Learn How to Use Effective, Lesser-Known Toxin Binders
In my previous article, “How to Use Toxin Binders,” I introduced you to toxin binders, which are substances that “bind” toxins and facilitate their elimination from the body. I discussed cholestyramine and Welchol, two prescription binders that have been popularized by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker for the treatment of toxic mold illness. I also covered several non-pharmaceutical binders, including activated charcoal, bamboo, clay, and chlorella.
In this blog post, I want to introduce you to several lesser-known but very effective toxin binders: Pectin, silica, zeolite, and humic/fulvic acid substances. While human research on some of these binders is limited, a growing body of environmental and animal research indicates that they are potent detoxifiers of heavy metals, mycotoxins, and bacterial toxins.
Pectin is a soluble polysaccharide composed of short, branched carbohydrate chains that naturally occurs in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. In plants, pectin’s purpose is to provide mechanical strength and flexibility to the plant’s body, to form a barrier against the external environment, and to regulate the movement of water.
Pectin becomes thick and gelatinous when mixed with water; in fact, the word “pectin” comes from the Greek word “pektos,” meaning “gelatinized.” Citrus fruits (especially citrus peels), apples, and pears are the richest dietary sources of pectin in the plant kingdom.
While many people are familiar with the use of pectin as a gelling agent in the creation of jellies and jams, few realize that pectin is also a powerful toxin binder! Certain types of pectin, including apple pectin and modified citrus pectin (MCP), bind bile acids and the toxins that circulate with those acids in the gastrointestinal tract.
Modified citrus pectin is created from the peel, pulp, and seeds of citrus fruits, and has been thoroughly studied in humans. It is an excellent chelator of heavy metals, particularly lead. In children with high levels of lead, modified citrus pectin was found to significantly decrease their blood serum levels of the toxic metal. (1)
Another study conducted in adults with “normal” levels of heavy metals found that just 6 days of supplementation with MCP reduced urinary excretion of arsenic, cadmium, and lead by a whopping 130%, 150%, and 560%, respectively. (2) Importantly, MCP reduced lead levels in these subjects without causing the adverse side effects characteristic of pharmaceutical chelating agents such as EDTA and DMSA.
In addition to its powerful heavy metal-detoxifying effects, pectin also has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and prebiotic effects. Modified citrus pectin reduces the expression of galectin-3, a molecule involved in inflammatory and tumorigenic pathways in the body. (3) Citrus and apple pectin also have prebiotic effects in the gut, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. (4)(5) If you want a multi-purpose supplement that binds toxins, reduces inflammation, protects against cancer, and improves gut health, then pectin may be the binder for you!
Silica is a mineral that our bodies require in small amounts for the maintenance of our bones and collagenous tissues. However, intake of silica beyond our bodies’ basic needs may help us detoxify heavy metals, mycotoxins, and bacterial toxins.
Silica has a high affinity for aluminum, a toxic metal implicated in neurodegenerative disease, as well as mercury, cadmium, and lead. (6) Silica combines with aluminum in the body to produce aluminosilicate, a nontoxic compound that is excreted by the kidneys.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when subjects drank 1.5 liters of silica-rich mineral water per day for just five days, their urinary excretion of aluminum was significantly reduced, suggesting that the ingested silica reduced the body burden of aluminum. Silica also reduces aluminum accumulation in the brain, a tissue that is highly sensitive to toxic metals.
In animal studies, silica reduces circulating levels of mycotoxins, which are harmful byproducts produced by toxic molds. (7) Silica also mops up endotoxin, a substance released by pathogenic bacteria in the gut that that causes inflammation and the symptoms of food poisoning.
Supplemental silica comes in several forms: Powder, liquid, and gel. Silica-based powders have been studied primarily in the context of heavy metal and mycotoxins. Silica-rich mineral waters are also useful for reducing heavy metal burden.
