Uses of this Supplement
Alzheimer's Disease
Macular Degeneration
Multiple Sclerosis
  Supplements with Similar Uses
View List by Use
  Drugs that Interact
  Supplements with Similar Side Effects
View List by Side Effect
  Supplements with Similar Warnings
View List by Warning
  Learn More About
Look Up > Supplements > Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA)
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA)
Dietary Sources
Commercial Preparations
Therapeutic Uses
Dosage Ranges and Duration of Administration
Side Effects/Toxicology


EDTA is a synthetic amino acid compound administered intravenously. This procedure, called chelation therapy, is a nonsurgical treatment for coronary artery disease and a wide variety of vascular disorders. By binding to toxic and excess metals in the bloodstream, EDTA allows for their elimination from the body through urine. Their removal, in turn, reduces the activity of damaging free radicals. It is these free radicals that create dangerous, artery-clogging plaque. The end result of chelation therapy is an improved blood supply to the legs, heart, and other organs.

More than 40 million Americans face coronary artery disease, and many of them (more than 400,000 annually) undergo coronary artery bypass surgery. Many health care professionals recognize EDTA as a preventive measure as well as an effective alternative treatment for some of these patients. EDTA administration occurs on an outpatient basis in a health care provider's office. Since hospitalization is unnecessary, chelation therapy is more comfortable, less invasive, and much less expensive than traditional bypass surgery. Administering health care providers should make themselves aware of the protocol set by the American College of Advancement of Medicine (ACAM) and the American Board of Chelation Therapy (ABCT).

Researchers developed EDTA chelation therapy as a treatment for metal toxicity, such as lead poisoning. It has also been used in response to digitalis toxicity. Again, the process is one of binding to, and thus removing, injurious metals from the body. Administration of EDTA also positively affects cerebrovascular insufficiency, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease, and it may lower cancer mortality.

Making healthful dietary changes (e.g., eating fewer saturated fats and increasing the consumption of plant foods and fiber) contributes to the success of chelation therapy. Researchers also recommend the addition of nonprescription nutritional supplements, such as an antioxidant formula and a multivitamin.

EDTA is not, at this time, approved by the FDA as an alternative to bypass surgery. It is a controversial option among health care professionals due to risk concerns. An overdose (administered too quickly or too often)of EDTA chelation therapy could, in theory, lead to kidney failure or even death. However, no such toxicity has occurred in the hundreds of thousands of cases of properly performed therapy in the past 25 years. Currently, government-authorized investigational trials are underway which are likely to confirm the safety of EDTA and lead to FDA approval.

Health care professionals also express concerns about the lack of demonstrated clinical proof of efficacy. Analysis of recent studies, however, revealed a high correlation between treatment and patient improvement. Anecdotal evidence also leans heavily in favor of EDTA.

EDTA chelation therapy is FDA-approved and available as treatment for heavy metal and digitalis toxicity.

Dietary Sources

EDTA is a synthetic amino acid and has no natural sources.


The chelating agent ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is a synthetic amino acid usually combined with vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin C and magnesium), and delivered intravenously.

Commercial Preparations

The patent on EDTA is long expired. This generic, synthetic amino acid may be manufactured and sold by any drug company under the names ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, edetic acid, tetracemic acid, and edathamil.

Therapeutic Uses

Heart disease: By binding to heavy metals, toxins, and metabolic wastes, EDTA counters free-radical damage, clears clogged arteries, and improves blood flow to the heart. Chelation therapy, then, is offered as a preventive for atherosclerosis, an alternative to heart bypass treatment, and/or a post-surgical procedure for patients with (or at risk for) cardiovascular disease.

Metal toxicity: Chelation therapy is one of the only recognized (and FDA-approved) antidotes to lead, mercury, or arsenic poisoning. Research confirms that children with lead poisoning experience healthy growth spurts after undergoing EDTA chelation therapy. EDTA is also indicated as a chelating solution to digitalis toxicity.

EDTA's metal cleansing mechanisms may have a positive effect on Alzheimer's disease, which may be worsened by aluminum in the brain. Additionally, the improved blood flow brought about by a course of intravenous EDTA can significantly improve conditions as varied as multiple sclerosis, gangrene, and macular degeneration. Chelation therapy also impedes the activity of damaging free radicals that lead to or exacerbate cancer, lupus, and arthritis.

