Chelation Therapy for Autism

by Sam Malone

Autism is a disorder that is a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) group. This disorder usually affects children right from the time they are born, though it only becomes evident at a later stage in life. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition but patients could benefit immensely from early treatment, which usually includes medication as well as various forms of therapy, like educational therapy, behavioral therapy, communication therapy and creative therapy. Alternate treatment for autism could also include chelation therapy.

What is Chelation Therapy in Autism?

Chelation therapy can be described as a medical procedure in which chelating agents are administered, in order to get rid of the heavy metals present in your body. During the procedure, the chelating agent may be administered orally, intramuscularly or intravenously, depending upon the type of poisoning and the agent used.

However, many health experts may advise their patients against chelation treatment for autism, as there are no proven links between autism and mercury exposure.

How does it's Work?

Patients who are going through chelation therapy may need to undergo anywhere between 20 and 50 sessions. Depending upon the severity of the problem and the type of administration, the sessions could be scheduled daily or monthly and each session goes on for a couple of hours. Oral chelation agents should be taken daily, along with multivitamins, for many weeks or months. In case of intravenous chelation agents, the patient just needs to sit in a chair, while they are injected.

The chelation agents attract and bind the toxic metal ions that are present, allowing your body to excrete them. This lowers the level of toxic metals in your body. There are many different types of chelating agents that doctors have access to today, some of which include:

  • Dimercaprol: Used in acute arsenic poisoning, acute mercury poisoning, lead poisoning and lewisite poisoning
  • Dimercaptosuccinic Acid: Used in arsenic, lead and mercury poisoning
  • Dimercapto-propane Sulfonate: Used in severe acute arsenic and mercury poisoning
  • Penicillamine: Mainly used in copper toxicity and occasionally in gold toxicity, lead poisoning and arsenic poisoning
  • Ethylenediamine Tetra-acetic Acid: Used for lead poisoning
  • Deferoxamine & Deferasirox: Used in acute iron poisoning and iron overload

However, the exact mechanisms of chelation therapy are still not clear.

There are a few risks associated with chelation therapy, especially if it is not conducted in the right manner or by a qualified healthcare professional. Some of the side effects that may be seen after chelation therapy include:

  • Poor nutrient absorption
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage

Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before exploring any alternate treatment for autism.


  1. Chelation treatment for children with autism. Association for Science in Autism Treatment. Accessed Sept. 20, 2010.
  2. Sinha Y, et al. Chelation therapy and autism. British Medical Journal. 2006;333:756.
  3. Baxter A, et al. Pediatric fatality secondary to EDTA chelation therapy. Clinical Toxicology. 2008;46:1083.

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