Chelation therapy

Chelation Therapy in Medicine

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Chelation therapy is an intravenous treatment designed to bind heavy metals in the body and cause them to be excreted in urine. Lead, mercury and cadmium are derived from the soil in minute quantities and have an effect on some of our tissues by interfering with normal oxygen utilization. Proponents claim that chelation therapy treats coronary artery disease and other illnesses that may be linked to damage from free radicals, reactive molecules that are associated with metal toxicity. This method of treatment has been advocated for many years by a small group of physicians, many of whom had been persecuted because of lack of approval of the treatment. Some had even lost their medical licenses.

Over the years, they persisted and had constantly tried to get cardiovascular specialists to carry out a clinical study because they were convinced that their clinical and laboratory observations were important. No such study had materialized and so they got together to perform a study in their individual offices, combining their results. This study was termed TACT (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy). The results of the study were reviewed by Academia. It was found that it demonstrated a significant reduction in a combined primary endpoint of death, myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, coronary revascularization (heart surgery) or hospitalization for angina (heart pain). In diabetic patients the benefit was more extreme. The authors, from Columbia University Division of Cardiology and Mount Sinai Medical Center, reported that EDTA chelation may be a well-tolerated and effective treatment for patients after heart attacks, suggesting that further studies were required. Subsequently, a review summarized evidence from two lines of research previously thought to be unrelated: the unexpected positive results of TACT and a body of data showing that accumulation of biologically active metals such as lead and cadmium is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They concluded by presenting a brief overview of a newly planned National Institutes of Health trial, TACT 2 in an attempt to replicate the findings of TACT 1. Two authors from Columbia University Division of Cardiology reported that they were seeking participating sites for TACT 2.

Iron Chelation

It is fairly well known that a common cause of anemia is iron deficiency, treated by taking a supplement of an iron containing medication. What few people are aware of is that an ingestion of too much iron, like the heavy metals mentioned above, will cause the same kind of interference with oxygen utilization. It is just another example that too little is as bad as too much. Although treatment of iron deficient anemia is seldom a cause of iron overload when administered by a physician, perhaps the major cause is from repeated blood transfusions given to people that have problems in synthesizing hemoglobin, or a disease that causes red cell destruction. The method of removing iron that has been deposited in tissues is by chelation, using one of several agents administered orally. This promises a reduction in associated morbidity and mortality.

The Use of Thiamine in Chelation

I remember reading an article in the veterinary literature some years ago. Because of a sick cow, a farmer had called a veterinarian who had recognized the symptoms of thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. When given an injection of the vitamin the symptoms in the cow had disappeared but they had subsequently returned and the veterinarian was asked to come again. Thinking this was a strange recurrence, the doctor had the presence of mind to search the field where the cow had been grazing. He had found an old trunk in a corner of the field that was partly covered with lead paint and which the cow had been licking. Lead has a sweet taste and the veterinarian concluded that this was the cause of the thiamine deficiency. In a study using rats, calcium disodium EDTA was more effective than thiamine in enhancing the urinary excretion of lead in restoring lead induced biochemical alterations. However, the combination of the drug and thiamine enhanced the beneficial effect and was particularly effective in reducing the brain concentration of lead.

In lead loaded sheep the combination of EDTA and thiamine administration was better than EDTA or thiamine given singly. It was concluded however that thiamine, even by itself, does increase lead excretion via bile and urine, a beneficial effect that has not been followed up since. The influence of dietary protein deficiency on the effects of exposure to lead or its combination with copper was investigated in rats. The simultaneous supplementation of copper reduced some of the lead-induced alterations and body uptake of lead more efficiently in animals fed a normal diet than in those fed a protein-deficient diet. Note that a small amount of copper and a healthy protein intake in the diet appear to protect the body from the harmful effects of lead, enhancing again the importance of diet in preventive medicine.

Heavy Metal Toxicity in Autism

Most people are aware that autism is in epidemic form in America. The evidence is rapidly accumulating that this disease is another example of brain energy deficiency. It is marked by a complex interaction between environmental factors, genetic predisposition and energy availability, making it difficult to state that there is a single causative etiology. There is evidence that heavy metal deposition has a part to play in producing oxidative stress. We came across a family in which the mother was a recovered alcoholic. She had two children, a boy and a girl, both of whom had symptoms typical of autistic spectrum disorder. Both children had unusual concentrations of arsenic in the urine whose source was completely unknown. Erythrocyte transketolase studies (a test for thiamine deficiency) were intermittently abnormal, coinciding with alternating improvement from diet restriction and supplementary vitamin therapy. Their symptoms quickly relapsed after ingestion of sugar, milk, or wheat. We hypothesized that oxidative stress, related to the presence of arsenic, combined with genetic predisposition and malnutrition provided the intermittent relapse and recovery in both of these children.

Energy Metabolism

Energy deficiency has been implicated many times in posts on this website and it is hypothesized that it is the root cause of disease, coupled with genetic risk and the variability of stress factors. Because of its vital importance in so many aspects of energy production and distribution, thiamine seems to be emerging as a unique therapeutic modality. Yes, it is true that if a human genome is 100% intact and the diet reaches perfection, health would remain intact throughout life. But because of the variability of genetic risk, the unpredictability of stress factors and the imperfection in diet, disease has become common in the modern world. In my book “A Nutritional Approach to a Revised Model for Medicine”, I compared the hedonism of the advanced civilization in the ancient Roman Empire with that of the hedonism that exists in our society today. The Romans kept their wines in lead glazed jars and the lead was leached out into the wine, giving it a sweet taste. Their symptoms were common and completely unrecognized for what they represented.

We suggest that thiamine deficiency would enter into the equation by a method that would be completely different from what is commonly being appreciated in our society today, the hedonism associated with the ingestion of sweets. Chronic mild lead poisoning, particularly if associated with thiamine deficiency, would lead to many symptoms that are exactly the same as those experienced by millions of people today who are suffering unknowingly and in many cases unfortunately unrecognized for what they represent. Only very few people take advantage of this scientifically supported information, no matter how many books are written or how many lectures are delivered. However, since we all have been educated to take pills in the treatment of our symptoms, perhaps an emphasis on vitamin supplements instead of drugs might be a simple answer. Over and over, this website has emphasized high calorie malnutrition as an insidious and prolonged method of inducing a variety of effects in the brain that result in just as much of a variety of symptoms.

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Derrick Lonsdale M.D., is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition (FACN), Fellow of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (FACAM). Though now retired, Dr. Lonsdale was a practitioner in pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic for 20 years and was Head of the Section of Biochemical Genetics at the Clinic. In 1982, Lonsdale joined the Preventive Medicine Group to specialize in nutrient-based therapy. Dr. Lonsdale has written over 100 published papers and the conclusions support the idea that healing comes from the body itself rather than from external medical interventions.


  1. Dear Dr. Londsale,
    I greatly appreciate your great contribution in helping ASD children in their recovery paths. Please, in your experience did you ever see or hear about “major” side effects (such as regression or worsen of the ASD condition) in relation to the use of TTFD Authia cream? Your comment and advices will be much helpful. In advance thanks. Greg.

      • Great! Many thanks for your quick reply. The question is raised because we saw in our child of 7-years-old a paradoxical response to the Authia cream we’ve begun one week ago on a daily use basis. Even if we equally noticed an improvement in its understanging skills there were a disturbance in sleep, and some olden signs of ASD we did not see for years, such as autostimulation did appear again. In the following week, as we give up the use of the cream and increase his supplementation in magnesium glycinate et glycin, these negative signs progressively disappared… So, we’re about to question ourselves if we followed the appropriate protocol.
        Once again thanks and happy holidays. Greg

  2. Dr. Lonsdale, considering the information bellow, is it possible that it is mercury that is causing all the disturbance in the sulphur cicle?

    In Dr. Hans Nieper’s book available in the link bellow, it is said:
    “Pay special note to all the different defense systems that contain sulfur. These All can be destroyed by very small amounts of mercury.”

