An Interview With Dr. Garry Gordon
Dr. Kennedy: Please give us a brief, concise description of oral chelation.
Dr. Gordon: Oral Chelation is the binding of a metal ion by an organic (that is, carbon based) molecule. In the instance of oral chelation, the organic molecule is enters the body by mouth rather than intravenously which is the other common method of delivery. Oral chelation is a rather confusing and unfortunately widely abused term. it does not replace intravenous chelation for heart disease and anti-aging, nevertheless it has its correct uses in medicine. In nature there are many oral chelators.
Scientist who study chelation, also known as co-ordination chemistry, know that life can not go on without metal binding, i.e. chelation. The strength of attraction between a metal ion and a negatively charged anion can be measured and these values are known as “stability constants.”
These values have been calculated for thousands of substances, because so many molecules may act as chelators, but for the sake of brevity, I will take a very simple example, let us begin by understanding that all weak organic acids are well recognized chelators, including ascorbic acid (vitamin C), acetic acid, (vinegar) lactic acid (which the body produces with exercise), and malic acid (apple acid), to name a few. (For further information on molecules that act as chelators, please see “Stability Constants Supplement No.1” Special Publication 25- The Chemical Society-London SBN 85186 019 2 1971 and “Stability Constants of Metal ion Complexes- Chemical Society Publ.. #17 – 1964.)
The field of chelation is still so relatively new, that when the proceedings of the 1959 conference organized by Dr Marvin Seven was later published by J.B. Lippincott under the title “Metal Binding in Medicine” he noted that only 10 years had passed since interest in metal binding agents in medicine had first started. An interesting comment by Dr. Seven is that a “jump in the evolutionary process occurred when…EDTA….passed into the hands of clinicians…”. This conference was truly historic, because the broad applicability many different chelating agents in so many areas of medical practice was enthusiastically covered by leading scientists from some of America’s most prestigious centers of the time. Unfortunately Dr Seven dies shortly thereafter leaving the field without his energy and drive, so that chelation has still not reached its ultimate level of widespread recognition and utilization today.
I also find the textbook “An Introduction to Bio-Inorganic Chemistry” edited by David R. William’s of Scotland, published in 1976 by Charles C. Thomas to provide an excellent foundation for those more serious students of chelation who need to understand how vital this knowledge has become and the broad applicability of this knowledge in helping physicians deal with the epidemic of degenerative diseases in the seriously polluted world that we are living in today.
Today we have the ability to monitor the levels of toxic trace metals, accurately and affordably, leading to the obvious urgent need to bring all of these levels as low as reasonably possible, both affordably and safely . Since this elevated heavy metal problem involves everyone on the planet, it is becoming apparent that we should not limit the detoxifying benefits of chelation therapy to those people who have access to, and can afford, intravenous chelation.
We all need some safe and effective oral chelation everyday of our lives. Anyone who can also get to intravenous chelation therapy should also have this far more dramatic, more concentrated form of chelation therapy. I believe it is especially valuable for its age reversal potential.
Oral chelation, in its current stage of development, can not compare to the dramatic anti-aging benefits routinely seen with intravenous chelation therapy, but with what we now know about the need for long-term anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory therapy to prevent heart attacks, I believe well formulated comprehensive cardiovascular formulas that incorporate oral chelators should become as routine as multivitamins have become. One therapy compliments the other and neither can do everything that the other does. I find that most people clearly benefit from both oral and intravenous chelation therapy. I believe there are dramatic anti-aging effects resulting from the more concentrated intravenous use of EDTA that nothing else now available will provide.
Penicillamine, DMPS, DMSA, are all orally effective chelators, but most chelating physicians are not aware that oral EDTA also is sufficiently absorbed to be effective, and has received FDA approval for treating asymptomatic elevations of body burden of lead.
