What Are Toxin Binders? (And 5 Reasons You May Need Them)

by Steven Wright

6 toxin binders

When it comes to healing, people are usually either a “tough case” or a “mild case.”

(Find out which one you are here.)

“Mild cases” usually have big results, fast with changes like eating better, sleeping more, and adding a few supplements.

“Tough cases” on the other hand don’t get better as quickly or as easily. They can still heal (of course) – but it takes more time, more testing and tweaking, and often the help of an expert practitioner.

That’s where today’s guest poster comes in.

Meet Julie Donaldson. Julie is one of our recommended practitioners and specializes in working with tough cases. Today, she’s sharing her expertise in treating chronic infections with us – specifically how and when to use binders to help treat gut infections.

If you’re a tough case, this is a must read.

[Enter Julie]

We are living in a world that is over-burdened with toxins, from car and airplane exhaust to cleaning chemicals and perfumes, heavy metals, and dirty water.

However, one of the most amazing things we can trust about nature is that it is full of solutions.

Curiosity and the inquiry into nature’s offerings are two of our greatest opportunities when dealing with any health challenge. Einstein once said about his genius, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” If this is true, we all have the opportunity to find genius!

Toxins Are A Problem For All Of Us

No matter what gut condition or illness one struggles with, it is only a matter of time before toxins and heavy metals become part of the equation.

Leaky gut, for instance, may have originally been caused by reactions to foods or glyphosate exposure, but eventually leaky gut is going to lead to susceptibility to numerous gut infections and pathogens. And here is what you might not know: many gut pathogens depend on heavy metals to stay alive!

Pathogens, Heavy Metals, And Biofilms

Pathogens use heavy metals to create biofilm.

You can think of biofilm like a shelter for the pathogen to live inside of. Biofilm provides a strong and resistant “housing” for a pathogen to live and thrive. Biofilm is created from polysaccharides, proteins, DNA, minerals, and heavy metals (which form vertical and horizontal matrices).

If we want to get rid of pathogens, we first have to get rid of the biofilm that is protecting it. If you try to destroy a pathogen with the biofilm still intact, it can cause the release of biotoxins and many unpleasant symptoms.

If you’ve ever experienced this reality, you know how very unpleasant and ineffective this type of “treatment” is.

Detoxing Is A Problem, Too

In addition to being bombarded with toxins and pathogens, many of us are also living with compromises in our detoxification capacities. This leads to a vicious cycle of absorbing and recirculating toxins instead of actually eliminating them.

Whether detoxification is over or under-stimulated, the imbalance results in inadequate stores of important nutrients such as vitamin B6 and zinc. Conditions are then “ripe” for accumulating excess toxins and metals.

Gut Health Is The Foundation Of Detoxing

If you’re reading this, you know that the integrity of your gut is paramount to all healing, whether your healing is strictly gut related or it is complicated with other conditions and symptoms.

Of course, that means eating the right foods for YOU so that your metabolism is running at peak capacity. It also means maintaining the right balance in your microbiome for optimal immune function.

But it also means something else very, very important – and that is having successful binding of toxins created through the liver, gallbladder and gut every time you eat.

What Your Gallbladder Has To Do With It

Your gallbladder is your storage tank for bile. Bile is necessary for proper digestion and functions as a fat emulsifier (like soap).

As food enters your stomach, a peptide known as CCK (cholecystokinin) is triggered in the small intestine by hydrochloric acid, proteins and fats. CCK causes contraction of the gallbladder. This contraction stimulates secretion of bile into the small intestine and of bile salts into the biliary system.

Meanwhile, the liver has stored some of your body’s processed toxins within the bile to be released and (hopefully) removed from the body during digestion and elimination.

Unfortunately, this process often doesn’t work as it should. In many of my clients, the excretion phase has broken down and toxins are not being removed from the body. Instead, they are being reabsorbed in the intestines and are re-circulating through the body.

What Happens When Toxins Aren’t Excreted?