    • Mercury, lead arsenic and cadmium all do the same thing. They form free oxygen radicals that can be compared with sparks jumping out of a briskly burning wood or coal fire. It is another example of the need for moderation in all things. Too much oxidation is as bad as too little, producing the net result of inefficient energy synthesis.

      • Dr. Lonsdale, were you a DAN doctor before you retire!! You know so much!!! Lipothiamine or Allithiamine are good to detox lead as you said. What about the mercury and cadmium and arsenic? Arsenic compets with zinc and autistic kids are deficient in zinc, right? Would EDTA with allithiamine do the job for all of them? Please advise. Thanks,

        • Yes, I was a DAN doc and I presented my experiences with thiamine in autism, but it never seemed to activate interest at that time. It has seemed to me that the capacity of thiamine to get rid of heavy (SH reactive) metals is to do with its overall effect on oxygen utilization and the resulting energy synthesis. It is not a chelating agent like EDTA and the heavy metal is excreted through the bile ducts. That means that using thiamine for lead toxicity would require stool analysis to prove that lead was actually being removed. I published the clinical improvement in 8 of 10 autistic kids as a pilot study using TTFD in rectal suppositories. We then tried to put together an institutional double blind study. The FDA told me that I would require a separate IND to use TTFD in suppositories——–impossible in private practice.

          • I am sorry I should say copper competes with zinc and autistic kids usually is deficient in zinc, right?
            Dr. Lonsdale, could you please make it available here the link with your studies with allithiamine use for detox of lead in autistic kids, please? In the case of being willing to detox with Allithiamine, you can just inject the pills in the rectum, or it is necessary to look into having suppositories with the pills and sunflower oil or coconut oil for example?

            • Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2002 Aug;23(4):303-8.
              Treatment of autism spectrum children with thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide: a pilot study.
              Lonsdale D1, Shamberger RJ, Audhya T.
              Author information

              In a Pilot Study, the clinical and biochemical effects of thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide (TTFD) on autistic spectrum children were investigated.
              Ten children were studied. Diagnosis was confirmed through the use of form E2, a computer assessed symptom score. For practical reasons, TTFD was administered twice daily for two months in the form of rectal suppositories, each containing 50 mg of TTFD. Symptomatic responses were determined through the use of the computer assessed Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) forms. The erythrocyte transketolase (TKA) and thiamine pyrophosphate effect (TPPE), were measured at outset and on completion of the study to document intracellular thiamine deficiency. Urines from patients were examined at outset, after 30 days and after 60 days of treatment and the concentrations of SH-reactive metals, total protein, sulfate, sulfite, thiosulfate and thiocyanate were determined. The concentrations of metals in hair were also determined.
              At the beginning of the study thiamine deficiency was observed in 3 out of the 10 patients. Out of 10 patients, 6 had initial urine samples containing arsenic in greater concentration than healthy controls. Traces of mercury were seen in urines from all of these autistic children. Following administration of TTFD an increase in cadmium was seen in 2 children and in lead in one child. Nickel was increased in the urine of one patient during treatment. Sulfur metabolites in urine did not differ from those measured in healthy children.
              Thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide appears to have a beneficial clinical effect on some autistic children, since 8 of the 10 children improved clinically. We obtained evidence of an association of this increasingly occurring disease with presence of urinary SH-reactive metals, arsenic in particular. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2002 Aug;23(4):303-8.
              Treatment of autism spectrum children with thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide: a pilot study.

              Please note that this was intended as a pilot study. The FDA would not allow a full scale inter-institutional study without a separate investigator license for using TTFD in suppositories, an impossible action for clinical practitioners.

  3. Thanks Doc….heavy metal detox is a slippery slope for sure

    What’s your preference between Lipothiamine and Allithiamine? What is the benefit of adding the ALA to the lipothiamine? Is there a max dose per day one shouldn’t go over for either ? I wish Ecological Formulas wouldn’t add the silicone dioxide, just a preservative we don’t need in our bodies….imo.