Most physicians also are unaware that part of the activity of aspirin and tetracycline has been attributed to their chelating activities or that Hemoglobin is chelated iron. Iron in its free form it catalyzes free radicals and thus is extremely toxic. Hemoglobin thus protects us from this toxicity by chelating iron. Chlorophyll is chelated Magnesium and our body utilizes chelated Magnesium far more efficiently than free form magnesium. In fact, chelated minerals in general are far more useful to the body than free form minerals. In nature, living systems such as plants are the source of chelated minerals. Incidentally, mineral water contains free form minerals and is not a preferred source of minerals, but that is another story.
I believe that much of the current professional concern about oral chelation today centers around the fear that patients will assume that the many oral chelators they can now legally and relatively inexpensively purchase, without the benefit seeing the physician, will somehow provide them with the same dramatic benefits they have heard about with serious conditions such as heart disease. This, of course, is not true and even though many oral chelators clearly are proven to have the ability to increase the excretion of virtually every known heavy metal, nothing widely available today produces all of the benefits of intravenous chelation
Alteon Corporation’s new oral product, Alt 711 is in broad clinical testing and DOES reverse the cross linkages in blood vessels (one of the benefits of intravenous chelation). It is not doing this through chelation, but through enzymatic cleavage of the cross linkages associated with aging in tissues.
Since patients are readily learning more about oral chelators today on the Internet than most physicians know and it is important to have health professionals able to respond to their questions accurately, and not incorrectly tell them they are all worthless.
There are published reports and anecdotal stories about oral chelators improving blood flow, for instance the Russian literature reports that oral Unithol (DMPS) increased blood flow in the extremities, and there are anecdotal reports of blood flow improvements with oral EDTA.
However, the more we are learning now about the metabolic and infectious/inflammatory as well as thrombotic aspects of vascular disease, the better it is for our patients to be seen by a fully informed Health Professional, who should provide a complete evaluation, including all the proper lab tests such as Homocysteine and C-reactive protein, platelet aggregation, fibrinogen, etc. so that the patient gets the most appropriate treatment for their vascular disease.
Clearly the new developments in vascular disease regarding Chlamydia, CMV, etc. make oral or intravenous chelation rather incomplete therapy for such patients, even though it is always desirable to eliminate as much as possible all toxic heavy metals and/or bind or tie up the transition metals that catalyze free radical activities, so that other therapies can work better.
The FDA approved the use of EDTA in our foods, because EDTA binds to trace metals and thus retards the oxidative degradation of Vitamin C and other nutrients in our food.
This entire oral chelation topic is still an emerging field with lots of misinformation and much to learn. However since we have seriously polluted our earth with toxic heavy metals, which enter our bodies from water, food, and air, seriously inhibit enzyme activity.
I believe we all have to begin to study the subject seriously, since all of us now need some sort of daily protection from affordable, safe oral chelators to lower the burden of these metals in order for us to operate at our highest efficiency, and achieve our maximum useful life span.
Dr. Kennedy: Let’s take some hypothetical cases and ask your recommendations. Let us consider a 35 year old person with no known illnesses who is interested in having the maximum healthy life- span. Would you recommend such a person to have a program of oral chelation and if so, what would that plan look like?
Dr. Gordon: Women outlive men by 4-10 years, depending on which country you are looking at. This may be related to the benefit of getting rid of small amounts of Iron regularly over the years (during menstrual periods). Researchers report that an iron rich diet results in virtually twice the risk of death from an acute heart attack compared to those consuming a low iron diet. Yet many Americans today regularly consume iron containing supplements!
Some leading scientists today firmly believe that there is either an excess or a deficiency (or both!) of trace minerals involved in virtually every disease. I therefore am willing to put my efforts behind strongly helping to promote any product that will cost effectively help pull out toxic trace metals while at the same time replenishing the essential trace minerals! These are known as oral chelators and some are better than others.
Anyone, beginning in the prenatal period, benefits from lower levels of toxic metals. Aging relates to an increasing deficiency of essential trace minerals and an excessive accumulation of toxic metals.
The daily supplement of the future should be an affordable, synergistically formulated, iron free multivitamin-mineral, herbal, essential fatty acid, amino acid, mucopolysaccaride and must incorporate several different orally effective chelators, since no one chelator can handle all of the toxic metals we absorb daily from our water, food and air.
