“I need your advice. I had an angiogram and I have 3 plugged arteries. The doctor at Stanford hospital said the dye they use in heart surgery may damage my kidneys to a point where I might need dialysis from then on. I am hoping you have a suggestion to clean out my arteries without surgery and kidney damage.”

Peter K.
Manteca, CA

Dear Peter,

You might want to look into chelation therapy. While it is widely used to remove heavy metals from the body, it has recently been successfully used as a non-surgical treatment for clearing the arteries.

Chelation (from the Greek word “chele,” which means “to claw”) uses a chemical reagent – ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA), tetrathiomolybdate (TTM), DMSA (succimer), penicillamine, metallothionein (MT), and others – to grab onto a mineral and cause the body to excrete it in the urine. And there are several theories on how it works to clear the arteries.

One theory is that chelation directly removes calcium found in fatty plaques that block the arteries, causing the plaques to break up. Another theory is that it may stimulate the release of a hormone that, in turn, causes calcium to be removed from the plaques or causes a lowering of cholesterol levels. A third theory is that chelation therapy may work by reducing the damaging effects of oxygen ions (oxidative stress) on the walls of the blood vessels. Reducing oxidative stress could reduce inflammation in the arteries and improve blood vessel function.

Chelation has been found to be a safe, effective alternative to coronary bypass surgery or balloon angioplasty. The average cost is about $100-$125/treatment, with 20 to 30 treatments normally prescribed. It is typically not covered by insurance (which means $2,000-$4,000 out of pocket), but is far less costly or invasive than bypass surgery.

The Integrative Medicine Group at Stanford may be able to help you find a physician in your area offering chelation therapy. Also, you may be interested to know that a clinical trial is being run by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The “Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy” will involve more than 2,000 patients at more than 120 locations (including Stanford). You may be eligible. Find it online at clinicaltrials.gov. Frequently asked questions can be found at nccam.nih.gov/health/chelation.

Remember, chelation is not a cure-all. Like surgery and drugs, it doesn’t treat the underlying cause of the problem. That’s why it is essential to embark upon a full-spectrum wellness program that includes healthy dietary changes and exercise. I’m not a physician, so make sure you check with your primary care physician about all your options.

– Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet – a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. As a young adult, Kelley battled a debilitating health condition that went misdiagnosed by multiple doctors for more than a year. Finding no help from “modern medicine”, she turned to her own knowledge of biochemistry and her passion for health research. She soon learned that her symptoms were related to nutrition and within weeks, she charted a course back to health with nothing more than simple lifestyle changes and the power of the plate. The lessons she learned spawned the creation of Healing Gourmet. Kelley is a firm believer in vigorous exercise, moderate sun exposure and delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet’s Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility.