Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, known as EDTA, is a chemical salt used to separate heavy metals from dyes and other substances. One form, known as calcium disodium EDTA, appears in foods and cosmetic products to prevent air from spoiling them by introducing unwanted oxygen into the products' molecular structures. Calcium disodium EDTA is also used in alternative medicine, both as a chelating agent to remove heavy metals from the body and to remove plaque from arteries, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Since calcium disodium EDTA is toxic to humans in high amounts, always consult a physician before trying any EDTA-related therapy.
In a paper published in the May/June 2006 issue of Environmental Engineering Science, Zhiwen Yuan and Jeanne M. VanBriesen identified calcium disodium EDTA and other EDTA salts as persistent organic pollutants. They detailed how EDTA breaks down in the environment into ethylenediamine triacetic acid and then diketopiperazine. Diketopiperazine is a persistent organic pollutant, similar to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT).
Chelation Therapy Side Effects
Calcium disodium EDTA is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in chelation therapy, which removes heavy metals from the body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The side effects of chelation with calcium disodium EDTA include malabsorption or low levels of various vitamins, including vitamin C and the various B vitamins. To help combat low vitamin levels, calcium disodium EDTA is usually given with a vitamin booster. Other side effects include allergic reactions; dangerously low blood sugar, blood pressure, or blood calcium levels; kidney failure and seizures. According to the FDA, 11 patients died from calcium disodium EDTA use between 1971 and 2007.
Calcium disodium EDTA should not be given with ceftriaxone, also known as Rocephin, according to Drugs.com. Ceftriaxone is a cephalosporin antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. When combined, ceftriaxone reacts with calcium disodium EDTA to produce calcium crystals in the lungs and kidneys, which can be life threatening. The calcium disodium EDTA may also result in the body absorbing more ceftriaxone than it should, which reduces the efficacy of the antibiotic in destroying bacteria.