Have you ever paused to consider the contaminants that you’re exposed to each and every day? The simple fact is, we live in an increasingly toxic world. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, we’re exposed to high levels of environmental toxins.
These come in the form of biotoxins (such as mold toxins); toxins from bacterial, fungal, and viral infections; toxic chemicals such as pesticides; heavy metals; air pollution (smog); and dust and other irritants. Harmful chemicals can also be found in food, beverages, clothing, cleaning products, home construction materials and furnishings, and electronics and electronic emissions.
When the toxins in our bodies exceed the body’s innate ability to detox, we are at an increased risk of developing one or more of the following environmentally acquired illnesses (EAIs):
- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases
- Autistic spectrum disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Depression, anxiety, and other neuropsychiatric disorders
- Dysbiosis/leaky gut syndrome
- Gluten, casein, and other food sensitivities
- Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)
The first two steps to treating any environmentally acquired illnesses are:
- Reduce exposure to environmental toxins
- Assist the body in eliminating toxins (often referred to as detox)
In today’s post, we’re going to cover both steps, as well as point out the important role cholestyramine and natural binders play in addressing environmentally acquired illnesses. First up are our thoughts on how to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins.
Limiting Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Reducing exposure to environmental toxins includes one or more of the following steps:
- Mold remediation if you have reason to suspect that your home has mold. (Mold accounts for 80 percent of biotoxin exposure.)
- Treatment for undiagnosed or lingering infections, such as Lyme disease (from tick bites) or Lyme co-infections like Bartonella (a group of infectious diseases caused by bacteria belonging to the Bartonella genus) and Babesia (a parasite that infects red blood cells).
- Elimination of any foods or substances in the diet to which you may be allergic or sensitive, such as gluten or casein.
- Reducing exposure to products infused with artificial fragrances or other chemicals that may prove sensitive to you. Products may include perfumes and cosmetics, air fresheners, home-cleaning products, laundry detergents and dryer sheets, and even certain home furnishings and construction materials.
Detox with Cholestyramine and/or Natural Binders
When a person’s toxic load exceeds the body’s ability to eliminate the toxins, natural binders (insoluble fibers) are recommended to support the body’s detox mechanisms.
Binders are especially important for the 25 percent of the population with a mutation of the MTHFR gene — a mutation that prevents the body from detoxing efficiently.
Binders are substances that attract toxins, like a magnet attracts metal shavings. Since they’re insoluble, toxins attach to the binder, enabling the body to filter and eliminate them from the body easily.
One of the most effective binders is cholestyramine (CSM), a prescription medication developed to help lower levels of cholesterol in the blood. CSM molecules bind negative ionospheres (including biotoxins), facilitating their removal from the body (through the excretion of bile).
CSM is available in the following three forms:
- “Regular,” which contains 3.5 grams of sugar per dose and other additives.
- “Light,” which contains the artificial sweetener aspartame (in place of the sugar). Some people have a sensitivity to aspartame.
- “Pure resin,” which is the best available and has no additives. But it’s also significantly more expensive and typically not covered by insurance because it has to be compounded by a pharmacy.
While Cholestyramine is very safe, it is associated with several adverse side effects — primarily abdominal pain and constipation. Here at BioDesign Wellness Center, a Tampa functional medicine practice, we use CSM, but not exclusively.
Many patients tolerate CSM just fine in lower than typically recommended doses. We prefer to use CSM in combination with other, natural binders. In many cases, we’re able to use natural binders without CSM. We evaluate each patient individually and choose binders accordingly to provide three treatment options:
- CSM exclusively, which has the greatest potential for producing adverse side effects
- CSM in smaller doses plus natural binders has less potential for producing adverse side effects
- Natural binders without CSM which has the least potential for producing adverse side effects
Adverse side effects can also be avoided by adding magnesium supplementation, increasing water intake, and slowly ramping up the dose. At times, we need to do an intestinal healing protocol using natural antifungals, magnesium citrate, glutamine, and soothing herbs (including aloe), prior to starting binders.
You may have heard stories of people feeling worse during or after an aggressive detox, and these stories are usually true. When you detox, high levels of toxins leave the liver and kidneys and can be reabsorbed before they have a chance to be excreted.
To prevent this from happening — and ensure that you feel better (and not worse) as the result of your detox — we work closely with you to develop an individualized approach designed to prevent flare-ups and have you feeling better. Removing toxins from your body should make you feel better, not worse.
Natural binders include the following:
Cholestyramine is one tool and not necessarily a standalone treatment for toxic overload. For those who tolerate CSM, the results are favorable, reducing many previously nagging symptoms, including loose stools, flank pain, headaches, brain fog, and joint pains. Some patients experience similar benefits without CSM — using only natural binders.
Reducing your exposure to environmental toxins and detoxing your body are just the first two steps toward an effective treatment plan.
Toxins can damage and cause dysfunction in several of the body’s systems, including the digestive system, immune system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, and central nervous system. All of the body’s systems need to be evaluated and supported, as necessary, to restore healthy function.
Detox is not a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all solution to illness, and it is no replacement for a comprehensive treatment plan and close collaboration with your healthcare provider.
If you or a loved one has been struggling with a chronic health condition, and conventional diagnosis and treatments have been unable to identify the cause or provide sufficient relief, we encourage you to consult with a doctor who understands environmentally acquired illness (EAI) and the importance of detox.
That professional can work with you to develop a safe and effective detox and follow-up treatment plan. Don’t suffer needlessly. Effective treatment is available as long as you consult with physicians who understand and treat the underlying causes and are not focused merely on relieving symptoms.
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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about cholestyramine and natural binders used in detoxification is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.