Dear Friends and Patients:
I wanted to start our first Newsletter issue of the New Year by sharing up to date information on treatment options for the number one cause of death in our country, namely heart disease. The practice of treating heart disease has continuously evolved over the past century. When I was in medical school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the main treatment for blocked coronary arteries was surgical coronary by-pass using leg vein grafts or a mammary artery graft. Very little advice was given regarding dietary management. One of my professors at the time, Dr. Jape Taylor, was a cardiologist/internist. He taught an EKG course to medical students that the students literally fought to be included in. He was an extraordinary physician, a dynamic teacher, and an out of the box thinker whom the medical students admired. He was of the opinion that coronary artery blockage could be reversed with dietary management, which at that time was thought to be impossible. He took a sabbatical and went to Africa, where he studied first hand the diet and life style on a continent where there was very little heart disease compared to Western European countries and the USA. Most Africans ate simple, whole foods that were not processed. Dr. Taylor returned to Gainesville and put his cardiac patients on a high fiber, low red meat, low saturated fat, high vegetable diet. He emphasized whole foods rather than processed foods to his patients. He would repeat his patient’s coronary angiograms (x-rays of the coronary arteries) after a period of time and miraculously a significant number of his patient’s would show improvement in their blockages without surgery. In 1987 the first statin drug, Mevacor, was released. Currently, the conventional prevention and/or treatment of heart disease is primarily with statin drugs and other cardiac medications, although coronary artery bypass surgery is still used. Angioplasty, where a blocked artery was enlarged using a balloon catheter has mostly been replaced by stent placements, where a “tube” inserted into an artery after a blockage is dilated open.
Is Chelation Therapy An Alternative or Optional Therapy for the Treatment of Heart Disease?
If you ask most traditional physicians or cardiologists about chelation therapy, you will likely hear that it is considered ineffective, unproven and unsafe. And yet EDTA chelation therapy has been used world-wide for decades as a safe and inexpensive alternative to drugs and surgeries, and is used to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, heavy metal toxicities (except mercury) and environmental pollutants.
The TACT Study, an Objective Double-Blind Study on the Effectiveness of Chelation Therapy
In 2003 an NIH (National Institutes of Health) study called TACT (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) was begun. The study involved a total of 1708 patients treated at 134 sites in the USA and Canada, including some major medical centers. A total of 55,222 infusions were given. Participants had to be age 50 or older (average age was 65), have had a documented previous heart attack, were non-smokers, had no recent chelation therapy, and had a serum creatinine of
Some of the results of this study were finally released in November 2012 and the conclusions drawn from the data collected in this trial were as follows:
- In a pilot study of 30 patients conducted before starting the main study it was noticed after 14 EDTA infusions that blood parameters e.g. creatinine, hematocrit, magnesium, platelet count and potassium were virtually unaltered in each of the patients, making the likelihood of any adverse event in the main trial very low.
- Of the 839 patients taking roughly 27,600 chelation infusions, only one apparently died due to EDTA therapy, proving chelation therapy is very safe.
- There were 18% fewer cardiac events in the EDTA treatment group, including 6 fewer deaths, 15 fewer heart attacks, 2 fewer strokes and 27 fewer revascularizations surgeries. Also there were 5 fewer hospitalizations for angina.
- The number of cardiac events was reduced by giving more treatments.
- High dose vitamins were also given by themselves intravenously and did not have a separate effect on heart disease events.
- The patients who benefited the most were diabetics and patients who had more severe heart attacks.
In spite of these objective results, the response from cardiologists and traditional medicine was mostly negative. In fact only one of the physicians that controlled the proceeding of TACT had actually treated patients with chelations therapy. One of the criticisms of this study was that about 60 patients in the placebo group discontinued their participation. What was not asked was why this happened. Let’s face it, when patients sit together for three hours or so, they often interact with each other and naturally try to assess their own health improvement in comparison to others. In my experience and that of other physicians who do chelation therapy, usually after 7 or 8 IVs patients are able to correctly guess if they are getting actual effective treatment. So naturally, those patients who felt they were getting placebo treatment discontinued their participation in the trial. This has happened earlier in at least two double blind trials of chelation therapy. If these 60 patients had continued in the trial, the statistical gap in end points between the chelation group and placebo group would have widened.
Hopefully the TACT study will lead to more research, especially in further determining the mechanisms of action regarding heavy metals, and hopefully chelation will be a little more accepted. This study has proven EDTA chelation to be safe and that it may prevent the need for cardiovascular surgery. It has also proven diabetics do especially well.
