Heavy metals are exactly what they sound like: metals with a high molecular weight. They’re common as environmental pollutants; lead, for instance, used to be added to gasoline and paint; cadmium is widely found in air and water through mining and manufacturing, and is also a component of tobacco; mercury in the environment is a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.

Heavy metals are xenobiotics, that is, they can be found in the body but have no known biological function.

These metals are extremely toxic, although very low concentrations of them may be hormetic.1

Heavy metals and heart attacks

It’s long been suspected that these heavy metals play a role in heart disease. Their toxicity manifests as oxidative stress, which damages tissues including arteries. For example, those in the highest tertile (third) of blood levels had a 55% greater risk of cardiovascular death.2

A recent review of the literature on heavy metals and heart disease found3:

“There is strong evidence that xenobiotic metal contamination is linked to atherosclerotic disease and is a modifiable risk factor.”

Most of the suspicion of heavy metals has been done by alternative medicine types and goes back decades. Mainstream medicine has generally been enamored of theories having to do with saturated fat and cholesterol as causes of heart disease, and has thus overwhelmingly dismissed heavy metals as a cause.

EDTA chelation therapy for heavy metals

Alternative practitioners have long used EDTA chelation therapy to treat heavy metal toxicity, with great success. EDTA is a cheap, safe chemical that binds metals, and is in fact used as a food preservative, since it binds calcium and other metals, preventing oxidation and bacterial growth.

EDTA is given intravenously, it binds to heavy metals in the body, and the EDTA-metal complex is then excreted.

An article on EDTA therapy gives all the details on this therapy, and also remarks on why this therapy isn’t more widely used.

It is unlikely that any other issue in modern medicine has been more highly politicized than that of EDTA chelation therapy, and it is clear that most of the opposition to EDTA is due to the threat this therapy represents, not to patients’ health but to the bank balances of orthodox physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals. Treating cardiovascular diseases is big business in the United States (and the rest of the Western world), bringing in tens of billions of dollars each year.

As Garry Gordon, MD, DO, the “Father of Chelation Therapy” has pointed out, “Every time a surgeon does a heart bypass, he takes home a luxury sports car.” Each CABG procedure costs between $25,000 and $50,000; each angioplasty costs about $15,000; drugs for reducing cholesterol, lowering high blood pressure, and normalizing heart rhythm bring the pharmaceutical industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year. And these are just the most common examples. What happens when you add EDTA chelation therapy to this mix?

A course of I.V. EDTA chelation therapy costs between $2000 and $4000; oral EDTA is even less costly.

Follow the money. Coronary bypass operations are very expensive. The average cost of a bypass as of 2015 is $152,000, up vastly from the amount cited above.4

It’s no wonder mainstream medicine has been skeptical; its skepticism makes money.

A new study recently appeared that found positive results for EDTA chelation therapy: Heavy Metals, Cardiovascular Disease, and the Unexpected Benefits of Chelation Therapy.5

The study found a ~20% reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular events in those on the therapy. In diabetics, the reduction was ~40%. See below.

The study, known as TACT, was started to put an end once and for all that EDTA chelation therapy was effective. ” Because of the expectation that TACT would be a debunking study, it was designed as a clinical trial without a mechanistic component.” They did not expect it to work.

A “single infusion” of EDTA

increased lead excretion by 3,887%, and cadmium by 670%. These findings raise the possibility that edetate disodium mobilizes lead and cadmium from their chronic tissue storage compartments and facilitates their excretion. In our review, we focus on cadmium and lead because those are the metals with the strongest epidemiological and experimental evidence in support of a role in cardiovascular disease development.

Removal of cadmium and lead to that degree could be expected to have a strong effect on atherosclerosis.

No mention is made of calcium or iron, metals which EDTA also chelates.

The stability constant of a chelate, that is, a complex of chelator and metal, indicates its affinity for that metal, the higher the constant, the greater the affinity. A table of EDTA-metal stability constants indicates stability constants of

  • cadmium, 16.46
  • lead, 18.04
  • iron, 14.33
  • calcium, 10.96

EDTA could be expected to remove a considerable amount of free iron, with the possibility that calcium from calcified arteries could be removed as well.

So the results of EDTA therapy could also be due to lowering iron.

