By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ask Dr. Gott 10/29
Chelation not a cure-all
Placeholder Image
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I was happy with your answer to the person who wrote to you about chelation.
    My father had it done because the doctor convinced him his body was full of lead and that his heart was like concrete inside. My mother also got hooked by this guy. Both were also told they had to buy special vitamins because the chelation would leach iron and other nutrients from their bodies.
    My father was 80 when all this was going on and refused to let me take him to a cardiologist. I even went so far as to get various pamphlets from the American Heart Association about how dangerous chelation can be.
    My father never experienced improvement from the procedure and, after several treatments, passed away. Following this, I immediately took my mother off the treatment and got her to the doctor. By the time I got her there, she had already done irreversible damage to her body.
    I know that some holistic medicine is good, but it is important to beware. Older people are especially taken in by these "practitioners" and advertisements. My mother was especially eager to cure herself and avoid "real" doctors. She would read an article or see a commercial and immediately go out to get that product because she thought she had symptoms that matched and she needed it.
    While cleaning out her house shortly after my dad's death, I discovered she had approximately 100 different bottles of pills, oils and herbs that she had ordered out of holistic books for ailments she only thought she had.
    Please remind your readers that self-treatment can be more dangerous than no treatment at all. Adult children should also closely monitor what their elderly parents are taking, especially if they were like mine and frivolously ordered "stuff" to cure things that weren't even wrong.
    DEAR READER: This problem is widespread and doesn't only include herbal and other holistic medicine. Many people dislike doctors and self-treat with over-the-counter medications, herbs and, in some cases, illegally purchased prescriptions.
    The primary problem with self-treatment is that there are many conditions that can cause similar symptoms, and, unless one has the proper training, it is difficult to diagnose correctly. For example, the average person is not properly equipped to differentiate between the symptoms of pneumonia (fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and others) and those caused by lung cancer (fatigue, cough, weight loss, shortness of breath and more). Many of these symptoms can also be caused by several other conditions, such as bronchitis and congestive heart failure.
    This is not to say that self-diagnosis and treatment is always bad. Most people know when they have a common cold or simple sprain and how to treat it. In most instances, doctors would prefer that the person self-treat rather than clog up the doctor's office or emergency room. If symptoms were to persist for more than a few days, however, this should be cause for concern and would warrant a doctor's visit.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to discuss chelation therapy. To my knowledge, there is no scientific proof that this valid medical procedure can cure or even improve heart conditions. Chelation is used to remove heavy metals from the body and is reserved for patients who have been poisoned or otherwise exposed. In nearly all instances, people who require this therapy are seriously ill and are already in a hospital setting.
    Become informed consumers and be wary of people or products claiming to be cure-alls.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter