5 Reasons to Use Binders for Safe and Gentle Heavy Metal Detoxification

When it comes to detoxing your system of heavy metals, binders are a must-have in your recovery toolbox. This article will discuss the pros and cons of different types of binders and how to use them. 

What you will learn in this article:

  • The #1 mistake most people make when detoxing is not taking a binder. 
  • Binders prevent detox symptoms so you can detox comfortably without headaches, nausea and fatigue and brain fog that can accompany and detox done improperly.
  • Binders are essential to any detoxification program — they bind to heavy metals and toxins for safe removal from your system.
  • Binders also remove mold toxins, Lyme, fungus, and other pathogens.
  • Running a hair mineral analysis test can help you customize a “binder cocktail.”
  • The three steps to safe detoxification are to mobilize, bind, and mineralize.
  • For best results, you must first mobilize toxins with a chelator to liberate them from hard to reach places where they are stored in your body.
  • You can choose from several options, including citrus pectin (my favorite), charcoal, zeolite, clay, chlorella, and silica.
  • Remember to always support your pathways of elimination when using binders in any detox protocol.

The #1 detox mistake most people make is NOT using a binder when they attempt detox. If you don’t use binders when detoxing you’re far more likely to experience detox reactions or herxheimer reactions like fatigue, brain fog, headache, nausea and more. 

Detox symptoms can occur when toxins you’re mobilizing out of tissue storage sites get into the bloodstream. Here, they can begin causing problems if your body cannot remove them fast enough or cannot remove them at all. Binders aid your body in this detox process by absorbing toxins so they can more quickly and successfully be removed from the body. 

Binders are primarily natural agents (a couple of pharmaceutical medications exist) that bind to toxic heavy metals in your system so your body can safely remove them through the elimination pathways. 

Binders are effective not only for detoxing heavy metals, but also for other environmental toxins, chemicals, mold toxins, Lyme, and other compounds that are at the root of many chronic symptoms and illnesses. 

When you first embark on your detoxification program, you may find the subject of binders can become overwhelming. A number of different binders exist, each with different properties and with some exhibiting increased more affinity toward some heavy metals and pathogens than others. 

This is why a Hair Mineral Analysis Testing (HTMA) is so important — by knowing specifically which heavy metals you are targeting for detoxification you can customize a “binder cocktail” for your specific needs. 

5 Reasons To Use Binders 

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

1 – Toxin absorption. 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, the better your health and energy.  Toxins are in my opinion the main root causes for disease development today. We must employ every tool we have to remove them!

2 – Few risks. Binders are considered to be very safe. If side effects are experienced, they are usually quick to pass and fairly simple to correct. The most common one being digestive upset. 

3 – Avoid Retox. You may be attempting to detox, but are you doing it correctly? Toxins that have already been processed by the liver and dumped into your intestines for elimination in your stool, can reabsorb into your body and bloodstream through the intestines. This then requires repeated filtering by the liver. This uses up resources and expends energy unnecessarily to filter blood and detoxify metals and chemicals that have already been excreted into the intestines, bound for elimination. If you can prevent the usage of energy from enterohepatic recirculation, your resources for detoxification will be put to better use. [Study]

4 – Binders help the liver. 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 – Additional health benefits beyond detox. Citrus Pectin contains fiber and prebiotics, which feed good gut bacteria. Chlorella is very high in protein and antioxidants. Silica helps improve the structure and health of hair, skin, nails and bones. Many also help to lower cholesterol. 

Top Heavy Metal Binders

Now that we have covered the foundations of a safe and effective heavy metal detox, here is an overview of binders, starting with my favorite and the most effective:

Citrus Pectin

Citrus pectin is a naturally occurring compound found in fruits and vegetables, giving them strength, flexibility, and protection. Most of us recognize pectin as a gelling agent and thickener, however studies find it is also an extremely efficient binder in the way others aren’t. 

Why? Most binders stay in the gut – whatever you ingest has to be broken down into particles small enough to pass through the gut wall and into the bloodstream. We don’t just have toxins in our gut; they are throughout our body, though they can pass through the liver and into the gut. 

While most binders are too large to be absorbed through the gut, Citrus Pectin has been processed in a way that makes its molecules small enough to cross the intestinal barrier and to get into the bloodstream. This allows citrus pectin to bind the heavy metals that are both freely circulating in your bloodstream as well the ones that have become lodged in tissues and organs. 

