Chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun) therapy is treatment for removing heavy metals (including mercury) from the blood. It involves intravenous infusion of a chelating agent, EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid), a synthetic amino acid. EDTA attaches to heavy metals and minerals in the blood so that they can be excreted in the urine. Another intravenous agent used by some physicians for mercury detoxification is called DMPS (2,3-Dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid).
First developed and used in the 1950s for the treatment of heavy metal poisoning, chelation therapy using EDTA is now performed to remove common heavy metals, including lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum and calcium.
A National Health Interview Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 111,000 adults 18 years or older had used chelation therapy as a form of complementary medicine between the years 2006–2007.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of chelation therapy with EDTA for treating lead poisoning.