EDTA can also be taken orally, which is significantly cheaper, although the therapy takes longer. Oral therapy costs a trivial amount, whereas IV chelation therapy could be expected to cost perhaps $100 to $200 per weekly treatment; hence a total treatment protocol could run $4,000 to $8,000. (Though if I had heart disease, I’d spend the money.)

Supplements that chelate and remove heavy metals

Curcumin chelates heavy metals, and successfully prevented lead and cadmium induced lipid and brain damage in rats.6 Daily use of curcumin, at 500 to 1500 mg a day, could therefore be expected to remove toxic heavy metals from the body and prevent tissue damage. And in fact, curcumin has anti-atherosclerotic activity.7

Green tea also protects against cadmium toxicity.8  What may be going on is that green tea increases glutathione, which in turn removes the metals.

N-acetylcysteine is another OTC supplement that has metal-chelating effects.9

So, we see that in addition to EDTA chelation therapy, a number of other supplements can chelate heavy metals.

Final thoughts

Heavy metals are strongly implicated in atherosclerotic heart disease. How many people are at risk?

People in the highest tertile (third) of lead levels were at 55% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease. (See above.) That means that, assuming lead levels have remained constant, one-third of the population by definition has high lead levels, enough to increase risk of death.

Smokers, both current and former (*raises hand*) can be expected to have high cadmium levels, higher than non-smokers anyway.

Therefore almost anyone wanting to prevent heart disease should consider one of the supplements mentioned above. Anyone with actual heart disease may want to consider EDTA chelation therapy.

PS: Iron is a metal that can harm health; check out my book, Dumping Iron, for more.

PPS: Check out my Supplements Buying Guide for Men.




  1.  Heinz, Gary H., et al. “Hormesis associated with a low dose of methylmercury injected into mallard eggs.” Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology 62.1 (2012): 141-144.
  3. Solenkova, Natalia V., et al. “Metal pollutants and cardiovascular disease: mechanisms and consequences of exposure.” American heart journal 168.6 (2014): 812-822.
  6.  Daniel, Sheril, et al. “Through metal binding, curcumin protects against lead-and cadmium-induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain homogenates and against lead-induced tissue damage in rat brain.” Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 98.2 (2004): 266-275.
  7.  Shin, Su‐Kyung, et al. “Long‐term curcumin administration protects against atherosclerosis via hepatic regulation of lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism.”Molecular nutrition & food research 55.12 (2011): 1829-1840.
  8. El-Shahat, A. E., et al. “Altered testicular morphology and oxidative stress induced by cadmium in experimental rats and protective effect of simultaneous green tea extract.” Int J Morphol 27.3 (2009): 757-764.
  9.  Kelly, Gregory S. “Clinical applications of N-acetylcysteine.” Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic 3.2 (1998): 114-127.

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  1. Baron says:

    Any way to test whether a person has high concentration of heavy metals?

  2. Andreas says:

    Any idea if Lypo-sheric EDTA exists. This could make for a highly effective (cost & chelation) oral medication.

    LivOn Lypo-sheric vitamin C has trace amounts, but unlikely an effective dose.

    What about side effects? Can EDTA chelate away thing we need like magnesium or potassium?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      I don’t know about any special preparations of EDTA. It can chelate other metals, and practitioners recommend taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement while using it, with emphasis on zinc. With IV use, chelation of calcium seems to be a consideration.

  3. Excellent stuff Dennis – I’m just wondering, does part of the EDTA protocol also involve supplementing trace elements and minerals that might also be removed by chelation? I seem to remember this from Dr Atkin’s book.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Thanks, George. It’s recommended to take multivitamin minerals with EDTA therapy, and especially zinc is recommended.

