Reassessing the benefits of chelation for children with autism

Chelation is a therapy aimed at removing toxic and neurotoxic metals from the body. It can be done by IV administration of various substances, or by giving the same products orally.

When I started to work with autistic children more than twelve years ago, oral chelation with a substance named DMSA was very common. At the time it was considered a potential cure for many children and, almost all the doctors and nutritionists who treated autistic children recommended it.

Then it became apparent that it could cause intestinal side effects, sometimes attributed to yeast overgrowth, and doctors switched to other forms of chelation, sometimes intravenous, or abandoned this treatment altogether.

I felt all along – and still feel today – that DMSA is very beneficial for children on the autistic spectrum. Side effects were often a result of doses that were excessive and therefore poorly tolerated, and more aggressive forms of chelation with stronger agents administered intravenously failed to show better results.

A new study published in “Maedica

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, A Journal of Clinical Medicine” Vol. 7, No.3 2012, p. 214-221 found that ongoing chelation therapy with low-dose DMSA produced significant benefits in the 44 children who participated in the study. Areas of greatest improvement included verbal and nonverbal communication; taste, smell and touch; and relating to people. This study confirms something I have been observing all along, that chelation works for these children.

DMSA is available by prescription as a drug (brand name Succimer), but because it is a natural substance, it can also be purchased in this country as a dietary supplement. When sold as a supplement no claims can be made for it and some companies were forced to withdraw their products containing DMSA because they were, indeed, making claims. Other companies still have it available for sale and, if you select your source carefully, it is possible to obtain the same pharmaceutical grade prescription DMSA as a dietary supplement.

I do recommend this product and sell it at my office and through my website, but because of its therapeutic nature and the risk of side effects if used incorrectly, it is available only for my patients.

2 Responses to “Reassessing the benefits of chelation for children with autism”

  1. I have a 12 year old son with autism who is non-verbal. We have been working with a classical homeopath for the past 2 1/2 years, but really haven’t seen much progress. I have only done alternative medicine with my son as I am not interested in prescription drugs. Have you seen a lot of children with autism & if so, what kind of results have you had? And are you saying that the DMSA you work with is not a drug but instead is natural? Please advise. Thank you.

  2. Yes, I work a lot with autistic children and have done so for a good 15 years. Results are generally good but require very determined parents, and a lot of work. Some children I see have been able to recover but usually we start working with them at a much earlier age. At age 12 it is still not too late to see dramatic improvements but it is important to take this process one step at a time and not to have excessive expectations. Any small improvement is a gift and becomes the foundation for the next small improvement.

    DMSA is a protein that is found in food and that is why some vitamin companies are able to sell it as a supplement as long as they don’t make claims for it. On the other hand it is the same pharmaceutical grade DMSA as the one available by prescription.

    I also don’t think that DMSA is the solution for autism, but it is often helpful as part of an overall program.