Binders Attach to Mycotoxins and “Escort” Them Through the Excretion Process
By Cesar Collado
Mold and mycotoxin sensitivities are common amongst people who are suffering from Lyme Disease and other chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. However, many consumers and physicians have little understanding of some of the “tools” available to aid the body in removing the toxins from the body. How to detoxify, you ask?
Physicians can prescribe chemical and organic binders to “seek out and attach” to the various toxins we consume. The binders then escort them out of the body during the excretion process. Patients increasingly rely on the binders to speed up the process of detoxification. Binders are most commonly prescribed by integrative and functional medicine physicians who treat environmental illness; however, several do not require a prescription. It is important to understand that there are many binders available and be in a position to discuss options with physicians.
Our bodies are exposed to many toxins in our environment. Chemical toxins are present in many consumer and personal products like cleaning products, soaps, and makeup. Insecticides and pesticides are commonly used. Chemicals are used in most fragrances. Heavy metals in our environment can also poison our bodies. In addition, pollutants, both outdoor and indoor, are significant contributors to illness. Furthermore, mold and mycotoxins are ubiquitous on earth and a mold infestation can cause debilitating symptoms.
It is critical that patients work with physicians when detoxifying and using these binders. In some cases the use of binders can also deplete the body of nutrients which can lead to exacerbating inflammatory conditions and symptoms from their toxic exposure. Also, certain dietary modifications make the product more effective and help avoid uncomfortable side effects like constipation, stomach pain, and gas. It is important to note that physicians pick from a variety of binders used to aid the body in excreting toxins.
Our bodies can only metabolize and remove a certain amount of toxins in our lifetimes. This means that we can have a significant exposure quickly or smaller exposures over time that will bring us to our body’s removal limit. Once we reach our limit, we reach our toxic load. It is similar to a bucket that fills over time. Once it is filled, the body cannot take on anymore. Once the toxic load is reached, patients cannot handle any more toxins and become extremely sensitive to any foreign substance. This makes life near impossible as sensitivities to chemicals, mold, and even electromagnetic fields (‘EMFs”) can cause debilitating symptoms. Read more here: The Body’s Toxic Load.
People can become very sick and sensitive to any place that has common building materials and furnishings made with chemicals like volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and fire retardants. Other toxic elements we are exposed to include perfumes, artificial fragrances/”fresheners”, cleaning products, personal hygiene products, cigarette smoke, and the list goes on.
Virtually every organ we have has a protective system to filter foreign pollutants, pathogens, and toxins. Our mouths, sinuses, and lungs produce mucous to trap foreign substances prior to entering our bodies. Our skin has protective layers. Our GI tract houses bacteria, fungi, enzymes, and gastric acid to break down and digest foods we eat. Altogether, our bodies are effective in removing toxins. In fact, our bodies must metabolize all toxins and excrete them. There is no medicinal “magic bullet”. Thus, in order to detoxify, the body may need some help to optimize excretion. Help will likely include diet, nutrients and supplements as well as binders.
Reducing the toxic load is most commonly achieved through the body’s normal detoxification processes coupled with finding a safe place to live that is free of these pollutants. This is easier said than done. Equally as important is the air a patient breathes. Continuous breathing of mold and toxins will prevent healing. Homes must be free of excess moisture (mold) and furnishings must have had time to off-gas harmful chemicals. Good indoor air quality is essential, requiring attention be given to HVAC systems, dehumidification processes, and HEPA filtration. Read: 9 Ways to Improve Air Quality.
The Use of Binders. How TO Detoxify.
There are some physicians who exclusively use the prescription drug cholestyramine as a binder to detox from mold and mycotoxin exposure. While cholestyramine is “not absorbed”, adherence to the protocol is often lacking due to potential side effects, warnings, and interactions. It also can block the absorption of certain nutrients that can impact wellness. The product has been used for cholesterol for over 4 decades and much is known about issues regarding overuse.