Dr. Kennedy: Now, let’s say that same person is 50 years old, still no illness, tests show a clear vascular system. Is your recommendation any different?
Dr. Gordon: If this is a person interested in maximum healthy life span, in addition to the program I outline above, I would advise this person to have some of the newer tests for judging the health of the vascular system in order to decrease the possibility of heart attack and stroke. Vascular disease kills 50% of our population. These tests include C-reactive protein, platelet aggregation, fibrinogen and possibly titers for CMV (cytomegalic inclusion virus) and chlamydia. The need for long-term anti-inflammatory protection is clear in helping to prevent stroke, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is a gradual accretion of calcium in the arteries of everyone, and at age 80 the average vascular wall calcium concentration is 140 times more than at age 10. The new high speed CAT scan of the coronaries shows that the vascular system at age 50 is not as clear as we would like to believe it could be, regardless of what diet one is on. Yet the most important threat is called “vulnerable plaque” and this can now be seen with a new special MRI technique. Vulnerable plaque is anatomically unstable, able to detach wholly or partially from the artery wall and we now believe this is the cause of most strokes and heart attacks.
It is this new information about vulnerable plaque that should cause everyone to rethink their anti heart attack strategy, and realize that we must be doing something everyday to deal with hypercoagulability and inflammation.
I recommend aggressive use of all known useful nutrients and including those that enhance the removal of toxic trace metals from the body.
Dr. Kennedy: Let’s consider a 60 year old person who has just had a diagnosis of blocked coronary artery whose doctor has recommended bypass surgery. Is there the possibility of solving this problem with oral chelation and how should that person proceed? At what point should this person choose oral chelation, intravenous chelation, or surgical intervention?
Dr. Gordon: This is the crux of the matter. If this person will not stop smoking, drinking excess alcohol, eating a junk food diet etc., then he or she should go with traditional care including drugs and surgery. On the other hand, those patients willing to make the necessary changes, almost without exception never have go on to surgery.
Depending on the results of the tests mentioned above, we may have to treat with antibiotics if Chlamydia is present. A JAMA Feb. 3, 1999 article proved that use of proper antibiotic even once in prior 3 years reduces all heart attacks by 55%.
It may be necessary to use oxidative therapies in addition, such as H2O2, ultraviolet blood irradiation, ozone, and of course if prominent calcification of vessels is present, and/or the patient desires the anti-aging benefits, I always recommend intravenous chelation with EDTA, not to prevent a heart attack but to alter the resistance to flow of blood through hardened, calcified, protein cross linked blood vessel. Interestingly Alteon Corporation has their new Alt 711 in clinical studies which delivers similar results by reversing just the cross linkages with a new oral enzyme product, but it does NOT help to remove the calcium content from the blood vessels, which clearly has life prolonging benefits!
Dr. Kennedy: Since vascular disease begins in childhood, at least for some people, should we consider oral chelation for children?
Dr. Gordon: The latest study shows that vascular disease is rampart very early in life! In Fact by age 15-19 a recent study reported in JAMA, Vol. 28, 1999, that 100% show aortic intimal lesions and 50% show right coronary artery lesions, which get worse with age!
I therefore strongly believe that a total cardiovascular support program with the essential fatty acids and oral chelators, as well as the antioxidants are extremely valuable as soon as we can start them. Children also absorb toxins such as lead far easier and faster than adults, so just to maintain optimal brain function, and decrease violent behavior etc. I believe today there is an unquestioned need for regular daily lifetime oral chelation beginning in early childhood. Researchers have concluded the only healthy level of lead in our tissues is zero! Some children obviously need this more than others, depending on their environment. The latest study on homocysteine documented that children receiving just a multiple vitamin have lower levels of homocysteine! (Elevated homocysteine is a vascular risk factor equally important to cholesterol.)
To understand the benefits of oral EDTA, just measure the urine excretion of lead before and after taking a formula with what I consider to be realistic levels of EDTA, such as 400 mg a day for children from weight 60 pounds up, and 800 or higher for anyone above 120 pounds. For maximum benefits and safety, oral EDTA must be taken in conjunction with a good vitamin mineral formula.