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Chelation Therapy

In fulfillment of the Oregon Medical Board’s mission to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of Oregon citizens, the Board looks to the standard of care in determining whether a patient received appropriate medical care.  In some cases, medical techniques for diagnosis and treatment of conditions vary greatly and may include alternative treatments.  However, patient safety must always be the primary concern when employing any diagnostic or treatment technique.

Chelation therapy is a proven treatment for heavy metal poisoning, including lead poisoning.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Medicine, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Heart Association, there is no scientific evidence that chelation therapy is an effective treatment for any medical condition other than heavy metal toxicity.  In addition, the potential risks are serious, including toxicity, kidney damage, irregular heartbeat, bone damage, loss of vitamins and minerals or death.  Relying on this treatment alone and avoiding or delaying evidence-based medical care for conditions other than heavy metal poisoning may pose serious health risks.

A provider who treats a patient with chelation therapy for any medical condition first must verify the toxic levels of heavy metals. Post-chelator challenge urinary metal testing does not meet the standard of care for diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity.  Further, the American College of Medical Toxicology has concluded that post-chelator challenge urinary testing “has not been scientifically validated, has no demonstrated benefit, and may be harmful when applied in the assessment and treatment of patients in whom there is concern for metal poisoning.”1  The Board cautions providers to use chelation treatment only after a diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity, which includes a blood test or other accepted unprovoked test confirming the presence of heavy metals, and a careful determination that chelation therapy is appropriate for the particular patient.

The Board evaluates all diagnostic and treatment techniques using the standard of care and continues to consider the potential benefits and risks of chelation therapy.

- Adopted October 2013

1. American College of Medical Toxicology Position Statement on Post-Chelator Challenge Urinary Metal Testing.  July 27, 2009.