  4. EDTA salts have high affinity constants for ferrous ion ( and other bivalent ions) of about 15 but much stronger about 24 or nine orders higher for trivalent ferric iron. In the absence of reducing agents like NAC or ascorbate, the ferrous EDTA is oxidized to the ferric complex in air. Oral absorption of EDTA salts is low, possibly higher if emulsified or encapsulated in liposomes. Phytate likevEDTA also forms strong comples with both forms lf iron, also much stronger with ferric iron which precipitates. Ernst Graf did much work with phytates as a stabilizer in foods by inhibiting iron free radical mediated oxidation in spoilage uskng phytates. Both EDTA and phytate
    will bind other essential trace metals like zinc, magnesium, copper, also toxic metals like cadmium, lead, aluminum, etc stronger for trivalent and less strong for bivalent metals. Monovalent metals like potassium and sodium bind weakly to phytaye or EDTA.. Supplementing with essential multiminerals is best done several hours after dosing with strong chelating agents, best in the morning along with cereals like oats or barley containing natural phytate and multiminerals in the evening.

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Herman, thanks, great comment. In my reading, I found that oral EDTA has less than 5% absorption, or is thought to. While not a problem in itself, since some other supplements behave this way, you can see how much more effective IV therapy is – 100% absorption.

      One thing I’m wondering is the stability constants for phytate (IP6) – IP6 also chelates cadmium and other heavy metals. Binding of Cu2+, Zn2+, and Cd2+ to Inositol Tri-, Tetra-, Penta-, and Hexaphosphates The article indicates that it binds copper and zinc more strongly than cadmium.

  5. Abelard Lindsey says:

    Have a look at, which presents chelation with ALA (alpha lipoic acid). I chelated with ALA for a total of 4 years and found the effects to be more profound than I expected. Mercury, mostly from medical sources, is the big problem today, or at least was my problem.

  6. ted says:

    PD you should read up on matrix GLA protein. E.g. form here

    …..agreed, cholesterol is not the main factor. Lack of oil soluble vitamins A, D, and especially K2, plus inflammation, are more important factors.

    google vitamin K2. It activates the enzyme MGP, which takes calcium out of soft tissues like arteries, heart valves, and the brain. MGP is abundant if you have adequate vitamins A and D. Without vitamin K2 as an activating cofactor, MGP is inactive and doesn’t do its job.

    • ted says:

      Ah, you have an article on K2 already, reading it now.

      Was browsing longecity forum, an interesting testimonial on iron levels:

      “If you read the work of Weston Price, he clearly documents how K2 deficiency has become the norm in the USA, along with cardiovascular disease.
      In fact, for several years I was on the border of ferritin (stored iron) being too low, which lead me to discover iron’s role in having a healthy head of hair.
      I was losing hair and the most insightful hair specialist that I spoke with told me that ferritin below 40 ng/ml will result in hair loss. My ferritin typically measured 27, where 20 is the bottom of normal.

      He further said that ferritin is best at around 70 ng/ml for optimal hair health.
      I took extra iron and raised my ferritin and over a period of about six months my hair thickened.”

  7. Ole says:

    Great post PD!. You can add alpha-lipoic acid, cilantro and chlorella to the list of chelators.

  8. RW says:

    PD, do you think that Hexall ACC 600 (German acetylcysteine mucolytic tablets) would confer the same metal-chelating effect as NAC?

  9. Steven says:

    Thanks! Fascinating, would love to read more about this, if you learn more. Are you planning on giving this a try? Anyone else care to share stories of doing chelation?

    • P. D. Mangan says:

      Hi Steven: For myself, my next task is figuring out whether the supplements I already take, namely IP6, green tea extract and curcumin, are already chelating heavy metals to the extent I need. To do that would, I think, require some pharmacology research like stability constants, percent abosorption, half-life, etc. I doubt that all that data even exists. Intravenous EDTA is 100% absorbed, water soluble, is not metabolized, it just goes, grabs the metals in virtually every tissue including the brain, and leaves.

      I’m talking myself into taking EDTA.

  10. Stevn says:

    I would assume if you do, there will be a post, can’t wait to read it, and updates on any effects it may have!! Will you be getting any hair or blood analysis done to look at heavy metal levels, before and after? I had it done a few years ago, when I also got a RBC Mg done. I was just getting into the Mg info, and wanted to check it out. I need to dig the info up and look at my results. I have been interested in the chelation thing, but most of what I found seemed…… dubious. Most of the stuff put up was by MD’s selling the service, so, it was biased from the start, and I never got around to looking deeper. Maybe I should start looking again. MI runs in the family. Of course, I also need to get started on the blood donation, the Fe is much too high, and I do believe that is probably a big factor all on it’s one, separate from the other heavy metals!

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