Are You Detoxing with the Correct Binders?
Intestinal binders are a crucial part of any detox protocol. When the liver processes toxins, they get excreted through bile and into the small intestine. If the toxins are not bound to anything, most of them will 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.
There are a variety of binders available. Different binders have affinities for different toxins based on the net charge and different molecular bonds. The following are some of the most commonly used binders:
Chlorella: Chlorella is algae that has a high affinity for heavy metals, but also volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, herbicides, and mycotoxins. Because chlorella is a living organism, it has evolved to bind only to toxic metals, not essential minerals. For this reason, it can be used long term with no risk of nutritional deficiency over time. It is also a good idea to take chlorella before eating any higher mercury fish, such as tuna or swordfish.
Chlorella is algae that have a high affinity for heavy metals, but also volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, herbicides, and mycotoxins. Because chlorella is a living organism, it has evolved to bind only to toxic metals, not essential minerals. For this reason, it can be used long term with no risk of nutritional deficiency over time. It is also a good idea to take chlorella before eating any higher mercury fish, such as tuna or swordfish.
Other Algaes: Ecklonia cava and spirulina have similar properties as chlorella.
Charcoal: Charcoal is a broad-spectrum binder that will bind a little bit of everything. This means it will bind toxins, as well as vitamins and minerals. For this reason, it is best used for acute situations, not long term.
Clays: Zeolite, bentonite, and pyrophyllite clays fall somewhere in between chlorella and charcoal. Clays are more selective to binding toxins than charcoal, but can still bind to nutrients. They are most commonly used for binding to biotoxins from mold and other microbes but can bind to other toxins as well. Clays are usually used for weeks to months at a time.
Enterosgel: A silica-based gel that has a high affinity for aluminum. It is also good for binding to gut endotoxins and is marketed to be used for food poisoning. It has a low affinity for vitamins and minerals.
Silica-Rich Mineral Waters: Silica easily obtained through mineral water can bind to aluminum.
Biosil and Other Silica Products: Bind mostly to aluminum, but also other trivalent metals like thallium and tin.
Cholestyramine and Welchol: These are prescription medications that were developed to bind cholesterol. They are commonly used to bind to mycotoxins, but they can decrease the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins over time.
Chitosan: A compound derived from crustaceans that has a binding ability almost identical to welchol.
Modified Citrus Pectin: A fiber made from the peel of citrus fruits that has a high affinity for lead, but also other heavy metals. It also has some immune-modulating properties.
Fiber: Plant fibers have a weak affinity for many different toxins. Fiber can easily be obtained through the diet or supplemented.
Humic and Fulvic Acids: These are made of decomposed plant matter, essentially dirt. They have been shown to detox glyphosate.
Intestinal Metal Detox: A specially designed silica molecule that has a very high affinity for heavy metals.
When choosing binders, sourcing is extremely important. Algaes, clays, and charcoal are notorious for being contaminated with toxins themselves, so cheapening out can actually make you worse. For this reason, it is important to make sure you are buying high-quality binders.
The binder that works best for someone can also differ greatly based on the specific toxin load. What works well for someone can also change during different phases of treatment. Because binders can bind to nutrients, they should also be taken away from food. It is generally recommended to take them at least 30 minutes before, or 1 hour after eating or taking any supplements or medications. Binders can also cause constipation, so make sure to take them with plenty of water. Chasing them with magnesium citrate can also help reduce constipation. If it persists, a different binder may be needed.