I “met” Doug online over at the Daily Strength Atrial Fibrillation forum that I frequent. In one of his comments he mentioned chelation therapy was significantly improving his afib. I had never heard of this “chelation therapy” before so I had to follow up with him to find out more as I was very curious.
Doug was gracious enough to agree to an indepth email interview. Following is a copy of that interview. Enjoy…there is a lot of great info here for those of you looking for potential natural ways to treat or possibly cure your afib.
Be sure to talk to your doctor and do your own thorough research before implementing anything discussed here!
Doug, how many years have you had afib?
It was 10 years ago that I was first diagnosed. At that time the fluttering in my chest wouldn’t stop so I went to a walk-in clinic (I live in Canada) and the doctor there told me to go to the hospital emergency room. I was rushed in immediately to a bed, ahead of everyone else in emergency and hooked up to monitoring equipment and checked out immediately. Once they found out it was not a heart attack, just afib, I was still kept hooked up for about 6 hours as that is what is done when someone is put on Propafenone (Rythmol).
I’ve been told that a small percentage of people react badly to Propafenone, even to the point of heart failure, so when they started me on it they wanted to monitor me closely to ensure that I would be ok. Once that was proven to be ok, I was sent home and told to take 150mg every 8 hours to keep in normal rhythm. I had had episodes before – perhaps even 10 years prior. When I overate, or had too much booze or coffee, but that would stop after an hour or two. This time it didn’t stop so I went to see why after a half day of palpitations.
What kind of afib do you have? I’m assuming lone afib but please confirm.
Lone afib. That only means that the cardiologist has no idea why it is happening. All my heart tests showed my heart was fine. I weigh 180lbs and am 6 ft tall. I’ve been doing Tai Chi all my adult life and I’m physically active in other sports – biking, swimming. So no issues with fitness.
Do you have paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation?
You mentioned you found Dr. Rath, Hoffer, and Sinatra and that you started a vitamin and mineral program. Can you describe, in detail, your vitamin and mineral regimen?
It was a gradual understanding that lead me to Doctors Hoffer, then Rath, then Sinatra. I’ll explain by giving you a bit of a timeline on what I experienced and what I did.
After coming home from the hospital with the prescription to Rythmol, which I was to take every 8 hours, I read up on Rythmol and the usual progression of more and more drugs until ablation was the only way and I became determined that I was going to cure my afib using natural means. I did a lot of searching on the web and found this article by Dr. Hoffer first:
Niacin Effective in the Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation
VICTORIA, CANADA. Dr. Abram Hoffer, a world-renowned psychiatrist in Victoria, reports on the successful treatment of six patients with atrial fibrillation. One 76 year old physician who suffered from atrial fibrillation was completely cured after starting a vitamin supplementation program which included megadoses of niacin and folic acid. Other patients report complete disappearance of their irregular heart beat symptoms after supplementing with high doses of niacin, folic acid, and vitamin B-12.
Dr. Hoffer believes that one of the main causes of atrial fibrillation is excessive stress. High levels of stress release large amounts of adrenalin which in turn is oxidized to adrenochrome. Adrenochrome is known to cause fibrillation and other cardiac dysfunctions.
Adrenochrome is a natural free radical and is primarily produced in the heart tissue, but circulates in the blood throughout the body. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and excessive amounts of it are believed to be a main cause of schizophrenia. Antioxidants protect against the formation of excessive amounts of adrenochrome and schizophrenics have been successfully treated with large amounts of niacin and ascorbic acid.
Penicillamine has also been successfully used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Dr. Hoffer points out that adrenochrome is not all bad. He believes that the leucocytes use adrenochrome to destroy abnormal cells like cancer cells and that we therefore need a certain amount of adrenochrome in order to control cancer. The fact that schizophrenics rarely develop cancer supports this hypothesis.
Dr. Hoffer concludes that we need a certain amount of stress in order to produce enough adrenochrome to enable our leucocytes to kill bacteria and tumor cells. However, we also need an adequate supply of natural antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene in order to neutralize an excess of adrenochrome after its work is done. (51 references)
Hoffer, A. Schizophrenia: an evolutionary defence against severe stress. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 4, Fourth Quarter, 1994, pp. 205-21
Also, be sure to read the 28-page PDF about vitamins that Dr. Hoffer sent me himself just 6 months before he passed away.
So I started 500mg of non-flush niacin and asked a doctor how to get off the Rythmol. She told me to change to every 12 hours for a week, then if I was still ok, change to once a day for a week and if still ok, I could change to just using a double dose of 2 tablets of 150mg each, which is a 300mg dose in the event I went into afib to get me back into normal rhythm. That worked.
