Chelation therapy has several potential side effects, the most common and least serious of which is a burning feeling at the injection location, states Mayo Clinic. Side effects of greater concern are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and suddenly plummeting blood pressure. Some patients are unable to produce more blood cells.
In certain people, chelation therapy leads to abnormally low calcium levels or hypocalcemia, Mayo Clinic warns. In rare cases, kidney damage, kidney failure or death has occurred.
Chelation therapy is used successfully to treat mercury and lead poisoning, states Mayo Clinic. During the process, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, or EDTA, is introduced intravenously. This drug collects certain minerals and creates a new compound that is excreted through the urine. Some people speculate that the therapy is a potential treatment for heart disease if EDTA removes substances clogging arteries; however, as of 2015, this type of herapy has not been proven safe and effective.
Chelation therapy has become a controversial treatment for autism in children, Forbes reports. There is insufficient evidence to suggest the therapy is useful, and the side effects are sometimes dangerous. In 2005, a 5-year-old boy died of a heart attack after a doctor used chelation therapy to treat the youngster's autism, reveals the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.