Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

Archive for January, 2006

What is Chelation Therapy?

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

What Is Chelation?
History
The word Chelation is derived from the Greek work “chelos” which translates as “claw” and refers to the ability of Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA) to grab unto heavy metals and toxic chemicals for transportation out of the body.
A half-century of research in structural chemistry focusing on the ability of some amino acids to form constant stable bonds with metal ions preceded the rapid development in the 1930’s and 1940’s of a new range of compounds initially applied to industrial and then to medical uses. One of the industrial uses was preventing calcium in hard water from causing staining or other problems in textile printing. EDTA was developed and patented for this purpose.
In the early 1940’s it was discovered through research that EDTA was a highly effective antidote to heavy metal toxicity, especially lead poisoning. Further studies at Georgetown University by Dr. Martin Rubin revealed that EDTA had an effect of lowering of serum calcium levels in humans.
In the 1950’s, the use of EDTA for lead toxicity in clinical trials had surprisingly effective results. To this day, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still recommends EDTA as the ideal treatment for lead toxicity and for hypercalcemia (excess calcium). It was a coincidental finding in the 1950’s when it was observed that persons who had lead toxicity and blockages in their arteries often not only experienced marked improvement in their symptoms of lead poisoning, but also in their circulation.
Since these pioneering days, the protocols for the use of EDTA for both hardening of the arteries and heavy metal toxicity have improved. In the clinical experience of GSMC physicians, benefits including improved functioning have been observed for angina, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, intermittent claudication, diabetes, gangrene, digitalis (Lanoxin) toxicity, abnormal clotting tendencies, and scleroderma.

Modern Day Use of EDTA
EDTA Chelation Therapy today consists of the intravenous infusion of EDTA with other nutritional additives including Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium etc., administered under the supervision of a trained physician over a three-hour period of time.
A course of Chelation Therapy could range from twenty treatments for prevention to in excess of forty treatments for severe and complex disease. Your physician will recommend a course of treatment customized for one’s individual circumstances. Remember it takes years to develop artery disease, and it is a serious medical condition. To reverse, stop or even slow down this disease process within the span of 30-40 Chelation Therapy treatments is an remarkable goal.

EDTA Chelation Therapy is considered by informed physicians who utilize it to be an effective first step alternative to surgical treatment for atherosclerotic vascular disease in individuals who have been deemed to be appropriate candidates. The physicians at GSMC readily refer patients for Coronary Artery Bypass, stent placement, and angioplasty if indicated, always weighing respective risks and benefits and the appropriateness of each potential therapy for each particular situation.

BENEFITS
One of the benefits of EDTA Chelation Therapy is its ability to simultaneously treat all the arteries in the body, unlike surgical bypass that may remedy just a few inches of blockage that exists in a circulatory system that contains 40,000 miles of blood vessels. Vascular disease is a systemic illness, and as all physicians recognize, a complex illness with varied contributors and causes.
Virtually everyone in our post-industrial society carries some toxic metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and aluminum. The important causative roles these toxins have in human health have become better understood in recent years. Some of those best-known roles are: lead toxicity in neurological disorders and learning disabilities of children, excess iron (known as hemachromatosis) and vascular disease, and the suspected relationship between Alzheimer’s and aluminum.
In our experience, Chelation Therapy lowers heart disease risk by addressing the toxic effects of iron stores in the body, and helps prevent excessive clotting tendencies, thereby increasing longevity through prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
In our experience, when Chelation Therapy is used as part of a comprehensive program including nutritional supplementation, diet, exercise, stress reduction, lifestyle modification and smoking cessation, most of our patients experience a significant return of function and an overall improved sense of well-being. One should not expect to simply sit for a three hour IV each week and not change any risk factors that contributed to their health problems in the first place and still experience benefits. The person being treated has an active role to play in determining outcome of treatment.

