A Closer Look at EDTA
Tetrasodium Edta is derived from sodium salts. It is a synthetic amino acid and is used as a chelating agent. The Greek root of the word chelate is chele which means “to claw”. The root of the word creates a great visual image of what Edta does as a chelating agent. Edta “claws” or “binds” minerals, which are necessary components for the growth of mold. For instance, Edta binds up magnesium which is necessary for mold to grow. The Research and Development Lab at Essential Wholesale found that alone phenoxyethanol failed as a preservative, but that the addition of minimal levels of Edta to the formulas made a effective broad spectrum preservative system.
Edta is widely used for chelation therapy, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for lead, mercury and heavy metal poisoning. An estimated one million people in America use chelation therapy for this purpose. The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is currently funding a study to prove the effectiveness of Edta chelation therapy for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends chelation therapy for removing toxic metals from the body. More than 1 million Americans and over 3 million patients in other countries use Chelation Treatments for heavy metal detox and plaque removal each year. Chelation Therapy has been used successfully for over 60 years. An interesting article on Chelation Therapy can be read here.
In chelation therapy, Edta in solution is injected intravenously. Once in the bloodstream, Edta latches onto lead and other metals to form a compound that can be excreted through the urine. Food grade Edta is approved by the FDA and USDA for use in foods. Edta is also used in many foods, for instance mayonnaise and soft drinks, that include ascorbic and sodium benzoate to mitigate the formation of benzene (a carcinogen). Industrial grade Edta is often used in household products to reduce water hardness.
The Edta molecule has an attraction to heavy metal ions, when the two encounter each other, bonds are formed between the metals and the Edta molecule. Because there is a finite amount of EDTA within a system, the Edta can be fully spoken for in certain conditions. In other words, once bound, the Edta-heavy metal complex is unchanged. This new complex is negatively charged and is unable to cross the lipid cellular membrane. Essential Wholesale did extensive testing to determine the lowest level of Edta that could be used in our formulas in order to make them stable while using up all of the Edta’s potential in the finished cosmetic base.
The list of common uses for food grade, pharmaceutical grade and industrial grade Edta is extensive including: biochemistry, molecular biology, analytical chemistry, biomedical laboratories, veterinary ophthalmology, histopathology, chelation therapy, to treat complications of repeated blood transfusions and thalassaemai, dentistry, analysis of blood as an anticoagulant, alternative to heart surgery, sequester metals in the textile industry, pulp and paper industry, food preservative, and cosmetic preservative.
More about the author: Kayla Fioravanti is the Vice President, Chief Formulator, ARC Registered & Certified Aromatherapist for Essential Wholesale and its lab division Essential Labs. Read more from this author