Dosage Ranges and Duration of Administration

EDTA is usually administered intravenously, with magnesium and vitamin C, over a period of three to four hours. Doses of 2.5 g in 500 ml 1/2N saline have achieved favorable results. Only one dose of EDTA should be dispensed in a single 24-hour period; two to three weekly treatments are typical. Most patients require 20 to 30 infusions in response to coronary artery disease.

One gram intravenous EDTA delivered over one hour is the recommended adult dosage as an antidote for heavy metal toxicity.

Administering physicians should consult with ACAM or ABCT regarding more specific dosage protocol.

Side Effects/Toxicology

EDTA infusions must be given slowly and at least 24 hours apart in order to avoid potentially dangerous side effects, such as kidney failure, other organ damage, seizure, or death.


The American College of Advancement of Medicine (ACAM) provides training and chelation therapy protocol.

Additionally, the administering physician should monitor or measure blood pressure and circulation; cholesterol and other blood compounds; blood sugar and nutritional levels; kidney and other organ function; pre- and postvascular function; and tissue minerals before, during, and after EDTA delivery.


Cefmetazole (0.2 mL of 10 mM solution) was absorbed more rapidly in the rat jejunum and colon when administered with EDTA (67 mM) (Suzuka et al. 1985). EDTA may enhance the intestinal absorption of hydrophilic compounds by chelating calcium ions in the tight junctional area. Another in vitro study in rats using the colonic sac method demonstrated that the transport of cefmetazole (800 mg/mL) from the mucosal to serosal medium was increased in the presence of EDTA (50 mM) (Suzuka et al. 1987).


Burns CB, Currie B. The efficacy of chelation therapy and factors influencing mortality in lead intoxicated petrol sniffers. Aust N Z J Med. 1995;25:197-203.

Carey C, Lee H, and Woeltje K, eds. Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics. 29th ed. Philadelphia, Penn: Lippincott-Raven; 1998.

Chappell LT, Stahl JP. The correlation between EDTA chelation therapy and improvement in cardiovascular function: a meta-analysis. J Adv Med. 1993;6:139-160.

Cranton E, Brecher A. Bypassing Bypass. Norfolk, Va: Donning Co; 1989.

Cranton E. A Textbook on EDTA Chelation. New York, NY: Humay Sciences Press; 1989.

Guldager B, Brixen KT, Jorgensen SJ, Nielsen HK, Mosekilde L, Jelnes R. Effects of intravenous EDTA treatment on serum parathyroid hormone (1-84) and biochemical markers of bone turnover. Dan Med Bull. 1993;40:627-630.

Hancke C, Flytlie K. Benefits of EDTA chelation therapy on arteriosclerosis. J Adv Med. 1993;6:161-172.

Lin JL, Ho HH, Yu CC. Chelation therapy for patients with elevated body lead burden and progressive renal insufficiency: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 1999;130:7-13.

Murray M. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements: The Essential Guide for Improving Your Health Naturally. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing; 1996:435-436.

Olszewer E, Sabag FC, Carter JP. A pilot double-blind study of sodium-magnesium EDTA in peripheral vascular disease. J Natl Med Assoc. 1990;82:173-177.

Olszewer E, Carter JP. EDTA chelation therapy in chronic degenerative disease. Med Hypotheses. 1988;27:41-49.

Reynolds JEF, ed. Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia. 31st ed. London: Royal Pharmaceutical Society; 1996.

Sloth-Nielson J, Guldager B, Mouritzen C, et al. Arteriographic findings in EDTA chelation therapy on peripheral arteriosclerosis. Am J Surg. 1991;162:122-125.

Suzuka T, Furuya A, Kamada A, Nishihata T. Effect of phenothiazines, disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid and diethyl maleate on the in vitro rat colonic transport of cefmetazole and inulin. J.Pharmacobio-Dyn. 1987;10:63-71.

Suzuka T, Nishihata T, Yamazaki M, Kamada A. Effect of salicylate and disodium EDTA on the rat intestinal absorption of cefmetazole. Chem Pharm Bull. 1985;33:4600-4605.

Copyright © 2000 Integrative Medicine Communications

This publication contains information relating to general principles of medical care that should not in any event be construed as specific instructions for individual patients. The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. The reader is advised to check product information (including package inserts) for changes and new information regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.