When toxins are not bound for excretion through the bowels, they often go through what is called enterohepatic recirculation. Essentially, that means toxins that have already been processed by the liver will reabsorb in the intestines requiring repeated filtering by the liver.

As you might imagine, this causes a lot of energy drain and use of resources that are required for filtering the blood and detoxifying. It’s like washing the dishes again and again without putting new food waste on them!

What we’re talking about here is an evolutionary problem. Our bodies were not designed to process as many toxins as we are currently faced with and have not evolved at this point to handle the processes effectively. Add to that any other complicating factors in our nervous, immune, and circulatory systems and we are likely to experience deficits in these daily basic functions.

Remember that every cell in your body is competing for energy (ATP) in order to complete its specific task. If inefficient function is happening, important healing and rebuilding is going to be compromised as well. A great analogy is having an oil leak in your car, slow and steady and potentially very damaging over time.

This is where binders come in.

Why Binders Can Help

Binders provide a gentle, initial approach for almost any complicated GI condition.

You can think of a binder as a magnet for toxins. Its magnetic action grabs toxins in the intestines and pulls them out. Different binders have affinity for different substances. Some examples of this are:

  • Zeolite: a type of clay that is excellent for mold and mycotoxins as well as mercury
  • Chlorella: an ancient algae which binds to heavy metals of all kinds as well as to mycotoxins.
  • Modified citrus pectin: binds most efficiently to lead and some other heavy metals. When lead is present in the system, it can prevent the removal/excretion of other metals in spite of properly functioning detox mechanisms.
  • Activated charcoal: with possibly the highest binding capacity, charcoal is broad spectrum, but very effective for chemical toxins.
  • Humic/fulvic acids: potent binders for glyphosate detoxification.
  • Silica: the most effective binder for removing aluminum from the body. Aluminum has an affinity for the brain and nervous system and is now known to be a major contributor in neurodegenerative and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, it is one of the easier metals to detoxify, but typically not without some support.

How To Pick The Right Binder

These are a few binder types, with other pharmaceutical and more recently discovered plant options available. It is important to note that certain health conditions may make binder types more or less desirable. Having a good practitioner help determine those choices for you is always advisable.

There are some circumstances such as in autoimmune disease and infectious conditions that require the use of precaution and targeted choices with binders. Proper sourcing is critical as with all supplements, as each of them can come with unnecessary risks if they are not high-grade/quality.

5 Reasons To Incorporate Binders Into Your Health Program

There are many reasons to find the best binders for your own health condition, but here are the top 5, in my opinion.

  1. Your body needs to conserve the energy it may be spending on re-circulating toxins. Most of us have very high demand on our energy systems already. Most of us are also dealing with lower nutrient food supplies like never before, resulting in deficiencies and shortages. If you can prevent the usage of energy from enterohepatic recirculation, your resources for detoxification will be put to better use. It’s like turning off light switches to save on electrical waste and elevated bills!
  2. The longer a toxin remains in your body and poses damaging risks to your cells, the higher the likelihood of disease development. If you can get that toxin out today instead of having it re-circulate, consider that you are adding to your health “stock” rather than having it divest or be sold! Toxins and pathogens (which live inside toxins) are the main root causes for disease creation and development, along with stress – a topic for much lengthier discussion another day.
  3. Binders come with very few risks. Unlike many natural medicines and supplements, binders may be considered, overall, to be very safe. If side effects are experienced, they are usually quick to pass and fairly simple to correct.
  4. Binders are like free hall passes! By using a binder on a regular basis, your body is spared the work required to process a toxin through the liver and gallbladder and is, instead, escorted right out of the body. Just like the fact as a student, you would be accountable for following many procedures without a hall pass, you will indeed be required to process many more toxins that a binder can’t pick up! But at least you’ve contributed to a lighter load. In complex healing situations that involve toxicity, binders not only contribute to a lighter load but their use is often a very necessary step to have success with deeper detoxification processes. Dr. Chris Shade calls this “push and catch.” “Pushing” involves stimulating detoxification while “catching” is the grabbing of the toxin with a binder.
  5. Some binders have additional health benefits. In addition to supporting the removal of toxins and reducing burden, some binders can provide additional support. For instance, modified citrus pectin has some immune modulating qualities; chlorella is very high in plant protein and antioxidants; and clays of various sorts improve skin health and circulation.