What Is EDTA? How Was It Developed? How Does It Work?
EDTA (ethyl-diamine-tetra-acetic acid) was developed in Germany in the late 1930′s and patented in 1935. Structurally it is a synthetic amino acid. It picks up and binds to heavy metals and allows them to be excreted through the urine. EDTA was initially used in industry and latter used medically to remove lead from sailors who were lead toxic from painting ships with lead-based paints. By the mid 1950′s EDTA was widely used for removing lead from children and adults, and is approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for this purpose today. It is also widely used as an additive in foods where it binds minerals, depriving bacteria of essential nutrients for growth. While treating lead poisoning it was observed that adults with circulatory ailments, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease often found improvement in their circulatory conditions. This lead to further investigation and use of EDTA to treat hardening of the arteries. Even though this is not a use approved by the FDA, it is used by thousands of physicians globally for this purpose.
Initially it was thought that EDTA would remove calcium from hardened atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries, allowing the plaque to dissolve. We now know this is not the case, although there may be plaque reduction with prolonged and repeated chelation therapy. Current thinking is that EDTA chelation affects the circulation through the removal of heavy metals from the endothelial cells that line the arteries, allowing the increased production of NO (nitrous oxide), which acts as a muscle relaxant to the endothelium. In this way, circulation is improved by relaxing the blood vessels and decreasing the resistance to blood flow, even though plaque may remain. We also know heavy metals such as lead and cadmium oxidize LDL cholesterol, causing it to stick in the arteries. By removing these toxic metals one of the causes of oxidative stress and inflammation in the lining of the arteries is reduced.
It’s Not the Hardened Plaque That’s the Problem
In 1999 Valentin Fuster, M.D., published a book entitled The Vulnerable Atherosclerotic Plaque. He pointed out that heart attacks do not occur in areas where there were large deposits of hardened plaque, but rather in areas of soft, fresh “vulnerable” plaques that became infected with a germ such as Herpes virus, Epstein-Barr virus, Cytomegalo virus or other low level germs. Other researchers are currently exploring whether these germs are more prevalent and infectious when NO is not present in sufficient amounts. Heavy metals decrease the amount of NO, which in turn reduces blood flow and increases vulnerability to infection and hypercoagulability with subsequent blood clot development and sudden death. The elimination of heavy metals, therefore, can be a life saving procedure in many cases. Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a well-known nutritional cardiologist, discusses the benefits of removing heavy metals in heart disease patients in a number of his books.
We also know that EDTA (disodium EDTA only) causes a release of parathyroid hormone, which mobilizes calcium production in the bone, causing an increase in bone density after several months of chelation therapy. This is helpful in patients with osteoporosis. Patients with diabetes have improved diabetic control as insulin receptor sites are freed up, decreasing the body’s need for insulin. EDTA helps magnesium to get into the cells by blocking calcium. Magnesium acts as a relaxant for blood vessels, reducing spasm and further enhancing blood flow. EDTA also affects hormones and prostaglandins and it has a direct effect in preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Chelation also produces beneficial anti-platelet and anti-coagulant affects. EDTA probably has other mechanisms of action that we are unaware that account for the clinical improvement seen in patients with various diseases of aging.
There are two types of EDTA, calcium EDTA and magnesium EDTA. At the Center, we use calcium EDTA chelations for elective detoxification of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and others.
Are There More Advanced Tests to Assess Cardiovascular Risk Than Just Cholesterol?
In late 2012 we became aware of Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc., which offers a comprehensive panel of advanced tests which could discover risk indicators in your laboratory results that previous testing never revealed. This laboratory is in Virginia, so we have to draw the blood here and process the blood through our office. There is a nominal charge for this service. However, this laboratory will bill your insurance company and accept what they allow as payment in full, which is a nice feature for our patients. The typical lipid panel with total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides is outdated, in my opinion. Cholesterol by itself is a relative risk factor and not very accurate in predicting the risk of ischemic heart disease. What is important is whether cholesterol is being oxidized and sticking in the arteries. HS-CRP or high sensitivity C-reactive protein reflects both inflammation in your body as well as in the blood vessels. We have been ordering this test for years. Although more specific for cardiac inflammation than regular C-reactive protein, is is not as specific as a new test that is available. We now also measure Lp-PLA2, which is a type of lipoprotein that is specifically linked to inflammation in the artery walls and can predict your risk of heart attack or stroke. When your Lp-PLA2 and systolic blood pressure are both high, stroke risk increases significantly. Lifestyle changes such as proper nutrition, exercise, and stress management help control your blood pressure and should help lower Lp-PLA2 levels. Medications and supplements are also used to reduce inflammation and Lp-PLA2 levels.
