Chelation Therapy is Not a Placebo


Establishment physicians generally allege that patients who report feeling better and apparently act as though improved, are experiencing a placebo effect. There are several facts that invalidate this alleged explanation:

1. Typically, the chelation patient comes to the chelating physician as a last resort. He has received little or no relief previously. If the reported behavioral improvement is a placebo effect, how come it did not occur while under the care of previous physicians? Since the placebo effect is hypothesized to be linked to the confidence the patient has in his physician, and since in general, a patient will visit that physician first in whom he has the greatest confidence, then we would logically expect the placebo effect to be most likely to occur while under the care of the first physician, and least likely to occur when under the care of the last physician. By the way, let us note that rarely does the establishment physician attribute beneficial results to the placebo effect rather than the modalities he employs.

2. True placebo effects generally occur after the first application of a treatment. But very seldom do chelation patients report feeling better and improved physical performance after the first treatment. Very often a patient will have 10, 15 or 20 treatments before reporting a beneficial result. Such cases can only rarely, if at all, be attributed to a placebo effect.

3. The extremely dramatic results, such as a patient not being able to cross a room without puffing, and improving to being able to chop wood all day (I know cases of that sort) cannot plausibly be explained as a placebo effect. 

4. Many patients have stopped treatment after 20 or so chelations without experiencing improvement, only to feel better sometime after ceasing chelation. It stretches credulity too far to believe that such cases could be placebo effects.

5. In some instances (my own is one example), the patient experiences benefit after a course of treatments only to have symptoms return several months after, but with a further series, the symptoms again clear. Hardly a placebo effect.

6. My reading of the literature discloses that rarely is the placebo effect reported as occurring beyond the 30%-35% range. But it is not unusual for chelating physicians to obtain benefits varying from slight to dramatic above 70%. To attribute to placebo effect such a high rate of success again stretches credulity.

Ken Schwartz 

Reprinted from the Port Townsend Health Letter—Spring 1989

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