    • Lipothiamine is TTFD but it is enteric coated to ensure ifs passage through stomach acid to get to the small intestine where thiamine is absorbed. Ecological Formulas already had an enteric coated pill with a small and inconsequential dose of lipoic acid and they simply added TTFD. Allithiamine is TTFD in powder form so the dose can be split. However, be warned that the taste of TTFD is absolutely vile and was the reason for creating Authia, a cream that enables TTFD to pass through the skin. We used that to treat autistic children.

      • Thanks….is there any way to know how much thiamine one gets by just chewing raw garlic ? Would a clove a day be enough, or do you need to eat a whole head? When you read the study from Japan done in 1940’s , it sounded like they came up with the pill form mainly to avoid garlic breath. Your thoughts….

        • I do not recommend that at all. The Japanese investigators did the obvious. They created a synthetic form of allithiamine and studied its therapeutic potential. You would not be socially acceptable if you ate a clove of garlic

          • “Socially unacceptable”… like serving rice with the hull still on, in the village back in the day?….leading to polished rice becoming popular and high calorie Beriberi . Fiber seems to be a key factor in all this too Doc.Any recommendactions there ?

            I did a muscle test on lipothiamine and had no problem with it and its added preservative silicone dioxide. What would a max daily dose be for somebody 6’2” 225 lbs ? Is dose determination just based on trial and error? I’ve taken 50mg daily before with no noticeable issues. I take with mag citrate, and vitamin E.

            • The idea of being “socially unacceptable” was based on he powerful odor emanating from a person consuming a clove of garlic. The idea of milled rice in the East was based on the fact that it “looked better” when served. The peasants would take their rice crop to a rice mill where it was stripped of the husks around the grain. What they did not know was that the vitamins are in the husks, not in the grain. The rice polishings were given to pigs who were consequently better fed than the humans. You are also quite right about fiber because it slows the processing and absorption of simple carbohydrates in the intestine. For many years we have known of an extremely important reaction. When the respiration of live thiamine deficient cells was compared with the respiration of thiamine sufficient cells, there was no difference UNTIL GLUCOSE WAS ADDED TO THE PREPARATION. The thiamine sufficient cells immediately started to respire whereas the thiamine deficient cells did not. This experiment, performed in Cambridge University in 1936 and known as the Catatorulin Effect was the beginning of the research that led to the complex biochemistry of oxidative metabolism. It is the scientific answer to the ultimate danger of pursuing empty calories, particularly sugar.

              • Yes stinky for sure…but the mosquitos don’t like the smell either 🙂 Interesting about the pigs, life can sure be ironically funny.

                No input on the lipothiamine dosing rules you care to share?

                Thanks Doc

      • Dr. Lonsdale, you also wrote an article talking about autism and D3, right? Can D3 be also delivered in a form of cream and have the same effects of a D3 pills? In which part of the body you recommend to use the Authia cream to make sure the body absorb it well? Is the gut the part of the body that most need it in the case of autistic kids?

  4. Thanks for this Doc….Very timely for me. I’ve had to many mri’s with gadolinium contrast over the years. Trying to prove still non existent ms, while giving me “fibromyalgia” in the process. Just seems to me that it’s all gunk “clogging up the carburetor.” Heavy metals, sugars, diary, wheat, corn, polished rice, geophosphate, homocysteine, fibrosis all gunk clogging up blood flow and keeping it from where it needs to go.

    Do you have any knowledge of the use of IV DTPA for Chelation?

    What is your opinion on high dose(50-100k mg) IV Vitamin C therapy supported by Linus Pauling, Hugh Riordan, Robert Cathcart, and others?

    Lastly , do you have an opinion on or any knowledge of using Ayurveda as healing modality ?

    Thanks, Mike

    • I have no information on DTPA. I/V vitamin C is a wonderful treatment when given in the right context. Its benefits as an antioxidant are very real and it should be used much more but it represents a completely different medical approach to the causes of disease.

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