Chelation is a chemical process in which a metal or mineral—such as lead, mercury, or calcium—is bonded to another substance. This is a natural process that goes on continually in our bodies. However, our bodies evolved in a less polluted world and they are not prepared to handle the heavy load of environmental toxins to which they are now confronted with on a daily basis. A recent study at the Tulane University School of Public Health demonstrated that the average blood level of lead found among Americans is high enough to increase the likelihood of heart attack and stroke. In other words, lead toxicity is ubiquitous in America and everyone’s health is compromised to some extent as a result.
Chelation therapy—which employs the weak acid EDTA—has the potential to enhance virtually everyone’s health and performance because it removes lead and other toxic heavy metals from our bodies. Although many alternative physicians use EDTA chelation therapy in their practice because of its proven cardiovascular benefits and anti-aging properties, lead removal is the one area where conventional medicine agrees that EDTA chelation therapy should be utilized and we now know that everyone is suffering from enough lead toxicity to—at the very least—increase their risk of cardiovascular disease.
But chelation therapy actually does much more than lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and remove lead and other toxic heavy metals from the body. An abundance of compelling scientific evidence suggests that EDTA chelation therapy can dramatically enhance many people’s health and performance. It has been shown to help prevent arteriosclerosis, improve blood circulation, and reduce harmful clotting mechanisms. Some of the other reported benefits from EDTA chelation therapy include better skin texture and skin tone, improvements with arthritis, and better vision and hearing. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Although EDTA chelation therapy has been shown to reduce calcium accumulation in the blood vessels, it is actually used as a treatment for osteoporosis because it has been shown to stimulate bone growth and to make bones stronger. EDTA chelation therapy has been shown to significantly improve physical energy levels due to mitochondrial stimulation, and it is known to have antiviral and antioxidant activity. Perhaps most importantly, because it increases circulation to the brain, EDTA chelation therapy can also help to improve cognitive function and memory. In other words, in addition to making us stronger and healthier, EDTA chelation therapy can actually make us smarter.
Garry Gordon, M.D., D.O., is one of the world’s experts in chelation therapy, nutrition, and mineral metabolism. He is the founder and current president of the International College of Advanced Longevity Medicine (ICALM), and is one of the cofounders of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). Dr. Gordon wrote the original protocol for the safe and effective use of EDTA oral chelation therapy, and is the author of numerous scientific papers on the subject. He is also the coauthor of the best-selling book The Chelation Answer, and is currently working on a book about chelation therapy with me entitled Ultimate Detoxification: The Truth About Chelation Therapy.
Dr. Gordon received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 1958 from the Chicago College of Osteopathy in Illinois. In 1962, he received an honorary medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, and in 1964, he completed his Radiology Residency at Mt. Zion in San Francisco. For many years Dr. Gordon was the Medical Director of the Mineral Lab in Hayward, California, a prominent laboratory for trace mineral analysis.
Dr. Gordon is on the Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners for Arizona, and is a Board Member of International Oxidative Medicine Association (IOMA). He is advisor to the American Board of Chelation Therapy, and was the past instructor and examiner for all chelation physicians. Dr. Gordon is responsible for Peer Review for Chelation Therapy in the State of Arizona. Dr. Gordon is currently attempting to establish standards for the proper use of oral and intravenous chelation therapy as an adjunct for treating all the major diseases.
I interviewed Dr. Gordon on September 14, 2006. Dr. Gordon speaks enthusiastically about chelation therapy and his excitement is contagious. We spoke about EDTA’s antioxidant activity, how it effects nitric oxide levels in the body, the differences between oral and I.V. chelation therapies, how chelation therapy effects bone growth, and about the dangers of environmental toxins.
Q: How does EDTA chelation therapy affect blood circulation and how can it be used to promote cardiovascular health?
Dr. Gordon: EDTA is essentially four molecules of vinegar, and chelation is a natural process. The word “chelation” came from the Greek word “claw.” Somebody suggested the metaphor that EDTA is like using a hamburger to give your dog a pill—it’s an easy way because you hide the pill in the protein. EDTA is essentially a man-made synthetic amino acid, which hides the lead, mercury, cadmium, or other metal inside of it—so that it is finally able to exit the body with a higher efficiency. Every human being on Earth today is breathing in tremendous amounts of lead, mercury, and cadmium because we burn coal in power plants to generate electricity around the world. Every time we turn on a power plant we create more cases of autism.
We’re beginning to realize that the blood circulation in our bodies, and our cardiovascular health in general, is significantly impaired in obvious ways due to lead poisoning. We now know that every human being on Earth has an average of over one thousand times more lead in every tissue than we did in pre-industrial times. Of course most of the lead gets concentrated in certain tissues—like, for example, more in the bones than in the heart. But everybody on Earth now has a minimum of about a thousand times more lead in their bones than can be found in any human bones from over two hundred years. So we’re reaching the point of maximum tolerance. The net result is that as the bones are filled with lead, and they can’t handle any more, it spills over and starts to accumulate in the heart, kidney, liver, and brain.
A year ago Debra Schaumberg at Harvard University published her important research in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing that the higher the percentage of lead that there is in the bones the sooner people go blind from cataracts. This is why I think that everyone today needs to be on some kind of chelation therapy. You see, it’s not just the heart that we’re helping—it’s the whole body. The kidneys are so loaded with heavy metals that its impairing kidney function. Even the New England Journal of Medicine claimed about two years ago that if more people would receive calcium EDTA we might largely eliminate renal failure. In other words, there wouldn’t be any people having to live on dialysis. So it’s not just the cardiovascular system that we’re helping; we’re also protecting the bones and the rest of the body.
Nitric oxide is very important for proper cardiovascular health, and this is an important area that all doctors can relate to. Nitric Oxide was the molecule of the year a few years ago. This is not the laughing gas that the dentist gives you; that’s nitrous oxide. Nitric oxide is an extremely important molecule in our body that was previously called “endothelial relaxing factor.” Endothelium is the Saran Wrap-like coating that lines the inside of every blood vessel in your body, and if you can make good levels of nitric oxide—or endothelial relaxing factor—then you’re going to have your blood vessels relaxed instead of constricted. And if they’re relaxed then they’re open and they let more blood go through.
The net result is that the person then has less angina, more ability to walk for miles without getting leg cramps, better vision, and better memory. So throughout the whole body we assist everything when we use chelation therapy. But the way in which EDTA affects nitric oxide is only a tiny piece of the whole story because we all have too much lead in our body. There is no escape. You can’t move to the Arctic or the Antarctic. It’s everywhere, and when it’s in our bodies it is adversely effecting the tissue that the lead accumulates in. So we can state unequivocally that if your heart has too much lead in it then even the pumping function of your heart will be effected.
In fact, there’s a disease called idiopathic dilated hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle is enlarged. When the tissue is analyzed it can have as much as a ten thousand-fold increase in the levels of mercury, lead, or cadmium. So now things are starting to come together. Thirty-five years ago no one dreamed that we would actually have levels of toxic metals like lead cadmium, lead and mercury in the actual muscle of the heart. Now we know that the blood flow throughout your whole body—through your capillaries, arteries and veins—is also effected by the level of lead.
When lead levels go up our body is unable to convert a certain amino acid into nitric oxide. When we eat a good meal we get an amino acid called arginine. In a healthy body—one that isn’t lead toxic—that arginine can be converted into nitric oxide, which would then mean that all the blood vessels would be open and the person would have less angina. This effect is almost like that of a drug that we used for many years called nitroglycerin. A person could put nitroglycerin under their tongue and it would stop their chest from being locked in pain by relaxing vessels and letting things work. So chelation is absolutely mandatory for cardiovascular health.
And that’s keeping the story simple. My work in chelation has gone to the more complex part of it, which is the blood-clotting part of the story. The blood-clotting part of the story comes into play when we realize that almost one out of two people in America still die of heart attacks and strokes. The experts pretty much agree that well over eighty percent of heart attacks today are, in the final analysis, truly due to a blood clot. This has caused a lot of people to get excited about trying to take aspirin—which we find largely worthless, and in fact dangerous. Aspirin is vastly oversold for its capabilities and it gives people a false sense of security. People think that if they’re taking an aspirin that they are going to have less clots whereas thirty percent of people have no benefit whatsoever in terms of blood-clotting from aspirin. And if they did get any benefit it would only be in the area of what we would call platelet aggregation—which is a tiny piece of the blood-clotting story—and not in the coagulation area. So when we get excited about EDTA chelation therapy this is because it works as a synergist with other things in our body.
Most people are vaguely aware that if you have a big blood clot that doctors can use Heparin to treat it. Heparin is a natural part of our body’s blood-clotting control system and is used to prevent clots. Unfortunately, we normally don’t have enough Heparin—the natural anti-clotting, anticoagulant factor present in our bodies—to handle the acute situation when a heart attack is evolving. This is why people have been trained to rush to the hospital these days to get a Heparin-like treatment known as a “tissue plasmagin activator,” which can dissolve a clot. But we prefer to prevent the clot. For preventing blood clots we have found, miraculously, that if we use a particular form of carrageenin in the presence of EDTA, then synergistically it permits these molecules in our diet to work as a true anti-clotting substance.
Otherwise many people are forced to take a very dangerous drug because they have heart arrhythmias or other cardiovascular conditions. We selected this form of carrageenin after spending almost ten million dollars researching this. EDTA can actually work synergistically with various food molecules—such as certain kinds of seaweed substances called mucopolysaccharides, like those we would find in red algae called carrageenin—to help prevent blood clots. carrageenins are mucopolysaccharides. “Poly” means “multiple” and “saccharide” means “sugar.” EDTA and mucopolysaccharides—such as carrageenin from red algae—actually offer dramatic protection from blood clots.
It took over twenty years to get the correct formula, which came out of the ten million dollars worth of research done by Lester Morrison when he was the head of the Institute for Arteriosclerosis Research at La Malinda. Morrison wrote three books on this subject, explaining the dramatic benefits. However, in his research he had only looked at it from the viewpoint of a food supplement, or a mucopolysaccharide from red algae, and he was having to take a large quantity—almost a third of a glass of this fiber-like carrageenin material in order to get all of the benefits. When we found that EDTA made this work far more efficiently we were able to get it down to some convenient capsules. One simply takes three capsules twice a day. And that is actually the history of Essential Daily Defense, a small part of how the oral chelation story came to be.
Q: How does EDTA effect nitric oxide levels in the body?
Dr. Gordon: The mechanism by which EDTA effects nitric oxide levels works like this. It has to do with the levels of lead that accumulate in all of our tissues and everyone today is toxic with lead. Clair Paterson, from the California Institute of Technology, carefully drilled down into the ice cores of the Arctic and Antarctic to find out when we poisoned our nest. In other words, when did we poison the Earth with lead and other toxic compounds? In order to find that out Paterson had to drill down into the ice. While conducting this study he found out that human beings are so filthy with lead today that he had to put his researchers in space suits so that they wouldn’t contaminate the ice core samples! This is because one drop of sweat, a drop from a nasal secretion, a flake of dead skin, or a piece of hair, is so filled with lead that it wrecks his experiments.
If you look at the Periodic Table of chemical elements you will see that the atomic structure of lead and zinc are very closely related to each other. Then, when you realize how much lead we have in our bodies you begin to see the problem. You see, as we raise the levels of lead we are actually plugging lead into those key enzymes functions in our body that zinc normally would have fulfilled. Some of those enzymes are called nitric oxide synthases. That’s multiple because there are several forms of these. Nitric oxide synthases are the key enzymes that are responsible for helping our body maintain a healthy blood flow by making nitric oxide out of the arginine and related amino acids that we get in our diet.
Q: Can you talk about EDTA’s antiviral and antioxidant activity?
Dr. Gordon: EDTA is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals. The Dow Chemical Company has a huge center on EDTA. They have many different forms of EDTA and they explain a lot about it in their carefully worded documents. They add EDTA to a number of food products. They buy EDTA by the railroad car because the FDA allows them to make the clear-cut statement that EDTA binds to transition metals—such as copper and iron—in any food stuff, as well as these other undesirable metals that we can not avoid.
Every blade of grass and every plant—even those plants growing at a ten thousand foot elevation today—is loaded with lead, mercury, and cadmium from the fallout of the particulate matter. It’s in the air that we breath and it goes directly into our bodies. We find that the radio isotopes from China are actually present in the birds on Mount Washington in America at a ten thousand foot elevation. We can find this in the birds because it’s their diet. It’s coating all the foodstuff that everybody eats. So as we begin to realize that all these heavy metals are impossible to avoid. Then we can start to see how it became essential to have a way to fight back and EDTA is the best way that I’ve been able to find.
EDTA is so safe that you would almost have to drown somebody in it in order to adversely effect them. What’s interesting is that Procter & Gamble was looking at topically applied chelators to the skin. They developed one and found that the animals that used it were living twenty percent longer. Now that’s important because it suggests that if you’re a researcher, and you have an animal eating what you think is a healthy diet, and if you merely chelate that animal by topically applying a chelator to the skin you can stop free radicals.
Now metals are in everybody. They’re everywhere. So what does Dow allow you to say? It says that if you bring EDTA into the equation you tie up these transition metals. Now transition metals are metals that have more than one valiance state. They can be a plus 2 or a plus 3, but all metals catalyze free radicals. So if you really want a powerful antioxidant, then EDTA would truly be the strongest of them all because it has the ability to tie up every metal. If you’re a scientist doing research you have to learn how to get all of the trace elements out of any solution, and even the cleanest water you can buy still has some lead in it until its gone through really rigorous purification measures to be ultra-clean.
Ultra-clean water can cost hundreds of dollars per liter. So it’s kind of interesting that the antioxidant effect of EDTA is directly due to the fact that free metals cause free radicals. EDTA will tie up the metals in solution so that they’re no longer free. Remember, I’m using the metaphor of hiding the tablet in the middle of the hamburger that I give to the dog. If you look at it technically, at the atomic level, an atom of lead, copper, or iron is surrounded by what is known as a “hexidentate configuration.” This is also the configuration of the EDTA molecule and the way that all of the molecules of EDTA line up. So the concept of EDTA being an antioxidant is beyond any question.
The antiviral activity of EDTA, however, is less well documented. But this concept is important because we’re learning that heart disease has little to do with cholesterol (like everybody is being told because it sells lots of Lipitor® and other drugs), and much more to do with inflammation. Inflammation is due to many things. But one of the things that it is clearly due to is our low level of chronic infections due to the total burden of pathogens in our body. This includes chlamydia, Epstein-Barr, herpes, mycoplasma incognito, SB-40, and the list goes on and on. No one today is free of these infections. The book Plague Time by Paul Ewald—a professor of theoretical medicine at Amherst and a frequent consultant to PBS—documents the fact that doctors do not even diagnose the chlamydia in everybody today because you can’t cure it.
If I give you an antibiotic this will lower the pathogen levels, but when I stop giving you the antibiotic, they come back because we are all living under unhealthy conditions. So our body is unable to remain free of pathogens. You could take an antibiotic continuously, but of course it will have side-effects. If they keep you on an antibiotic for nine months you will lower some of the body’s total burden of bacterial pathogens, but, of course, everybody knows viruses are smarter than bacteria.
Now antiviral activity is a low-level property of EDTA, and it is not the first substance you think of when you when want to lower somebody’s burden of herpes, Epstein-Barr, or some of the retro-viruses that are in every person adequately tested today. But it costs around $5000 to give even a semblance of adequate testing to determine the pathogen levels in people that want to be tested for all these infections. It costs a fortune to monitor a person’s body to find out which ones are present and at what level of activity. But antiviral and antioxidant activity are some of the dramatic benefits that EDTA offers.
Q: Can you talk about the difference between calcium EDTA and other forms of EDTA?
Dr. Gordon: Yes. With all of the research out there, there will be people that will be more interested in the sodium EDTA. I emphasized the use of sodium EDTA when I coauthored the book The Chelation Answer with Morton Walker because, as an expert in aging, I’ve been very sensitive to the fact that we appear to be killed by calcium. That sounds like a strong statement with people being told to take calcium, but those of us who are in the know will tell you, without question, the way to kill any nerve cell is to put it in a solution of glutamate and calcium.
Glutamate is a very important part of things that go on in our body, and one is unable to entirely avoid glutamate because it is a part of our diet. Doctors even prescribe it because it helps to heal the stomach. Foods from parmesan cheese to tomatoes and peas all wind up producing glutamate in your body. Unfortunately, the glutamate is what we say sets the gun, and when you add calcium it pulls the trigger. It takes the two of them—the glutamate and calcium—to kill nerve cells. Everybody kind of understands that the older they get the weaker their bones are and they become more and more demineralized. Yet any doctor doing radiology will tell you that the older the person is the easier it is to see the calcium accumulation on the person’s blood vessels. In some people you can see the blood vessels even without putting dye inside the body because there’s so much calcium lining their arteries.
What is average? At age eighty you will have on your aorta—the main blood vessel coming out of your heart—one hundred and forty times more calcium than it had age ten. So, in a sense, it almost becomes like a piece of PVC pipe. When you do an autopsy you actually have to have shears to cut through and remove the heart from the dead person because the aorta is such a rigid pipe. I have spent my life teaching what things like boron, exercise, magnesium, and adequate levels of vitamin K-2 and vitamin D do. That’s all covered on my Web site under the word “calcification” or “calcinosis” or “pathologic calcification.” So, it would sound then as though nobody would ever want to use calcium EDTA if calcium is such a bad guy.
But we get to some other issues here. We use the sodium EDTA because if you look at the ascending order for which particular atoms EDTA likes to bind to—which is well-proven in analytical chemistry—you see that there are certain ones that it likes more than others. EDTA is a weak chelator for things like calcium and magnesium, and it is a powerful chelator for things like lead, mercury, cadmium, and chromium. By this we mean, how strong or weak is the affinity between the EDTA and these various substances? We used sodium EDTA, and we put it in people’s veins because we knew that it loved calcium enough that it would make the calcium in your body relatively scarce during the time we gave you a sodium chelation I.V. treatment.
In other words, if I bubbled it into your arm through an I.V. tube—giving it drip drip drip over a four hour period—during that time the calcium in your blood stream would go down to half normal levels. This might scare some doctors. They would say, my goodness, your going to kill this patient if he or she doesn’t have any calcium. You do need calcium in the blood in order to enable a muscle to contract, so obviously by lowering it that much the body says wow, this is pretty hard and pretty scary. The body then reacts by tripling the output of a gland called the parathyroid, which puts out a little parathyroid hormone. This then causes the body to put calcium back into the solution, making it available to then replace the calcium that I have temporarily tied up with the EDTA.
So this means that the EDTA has temporarily got a new partner and they’re dancing through the blood vessels. However, this is not a partner that the EDTA wants to have for life, because EDTA really would prefer to find lead for a lifetime partner. Other metals, like zinc, it just likes a lot. So because people have these hard rigid arteries that are lined with calcium we realized that if we could put some of that calcium back into the solution then sodium EDTA was a good choice. However, sodium EDTA did not go in the arm painlessly. It actually causes some aching, some pain, and a little spasm of the vessels. So it can sometimes be difficult to sit in a chair for four hours.
Now that would be okay if you could really have everyone reliably do that. Every person would have a huge benefit. If you could make all the plaque in people’s arteries go away then they won’t ever need bypass surgery. But they need to be sitting in the chair for four hours, thirty times, fifty times, or a hundred times. Many patients have needed a hundred chelations. Intravenous chelation therapy is very safe. In the over ten million people treated with intravenous chelation there haven’t been any deaths. So it wasn’t a bad deal, but you have to measure that against the following facts. We did see an improvement in blood flow in eighty-six percent of the patients treated. They could walk further, go up hills or more flights of stairs, and have less leg cramps and chest pain. They developed better vision and lots of other dramatic things happened.
We treated ten million people. After enough time went by we became aware that although we had improved blood flow, we hadn’t really gotten all the junk out of the artery. So then we had to sit back and say, wait a minute. The person is getting a dramatic benefit. He thinks I’m a genius. But in some cases we actually witnessed that the blockage in the artery had increased. In some cases it had been at sixty percent when we started treatment and was now up to a seventy percent blockage. You sit there and say, wait a minute, how can that be? My arteries are actually more blocked but I’m now able to jog again. I can play golf again. I can run up stairs again. What’s going on?
Obviously, it gets really complicated inside the human body. A lot of the blood vessels are what we call collatoral, and they are very tiny, like capillaries. They can not be seen on an arteriogram. So what really happens in the body needs sophisticated testing, not the outdated arteriogram on people that have been cut open. Every year we cut open half a million people doing some kind of surgery based on a totally misleading test called an angiogram, which only looks at the highway and doesn’t look at the detour sites around a blocked artery. A detour site would be like if you went through the farmer’s field. It’s a dirt road, but it gets around the obstruction and everybody gets to St. Louis on time. Then you didn’t need to have such a big fuss about the obstruction. So in order to find that, you need a PET scan.
A PET scan is expensive, and it’s not widely available, so people continue to be operated on for non-urgent reasons. This is because what they can see on the arteries is never actually what’s going to kill them. In fact, it’s so sad. The plaque that kills you doesn’t show up in the angiogram because it’s in the wall of the vessel. But that’s another topic. That’s under the topic “vulnerable plaque.” The patients that were getting the sodium EDTA could lower the pathologic calcium in their blood vessels but we didn’t get rid of all the plaque. So then we had to sit there and say, what is going on?
Finally, after thirty years of banging our heads against the wall, we began to realize that lead has more of a toxic effect on the body than we had ever dreamed. When we started we knew that any form of chelation—calcium EDTA, sodium EDTA, magnesium EDTA, all of these—would grab lead, but, at the time, we never really believed that lead, mercury, and cadmium were such a big problem for human beings. So we ignored the obvious. Then we finally realized, hey wait a minute, if we use the calcium EDTA then it’s entirely painless. We can give the treatment in three or four minutes and you’re out of the office and back to work. So it doesn’t cost you four hours of your productive income, and you’re not paying the doctor a huge sum of money to have to be observed by competent people while an I.V. is running in your arm.
So it was win-win. What happened is we became aware that because the EDTA was painlessly administered, we could get it in fast enough to get it up to a higher level of concentration. The sodium EDTA was so painful that you had to administer it very slow—drip drip drip. But the calcium EDTA, because it goes in so much more rapidly, was actually more like a deep wax simonize than a wash job. If you administer the sodium EDTA you were helping everybody, but weren’t getting a deep cleansing of the lead, mercury, and cadmium.
Then we begin to wake up to the fact that clearing the body of the heavy metals themselves was the primary reason that people could now run up the stairs, because of nitric oxide and things related to that. Also, EDTA improves blood viscosity, or the thickness of the blood. If your blood is thick like honey you can’t walk up and down steps. If it’s thin like wine you can you walk up and down just fine. But those are all different topics. All these different forms of EDTA confuse people. I have finally gotten people to wake up to the fact that calcium EDTA works at least as well as the sodium EDTA. That was a shock because ten million people sat in the chair as I did for four hours, taking up a lot of valuable time with an aching arm. Now, worldwide, more and more doctors are switching to calcium EDTA. Calcium EDTA, by the way, is added by the ton to our food, but it’s only added in enough quantities to protect the food from spoiling.
Now I’ve raised the level so that we take it in supplements and get enough—not only to protect the garlic and the other things that are in the supplements from ever turning bad—but also enough to protect the human body. So just like Dow is legally allowed to tell people that you add their EDTA to foodstuff to prevent spoiling, I tell every one of my patients that I don’t want them to spoil on me either. Everybody knows that we have all kinds substances that have been used in an effort to prevent spoilage, but most people never think about their body spoiling. There is this process called lipid peroxidation—when fats turn rancid—and everybody may have heard by now that if fat is rancid it can kill your dog if you give it to him. So you don’t keep things around that are rancid.
What I’m trying to teach people is that EDTA does many things, and we have to have enough in our body at all times. Just think of the intestinal tract itself. There is more bacteria in your intestine than there are cells in your body. There are a lot of biochemical reactions going on and technically some of those bacteria are responsible for converting your food into useful nutrients. For example, B-6, folic acid, and some vitamin K are not in their active form until they’re acted upon in the gut. But if you don’t tie up and protect the human body from interactions with the toxic metals that are in our water, food, and air, then you have a lot of free radicals going on in your intestines. This is why we have a needless epidemic of colon cancer.
My position is very simple. Many many people attack the use of oral chelation that utilizes any form of EDTA. They say that when you put EDTA in your veins it is a hundred percent absorbed and I can’t deny that. It clearly is, and in one four hour infusion you can get some of the same benefits you might get from a month of using the oral form of EDTA. But even if you never wanted to take the oral form of EDTA, you would be well-advised to take some every day because of the epidemic of colon cancer today. This is due to the interaction between various molecules in the intestinal track that wind up becoming what we call oxidized biosalts, which can lead to the formation of very toxic substances.
These very toxic substances wind up inside ninety-nine percent of all people in America today. When we test people’s bowel movements we find carcinogens and mutagens in their feces. These people are bathing their poor colon in substances that are so toxic that it’s a wonder that everybody doesn’t get colon cancer. By merely adding EDTA you prevent all of those lipid peroxidises and other reactions from going on because you are eliminating the metals that catalyze those bad reactions.
So I have my bias with calcium EDTA because it’s well tolerated. I’ve already said these nasty things about calcium, and how much I don’t like taking tons of calcium supplements every day because it’s not the answer that everybody’s being told it is. If you look at Chinese peasants they have strong bones at age ninety, and they have a total daily intake of calcium at approximately a third what we get in our diet. So people are not in need of calcium, but they’re being lied to for complex reasons, and it’s a great business. The calcium EDTA that I’ve chosen to use in both the I.V. and oral forms is there for a specific purpose to do a specific job. In the form of the I.V. it’s because it’s painless, allowing me to get a high enough concentration to really do a deep cleansing and move a lot of lead out of the person’s body in a short time. This makes it more economical and cost effective.
In the oral form, amazingly enough, I’m still getting a win-win because every human being in America does have to take some calcium supplementation, even though I don’t like it, because we have so much phosphorus in our diet—from soft drinks and the high ingestion of meat. So when you look at my work on pathologic calcification as a cause of aging you will see that I tell people that they don’t need that much calcium. When you look at the heath-assessment nutrition evaluation by the United States government and the NIH, and if you read all their papers, you’ll see that the average person gets 1300 milligrams of phosphorus and about 800 milligrams of calcium per day.
So I have to give you about four or five hundred milligrams of calcium a day. In my oral form of chelation you’re only getting roughly sixty, seventy, or eighty milligrams of calcium, so it’s not going to perturb the balance in the wrong way. I’m bringing in the EDTA that I do need in a form that is able to move lead out of people’s body. And the amount of lead that comes out has been researched by Los Alamos Research Laboratory, and even they scratch their heads and say, wait a minute, how does this work out?
With I.V. chelation a hundred percent of the EDTA is absorbed and with oral chelation only five to eighteen percent of the EDTA is absorbed. But, in fact, it was the oral form of chelation that actually got Los Alamos concerned. They said look, if this stuff is only five to eighteen percent absorbed, how come the children that we give it to have so much lead coming out of their body?
A lot of people laugh at you and think you’re stupid for using calcium EDTA orally. Don’t you know that it’s only five to eighteen percent absorbed? What we’re suggesting is that by having the non-absorbed calcium EDTA, maybe not only am I protecting myself against colon cancer, but maybe by having it in my intestines at all times it’s acting almost as a magnet, a sponge, or an ionic exchange resin, binding to some of the lead, mercury, and cadmium that is in my blood at all times. Remember my blood is washing through all those little tiny blood vessels, bathing my intestinal tract in that side of the thin vessel, the capillary. There is the bad lead and inside of my intestine there’s that nice high safe concentration of EDTA.