Safety
Since its inception in 1979, the physicians at Great Smokies Medical Center (GSMC) have administered over 100,000 Chelation Therapy treatments. All GSMC physicians follow the American Board of Chelation Therapy (ABCT) protocol for the safe administration of EDTA. All GSMC physicians either are Board Certified in Chelation Therapy by the ABCT or are pursuing Board Certification, and are members of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), a not-for-profit organization of physicians who explore scientifically based innovative therapies.
There has never been a fatality reported from the use of EDTA when the prescribing physician follows the ABCT protocol. By comparison, for every 10,000 cardiac bypass patients, approximately 300 will die from the operation and approximately 1,000 other patients will suffer serious consequences such as a heart attack or stroke.
Our extensive experience with EDTA Chelation Therapy has made it routine for GSMC physicians to identify two health problems that need to be addressed prior to the start of treatment.
* Kidney disease: EDTA is excreted from the body via the kidneys, so your GSMC physician will assess your kidney function both before and periodically during your course of chelation therapy. In our experience, patients with mild to moderately impaired kidney function often experience improved kidney function resulting from improved circulation to the kidneys.
* Congestive Heart Failure: If you have congestive heart failure, your GSMC physician will adjust your program accordingly, by simply using less IV fluid to deliver your dose of EDTA. Most people with congestive heart failure can take chelation therapy without any difficulty.
While the beauty of EDTA is its relative safety and simple chemistry, it does have some side effects that our trained staff can prevent or identify early:
* While usually a comfortable therapy to receive, occasionally mild to moderate discomfort at the site of infusion in the arm may occur and be remedied by minor adjustments including using a heating pad or repositioning the IV.
* Since it is possible for anyone to have an adverse reaction to any substance, it may happen that one or more of the additives in the Chelation IV bottle may cause an adverse reaction. Omitting suspect additives from subsequent IV’s remedies this situation.
* Lowering of blood sugar (a benefit for diabetics) is a side effect of Chelation Therapy that is easily remedied by eating before and during a chelation treatment.
Who can benefit from chelation therapy:
In our experience, the following medical problems have been shown to benefit from Chelation Therapy
* Angina, history of a heart attack, or coronary artery disease
* A history of bypass surgery or angioplasty
* Stroke, TIAs, carotid artery disease
* Diabetes and its circulatory complications of ulcers and gangrene
* Intermittent claudication
* Scleroderma
* Lead toxicity
* High blood pressure
* Arthritis
Recommended reading:
Bypassing Bypass:
The New Technique of Chelation Therapy, Elmer Cranton, M.D., Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., April 1994.
Forty Something Forever:
A Consumer’s Guide to Chelation Therapy, Harold and Arline Brecher, Virginia, Health Savers Press, Herndon, 1992.
Professional Organizations:
American College for the Advancement of Medicine
23121 Verdugo Drive, Suite 204
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Phone: 800-532-3688
www.acam.org

Fragrances: Feel the Romance

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

While some natural ingredients in the perfume industry cost up to $40,000 per pound, their synthetic alternatives can cost less than $10 per pound, explaining why 95 percent of perfume ingredients are synthetic chemicals. You won’t find them listed on the label either, as there can be more than 500 ingredients in one formulation that are deemed to be “trade secrets.” These chemical brews are added to shampoos, soap, detergents, and many other personal and household products, perpetuating health risks from multiple daily exposures.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognizes more than 800 chemicals in fragrances that are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, muscle and joint pain, rapid heart beat, depression, asthma, and widespread chemical sensitivities. If just one of these chemicals was intentionally sprayed on a fellow citizen, a visit from the HazMat team and assault charges could result. Yet these chemicals are part and parcel of everyday life, leaving some people sick . . . sick and clueless to the cause of their many symptoms.
Some of the not-so-romantic sounding ingredients in perfumes are: musk ambrette (causes degeneration of the nerve’s protective myelin sheath), benxophenones (can cause hives), linalool (causes poor coordination, depression and respiratory problems), and methyl ethyl ketone (can induce stupor, liver congestion, and numbness of extremities).

Maybe that dizzy-headed feeling you’ve been having isn’t really love after all.

People having “mysterious” symptoms can do a one month trial of avoidance of fragrances and products that contain them to determine the role, if any, that chemicals in fragrances play in contributing to their health problems. The answer may often be apparent only when fragrances are re-introduced at the end of the period of avoidance.

GSMC recommends that all public facilities such as hospitals, clinics and schools strive to provide fragrance-free environments that do not interfere with health or the ability to learn.

Chlorination of Municipal Water

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

In the U. S., public water supplies were first chlorinated in 1908. Since then, federal regulations have resulted in the chlorination of nearly all of America’s municipal water. Chemical additives can be added to hide chlorine’s odor. Chlorine is an industrial waste product that is added to water supplies to kill dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. Chlorine does not kill parasites and it has known adverse effects on human health. Both equipment and human errors routinely result in chlorine levels exceeding those allowed by the EPA.

Chlorination destroys vitamin E and contributes to hardening of the arteries, skin rashes, and headaches. It irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs, and interferes with the beneficial roles of cholesterol. In addition, it kills beneficial organisms (lactobacillus, etc.) in the digestive tract, thereby harming immune function and accelerates aging. Chlorine combines with organic matter present in water to result in the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs, including chloroform) that contribute to the incidence of cancer (particularly bladder and rectal cancers) and the risk of miscarriage.

Swimming in, showering in, and drinking chlorinated water all result in significant chlorine exposure. Sucralose (Splenda) is chlorinated sugar.

Ozone and hydrogen peroxide treatment of water are safer and less costly alternatives to chlorination.
Water testing performed by county health departments for the potability of water checks only for the presence of bacterial contamination and not for toxins. GSMC provides kits on request for testing a comprehensive panel of toxins, minerals, and bacteria.

This information is extracted, in part, from the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, an alternative medical publication: http://www.tldp.com.

Better Living Through Chemistry?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Picture this Ozzie and Harriet moment. A woman sporting a newly permed and sprayed hair-do and a freshly ironed frock is happily creating clouds of air freshener in her home to take care of those, well, little embarrassing odors. She pauses to gaze fondly through the window at her husband, who is doing his manly job of applying herbicides to some pesky dandelions. He notices his adoring wife and stops long enough to smile lovingly and wave. In the distance, the stacks of a coal-fired power plant rise majestically above the horizon. Life is good.

