By Ambica Gulati October 2000 Your heart is your lifeline. So protect it from toxins to prevent surgical intervention with the new EDTA chelation therapy The only solution to heart disease? No, there are alternative therapies and the latest on the scene is chelation. Practiced by over 1,500 doctors in the USA, it has perhaps been adopted by only one practitioner in India so far. Based in Ludhiana, Dr Sukhbindar Singh Sibia, MD, calls it something much simpler-Artery Clearance Therapy (ACT). Besides chelation, this includes the use of antioxidants and lifestyle management as well. Research indicates heart disease to be mankind’s No 1 killer. Explains Dr Sibia: ‘Stress, pollution, bad dietary habits, smoking and sedentary lifestyles are the primary factor for heart disease. Today one out of ten persons suffers from it.’ How did he turn to this unconventional form of medicine? The doctor, trained in chelation at the John Buckley’s Arterial Diseases Clinic at London, says: ‘I’ve always been interested in the non-operative parts of medicine. For ACT, I was motivated by Dr Elmer M. Cranton’s book Bypassing Bypass. Since ACT removes blockages in the blood vessels, I wanted to bring it to India.’ Writes Dr Cranton in a website: ‘Chelation therapy is a new hope for arteriosclerosis patients (fatty deposits in arteries) and age associated disease.’ So what exactly is chelation therapy? Pronounced key lay shun, this is a chemical process by which a metal or mineral (lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum, calcium) is bonded to another substance. It is a natural process. In this therapy, a small amino acid called ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA) is administered to the patient intravenously. A small needle is placed in the patient’s arm and the fluid containing EDTA is infused. The EDTA infusion bonds with excess metals and other toxic elements in the body and throws them out through the urine. The treatment usually consists of 20 to 50 infusions, but it varies from person to person. Each infusion takes three to four hours and a patient normally receives one to five infusions per week. ‘Over a period of time, these infusions reduce free radicals that damage the blood vessel’s lining, and remove calcium and other heavy metals,’ says Dr Sibia. ‘Thereby, blood flow is restored and diseased arteries heal.’ Thus, major problems-heart attacks, strokes, leg pain, gangrene, bypass surgery and balloon angioplasty – can be prevented. Before starting chelation therapy, a complete medical history of the patient is obtained, the diet analyzed and a special note made of allergies. Blood and urine are tested. Kidney function is carefully assessed. An ECG and chest X-ray is ordered. This treatment does not involve any hospitalization or anesthesia. Sitting in the physician’s clinic, you can nap, watch TV, or chat with other patients while the fluid containing EDTA flows into the veins. Dr Sibia says: ‘The success rate is 90 per cent. Besides, this is a much cheaper process. Each sitting costs around Rs 1,500, whereas the cost of bypass surgery could be as high as Rs 2 lakh.’ Since lifestyle counts to a large extent, Dr Sibia recommends various changes. ‘Smoking should cease completely. When a patient recovers, he often resumes this habit without realizing the disastrous results. Try to substitute alcohol with fruit juice or other non-alcoholic drinks,’ he advises. ‘A balanced nutrition is also essential.’ Researches conducted in the USA show that more than 75 per cent chelation patients improved dramatically. In another study, more than 90 per cent patients receiving 35 or more chelation treatments benefited when they corrected diet, exercise and smoking habits. Chelation is relatively nontoxic and risk-free, especially when compared with other treatments. ‘The risk of serious side effects, when properly administered, is less than 1 in 10,000 patients,’ writes Dr Cranton. However, some patients may experience mild nausea, dizziness or headache but these minor symptoms soon disappear. Some people claim that EDTA damages the kidneys. ‘The latest research (consisting of kidney function tests done on 383 consecutive chelation patients, before and after treatment with EDTA indicates the reverse. An occasional patient may be sensitive, but physicians closely monitor kidney function,’ corrects Dr Cranton. Citing the advantages of chelation, Dr Sibia says: ‘Chelation patients resume their normal activities sooner than patients who have undergone surgical procedure. With proper diet, regular exercise, nutritional supplements and periodic maintenance chelation treatments, they can usually go many years without suffering any more problems.’ Chelation’s earliest application could be traced back to World War II when the British used another chelating agent, British Anti-Lewesite (BAL), as poison gas antidote. BAL is still used today. EDTA was first introduced in the USA in 1948 as a treatment for industrial workers suffering from lead poisoning. Shortly thereafter, the US Navy advocated chelation for sailors who had absorbed lead while painting government ships and docks. And now an oral chelator is also being developed. Many nutrients such as vitamin C and the amino acids cysteine and aspartic acid have the ability to weakly chelate metals. They also protect against free radical damage as antioxidants. The problem is that only 5 per cent or less of EDTA is absorbed by mouth. When given intravenously, EDTA is absorbed 100 per cent and can be given on only 20 to 30 days in one year. Chelation is not a ‘cure-all’ by itself, warns Dr Cranton. It merely reduces abnormal free radical activity, allowing normal healing and control mechanisms to come into play to restore health. So chelate your way to a healthy, happy heart.
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