Oral EDTA - A Food Additive with Many Remarkable Properties
intravenous EDTA chelation therapy was discussed. This issue continues with a
discussion of EDTA's protective and enhancing effects as a food additive on
foods and food supplements, as well as some clinically tested uses of oral
The Food and Drug
Administration has approved the synthetic amino acid, ethylene diamine
tetraacetic acid (EDTA), as a pharmaceutical agent for the treatment of lead
and other heavy metal poisoning or exposure. In older literature, the FDA also
approved intravenous EDTA treatment as "possibly effective in occlusive
vascular disorders ... arrhythmias and atrioventricular induction defects ...
and in the treatment of pathologic conditions to which calcium tissue deposits
or hypercalcemia may contribute other than those listed above."1 These
"possibly effective" indications were removed from FDA-approved
literature in the late 1970's for reasons known only to the FDA. Fortunately,
physicians are not limited solely to FDA-approved indications and may
prescribe approved drugs for whatever "unapproved" conditions they
find them to be effective. Consequently, since EDTA is approved for the
treatment of heavy metal poisoning (especially lead), many physicians continue
to use pharmaceutical EDTA with great benefit in many diseases and conditions
other than their officially approved uses. There are two medical associations
whose physician members are trained in the administration of EDTA for the
treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis and other chronic degenerative
diseases. These organizations are the American College for
Advancement in Medicine (800-532-3688) and the Great Lakes Association of
Clinical Medicine (800-286-6013). Members of these organizations and their
patients find that EDTA chelation therapy is highly effective as an
alternative or addition to more traditional / widely accepted approaches such
as angioplasty or bypass surgery.
Beneficial Uses of Oral EDTA
in Cardiovascular Disease
In addition to the controversial but widespread recognition of EDTA's
intravenous benefits, is its less well-known clinical uses when administered
orally. Early clinical studies with EDTA reported loss of fat in rats,
reduction of cholesterol in rabbits, and reduced blood pressure in humans.
Consequently, a study of the effects of oral EDTA on patients with
atherosclerosis and/or hypertension was conducted on 10 patients. Four of
these patients had hypertension, four had angina pectoris, one had peripheral
vascular disease (intermittent claudication), and one was recovering from a
heart attack. All were treated with 1 gm of oral EDTA daily for 3 months.
Seven of the ten patients experienced significant reductions in their
cholesterol levels, and blood pressure was reduced in all ten. The most marked
change occurred in the patient with intermittent claudication, whose
cholesterol dropped from 278 mg per 100 ml to 128! This patient also reported
improved exercise tolerance, and the researchers found improved pulsations in
the extremities. The four patients with angina pectoris also all reported
In another series of 20
patients who suffered from hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, angina or
peripheral vascular disease, one gram of EDTA was administered orally every
day for 3 months. During that short time, elevated cholesterol levels in nine
of the patients dropped to within the normal range. No adverse results were
experienced by any of the patients. Angina attacks were reduced in frequency
and severity in five individuals. One person who previously had suffered a
heart attack and experienced several angina attacks daily thereafter, obtained
In another study, two patients
with extremely elevated cholesterol were treated with oral EDTA. One patient
took EDTA in progressively increasing doses ranging from 500 mg to 4 gm daily
for one year, and the other took 1,000 mg daily for three years (Fig 1). Although
the first patient suffered a heart attack after three years of therapy, she
recovered uneventfully, and had reduced angina pains and improved sense of
well-being with continued use of EDTA. The second patient - in addition to
hypercholesterolemia - had a condition known as xanthomatosis (yellowish
papules in the skin, related to elevated blood lipids). She not only
experienced dramatic reductions in her cholesterol levels with oral EDTA
treatment, but her skin lesions completely resolved.4 Other laboratory studies
(including kidney and liver function) remained normal throughout the study for
both patients. This is further confirmation of the safety of oral EDTA,
considering that doses as high as 4 gm daily were consumed.
Further support of the anti-atherosclerotic
effects of oral EDTA are provided by Italian researchers who found that two
grams of oral EDTA daily were effective in reducing blood cholesterol.5
Scientists at Wayne State University quantified reversal in atherosclerotic
plaque in rabbits that were treated with daily subcu-taneous EDTA injections.6
EDTA's Multiple Uses as a
In addition to its remarkable pharmaceutical uses, the FDA has also approved
EDTA as a food additive that is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). EDTA's
array of biochemical properties make it extremely valuable as a food additive.
It has the ability to: (1) bind with many metals; (2) act synergistically with
other antioxidants to stabilize fats and oils; (3) prevent discoloration of
potato products; (4) stabilize vitamins; (5) prevent discoloration of fish and
shellfish; (6) prevent flavor changes in milk; (7) inhibit the thickening of
stored condensed milk; (8) enhance the foaming properties of reconstituted
skim milk; (9) prevent color changes of scrambled eggs prepared from egg
powder; (10) preserve canned legumes; (11) prevent gushing in beer; (12)
promote flavor retention and delay loss of carbonation in soft drinks; (13)
prevent oxidation of meat products; and (14) prevent discoloration of canned
fruits and vegetables.7, 8 In fact, EDTA's use in foods is so widespread that
its presence in bloody evidence even created questions during the O.J. Simpson
trial as to its source-i.e., from food or from blood previously drawn as
evidence - since EDTA is also used as an anticoagulant in blood used for
Absorption of Oral EDTA
1954, Dr. Harry Foreman and his colleagues performed a landmark study to
determine how much orally administered EDTA the body absorbs.9 The scientists
found that the body absorbs a maximum of 5 per cent of orally consumed EDTA
(Fig. 2) and that it can take up to three days for the EDTA to be totally
excreted. If someone consumed nutritional supplements that contained 800 mg of
EDTA (used as a stabilizer of the ingredients in the supplement), then we can
assume from Dr. Foreman's research that about 40 mg will be absorbed each day
and that 1,200 mg will be absorbed each month. That equates to almost the same
amount of EDTA administered in one intravenous chelation treatment using the
low-dose optimum protocol of Drs. Born and Geurkink10 that was described in
last month's Nutritional News.
Consequently, those unable to
obtain intravenous chelation therapy due to financial, occupational,
geographical or other restraints, or who wish to undergo a less-intensive
preventive approach may be able to obtain many of the same benefits of
intravenous chelation therapy by consuming food-additive EDTA that is used as
a stabilizer in food supplements. Because of concern that long-term use of
EDTA might result in depletion of certain elements, Drs. Ira Manville and
Robin Moser recommended that a potent vitamin and mineral formula be
administered during treatment with EDTA.11 (This should be taken with meals
and not with the EDTA formula.) Dr. Garry Gordon agrees and also recommends
that because EDTA binds to nutritional as well as to unwanted metallic
elements, it is most effective when taken on an empty stomach.12 (1 hr before
or 2-3 hours after a meal.) WD
source of nutrients and supplements.
did we qualify them ?
disodium edetate and disodium edetate. Federal Register, Volume 35,
No. 8, Tuesday, January 13, 1970, 585-587.
H. Mitchell, Schroeder, Henry A. Depression of cholesterol levels in
human plasma following ethylenediamine tetracetate and hydralazine. J
Chronic Diseases, 1955, 2: 5, 520-532.
Henry A. A practical method for the reduction of plasma cholesterol in
man. J Chronic Diseases, 1956, 4: 461-468.
Jr., and Camel, G., Some effects of CaNa2EDTA on plasma cholesterol
and urinary zinc in man, in: Metal Binding in Medicine, by Marvin J.
Seven and L. Audrey Johnson (eds), 1960, J.B. Lippincott Company,
B., Bisetti, A., and Romeo, V. Blood-cholesterol-lowering action of
the sodium salt of calciumethylenediaminotetraacetic acid. Gazz Intern
Med e Chir, 1957. 62: 1812-1823.
A., Lampe, T.L., McCann, D.S., and Boyle, A.J. Plaque reversal with
MgEDTA in experimental atherosclerosis: Elastin and collagen
metabolism. J Atherosclerosis Res, 1967, 7: 331-341.
H.L., and Butt, F.J. Maintaining food quality with chelating agents.
Annals New York Academy of Sciences, 1960, 526-531.
T. EDTA in Foods-A Technical Review. Food Technology, 1964, 18: 12,
H., Trujillo, T. The metabolism of C14 labeled ethylenediaminetetra-acetic
acid in human beings. J Lab Clin Med, 1954, 43: 566-571.
G.R., and Geurkink, T.L. Improved peripheral vascular function with
low dose intravenous ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA).
Townsend Letter for Doctors. July, 1994, # 132, 722-726.
I., and Moser, R. Recent developments in the care of workers exposed
to lead. AMA Arch Indust Health, 1955, 12: 528-538.
G. Oral Chelation with EDTA. J Holistic Medicine, 1986, 8: 1 & 2,
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