Citrus Pectin is also unique in that it functions as a prebiotic, a substance healthy gut bacteria use for fuel. [Study] Prebiotics can play a significant role in your overall health recovery as they boost the health of your gut microbiome, the three to four pounds of good bacteria that live in your gut and that have been found to play a major role in our immunity, health and well-being. A healthy gut microbiome has been found to be helpful in reducing the burden of environmental toxins on our bodies. [Study]

The Citrus Pectin I recommend is CitriCleanse. Not all citrus pectin products are the same, some are cut with brown algae to reduce the cost. 

CitriCleanse is a proprietary formulation that contains not only 100 percent pure grapefruit citrus pectin but also cilantro to pull heavy metals and toxins out of your tissues and fulvic and humic acid to mineralize and detox your body. 

CitriCleanse is the only 3-in-1 detox supplement on the market that does the three jobs vital to every heavy metal detox protocol: To mobilize, bind, and mineralize. Learn more about this 30-second detox in this video. 

Many people say that citrus pectin is easier to handle than some of the more aggressive detoxifiers.

Silica

Silica supplements are best known for their ability to strengthen the hair, skin, and nails and improve skin, bone, and joint health. 

Keep in mind there are different forms of silica. But not all forms have good detox binding capability. There are many different chemical forms and variations of silica. Take horsetail for example. This has a 3% absorption rate. 

The form of silica in my Activated Silica has a 17% absorption rate. And it has been activated with choline so that it has a much higher affinity to bind to heavy metals than naturally occurring silica in horsetail and foods. I discuss this in more detail in this video. 

But did you know the right form of silica can also serve as a toxin mobilizer as well as a binder? My Activated Silica works to mobilize and bind metals such as thallium, cesium, aluminum, arsenic and tin. 

Charcoal

Of all the binders, Activated Charcoal is the most well-known. It’s used in hospitals to battle life threatening toxin exposure. It is also used for food poisoning or an ingested drug overdose, hangovers, and other health and wellness applications. [Study]  

Charcoal also works great in calming an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Consume plenty of water and stay hydrated with charcoal as it can cause constipation.

There is one downside to charcoal. It works too well. I don’t recommend taking charcoal daily long-term because it can bind to vital minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. Charcoal is indiscriminate in its binding capacity and I feel is too strong to take except for 1-2 times per week or as needed for known toxin exposure (like your friday night out on the town). 

Medicinal activated charcoal can be good for detoxing your system, but it passes through without being absorbed beyond the gut and one stands the risk of ingesting unwanted versions of carbon (such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which are essentially the carcinogenic compounds in petroleum).

Zeolite

Zeolite is formed from volcanic rock and ash and creates a honeycomb chamber in which to trap toxins and heavy metals for safe passage from your body. Zeolite is known for latching onto toxins but not important minerals, vitamins, and other compounds. 

Zeolites are one of the more expensive binders and thus filled with controversy when it comes to which brands are good and which are bad. 

I personally recommend Cytodetox. The Cytodetox zeolite uses very small particles suspended in a liposome (fats) that are able to more easily cross cell membranes. Due to this, it has a far, far better binding capacity to toxins and heavy metals than other forms of zeolite. 

One issue with zeolites are aluminum and other metal contamination. Cytodetox has been triple cleaned to remove all metals. All zeolites are not created equal. I would not buy one that has not been tested for metals or has not been cleaned. 

Also note most zeolites sold on the market, especially liquid ones have so little zeolite in them, they have little to no detox effect. This is because many manufacturers don’t clean the zeolite of metals and merely add a very small amount of zeolite to a large bottle of product so as to avoid a Prop 65 lead warning on the label. Not my idea of a safe detox. 

Not all zeolites are created equal, like any supplement. I consider zeolites to be very safe and effective if you take the right product. I only recommend Cytodetox.

Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay, which gets its name from Fort Benton, Wyoming, has been shown to help detoxify heavy metals, environmental toxins, mold poisons, infectious bacteria, and other toxins. It contains volcanic ash and a variety of minerals. 

Clay has been used for thousands of years to calm the gut and as a detoxifier. When mixed with water it takes on a somewhat spongy texture and creates an electric charge that attracts and binds toxins. Clay is taken internally and also used topically to pull impurities from the skin. 

