(Investigator 161, 2015 March)



 A Swiss Nobel Laureate, Alfred Werner, first proposed the theory of metal binding in 1893, and which provided the foundation for modern chelation chemistry.

In 1920, Morgan and Drew specifically defined chelation as, "The incorporation of a metal ion into a heterocyclic ring structure". In 1935, ethylene diamine tetraacetic (EDTA) was first synthesised in Germany by F. Munz as a substitute for citric acid, then used to remove calcium from hard water. A further process for synthesising EDTA was developed in the United States by Frederick C. Bernsworth and patented by him in 1941. Chelation Therapy as a treatment was introduced into the United States in 1948.



The principal application for Chelation Therapy is the treatment of atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries caused by the formation of plaque restricting the flow of blood. The chelating agent (EDTA) has the capacity to attach and bind the calcium and metal molecules, removing them from the plaque for eventual excretion from the body. As the inside diameter of the blood vessels is increased, this leads to greater blood flow.


Chelation Therapy is administered by intravenous infusion directly into the bloodstream over a period of three to four hours. The full programme includes exercise, diet, vitamin and mineral supplements.



Chelation Therapy is the subject of considerable controversy. Although EDTA is approved for use in the treatment of lead poisoning, its use in the treatment of other metallic based poisons is questionable or unproven. The most serious risk of Chelation Therapy is kidney failure, with the possibility of other unpredictable problems arising from the inclusion of other substances in infusions. Another danger is that some chelationists are advising people who have been told that they need bypass surgery to see them instead.

The promotion of chelation therapy for circulatory disorders has been disputed by the American Medical Association's House of Delegates who, in 1984, declared that "there was no evidence to support the use of chelation therapy to treat arthritis, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and several other conditions". In 1985 the American Heart Foundation's Task Force on New and Unestablished Therapies endorsed this view. They concluded that there was no scientific evidence to demonstrate any benefit for CT against cardiovascular disease. No significant evidence of effectiveness has been published since that time.


Chelation Therapy

Green. 1993. Chelation Therapy: unproven claims and unsound theories. Nutrition Forum. 10:33.

Hatfield. 1985. Chelation Therapy, quackery or cure? ACSH News & Views. March 1985.

Kastner, Mark. and Burroughs, Hugh. 1993. Alternative Healing. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, California.

Prevention Magazine editors. 1992. Healing Remedies and Techniques. MJF Books, POB 0930, Planetarium Station, NY 10024-0540. 

Zwicky, Hafner, Barrett and Jarvis 1993. Reader's Guide to 'Alternative' Medicine. American Medical Association, 515 North State Street, Chicago, IL. 60610.

    From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc.