Chelation: Heavy Metal Detoxification

Chelation is a term that in Latin means “claw”. It refers to a chemical process where a chemical strongly attracts a mineral making a stable complex. Chelating agents assist in pulling minerals out of the body. In medicine we use chelating agents to remove toxic heavy metals from the body such as lead, mercury, cadmium and others.

Chelation can be done with intravenous or oral therapies. Several chemical agents are used to chelate heavy metals including EDTA, DMSA, DMPS. Natural agents such as chlorella, cilantro and pectin can also be used.

If you are concerned about heavy metal poisoning, a blood test for heavy metals or a urine challenge using one of the agents below can be diagnostic. These agents can be used as a treatment either orally or with an intravenous infusion.


EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid) is one of the most well know chelating agents. It removes toxic metals such as lead, mercury, and others. It had been recommended for years as an IV treatment for vascular disease. The mechanism Iis thought to remove calcium from the plaque in the arteries. In addition the removal of lead is believed to improve cardiovascular function. Lead toxicity can cause endothelial dysfunction (damage to the arterial wall) which can lead to vascular disease. Removal of lead via chelation is beneficial for neurological and cardiovascular health.

Currently a large study TACT (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) trial is going on into a second level of research after the initial study reported positive results. In the study patients were given 40 Intravenous treatments containing EDTA, vitamin C, B vitamins, electrolytes and heparin. The results reported in JAMA in 2013, showed that in stable post-MI patients on evidence-based medical therapy, the combination of oral high-dose vitamins and chelation therapy compared with double placebo reduced clinically important cardiovascular events to an extent that was both statistically significant and of potential clinical relevance. In the study diabetics who have a higher risk of vascular disease had better results. Below are a few references to the study

Lamas Am Heart J. 2014 Jul;168(1):37-44.e5.


DMPS also know as Dimival (2-3 dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid) was developed in Russia in 1958 and then in 1978 used in Germany to treat heavy metal poisoning. With more people experiencing toxicity from mercury amalgam fillings and the high amounts of mercury in fish, DMPS is a useful and effective agent in removing toxic levels of mercury. It can be delivered via an intravenous infusion or oral capsules. Since it pulls out minerals in general, the treatment is combined with either IV or oral mineral replacement. Side effects include, nausea, rash, back pain, headache, and allergic reactions . Since the chelating complexes are cleared by the kidney, normal kidney function, and adequate hydration are essential.


DMSA (2-3 dimercaptosuccinic acid) is another chelating agent know commercially as available Succimer. It is commonly used to chelate lead for the treatment of lead toxicity. It is also very effective for the removal of mercury, cadmium, uranium, thallium, and other toxic metals. DMSA removes metals via the kidneys and the bile.

DMSA is only given orally and the dosage is based on your body weight and sensitivity. It also removes minerals so replacement with normal minerals is essential.

As with any detoxification treatment, the body has to be prepared for detoxification with healthy liver, kidney function and lymphatic drainage. Please see the detoxification section for more information .


Many natural nutritional products can also help support the detoxification process. Formulas with cilantro, chlorella, citrus pectin, lipoic acid, and NAC can be used for a more gentle support of heavy metal detoxification.