So, there we have it! 5 good reasons to discover your excretion and detox capacities and get going with the just-right binder types for you.

I am delighted to be an SCD Lifestyle Recommended Practitioner. If this article highlights a need for you and you’d like to explore working together on your health needs, please contact me to set up a complimentary phone call.

[Enter Steve]

How do you feel after reading this article?

While it’s really exciting to get powerful information like this, it can also be overwhelming.

Testing and tweaking things on your own isn’t easy. Jordan and I both wasted years and thousands of dollars trying things on our own before we finally turned to several functional medicine practitioners.

Honestly, if you try to DIY your health, you are setting yourself up for failure. It’s impossible to be an impartial doctor to yourself. You need someone who can be emotionally separate from your pain and struggle.  

Even the top functional medicine doctors in the world (our friends), let other people be their doctors.

If you’re a tough case who needs support in healing, make sure you check out Julie and our other recommended practitioners here.

– Steve

Is Your Body Secretly Suffering from a Leaky Gut?

Take this 3-minute quiz to find out if you have the #1 problem missed by modern medicine... Take the Quiz NOW
(NOTE: The results of this quiz could save your life)

About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Greer April 13, 2018 at 12:24 pm

I had my gallbladder removed at age 25, right after I gave birth to my daughter. I am now 48. I have a lot of health issues that I know are mostly, if not all, attributed to my poor gut health. Will not having a gallbladder make it harder for me to use binding agents to Read my body of toxins? I am struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Venus insufficiency disease, low vitamin D levels and now I am prediabetic . I feel tired all the time, sleep too much and wake up feeling lightheaded, have dizzy spell’s and just not feeling like myself anymore. Just went to the doctor for blood work a couple of days ago but all my doctor wants to do is keep prescribing more medication. I refuse to take the cholesterol lowering meds as I know they have a lot of bad side effects, however I am taking blood pressure pills. Can you tell me if I can still follow all the same advice given that I do not have a gallbladder? I appreciate your time and all the wonderful information you provide to us.

Mariel Heiss April 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Hi Amy, thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you’re definitely a “tough case” with a lot of health factors to consider. In your case, we would recommend you work one-on-one with a practitioner like Julie to help you choose the right path forward – http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Julie Donaldson April 25, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Amy, I would echo Mariel’s advice that working with someone to design your approach correctly is highly advised. You have some complexities that need individual attention. Please let me know if I may help you.

Christina Goble April 13, 2018 at 9:42 am

Thank you so very much for this report. It has given me clarity about binders and which ones to use. I have shared this with friends. A healthy gut gives a happy body. ?

Julie Donaldson April 25, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Thank you, Christina!

Kat April 13, 2018 at 9:28 am

Great article! However, might I add that it is important to know that some of those binders will also interfere with absorption of wanted & beneficial elements in our diet, voiding some supplements or medications. Charcoal being the main one. So, timing of when to take them, is especially crucial with binders. 🙂

Julie Donaldson April 25, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Absolutely, Kat! That’s where the individual conditions come into play.

Jennifer April 13, 2018 at 8:42 am

What would be the best binder for someone with an autoimmune condition? I don’t want to use anything that’s going to boost an already overactive immune system.

Mariel Heiss April 16, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Hi Jennifer – the right binder depends on a lot of factors, and we think it’s best to work with a practitioner to find the plan that is right for you. You can see our recommended practitioners here: http://scdlifestyle.com/practitioners/

Julie Donaldson April 25, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Jennifer, it most definitely depends upon your set of circumstances. I echo Mariel’s advice for you.