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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

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EDTA, also known as CaNa2EDTA, calcium edetate, or ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid, is an amino acid used primarily in the treatment of lead poisoning. Its off label uses include chelation therapy for atherosclerosis and chronic degenerative diseases.


EDTA was used primarily in the 1950s as a first line therapy for treatment of elevated lead levels in children. In the 1980s EDTA again gained popularity after studies noted improvement in objective measures of cardiovascular health following chelation therapy in some individuals.[1]

Comparison of Provocative Agents
Agent Half Life Collection Period
EDTA ~1 hr 6 - 24 hrs
DMPS (IV) ~1 hr 2 - 6 hrs
DMPS (oral) ~9 hrs 6 - 9 hrs
DMSA ~4 hrs 6 - 9 hrs


Prescribing considerations

  • Route of Administration
  • EDTA can be used intramuscularly or intravenously. IV administration is preferred as it is less painful, and the associated hydration is valuable to facilitate quick urination to prevent nephrotoxicity.
  • Adjuncts
  • Antioxidant therapy is suggested when undergoing chelation therapy to maximize effectiveness of treatment.[3]
  • There is a risk of central nervous system deterioration when EDTA is used to treat lead intoxication in children, so it is common to couple EDTA with BAL in children with extremely elevated lead levels.[2]


Article The promise of EDTA chelation therapy: Review of safety and efficacy , IHP, September 2008

Side Effects

  • Micronutrient Status


  • EDTA is effective at chelating lead, but becomes relatively ineffective once blood lead levels fall to lower than 30ug/dL.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chappell LT (1997) Applications of EDTA Chelation Therapy Alt Med Rev 2(6)426-432
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Shannon MW (2007) Shannon: Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose 4th ed Chap 73 Lead Saunders
  3. Flora SJ, Mittal M, Mehta A (2008) Heavy metal induced oxidative stress and its possible reversal by chelation therapy Indian J Med Res 128(4):501-23