Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chelation Therapy for Alzheimer Disease


Whether or not Alzheimer disease is triggered by the presence of heavy metals in the body is the subject of much debate. The usual metal suspect is aluminum, although mercury and manganese have also been implicated. Amid this debate, practitioners of chelation therapy have reported that their patients who are in the early stages of the disease have found relief from their symptoms after these metals are removed from the body.

To treat Alzheimer disease, chelation therapy involves intravenous injections of disodium ethylenediaminetetraaceticethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) -- an amino acid that binds to metallic ions in the body and renders them chemically inactive. These joined-together substances are then excreted by the kidneys in the urine. Clinical studies have shown that this process also improves the flow of blood in the brain.

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The treatments are often combined with a supplemental regimen of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements to replace any lost during the chelation process. Reported side effects have included nausea and vomiting and, if high doses of a chelating agent are used in the therapy, some damage to the kidneys.

Early History

The term chelate, from the Greek chele for claw, refers to the "claw-like" structure of the organic chemical ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), first synthesized in Germany in the 1930s. With this claw, EDTA binds di- and trivalent metallic ions to form a stable ring structure. EDTA is water-soluble and chelates only metallic ions that are dissolved in water. At pH 7.4 (the normal pH of blood) the strength with which EDTA binds dissolved metals, in decreasing order, is: iron+++ (ferric ion), mercury++, copper++, aluminum+++, nickel++, lead++, cobalt++, zinc++, iron++ (ferrous ion), cadmium++, manganese++, magnesium++, and calcium++.

Mercury, lead, and cadmium cannot be metabolized by the body and, if accumulated, can cause toxic effects by interfering with various physiological functions. These substances are called "heavy metals," a term applied to metallic elements whose specific gravity is about 5.0 or greater, especially those that are poisonous. Except for aluminum, the other elements listed in the previous paragraph are essential nutrients that are needed for normal metabolic activity.

After EDTA was found effective in chelating and removing toxic metals from the blood, some scientists postulated that hardened arteries could be softened if the calcium in their walls was removed. The first indication that EDTA treatment might benefit patients with atherosclerosis came from Clarke, Clarke, and Mosher, who, in 1956, reported that patients with occlusive peripheral vascular disease said they felt better after treatment with EDTA.

In 1960, Meltzer et al., who had studied ten patients with angina pectoris, reported that there was no objective evidence of improvement in any of them that could be ascribed to the course of EDTA chelation treatment. However, during the next two months, most of the patients began reporting unusual improvement in their symptoms. Prompted by these results, Kitchell et al. studied the effects of chelation on 28 additional patients and reappraised the course of the ten patients used in the original trial. They found that although 25 of the 38 patients had exhibited improved anginal patterns and half had shown improvement in electrocardiographic patterns several months after the treatment had begun, these effects were not lasting. At the time of the report, 12 of the 38 had died and only 15 reported feeling better. (This "improvement" was not significant, however, because it was no better than would be expected with proven methods and because there was no control group for comparison.) Kitchell et al. concluded that EDTA chelation, as used in this study, was "not a useful clinical tool in the treatment of coronary disease."

The "Approved" Protocol

The primary organization promoting chelation therapy is the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), which was founded in 1973 as the American Academy for Medical Preventics. Since its inception, ACAM's focus has been the promotion of chelation therapy. The group conducts courses, sponsors the American Journal of Advancement in Medicine, and administers a "board certification" program that is not recognized by the scientific community. ACAM's online directory lists about 850 members, about 550 of whom indicate that they practice chelation therapy.

In 1989, an ACAM protocol for "the safe and effective administration of EDTA chelation therapy" was included in Cranton's "textbook," a 420-page special issue of the journal that contains 28 articles and a foreword by Linus Pauling. The protocol calls for intravenous infusion of 500 to 1,000 ml of a solution containing 50 mg of disodium EDTA per kilogram of body weight, plus heparin, magnesium chloride, a local anesthetic (to prevent pain at the infusion site), several B-vitamins, and 4 to 20 grams of vitamin C. This solution is infused slowly over 3.5 to 4 hours, one to three times a week. The initial recommendation is about 30 such treatments, with the possibility of additional ones later. Additional vitamins, minerals, and other substances—prescribed orally—"vary according to preferences of both patients and physicians." Lifestyle modification, which includes stress reduction, caffeine avoidance, alcohol limitation, smoking cessation, exercise, and nutritional counseling, is encouraged as part of the complete therapeutic program. The number of treatments to achieve "optimal therapeutic benefit" for patients with symptomatic disease is said to range from 20 ("minimum"), 30 (usually needed), or 40 ("not uncommon" before benefit is reported") to as many as 100 or more over a period of several years. "Full benefit does not normally occur for up to 3 months after a series is completed," the protocol states—and "follow-up treatments may be given once or twice monthly for long-term maintenance, to sustain improvement and to prevent recurrence of symptoms." The cost, typically $75 to $125 per treatment, is not covered by most insurance companies. Some chelationists, in an attempt to secure coverage for their patients, misstate on their insurance claims that they are treating heavy-metal poisoning.

