nutritional preparation and recovery.  And, since we are being exponentially exposed to heavy metals on a daily basis, maintaining a level of detoxification should be conducted for life. 

  1. International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre. September 1999 Basics of Chemical Safety, Chapter 7. International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

  2. Unpublished studies were conducted for World Health Products, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT

  3. Study to be published in upcoming issue of JANA titled; Effective and Efficient Absorption, Distribution, and Elimination of CaNa2 EDTA Rectal Chelation Suppositories. Rita Ellithorpe, MD1, Paul Masur, PhD, Glenwood Gum, PhD2, Gerry Button2, MS, E. H. Pfadenhauer, MS3 and Robert A. Settineri, MS3

  4. Elia M, Behrens R, Northrop C, Wraight P, Neale G., Evaluation of mannitol, lactulose and 51Cr-labelled ethylenediaminetetra-acetate as markers of intestinal permeability in man. Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Cambridge, U.K. Clin Sci (Lond). 1987 Aug;73(2):197-204.

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.





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