The global burden of heavy metal especially mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium toxicities remains a significant public health challenge. Developing nations are particularly at high risk and carry the highest burden of this hazard. Chelation therapy has been the mainstay for treatment of heavy metal poisoning where the chelating agent binds metal ions to form complex ring-like structures called "chelates" to enhance their elimination from the body. Metal chelators have some drawbacks such as redistribution of some heavy metals from other tissues to the brain thereby increasing its neurotoxicity, causing loss of essential metals such as copper and zinc as well as some serious adverse effects, e.g., hepatotoxicity. The use of natural antidotes, which are easily available, affordable, and with little or no side effects compared to the classic metal chelators, is the focus of this review and suggested as cheaper options for developing nations in the treatment of heavy metal poisoning.
- Antidotes/administration & dosage
- Biological Products/administration & dosage
- Chelating Agents/administration & dosage
- Chelation Therapy/methods
- Heavy Metal Poisoning/prevention & control
- Inactivation, Metabolic
- Metals, Heavy/metabolism