When we do a fecal analysis of heavy metals on our autistic children we find out that feces may be one of the major ways that we’re getting heavy metals out of people. Of course, we also have all the children, and all the adults who are willing, bathe regularly in EDTA, because the skin is another route of excretion. If you sat in a sauna and you collected your sweat you would see that your sweat is another major route of getting the mercury and lead out of your body.
So the forms of EDTA that are out there each have their own place, and there is nothing wrong with somebody being an advocate of something like magnesium EDTA. But the problem is that it’s not widely available commercially, and I do not trust the sources of supply for those things. So I do not get involved with the companies that have chosen to sell magnesium EDTA because they are not on the same safe ground as they would be with the calcium EDTA. By using calcium EDTA with Lester Morrison’s formula with the mucopolysaccharide—which allows people to go twenty years without a fatal heart attack—makes me so confident today that I cancel bypass surgery on anybody who calls me.
I don’t care if they’re eighty to ninety percent obstructed, or if they’re a world famous television personality. I simply say, well, if your time comes then your time has come, but it’s been twenty years and so far we don’t ever see anybody dropping dead of a heart attack who’s using the total program that I call oral chelation. This involves omega-3 fatty acid, garlic, primrose, and lots of things beyond EDTA—but in a symphony. I would never administer this program to any body without EDTA being a key part of the symphony.
Q: How has EDTA been shown to stimulate mitochondrial activity?
Dr. Gordon: I’ve cogitated that for a long time. It was my eighth chelation treatment when, for the first time in my life, I was able to run up a two thousand foot elevation. That would be approximately three and half miles up a steep road, and I didn’t even start to tire at the top of it, while a two year old Irish Setter had its tongue hanging down to the ground. The chelation treatments turned me into Superman. So how could that happen after just the eighth treatment?
In those days—thirty-four or thirty-five years ago—I was dumb enough to think that maybe I’d found the cardiovascular equivalent of Drano and that the chelation treatments were dissolving arterial blockages. I knew that by the age of twenty-one all of the young men killed in Korea and Vietnam always had lots of arteriosclerosis. So I just assumed that because I’d had disabling angina by the age of twenty-nine that maybe I had found a Roto- Rooter® that cleaned all my vessels. I didn’t really think about the mitochondria at that time. Then I started working with company called Wakunaga in Japan, and they had a form of oral chelation using some garlic substances. We started to look at mitochondrial function because they wound up giving large doses of this oral chelation formula to their handball team and they became the top handball team, in Japan.
It became clear that there was a tremendous increase in energy. Then when you start talking to people who do nothing but study mitochondrial function, they’ll tell you that heavy metals tend to congregate at the outer membrane level of the mitochondria and they’re significantly impeding the ability for you to make the currency of energy which is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). So if we begin to study that function it becomes very clear that any time you can remove that lead you’ll experience dramatic benefits, and you don’t have to get it all out of your body. This is the most incredible thing about this whole conversation.
Let’s look at the work by Harid Hardy at Mass. General, published in one of the journals of occupational medicine twenty-five or thirty years ago. She was astonished by the recovery of a patient who had come to see her. He had been a painter and he had what we call “Alner Nerve Dropping.” This means that a nerve had died in his arm and part of his arm was useless. It had been that way for around five or ten years. She put him on chelation and in less then two months this whole nerve function in his arm came back.
What we’ve had to learn since then is that it takes fifteen years to remove all of the lead from an adult’s bones. It takes children around five to seven years to do this using chelation therapy. So obviously, the chelation she gave the patient could not have started to have removed all the lead, because, after all, you are born with a significant level of lead. This is because, as a rapidly growing tissue inside of a mother’s body, the mother’s body assumes you are a waste basket. So the mother’s body takes the lead and mercury out of her system and dumps it into the baby. This is why six hundred thousand children a year are born with mercury toxicity in the United States, according to the EPA.
So lead poisoning is in everybody. Now, if we look at it then, how in the world can all that mitochondrial function and energy happen? Well, some people have a defect in their enzyme functioning which we call COMT. If you have a gene for metyltranferase that’s negative negative (–) then you don’t get rid of these heavy metals at all. So these people still function, but they’re all able to function far better with chelation.
Then you have the inner current poisoning that goes on. My father was an orthopedic physician and surgeon and he was lied to by three different dentists. Each one who saw me said that the last guy put in all my mercury fillings wrong. Then they would drill them all out and put in all new mercury fillings. In other words, it was called a sucker game and they just about killed me. After the third dentist I had narcolepsy, hypoglycemia, and I was so sick that I could hardly function. I had acute mercury toxicity from going way beyond genes into actual things that had been put into my body. And if you look at that it would only make sense then to have a dramatic reversal.
This, by the way, is the toughest part of this oral chelation story. The Dow documents show exactly how many atoms of mercury or lead can be handled by how much EDTA. It is astonishing and it’s a subject of major controversy worldwide. It shows that lead and mercury are the two most effective substances to be tied by EDTA. Now what does “tied up” mean? It means it’s bound. Being bound is essentially, for all practical purposes, like being in a shell game. It’s out of sight and out of mind, out of harm’s way. Even though it hasn’t yet taken the lead or mercury out of your body, by tying it up the mercury can no longer interfere with the production of glutathione in your body, among the thousands of things that it does.
So we just need to realize that the ability to get a chelating agent to nullify the toxic effect of these heavy metals is sufficient in and of itself, but it’s very confusing to the poor patients, because we have patients who continue to die after seeing an average chelation doctor. We have patients die because doctors really are confused. They say, well, we gave you thirty treatments. When you came here you couldn’t walk ten feet and now you’re able to jog five miles, so we must have helped. We’ll see you around. They don’t realize that as soon they stop the treatments they have not cured the patient. If the patient took those treatments over the course of a year then the patient has only gotten rid of one fifteenth of the total lead from his body, which, in the long run, is not a big enough bang to have a long-term benefit—even though he now feels great because you’ve essentially neutralized the enemy.
But the enemy is hiding, waiting to come out again as soon as they stop the chelating. This is why it’s so sad. I have very bright doctors who are helping a lot of people with intravenous chelation that feel fantastically improved—but they don’t understand two things. They feel improved, but they didn’t get the cleaning of their arteries that they had hoped to get.
We’ve treated ten million people. Because arteriosclerosis is in and of itself a disease that is not always static, and is remodeling itself constantly, you have more at some times and a little less at other times. Out of all those we have some people that look like we dramatically cleaned their arteries but that’s not the average story. If we look at the average story we realize that people are getting this increase in energy at the mitochondrial level, so the guy now has the energy to run up and down the steps because he increased his mitochondrial efficiency.
Let’s look at what we call the “ejection fraction,” that is—how strong can your heart contract? When I have a heart that really squeezes down tight, that’s ideal and sixty, seventy, eighty percent of the blood that’s in the heart is ejected. But when it’s flabby and you’re ready to die then it’s down to around a thirty percent ejection, meaning it’s hardly pushing any blood out. We have dramatic pictures of people whose hearts were filling their whole lung cavity. They were living on oxygen machines and we got them all breathing again. We turned many people around, and improved their ejection fractions, but we have to be careful to realize that just because we turned them around doesn’t mean that we cleared their arteries.
In his book The Sinatra Solution, Steve Sinatra—who doesn’t even use chelation—says that he’s routinely canceling heart transplants. I have been able to cancel every heart transplant, because I use all the things that Steve talks about—the carnitine, the alpha lipoic acid, and the ribose—in addition to chelation. The ribose, the magnesium, and the coenzyme Q-10 are important. Ribose is a big story. It is a five carbon sugar. Normally we’re against sugar, but here’s a sugar that takes no effort for the body to convert into the currency of energy called ATP.
So that’s another arrow in our quiver which allows us to treat sicker and sicker people faster and faster by adding these additional things I just rattled off for the treatment of heart disease. It’s important to realize that mitochondrial function is critical. In addition to EDTA, there are many things—from carnitine to coenzyme Q-10—that are going to enhance mitochondrial function. But clearly it helps if you can get some of the heavy metals tied up so they’re no longer effectively preventing ATP production. Again, when we think of it, always think of the simplest example. Lead competes in the body with zinc, and zinc is a catalyst to many enzymes. Whenever you have an enzyme that is not operating efficiently you have a less than efficient, production of biochemical reactions and the person is not operating optimally.
Q: I’m curious about how chelation therapy effects the brain. How has EDTA been shown to help improve memory, enhance concentration, and act as an antidepressant?
Dr. Gordon: Let’s start by looking at the work on people who have been poisoned and all the literature on lead workers. There was a time that was very simple. The highest rate of suicide was among dentists. This was because dentists all worked with mercury. They were never warned about the danger of mercury. Lead poisoning was also called “Mad Hatter Syndrome” because it was recognized as a disease peculiar to the hat making industry in the 1800s. Hat makers used a mercury solution during the process of turning fur into felt which caused the hatters to breathe in the fumes of this highly toxic metal and this caused mental illness. This is because lead, mercury, and cadmium all have unique areas in the brain that they target and they knock out certain neurotransmitters. The production of dopamine, serotonin, and all the other feel-good neurotransmitters are entirely dependent on efficient enzymatic activity. So any person that you take the lead out of today gives them energy and improves the biochemical mixture in their brain.
I’ve been involved in studying trace metals now for thirty-five years and our research reveals that we can always find aluminum, cadmium, mercury, and lead in the plaque that is part of Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, etc. So as we start to put all these pieces together, we see that all of these toxins have an effect on biochemical levels and that is always going to have a psychiatric equivalent as well as an energy equivalent. In this discussion I’ve focused on the energy equivalent—because, obviously, if your heart is beating strong and you can go climb up steps that is a useful thing. But your brain has also got to process information efficiently, and it is not doing that when the enzymes that are critical in the brain for neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline are knocked out and not operating efficiently.
Q: Why does EDTA remove important metals and minerals from the body, such as zinc, and why is it essential to take a multi-mineral while on an EDTA program?
Dr. Gordon: EDTA is not smart enough to be able to go in the body and say, oh I’m just going to take you out and I don’t take you out. So EDTA will cause as much as a hundredfold increase in the excretion of zinc. As doctors, we have felt that it is certainly necessary to replace that zinc, especially because so many people obtain only a marginal intake of zinc from their diet to begin with. So EDTA has always got the theoretical risk that you could become zinc or copper deficient. But what’s confusing about this is the following. The body has a lot of innate wisdom. If your body becomes mineral or metal deficient it seems that it is able to ramp up the efficiency with which it absorbs minerals like calcium and metals like zinc.
Some of the early doctors didn’t give their patients mineral supplements with chelation. Dr. Norman Clark at Providence Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, was really the first doctor to ever actually get involved in EDTA research and he published the first study on it, although he never bothered to give zinc to anybody. When he was ninety-one years of age, he bounced up on the lectern to address all the doctors when I invited him to speak. I had been kind of embarrassed because he was ninety-one and I thought that I was going to have to help this old guy get up on the thing because it was about a three foot jump, but he just jumped up there. So obviously he’d been taking his own chelation. And I was this young guy trying to convince him that I knew more about EDTA than him and he needs to be taking zinc. He never took zinc and he wouldn’t take a multiple.