In fact, there are several products used as chemical binders to attach to toxins in the body and excrete toxins via bile and the excretion process. When the liver processes toxins, they get excreted through bile and into the small intestine. If the toxins are not bound to anything, they often get reabsorbed in the gut. This is called enterohepatic recirculation. Binders can be used to bind to the toxins so that they can pass all the way through the digestive tract to be eliminated.
Different binders have affinities for different toxins based on the net charge and different molecular bonds.
There are two pharmaceuticals, originally developed to lower cholesterol, that are used as binders. They bind to toxins in a similar manner as they bind to cholesterol and escort toxins through the excretion process.
Cholestyramine (Questran) is a cholesterol reducing drug that bonds to cholesterol and escorts it through the excretion system. Cholestyramine also binds to toxins and helps remove them without their being reabsorbed. Before taking clorestyramine, you must consult a physician as it is a prescription medication and dietary changes and supplementation may be required BEFORE taking the product. In addition, GI side effects are not well tolerated by some patients.
Colesevelam (Welchol) is a second bile acid-binding resins. It performs similarly to cholestyramine but has a safer profile. The product is less potent and be taken in larger quantities several times a day with a more-gentle profile for sensitive people. It is also significantly more expensive compared to the alternative. As with cholestyramine, Welchol requires a prescription.
Activated Charcoal- is broad-spectrum binder that will bind a little bit of everything. This means it will bind toxins, as well as vitamins and minerals. Proper nutritional monitoring and supplementation is required. For this reason, it is best used for acute situations, not long term. It is very effective for chemical toxins. It is best consumed with an empty stomach, either early AM or late PM. Charcoal has the advantage of being a very inexpensive binder that is easily obtained.
Bentonite clay– is a clay that originates from ash created by volcanoes. It has been used for centuries around the world to help the body detox from illnesses. It soaks up toxins, heavy metals, and other harmful materials. Additionally, bentonite clay may be a beneficial source of bioavailable nutrients such as iron, sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Among clay binders, it also contains antiviral and antibacterial properties. However, some bentonite clays have high levels of undesirable metals, so take caution.
Chlorella-is a single-celled algae that is an excellent detoxifying agent. In the digestive tract, chlorella binds to heavy metals and other toxins and carries them out of the body. Unlike other binders, such as activated charcoal and bentonite clay, it doesn’t remove healthy minerals from the body. Chlorella has the added benefit of supporting the immune system. Bottom of Form
Chlorella has a high affinity for heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, herbicides, and mycotoxins. Chlorella dosing must be titrated. For this reason, it can be used long term with no risk of nutritional deficiency over time. There are often quality issues with chlorella. The levels of protein, carbohydrates, and fat can be highly variable between sources making efficacy unpredictable.
Zeolite- is a popular substance and is used in many detoxification protocols. Zeolite is composed of a wide array of natural minerals. Zeolite powder chelates metals and draws them out of the body. However, some doctors suggest that it’s a weak binder of mercury; though it may work better on other heavy metals. Also, some physicians will combine zeolite with some of the previously mentioned binders for a balanced detox plan.
There are 49 natural forms of Zeolite. Some of the 49 forms are known to be harmful to humans. The worst-case example is asbestos. Zeolites must be in activated form to increase effectiveness. There is a wide variance in the quality of Zeolite products, so investigate the source thoroughly.
Pectin- is a powdered fiber supplement made from apples, plums, and citrus fruits. It helps to detoxify the body by sweeping up biotoxins in the gut caused by mold, Lyme, and other infections. In addition, pectin binds mildly with heavy metals. Many people say that pectin is easier to handle than some of the more aggressive detoxifiers. Like zeolite, pectin works well in combination with other binders and is relatively inexpensive. Pectin can cause GI problems such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and gas.
- Buttaccio, Jenny Lelwica “A Quick Guide To 7 Popular Toxin Binders” ProHealth.com April 4, 2019
- “Chlorella”. Vitamins and Supplements.