In 1997, ACAM issued a revised protocol describing the same procedures but adding circumstances (contraindications) under which chelation should not be performed. As in 1989, the document gives no criteria for determining: (1) who should be treated, (2) how much treatment should be given, or (3) how to tell whether the treatment is working.

Toxic Metals and Alzheimer’s Disease

There are six toxic metals which might cause Alzheimer's disease: aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, iron and manganese. While as stated earlier, this influence is not considered proven, there are substantial facts that accumulation of these toxic metals in the body might trigger the undesirable effects, associated with AD and some other health issues.

ALUMINUM is the most commonly found metal in the brains of Alzheimer patients. It has a specific affinity for the brain, specifically the tangled brain cells that characterize the disease. Aluminum pots and pans, aluminum foil, and soda and beer cans are all sources of excessive aluminum ingestion, especially when they are in contact with vinegar, and acidic fruits and juices including tomatoes. Check the ingredients when you buy products. Cheese products, baking powder, free flowing table salt, pizza, and non-dairy creamers often contain aluminum additives, all approved by the FDA. Hair spray, deodorant, douches, lipstick and other cosmetics, toothpaste, etc. contain aluminum compounds. Antacids, buffered aspirin, arthritis formulas and antidiarrheal drugs contain aluminum. Aluminosilicates are found in talcum powder, asbestos, cat litter and cigarette smoke. More about aluminum link to Alzheimer’s disease.

MERCURY amalgams in your teeth predispose you to Alzheimer's disease. You might think about getting rid of your dental amalgams. More about mercury link to Azheimer’s risk.

LEAD contaminates the land near foundries, gas stations and highways. It is present in drinking water in homes fitted with old plumbing and new dripless faucets made of alloys containing lead. It is present in insecticides, private wells, certain plastics and lead crystal. It is present in old paints, enamels and glazes made before it was banned in the early 1970s.

CADMIUM like mercury is toxic to all body systems. Cadmium poisoning can result from cigarette smoking. Cadmium is found in fungicides, pesticides, superphosphate fertilizers, paint pigments, polyvinyl plastics, silver polish, soft water, evaporated milk, oysters and seafood, etc. Cadmium toxicity is neutralized by zinc.

IRON excess causes a delay in the transmission of the various neurotransmitting agents in the brain that send thought processes. I would suggest that you not take any nutritional supplements containing iron especially if you take more than 20 mg. of iron per day. If you have to take iron because of anemia or some other problem, then you should take zinc to neutralize the iron.

MANGANESE When manganese is present in the brain, it causes antisocial behavior. Violent criminals who commit rape and murder and armed robbery were examined in California, and it was found that these violent criminals had about seven times more manganese in their brain tissues than the townspeople around the prisons. So if you want to avoid antisocial behavior, you should try to avoid manganese in your body. A five mg. intake of manganese is all right, but 20 mg. is dangerous. So look at your nutritional supplements and make sure you are not taking too much manganese.

Chelation Danger

Due to the questionnal and controversial outcomes, chelation therapy has not been widely accepted by the doctors, treating Alzheimer’s so far. However, there are warning signs, based on the other diseases treatment, that chelation therapy can cause multiple side effects, and even can be deadly to you.

There have been cases of fatalities due to EDTA chelation done by infusion. A drug that is sometimes used to treat lead poisoning — and is also believed by some parents to be effective against autism — caused the deaths of two children in 2005. One youngster was autistic; the other had lead poisoning. The deaths mark the first documented link between a chelation drug and cardiac arrest in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both children were treated with a product called Endrate. CDC officials are also looking into the 2003 death of a 53-year-old woman in Oregon who was given chelation therapy by a practitioner of natural medicine. The maker of Endrate is Hospira Inc. Endrate is approved for treating certain heart rhythm disturbances and high concentrations of calcium triggered by a bone cancer. Since at least 1978, federal health officials have warned against giving it to children with lead poisoning. Endrate’s calcium-removing abilities can dangerously disrupt the body’s chemistry. In August, 2005, a 5-year-old boy with autism died in Portersville, Pa., while receiving an infusion of Endrate in a physician’s office. A coroner later ruled that the treatment killed the boy. In February 2005, a 2-year-old girl with lead poisoning was treated with three chelating agents — one of them Endrate — and died at a hospital hours later from what an autopsy concluded was cardiac arrest due to depleted levels of calcium.

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