One of the nice things about clay is that it contains natural minerals. However, be sure and source a pure clay as there are also concerns about some clays being contaminated with lead and aluminum. [Study]

Chlorella

Chlorella is a chlorophyll-rich, blue-green algae that is known for its ability to bind to mercury and lead. The benefit of chlorella is that it doubles as a nutritional supplement supplying B vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Chlorella is classified as a chelator and a binder because unlike most binders, it will get into tissues to pull out metals, which most binders cannot do this.  

Other downsides are that chlorella is frequently rancid. Most are not grown with organic standards. And it must have a broken cell wall that must be broken correctly so the nutrients aren’t damaged and so that you can actually absorb the nutrients. Most chlorella on the market do not meet these criteria. 

Chlorella binds strongly to all heavy metals and therefore can become easily contaminated. Many brands are contaminated. I feel that there are cleaner ways to detox without having to worry about all of the above. 

I can only recommend the BioPure brand of chlorella at this time. 

How to Use Binders for Detoxification

Because binders can bind to nutrients, they should also be taken away from food. It is generally recommended to take them at least 1 hour away from meals, supplements or medications. 

You want to be mindful that your binder protocol is not too aggressive. Depending on how fragile your health is, you may want to begin with doses that are lower than recommended and gradually work your way up. 

Also, remember how vitally important it is to support your pathways of elimination — the gut, renal system, and sweating — through nutritional, lifestyle, and supplemental support. As soon as those toxins are mobilized, you want to bind and eliminate them right away, staying hydrated and mineralized throughout. 

Binders can also cause constipation, so make sure to take them with plenty of water. Following a binder with a dose of magnesium citrate or vitamin C can help to flush the bowels.

Must-Do’s with Your Heavy Metal Detox Plan

I want to emphasize some conditions that are vital to working with binders so you have the most effective detox possible. 

Below are the vital steps that you must adhere to in order to successfully detox heavy metals:

Mineralize: Because of structural similarities between heavy metals and minerals, it’s important to mineralize your body while undergoing a heavy metal detox. A combination of mineral deficiencies and daily exposure to heavy metals causes your body’s cells to retain heavy metals in an attempt to complete normal functions. 

Our body uses a variety of minerals in hundreds of thousands of everyday functions so it’s vital you continually mineralize during your detox protocol to help push out heavy metals and supply your body with the raw ingredients it needs to function. 

I love fulvic and humic acid, which are naturally occurring deposits full of minerals that not only help detox heavy metals out of your body and reduce inflammation, but also help you mineralize.

Mobilize: This step involves using chelators, like cilantro, to pull toxins from your tissues, fat cells, brain, organs, bones, and other areas of your body. Binders don’t do this. 

Bind: Once chelators pull toxins out of tissues, it’s important to “sponge them up” with a binder so they are not circulating freely only to lodge elsewhere in your body, particularly your brain. Some binders work only in the gut. Few binders mop up the bloodstream and get into cells. 

Eliminate: You must support your body’s elimination pathways when using binders to remove heavy metals. Once the binders attach to the heavy metals, you want them to exit your body as soon as possible. 

This includes supporting your liver detox pathways, bile flow through the liver and gallbladder, staying conscious about hydration, supporting intestinal motility to avoid constipation, regular sweating in an infrared sauna, and regular physical activity to increase circulation and lymph flow. 

Supporting the pathways of elimination will usher the newly released heavy metals and toxins quickly out of your body so they don’t further increase your toxic burden, lodge in new places, and exacerbate your symptoms. I talk more about how to support the elimination of freed heavy metals here.

Lastly, each body is unique, and the effect of a heavy metal detox protocol will be different for everyone. You may need to adjust the dosages and timing of binders in a way that works best for you. 

The general rule of thumb with binders is to take the lowest dose, increase the dose slowly. And take additional binders if needed if you experience detox symptoms. 

If you have extreme symptoms, back off your detox program and supplements and increase binders until the symptoms resolve. Then begin again slowly. 

Go at your own pace and listen to your body! 

Click here for References+

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3654245/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24009823
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23916686
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/activated-charcoal
  5. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-warns-consumers-not-use-best-bentonite-clay]

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Wendy Myers, FDN-P, is a heavy metals detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist and founder of Myersdetox.com. Discover her Myers Detox Protocol and enjoy freedom from fatigue and brain fog with heavy metal detox. Wendy is also the creator of the Mitochondria Detox , the only supplement kit on the market that helps you to remove toxic metals that cause fatigue.