He took the attitude that we get rid of a lot of old zinc and the body is then wise enough to bring in new zinc if you’re eating intelligently. But since the literature would make a doctor taking that attitude at great risk, and because of our own research with rat pups, we chose to always supplement with zinc and other minerals during chelation. Our studies showed that when we gave EDTA to a rat mother we could get malformations in the rat pups unless we gave zinc. So I have always advocated that we must replace zinc. But that’s not a very hard thing to do. I have been on oral chelation for over thirty years, and I have many patients who have been on it for over twenty-five years. Frankly, it is a very simple thing. In a sense, it’s almost like the old metals may have given up some of their electrons, or their usefulness, and the body is happy to see the new metals come in.
There was a time when people only went out and bought vitamins instead of vitamins with minerals. And there was a time that companies like Theragram-M with Squib cheated the public and sold them a product as magnesium supplements that on the label said epsom salts. Once you discover that epsom salts are actually magnesium sulfate you realize that it actually robs the body of magnesium. So it’s nice if you pay attention and get a really good product that somebody has paid attention to, and just because something says on the label that it has zinc, copper, or magnesium in it doesn’t mean they care about whether it really works in your body.
Q: What are some other effective chelators besides EDTA?
Dr. Gordon: The world is filled with chelators. Tetracycline, vitamin C, and lactic acid are chelators. Exercise is a chelator.
Q: Tetracycline? Do you mean the antibiotic?
Dr. Gordon: Yes, it sure is. See, that’s what is so confusing for a lot of people. We have lots of people who categorize a drug in a particular way and then people think that that’s all it does. Let’s say you’re talking about Dilantin, which is used by many people to control epilepsy. Well, what if it stops a totally different condition, like when you’re fearful of heights, agoraphobia? Then, obviously, you need to understand that it might be a basement membrane stabilizer.
So what I’m trying to drive at here is that we have some very confusing information going on because a drug that is listed as an anti-bacterial drug may also be a chelator. So we have people really confused in this medical world. Some people assume that if a drug they took was helpful in controlling seizures, and you got better, that you must have had some kind of an undiagnosed seizure disorder. So it always turns out that everything works on many levels and antibiotics are chelators.
But let’s try to remember that it would take fifteen years of consistent, without fail, chelating to remove all the toxic heavy metals from someone’s body. One needs to be pushing the lead, mercury, copper, and cadmium out of their body—excreting it through the feces, the sweat, and the urine—for fifteen years. I don’t want people to assume that tetracycline would be a great answer, but it’s important to understand that one of the ways that many antibiotics work is through chelation.
So let’s go to the top of the page again. Apple acid or malic acid is a great chelator. Garlic is a great chelator. In fact, these are the ones that I use. I make a joke of it and tell everybody that I’m just your friendly farmer. I have everybody taking my better grown EDTA. I have everybody on apple acid, because it is needed for everything that we do, and I have everybody on garlic. So you begin to get the idea that I really believe these are great foods.
Garlic is a really great chelator. But when the head of a company in Japan wanted to find a place to grow garlic I had to admit to him that any garlic that you raise in the central valley of California—if it’s within a quarter mile of the freeway—is going to be contaminated with lead because all freeways throw trash into the surrounding dirt.
In New Zealand, it is so dangerous to have your cow eat the grass that’s next to the road that your cow will get lead poisoning. This is because New Zealand doesn’t have the newer methods of refineries that we have that are relatively low lead. They have high-lead refineries and all the gas is loaded with lead. So any car going down the street is passing lead out from the exhaust and cadmium out from the wearing of tires. This is why if you use chelation, it’s really nice to have people test what they sell you. We measure the level of lead, arsenic, mercury, etc. in every product that we are involved in because so much of our agriculture is contaminated. A single cabbage that is grown just a hundred yards from a freeway in California can contain a thousand times the safe level of cadmium as a result of being next to a freeway.
Q: Can you talk about about the TACT study that NIH is funding?
Dr. Gordon: The big study that’s going on now is the Trial to Access Chelation Therapy—otherwise known as the TACT study—and it’s being funded to the tune of twenty-nine million dollars. Currently, it’s less than halfway through its five year study. The study is merely to test one thing—will people who use some chelation with an oral vitamin and mineral supplement during those five years have less heart attacks, or less of need for surgery, than the people who got a placebo? That is the question that the Trial to Access Chelation Therapy put up.
This study is not near and dear to me because it’s using the old outdated sodium EDTA that requires four hour treatments, which nobody really has time for anymore. The study really came out of my incorrect belief thirty years ago that I found Nirvana. I thought I had found the magic bullet to clean everybody’s arteries and we now know that we don’t have it. So, since I’m really much more focuse
d on the long-term implications today, I’m sorry to see us waste our money on a study that only does a few chelations and then follows subjects for a few years.
It will probably come out as a slight benefit but no where near the kind of benefit that one is able to achieve if people are put on to the oral chelation after the I.V.s. I have nothing against I.V. I love I.V. chelation. It’s always going to be good. Asking if I was against I.V. chelation would be like asking would I be against simonizing my car? I’m never against a deep cleansing. But the problem is that I need to wash my car every day for the next fifty years in addition to the simonizing. So that’s the problem. We’ve got the simonizing and the washing confused. So we have some people saying, oh I took the I.V.s and that’s all I need. Well, that’s not all they need and that’s why I tell everyone to use the oral EDTA as well.