MPO or Myeloperoxidase is a useful test to determine arterial wall stress or damage. MPO is released as a defense mechanism.
NT-pro-BNP is a hormone released from the cells of the heart muscle when there is stress or strain on your heart, and higher concentrations serve as a warning signal that your heart is overworked on an ongoing basis. If this hormone is elevated, there are treatments that can lower your heart disease risk before symptoms occur.
The tests involved in this panel are too numerous to list and involve a 3+ page print-out. Call us at 352-331-5138 to schedule.
Fluoride and Your Health
There has been an on-going debate for decades regarding the safety and efficacy of using fluoride in municipal water supplies, and to a lesser extent, in toothpastes. The American Dental Association advocates fluoridation, whereas some independent scientists and many physicians versed in environmental medicine do not.
Fluoride is a Drug
Unlike all other water treatment processes, water fluoridation does not treat the water itself, but is targeted at the person consuming it. Although U.S. authorities “poo-poo” health concerns about fluoride in water, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers fluoride a drug and not a mineral supplement. Fluoride has never received FDA approval and once this drug is put into the water supply, there is no control over the individual dosage. Most European nations have rejected putting fluoride in the public water supply. Not only is it not appropriate to put a drug in the water supply, fluorine is toxic. Gainesville’s city water is fluoridated. Of course fluoride is available for individual use if a person so chooses in the form of toothpaste and in some mouthwashes for topical application.
In 2012 I attended an American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) meeting. One of the speakers was Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., who has a degree in pharmacology from the University of Kansas Medical Center and postdoctoral training in environmental medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She has conducted and published research on the long-term toxicological consequences of perinatal exposure to drugs and environmental pollutants while holding appointments at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and at the Harvard School of Medicine. For over thirty years she has served as a consultant to various industries and other institutions concerning toxic exposures and litigation. She is currently the Research Director for Second Look, a national, educational non-profit organization that provides scientific and medical information concerning toxic exposures in the workplace and ambient environment. Her talk at the AAEM meeting was on psychiatric consequences of fluoride overexposure.
One of the most important points Dr. Mullenix made was the effects of exposure to a toxin during the vulnerable periods of development of the central nervous system are “permanent.” What does this mean? If a pregnant mother is exposed to a toxin that can cross the placental barrier, the developing baby will also be exposed and often at a higher concentrated amount of the toxin. Fluoride and heavy metals such as mercury cross the placenta, and if this exposure occurs during a vulnerable time in development, the damage that occurs might be irreversible. So this is not an accumulation effect like we see in adults, where over time, small amounts of a toxin will bio-accumulate and increase in a person’s body, finally reaching a toxic level. An immature blood brain barrier enhances penetration of the central nervous system by toxins like fluoride whereas this may not occur in an adult brain that is fully formed. The effects on the mature central nervous system with vulnerable receptor function is an accumulation problem and potentially treatable as in the case of toxic metal overload.
Fluoride Lowers I.Q. and Disrupts Hormones
U.S. researchers have ignored or rejected the connection between fluoride and lowered IQ. Twenty-seven studies done outside of the United States in Europe and China have demonstrated lowered IQ scores as a consequence of fluoride exposure. In addition, our readers should be aware that all solid fluoride additives used in treatment of municipal water supplies come from outside of the United States (from either China or Japan) and contain lead, arsenic and huge amounts of aluminum. State authorities do not require aluminum levels to be measured. We often see elevated aluminum levels on hair analyses of our patients at the Center where there has been no obvious exposure such as in using aluminum cookware.
A condition called dental fluorosis occurs from fluoridation of water where millions of children have a discoloration of their teeth due to excessive fluoride intake. Even scientists from the Centers for Disease Control have acknowledged that fluoridation is causing “cosmetically objectionable” fluorosis on children’s front teeth – an effect that can cause children embarrassment and anxiety at an age when physical appearance is very important for their self-esteem.
Daily fluoride exposure can also affect thyroid function in children and adults. Fluoride displaces iodine in body, which is found in thyroid hormone, in the thyroid gland, heart, sex organs and other areas. Iodine is in the same chemical halogen family as fluorine, chlorine and bromine, so iodine can be displaced by these chemicals and cause physiological dysfunction. Fluoride is an endocrine disruptor and alone binds with calcium, magnesium, and manganese. It breaks hydrogen bonds.
