The Use of Mycotoxin Binders in Detoxification
John W.
October 25, 2019

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.

 

Toxic Load

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.

Pharmaceutical

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.

 

Natural Binders

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.

 

  1. Buttaccio, Jenny Lelwica “A Quick Guide To 7 Popular Toxin Binders” ProHealth.com  April 4, 2019
  2. “Chlorella”. Vitamins and Supplements.

32 Comments

  1. Steve Popovich

    Great overview. For consideration – add a sentence or two discussion of the potential of carcinogens by group. Esp long-term charcoal use. Maybe throw in a pectin product name like Pectasol-C and its multi-use like cancer etc.

    Reply
    • cesarcollado

      Thank you for this comment! These constructive comments help many people!. This is a topic for an article in itself.

      For the most part, none of the binders have conclusive data that they cause cancer. With Activated charcoal, there isn’t much clinical data on long term usage; however, it has been used for centuries for detox. It is hypothesized that the charcoal co position to the burnt portions of food cooked on the grill. Activated charcoal has to be made in furnaces that are greater than 1800 degrees so it is unlikely that it can be compared with grilling charcoal.

      It is best to ask you doctor about several of the binders with careful considerations of long term risks. If you have questions about a particular binder, please feel free to email me to ask. Cesarcollado@me.com.

      The use of citrus pectin is certainly an option. There is literature that it decreases risks of cancer and heart disease. It also has good efficacy with heavy metal toxins. There may be better choices for different toxins.

      Reply
      • Andrew Williams

        Steve was referring to the use of Pectasol-C to *kill* cancer (a little-known useage due to the usual medical oversight of anything that actually does that).

        Reply
  2. Marianne

    Thank you for this information, it’s very helpful. Do you know if glucomannan is effective?

    Reply
    • John W.

      We do not have good data on using glucomannan as a oral binder for mycotoxins.

      Reply
  3. Deb

    Best time to take Binders? AM or PM? I understand they should be taken away from other supplements, correct?

    Reply
    • John W.

      We have found it best to take binders twice a day, morning and evening, at least 30 minutes away from food and supplements.

      Reply
  4. Brooke

    Will the binders like charcoal, pull out beneficial vitamins and minerals the entire time you are taking them (24/7) or only during the 1 hour window that’s usually suggested? Most say to take the binder 1 hour away from food or supplements. Do they only pull from anything ingested during that 1 hour window or will they pull from any stored vitamins and minerals you have? Also, I never see spirulina listed, is it not a good binder for mycotoxins? Thank you!

    Reply
    • John W.

      We have not seen a significant decrease in the body’s minerals when taking binders, but they are recommended to be taken away from food to limit this potential reduction. Unfortunately, we do not currently have a lot of experience with spirulina and cannot give an opinion. However, we will ask around to see what others know.

      Reply
  5. Pat K

    Has there been any studies of the negative effects of taking binders long term? I have been on charcoal, bentonite clay and chlorella for almost a year for mold toxicity and now have developed painful joint pain in the hips, buttocks and pelvic region that came on suddenly. Could one or more of these binders be depleting the calcium from my bones…Bentonite clay was mentioned as possibly causing joint pain.

    Reply
    • John W.

      We have not yet found good studies on the negative effects of taking binders long term. In our experience, we have not seen significant reduction in minerals from the body. With that being said, we will consult a few of our expert associates to see if they have information we are not aware of, and update this response with our findings. More often than not, we have found the increase in joint pain to be associated with the rate of detox (i.e. – too fast). Backing off of the binders for a week should help you determine if they are the source of your pain.

      Reply
    • Maja OG

      Hi, it might not be the problem with the binders intake but the gut issue. Just taking binders is not a complete solution, you need to add on gut support. Have you worked on your gut, and treated other sources of inflammation that could lead to symtoms you desribe? Good luck!

      Reply
    • Aj

      The myotoxins may be recirculating in your system some binders are too aggressive in removing mold as a defense they release more toxins into your body I had a real bad reaction to charcoal pills

      Reply
  6. Anita

    Hi, thank you for the information.
    Can I take bentonite clay together with chlorella? Or they need to take separately, if so, how long apart? TIA.

    Reply
  7. Paola

    Great article, thank you!

    Reply
  8. ashley

    What are the two best binders for mold exposure? Also how long do I need to take them?Do I need to see a doctor to get a prescription or can I take a good G.I. binder and activated charcoal? Thank you

    Reply
  9. Kris

    Pectisol c in powder form i brought to help detox mold and toxins however after taking it i bloat and get severe stomach pain and slicing sharp pains in lower adbomen. I bloat so much that i feel compressed in abdomen and pelvis and pressure on chest increased kidney pain. I assumed was a detox reaction however i realised it is made from fruits and i bloat when eat anything with fructose due to my functional gut disorder. Anyone found similar issues with pectisol c. Should i continue in hope its just working by detoxing body hence creating initial issues or stop it. Only been taking it for 4 days one scoop in water a day but an hour afterwards the pain and bloating intensifies

    Reply
  10. Rheumatoid Arthritis

    How long do most binders stay in the body. If a mix of these natural binders was taken for 5 months, how long do you think the effects of the binders will impact the body. The concern is that headache, chills and sweats have occurred. Binders have been stopped for almost 2 weeks and these symptoms persist. Would you think these symptoms would most likely be do to binders as opposed to a new acute infection? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • John W.

      Certainly you should consult your doctor, but we do not typically see detox symptoms related to binders lasting longer than a week after stopping the binder. Binders by design are intended to move quickly through the body so that the toxins are not reabosrbed.

      Reply
  11. nancy claytor

    I need help reducing GMOs and VOCs. Most binders and detoxification therapy concentrate on metals. I understand zeolite will help remove VOCs but it’s not the first thing mentioned–it’s more like an added value or thought. My extensive test result show huge amounts of glyphosates and petroleum in my blood and past urine. I lived 4 feet from an 80 year old underground 20″ crude oil pipeline for 40 years and it must have been leaking their cleaning (PIG) products. All underground air tests outside and inside the house tested positive for the same thing that is in me. It’s a long story of discovery. I am much better since I moved, but I need to stop being so sensitive to the world I live in. I’m looking for a good binder to add to Zeolite and any suggestions people have for the best Zeolite supplement that removes VOCs.

    Reply
    • John W.

      Nancy,

      Thank you for your question. Your toxin situation is obviously very well defined by the location where you lived. Zeolite is used by many physicians for detox. It is a strong chelating agent and helps restore the gut microbiome.

      That being said, there are many other binders that you can consider. I would also suggest using one of the nutraceutical products that combines zeolite clay with several other binders in a formulation that is well tolerated and safe. This way, the zeolite clay can be combined with other binders such as activated bamboo and/or coconut charcoal, monomethylsilanetriol silica, humid and fulvic acid fruit pectin and others. Many of the binders that are active with heavy metals are also useful for herbicides and pesticides. This approach provides a proper mixture of binders to cover a broad spectrum of toxins that must be removed.

      One example is Quicksilver Ultra Binder that combines Zeolite, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, and chitosan. There are several others that are dosed properly for daily and long time use. My suggestion is to consider a complete detox program that includes glutathione, infrared sauna, exercise, and diet.

      Thank you,

      Cesar

      Reply
    • Joy

      What tests did you do to find your problem?

      Reply
      • Brandy

        Great article!
        I was taking one cap of activated charcoal daily for two years. I went off of it for almost a year and now have recently gone back on, due to a return of my symptoms which are emf sensitivity related due to mycotoxins produced by lyme and mold. My question is is it safe to continue taking activated charcoal and what are your thoughts on humic and fulvic acid as a binder, as well. Thank you

        Reply
        • Cesar Collado

          This is a question that should be addressed by your physician. I am not a physician.

          Reply
  12. Elizabeth

    How long does it typically take to detox when on binders recommended? 3 months, 6 months, 1 year? I know everyone is different but what is the typical time frame to retest please?

    Reply
    • John W.

      Hello again,

      I received your comment to Citrisafe regarding the treatment duration of Activated Charcoal (AC).

      There are several types and dosages of AC. Coconut shell charcoal seems to be the effective AC recommended. Dosages of capsules can range from 100g to 1000g. These dosages may have different recommendations on usage. They will also have specific recommendations on when to take the AC in conjunction with your eating schedule.

      We advise you use AC in conjunction with a detoxification program. Detox from mold is often treated with diet and supplements from 6-12 months before reevaluation. It is best to follow a physician’s recommendation.

      AC is intended for short term use. Some brands suggest using for a period of weeks and then taking a break for a couple weeks and then start a new regimen. Follow directions from the brand on the bottle or contact the manufacturer. There are also binders that provide an effective mix of several binders to reach as many toxic chemicals as possible.

      Good luck in finding the optimal, safe treatment regimen for your detox.

      Cesar.

      Reply
  13. Monica

    How long does it take for reactions to stop after taking the binder only once? I have high anxiety after my first time taking a binder for 5 hrs already.

    Reply
    • Cesar Collado

      This is a question for a physician. Thank you.

      Reply
  14. Gabriella Neacsu Katz

    How much charcoal do you need to take to bind mycotoxins?

    Reply
    • Cesar Collado

      Activated charcoal comes in many different forms and potencies. As a rule of thumb, follow the label dosage. Realistically, dosages below 50 g are safe when making a self determination. Physicians or ER doctors may use 50-100 g will be used for emergency needs. Feel free to ask your physician for recommended dosage. Also, physicians may use multiple binders at the same time. Adjusted dosages of each binder are likely.

      Reply

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