Medical News Today: What is a heavy metal detox?

For people with heavy metal poisoning, a heavy metal detox may be essential to prevent life threatening complications. Doctors may use certain drugs, such as penicillamine or dimercaprol, that bind to metals and carry them out of the body.

For people with low but regular exposure to heavy metals, which can build up in the body, a heavy metal detox may help prevent a variety of chronic conditions. According to some research, heavy metal detoxing may help prevent kidney, cardiovascular, and neurological conditions.

Some healthcare professionals suggest chelation therapy as a treatment option for various health conditions, which the sections below will discuss in more detail.

Cardiovascular disease

Some healthcare professionals propose chelation therapy as a treatment for cardiovascular disease.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a large-scale study of 1,708 people found a modest reduction in cardiovascular events after chelation therapy compared with a placebo. However, this was only the case for people with diabetes.

The NCCIH also suggest that it may be better to follow a heart-healthy diet and make the necessary lifestyle changes to address heart conditions, rather than risking the potentially dangerous side effects of chelation therapy, which may provide no benefits at all.

Alzheimer’s disease

Some researchers believe that there is a link between high levels of heavy metals and Alzheimer’s disease.

There has been a lot of preclinical in vitro and in vivo research that shows the relationship between metals such as copper, zinc, and iron and the onset and progression of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Metals are critically involved in the cellular processes that mediate neuronal and brain health.

Specifically, one article suggests that a therapeutic strategy aimed at targeting brain metals is theoretically well-grounded and justified. However, scientists require further evidence to support this. Research has shown no definitive metal-targeted pathway, such as strict chelation, to be effective or optimal in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.


Some practitioners suggest chelation therapy as a treatment option for autism. This is linked with suggestions that thimerosal in childhood vaccinations was causing autism due to mercury toxicity. Thimerosal is a preservative containing mercury present in certain childhood vaccinations.

The National Capital Poison Center state that there is no scientific evidence to support any link between thimerosal — or any childhood vaccination — and autism.

Read more about the facts and myths of vaccinations here.

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