Then I started paying attention to what triggered me into afib. If I went into afib, I’d wait 15 minutes to see if it would stop on its own and if not, take the 300mg of Rythmol. If it stopped, good (that usually took 90 minutes to see if that worked). If it persisted past the 90 minutes, I’d take another 300mg of Rythmol and that usually did it. I found my triggers were caffeine, booze, wheat gluten, stress, lack of sleep, excess sugar and especially MSG.
From reading about how vitamin and mineral deficiencies could contribute to heart issues, I settled on the below supplements until about 2012:
- 1000mg non-flush niacin
- 250mg magnesium citrate
- 2 tabs of CoQ10 (but you should now take Ubiquinol as it is a better form of CoQ10)
- A good vitamin B complex
- 3 caps of Omega 3 oils
- Udo’s oil
- 500mg vitamin C
- Ginko Biloba
- Chorella and Spirulina
I also took out my metal dental fillings after reading that mercury could contribute to afib. This helped quite a bit, however I was still sensitive to the afib triggers I noted above. I changed the supplements by substituting Ubiquinol, Ribose and L-Carnitine after finding out about Dr. Sinatra and seeing what he posted on YouTube. Here is just one of his many videos discussing supplements (this one he talks about L-Carnitine):
And if you’re wondering about brands, I found that the brand didn’t matter. If there were any bio-availability issues, I didn’t notice them – especially with Ginko. I tried gel caps, powder and all worked equally well. Niacin the same thing. In fact any supplement manufacturer I picked – they all seemed to work the same.
I also found Dr. Rath’s site and read what he wrote which told me I was on the right path. I still managed with the “pill in pocket” or as needed and sometimes could go 4 to 6 weeks without getting episodes, then I’d push my luck and I’d have one.
About 2 years ago I noticed that I was getting fatigued more easily and I was getting arthritis in my ankles making it painful for me to walk more than a city block or two. I had to find out what was going on and fix that.
I went to naturopaths and homeopaths to see if they could help. One homeopath I went to was especially helpful, by telling me that the inflammation in my body (arthritis) was linked to liver issues. He gave me homeopathic treatment for my liver for 3 months and saw that no improvement was happening – so he suggested I get my blood work done.
In Canada, if you go to a doctor who is a general practitioner with a valid complaint, they will treat you at no cost. I went to him, telling him of my general fatigue, he looked under my eyelid and suggested I might be low in blood iron, so wrote up a requisition to test that.
The normal ferritin level should be around 50mg/l, I was 950mg/l. Hemochromatosis. It has a huge, detrimental effect on the liver. The only way to treat that is by therapeutic phlebotomy. This means a pint of blood is drawn out weekly to dilute the iron in my body. Once that was started, my ferritin shot up to 1350. I had to have weekly phlebotomies for 8 months to get my iron back to normal.
Another doctor, who didn’t specialize in hemochromatosis, but had quite a few family members with the condition, advised me that she thought my afib issues might be due to the iron in my heart as at the level I had had, excess iron would be in all my organs. Well, after the 8 months of phlebotomies (or 32 phlebotomies = 16 pints of blood removed), I got back to normal, but could still be triggered into afib by the usual triggers.
The same doctor who advised me about possibility of iron in my heart tissue contributing to afib, also told me that she had heard that chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun) could be used to remove metals, including iron from heart tissue. Plus my arthritis was worsening and I was almost at the point of needing a walker.
So, I went to Dr. Santos in Vancouver.
After reviewing my history, he agreed to start the IV (intravenous) EDTA chelation. The first one was done 30 weeks ago and I did the urine test to see what metals were coming out of my body with the EDTA. The lead coming out was strong, as was cadmium and other metals.
After 10 weekly chelation treatments, we tested the urine again. Now not so much lead, but other metals were coming out. After about 15 chelations, my afib got much worse, to the point that I had to take the Rythmol every 8 hours to keep out of afib. I was not happy, yet I knew the metals had to go.
The homeopathic doctor told me that in chelation, it was disturbing the metal distribution in my body and he was not surprised to hear that I was worse, but he said to keep it up and it would get better. After 25 chelations, I went back to the pill in the pocket, or as needed and I was getting better.
Now that I’ve had 30 chelation treatments I can say I am way, way better. The usual triggers – don’t. I can have wine, no problem. I’m still careful with wheat gluten, caffeine, but so far – I’m good. I understand that when removing metals from the body, one can expect the metals deep in the body may take some months to migrate to the blood so some more chelation should be done after 6 months. I’ll do that.
How did I know to go to 30 chelations? I noticed that about 3 to 4 days after a chelation there had been a small but definite improvement in my body, so as long as I was feeling improvement in my arthritis and heart stability, then I’d go again. Now that I’ve done 30, I’ll wait about 6 months and then go for about 5 or so again.
Did the vitamin and mineral program prior to the chelation therapy help at all…or did you still have regular afib episodes?