Enterosgel, a hydrated silica gel produced in Europe, is highly recommended by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, a specialist in complex chronic illness, for detoxifying aluminum from the body. Enterosgel also adsorbs bacterial toxins in the gut, alleviating symptoms of diarrhea and food poisoning. (8)
Zeolites are a group of porous minerals naturally found in volcanic rock and ashes. The crystalline structure of zeolite acts as a “cage” that traps positively and neutrally-charged molecules in the gastrointestinal tract. This unique property of zeolite makes it useful for binding heavy metals such as mercury and lead. (9)(10)
Are you struggling with leaky gut or dysbiosis? If so, zeolite may be an excellent binder for you! Zeolite restores the integrity of the gut barrier by decreasing levels of zonulin, a molecule that damages the tight junctions that bind intestinal epithelial cells together. (11)
Last but not least, animal studies indicate that zeolite reduces the body burden of mycotoxins, including aflatoxin and zearalenone, which commonly contaminate wheat, rice, maize, barley, oats, sorghum, and peanuts. (14)(15) These findings suggest that zeolite may also be useful mold toxin binder for people recovering from toxic mold illness.
Zeolite is widely available as a supplement, but it is crucial to buy only very high-quality zeolite. Because zeolite is extracted from the earth using water, mold can grow if it is not processed properly. Some companies sell commercial-grade zeolite intended for air and water filtration or odor removal – this zeolite is not intended for consumption! The best form of zeolite is micronized zeolite that has been thoroughly tested for purity.
Humic and Fulvic Acids
Fulvic and humic acids are organic compounds present in humus, the part of soil that is richest in decayed plant and animal matter. Humic acids are large molecules that help plant roots receive water and nutrients. Fulvic acids, on the other hand, are smaller molecules that transfer vital nutrients through the cell membranes of plants. Together, humic and fulvic acids enhance soil and plant health.
However, the health benefits of these organic compounds aren’t limited to plants - they also offer health benefits to us! Humic and fulvic acids are rich in bioavailable minerals that can replenish our depleted stores. Furthermore, their unique chemical structures facilitate the removal of toxic substances from our bodies, including heavy metals and organic pollutants.
Humic acid adsorbs heavy metals, including cadmium and lead, and binds glyphosate, a pervasive agricultural pesticide that contaminates conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables, our air, and our water. (16)(17)(18) Humic and fulvic acids also bind organic toxins such as benzo(a)pyrene, a chemical found in coal tar, tobacco smoke, and charred meats, and pentachlorophenol, a pesticide and disinfectant. (19)
For much of human history, we have consumed humic and fulvic acids unintentionally on vegetables grown in nutrient-rich earth. However, this practice has abated as our soils have become increasingly nutrient-depleted due to intensive agriculture. Fortunately, humic and fulvic acid supplements are now available on the market. Both the Biotoxin Binder (pictured above) and the G.I. Detox binder (below) are high-quality products that contain fluvic and humic acid.
Dr. Nathan Neil, author of Toxic: How to Heal Your Body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Chronic Environmental Illness explains that you can still be exposed to the toxin even as it is attached to the binder as it is loosely bound to the binder, so sensitive patients may feel worse from taking binders.
He emphasizes to only take as much as you can handle without side effects, even if it’s just a 1/4 capsule every other day.
As a general guideline and if well-tolerated, I will take a full serving of a binder (for example 2 capsules of GI Detox) at bedtime.
If you are doing a more intensive detox, you may want to take a dose of binders 2-3 times a day, as directed by your functional health coach.
G.I. Detox: An Effective Full-Spectrum Binder
Given the number of toxin binders available on the market, how do you choose the best binders to fit your needs?
Since each binding agent I've discussed has its own unique beneficial properties, I recommend using a product that combines multiple toxin binders. Bio-Botanical Research’s G.I. Detox fits the bill! It contains zeolite, activated charcoal, silica, apple pectin, and humic/fulvic acid for binding toxins, along with aloe for its gut-soothing properties. The combination of binders in G.I. Detox covers all your bases, efficiently binding heavy metals, bacterial metabolites, and mycotoxins.
Toxins are one of the biggest threats to our health we face in the modern-day world. By adding toxin binders to your daily routine, you can reduce your body burden of heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins, and bacterial toxins, and create a foundation for lifelong optimal health!
You’ll also find G.I. Detox in our specially-priced Detox Starter Kit.
DETOX YOUR BODY
What about all the heavy metals and other toxins that may already be stored in your body? Try out my simple 5-minute routine to have more energy for the day and get some spring back in your step, naturally.
Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.
Disclaimer: All information copyright of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and cannot be reproduced or shared without prior permission. This information serves as education only and does not replace your relationship with your doctor.