Or not. Scientific evidence now tells us that all is not well in our modern chemical paradise.

In July 2005, the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) released results of a study of umbilical cord blood collected by the Red Cross from 10 randomly selected babies born in August and September 2004 in U. S. cities. Of 413 chemicals tested, the lab detected 287 in the blood samples. Each infant’s blood had between 159 and 234 chemicals. Of the chemicals found, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animals.

Although the chemicals have long, complicated names like polyaromatic hydrocarbons and polybrominated dibenzodioxins, we all know them better as common household and industrial toxins: plastics, pesticides, solvents, methyl mercury, flame retardants, and numerous toxins that form when trash is burned. Many of the detected chemicals have been determined by the EPA to cause cancer, birth defects, thyroid disease, infertility, neurological problems, kidney damage, liver damage, and disrupted hormonal function. Chemicals interfere with health by either blocking or stimulating bio-chemical processes. For example, pesticides (in addition to interfering with nerve transmission) have been dubbed "birth control for men" because of their ability to feminize men by reducing sperm counts and decreasing the number of male births —all through disruption of endocrine function. Adverse health effects can occur at concentrations of 25 parts per trillion when vinyl chloride (plastics) or chlorine-treated paper is burned, forming the very toxic chemical compound dioxin.
The EWG cord blood study is concerning not only because of infants’ inability to detoxify chemicals and their long life expectancy that allows years of opportunity for health problems to manifest, but also because it is a sobering statement about the current toxic state of planet Earth.

If we start life with this toxic burden, how toxic must we be as adults after a lifetime of exposure? It is no wonder that our children are suffering from learning and developmental abnormalities, while the incidence of chronic degenerative diseases is affecting the quality of life of more and more adults.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell released a report in September 2005 that links dozens of environmental and occupational exposures to nearly 30 types of cancer. The report reveals that many cancer cases and deaths from cancer are caused by involuntary (background) exposures. These include: bladder cancer from the primary solvent used in dry cleaning, breast cancer from endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol-A (a byproduct of plastics), lung cancer from residential exposure to radon, non-Hodgkin¹s lymphoma from solvent and herbicide exposure, and childhood leukemia from pesticides.

Coal-fired energy plants are the single largest contributor of mercury released into the air. Ninety-eight percent of our nation’s energy-related production of methyl mercury, a known neurotoxin and contributor to common childhood behavioral disorders, comes from coal-fired energy plants, as does 96 percent of sulfur dioxide, 88 percent of carbon dioxide, and 93 percent of nitrous oxide. If you are on the electric power grid in the United States, you are likely reliant on coal burning, an industry that results in ecologically harmful soot, smog, global warming, and acid rain. Heart attacks, asthma, emphysema, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and developmental delays of children are the price paid for using aging coal burning facilities that are far more polluting than their newer counterparts. Airborne mercury from coal-fired energy plants that isn’t inhaled ends up falling on soil and bodies of water, polluting crops and, especially, fish (which bio-accumulate mercury prior to their being consumed as food). Mercury is the toxin responsible for 70 percent of all fish consumption advisories.
The use of solvents (e.g., toluene, acetone, isopropyl alcohol) in dry cleaning, nail salons, medical labs, and in garages and homes across America results in reduced or abnormal ability to smell, neurological symptoms, mucus membrane irritation, memory loss, and lowered IQ.

You don’t need to ingest or inhale a chemical for it to be absorbed and impact your health. The skin, our largest organ, is very efficient at absorbing toxins on contact.

The glues, paints, vinyl, plastics, and fabrics in new cars emit chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can trigger headaches, sore throats, nausea, and drowsiness. Older cars emit lower levels of chemicals but should be checked for mold that can produce mycotoxins, gaseous toxins that can profoundly disrupt immune function.

Petrochemicals used as fuels, in paints, and in cleaning products cause numerous health problems involving the digestive tract, skin, brain, and lungs.

You may hope that you can retreat to the safety of your home to escape this chemical soup. Unfortunately, energy efficient building techniques result in poor ventilation (fewer air exchanges per hour), in effect concentrating the chemicals found in buildings. Products used in decorating, furnishing, cleaning, and personal care also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Many homes, new and old alike, have structural problems that trap moisture, fostering toxic mold growth.

More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been invented since WWII, and their ability to disrupt biochemistry in all living things often surpasses the ability of any organism to adapt to them. Exposure to occupational, environmental, and household chemicals is and will continue to be a significant determinant of health risks. Though the adverse health effects from environmental chemical exposures, though immediately apparent to sensitized individuals, are just as often not obvious to the exposed person and may become apparent only after years or even decades of exposure.

You can learn about chemical pollutants in your area by entering your zip code at: www.scorecard.org.

The next issue of Health Matters will discuss strategies for staying healthy in the midst of a complex chemical environment.

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