There can be occupational exposure to fluoride in high concentrations among welders and water operators who use hydrogen fluoride gas, and among anesthesiologists who administer Sevoflurange/HF gas.
Anxiety, Depression and Suicide
During her lecture, Dr. Mullenix discussed the historical use of fluorine gas as a part of the manufacture of the atomic bomb during the Manhattan project. Accidents occurred at the plant where workers, in spite of wearing protective clothing and respirators, inhaled fluorine gas. Symptoms were primarily mental reactions with overstimulation, apprehension, fatigue and weakness not improved with rest, confusion or impaired cognition, and depression and suicide. I see patients who present to the Center taking SSRI drugs such as Prozac or Paxil for depression. These drugs contain fluoride. Is it a coincidence that the warning label cautions patients these drugs can produce anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation, especially in younger patients?
In 1997 warning labels were placed on toothpastes containing fluoride. “Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.” One of the issues parents should be aware of is children have poorly developed swallowing reflexes, especially below the age of 2 years, and on a per-body-weight basis, children have about 3 to 4 times greater fluoride exposure than do adults.
“Fluoridation goes against all principles of pharmacology. It’s obsolete.” – Dr. Arvid Carlsson. Nobel Laureate in Medicine/Physiology. I agree. I only drink purified water from my well or bottled spring water.
Success Story – 84 year old Patient Benefits from Chelation Therapy
Mr. R is an 84 year old gentleman who has been basically healthy most of his life. He had recently been evaluated by his primary care provider for a heart murmur. A transthoracic echocardiogram showed mitral valve calcification and also aortic valve stenosis. His cardiologist told him there was “nothing that could be done” and that he might need a heart valve replacement in the future. Mr. R had no symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath either at rest or with activity, and he had no peripheral edema. He never smoked. His only medication was Levothyroxin for hypothyroidism. In the past Mr. R had undergone a series of EDTA chelations with a physician in Fort McCoy for an arthritic condition. Mr. R stated his arthritis resolved and he wanted to restart chelations with me.
He and his wife were informed at the pre-CPE interview that chelation therapy would not “dissolve” the calcifications around his heart valves but that it worked by removing toxic metals from the endothelial lining of the blood vessels, allowing them to be more pliable.
After a physical exam and initial lab work was performed, the patient was placed on the appropriate supplements to correct the nutritional deficiencies found on his Spectracell testing. He underwent a CA EDTA challenge test that did confirm an increased retention of both lead and cadmium. Mr. R was started on an elective/physician supervised program of weekly heavy metal detoxification with IV CA EDTA. By the patient’s 5th chelation his energy had considerably improved and his wife stated he no longer needed to take naps in the afternoons. By his 8th chelation he stated his vision was improved considerably. Mr. R also stated the dizziness he would get with head movement had also completely resolved. Whether this was a result of his chelation therapy or the supplement program, or both is unknown. By his 11th chelation, he stated he and his wife have noticed resolution of his sleep disturbance. In the past, she would notice he would stop breathing while sleeping and she would have to wake him. This no longer occurres and Mr. R attributes this improvement to his chelation treatments. Mr. R just completed his initial series of 15 CA EDTA chelations and we are awaiting lab results to evaluate the degree of improvement.
What’s New at the Center
Dr. Erickson will be attending the ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine) conference in late May. This conference will center around mitochrondial issues (mitochrondia are the components of cells that produce the body’s energy).
Office Closed: The Center will be closed May 27th for Memorial Day. We will also be closed from Friday, June 28th through Sunday, July 7th, for staff summer vacations.
Product Highlights: Corvalen is pure D-Ribose, a substance critical as a building block for energy production that has been formulated by Douglas Labs specifically for physicians to prescribe to their patients. (The Corvalen brand was promoted on the Dr. Oz television program.) The heart, muscles and other cells require D-Ribose and this product helps the body restore energy, improves cardiac function, and reduces muscle stiffness according to the manufacturer. The D-Ribose in Corvalen is a 5-carbon chain monosaccharide that is a critical building block for the cellular synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a substance cells use to store energy. It is also essential for genetic materials RNA and DNA, and a number of vitamins and cofactors. While every cell in the body has the ability to make D-Ribose, in times of metabolic stress the body’s production of D-Ribose may be interfered with. This product may be helpful in patients with cardiac disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and fatigue of aging. A container of 56 servings costs $44.