The vitamins helped immensely. It allowed me to go from Rythmol every 8 hours to just as needed for the first 8 years.
Do you still take vitamins and supplements today?
Now, I sometimes skip vitamins altogether as they are no longer as essential as they used to be for me. Today I’m taking the following supplements about every second day because I forget to take them daily:
- Ginko Biloba
- 500mg of niacin
- A good vitamin B complex
- 3 caps of wild salmon oil
And I still follow Dr. Sinatra’s advice about Ribose, L-Carnitine & Ubiquinol as being the best tri-factor to take for heart health.
I looked at Dr. Rath’s site but I didn’t see any specific programs or even books you could purchase to learn about the vitamin and mineral program. Can I ask you how you found your program? Was it from a book or did you create it yourself based on what you read about from these doctors?
I created it myself from reading what Hoffer and others had written. I was especially interested in how the B vitamins support adrenal fatigue and I found that a factor in afib. Sometimes when in afib, if I took a double dose of vitamin B complex along with the Rythmol, the afib would stop sooner. My approach was to start with one thing, see if that helped and if so, keep taking it. The basic anti-oxidants of vitamin C and E were a start, the non-flush niacin from Dr. Hoffer suggestion, but not nearly as much as he advised. I started with smaller doses and found that worked. I had read about some caution with niacin, so I didn’t want to go to mega doses he advised.
You mentioned that you thinned your blood by vitamin E and cod liver oil. I am aware that these thin blood to a degree, but do you have any articles or research you can point me to that shows how much vitamin E and cod liver oil you need to take to effectively thin your blood?
Sorry, I don’t know how they compare to the prescription blood thinners. I just had read so many horror stories about Warfarin and other thinners that I was determined not to use them. I never did a search as to how they compare.
Generally speaking, how “bad” was your afib prior to the chelation therapy? Were you having daily, weekly, monthly episodes – and how long did they last generally?
In general, just before chelation I would get triggered and I’d have to take 2 doses of Rythmol, vitamin B complex and extra Ubiquinol to get back to normal – and that could take 3 to 4 hours.
What were your main concerns about trying chelation therapy, or did you not have any concerns?
I had concerns, but once I read about how it had helped so many heart patients and not a single casualty ever has been reported, I thought, why not try it?
When did you start the chelation therapy?
About 30 weeks ago.
Can you describe the actual process of chelation therapy? Is it done at a hospital, clinic, etc.?
I go to a naturopath’s office and sit in a chair. He hooks up an IV drip and it takes about 30 minutes for the agent to fully drain into my arm through the tiny needle. I usually put on headphones, listen to a meditation recording of ocean waves and fall asleep during the treatment. I only wake up when I feel him removing the needle from my arm. From what I’ve read, the agent in the IV drip latches on to metals in your body and makes it possible to pass them out of the body in your urine.
Is it painful and do you experience any side effects during the treatments?
Just what I wrote above. The afib got worse after about 15 treatments, but I kept going and then it got better, then even better, then gone. The needle they use for chelation is very small, hardly a pin-prick.
Did you have to change your diet at all during or after the chelation therapy?
No. I did take a multi-vitamin to supplement the “good” metals as some of those are needed.
Can I ask how much these treatments cost?
The chelation costs $105 per treatment and when they do the urine tests that is an extra $100. I think the whole deal is quite a bargain, considering most sites for afib and arthritis say both are incurable.
It sounds like it was a huge success for you so does that mean your afib has completely disappeared or do you still have episodes?
It is a huge success, both for afib and arthritis. The afib has stopped. I don’t have any afib episodes anymore. I am careful about the triggers and will experiment more as time goes on, but the improvement is amazing.
The arthritis has significantly reduced as well. I used to have pain with every step I took as I had arthritis in both ankles. I have about 5 sets of different orthotics (at $450 each set) to try to minimize the arthritis pain.
I wore ankle magnets all day long to help with the pain relief (and they do help quite a bit). Now, some days go by and I don’t feel much pain at all. I’m still getting chelation and every time I do, the pain gets a tiny bit less. Some days I even walk pain free. It seems that excess sugar affects my arthritis so I need to stay away from that.
In addition to getting the metal out of your body via chelation therapy, I recommend you get rid of any metal dental fillings as well. Gold is ok for molar fillings. I did change my amalgam to gold on some teeth, but that is the only metal you should have on or in your body in my opinion.
I strongly recommend to anyone with afib or arthritis to get this treatment. You will be amazed if it works for you nearly as well as it worked for me!
I want to thank Doug again for taking the time to do this interview. There is so much great information here that I’m so thankful he was willing to share it with me and everyone that reads this blog. If you want to get in touch with Doug, the best place to reach him is by visiting his profile page over at DailyStrength.org.