Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), a non-toxic, water-soluble treatment for heavy metal toxicity

Altern Med Rev. 1998 Jun;3(3):199-207.


Heavy metals are, unfortunately, present in the air, water, and food supply. Cases of severe acute lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium poisoning are rare; however, when they do occur an effective, non-toxic treatment is essential. In addition, chronic, low-level exposure to lead in the soil and in residues of lead-based paint, to mercury in the atmosphere, in dental amalgams and in seafood, and to cadmium and arsenic in the environment and in cigarette smoke is much more common than acute exposure. Meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) is a sulfhydryl-containing, water-soluble, non-toxic, orally-administered metal chelator which has been in use as an antidote to heavy metal toxicity since the 1950s. More recent clinical use and research substantiates this compound s efficacy and safety, and establishes it as the premier metal chelation compound, based on oral dosing, urinary excretion, and its safety characteristics compared to other chelating substances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic Poisoning
  • Cadmium Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Heavy Metal Poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Lead Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Mercury Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Succimer / pharmacokinetics
  • Succimer / therapeutic use*


  • Chelating Agents
  • Succimer