Why binders can hold back healing

By: Lee Ann Billings

High-antioxidant food supplements as alternatives to binders

The anecdotal stories of the healing powers of the noni fruit spark hope of recovery in people suffering from conditions conventional Western medicine practices haven’t been able to fix. But is the hope springing forth from this French Polynesian fruit substantiated by published peer-reviewed studies? According to an article by Dr. Josh Axe and his team, the answer to this question is yes—science now backs up popular noni folk remedies.

The power of folklore

It was the folklore of noni’s ability to neutralize blowfish toxins that drew my family and me to the noni fruit when we were ill from exposure to mold, mycotoxins, and chemicals after Hurricane Katrina. Little did we know that our own quest for recovery would result in our becoming advocates for other mold victims and authoring the book, MOLD: The War Within, so others could benefit from our journey of research and recovery.

The first thing to understand is that people ill from mold exposures also face the ill health effects of mycotoxins, which are mold poisons. Trying to find a way to remove the mold poisons from our bodies led us to noni juice. It was logical to believe that if folklore was true and noni could neutralize blowfish toxins, why wouldn’t it neutralize mold toxins? We were open to alternative treatment options and had already tried several, albeit unsuccessfully, after traditional medicine had worsened our conditions. One of the ineffective alternative treatments we had tried to address the ill health effects of mycotoxins was natural binders.

The concern with binding agents

There are several different types of binding agents, and some of the most common ones are as follows:

  • Bentonite Clay
  • Psyllium Husks
  • Zeolite
  • Charcoal

Ingesting these binding agents has the potential to deplete the body of the valuable and much-needed nutrients required for healing. They can be nutrient-robbing agents even when consumed several hours between meals. In this way, binding agents can hold back healing and recovery.

Natural binding agents also run the risk of containing contaminants and increasing the body’s toxic load instead of detoxifying it. Take bentonite clay, for example; it comes from the earth and is formed from volcanic ash, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Soils of all kinds can contain microorganisms, such as harmful bacteria and ferociously tenacious molds. Soils can also contain contaminants such as heavy metals, which can end up in soil-derived natural “health” products.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) issued a warning, alerting consumers not to use “Best Bentonite Clay,” a bentonite clay-based product. FDA laboratories had discovered elevated levels of the heavy metal lead in the product, posing a risk of lead poisoning to users. According to the FDA, the product was marketed as a medicinal clay with labeling instructions for both consumption and topical usage.

According to the FDA, “Exposure to lead can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and immune system. In children, chronic exposure to lead, even at low levels, is associated with cognitive impairment, reduced IQ, behavioral difficulties, and other problems.”

Risk of intestinal blockage

An even greater risk associated with the internal use of bentonite clay is that eating it can cause bowel blockage. According to the doctors of WebMD, “Doctors don’t recommend eating clay. It could cause a blockage in your intestines. And it can affect how you absorb nutrients and electrolytes. Plus, clay or soil can have high levels of harmful germs and heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and mercury.”

If you are currently consuming bentonite clay, please reread this last paragraph. A bowel blockage is a serious, life-threatening condition.

Summary of risks from binders

The risks of consuming bentonite clay include the following:

  • Nutrient and Electrolyte Malabsorption
  • Toxic Contamination
  • Intestinal Blockage

Eat dirt or drink juice?

In an article by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the NCCIH points out in an interesting fact about the noni plant—it often grows among lava flows. So, the composition of volcanic ash from which bentonite clay is derived is the same “soil” from which the noni plant draws its nourishment. The roots of the noni plant act as a natural filter of potential contaminants, creating a plant and fruit scientifically proven to be rich in potent antioxidants.

“In laboratory research, noni has shown antioxidant, immune-stimulating, and tumor-fighting properties,” reports the NCCIH.  

In an article, Dr. Axe and his team concur, “…noni is a fruit that’s earned its name as a superfood due to its many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Potassium-restricted diets

“Potassium levels in noni juice are similar to other juices, such as prune, tomato, and orange; people with renal problems should consult their physician regarding potassium intake from such juices,” according to a publication by Scott Nelson, PhD, and Craig Elevitch, PhD, at the University of Hawaii.  

The NCCIH cautions in an article, “Noni contains a substantial amount of potassium. People who need to restrict their intake of potassium should consult a health care provider before using noni.”

Noni seed research

Scientific studies have also been conducted on the noni seed, including exploring it as a novel source of compounds with bioactive availability. West, Jensen, Palu, and Deng (2011) studied the noni seed during harvesting and storage.

“Their results further demonstrated the absence of mycotoxins…,” according to the published peer-reviewed article, “A review on functional and nutritional properties of noni fruit seed (Morinda citrofolia L.) and its oil.”

Extracts of noni seed have been shown to possess bioactive compounds that exhibit antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Jahurul, et al., 2021, Food Bioscience

The value of antioxidants

So, what do antioxidants do for the body? In an article, “Understanding Antioxidants,” the Harvard Medical School explains, “Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by giving up some of their own electrons. In making this sacrifice, they act as a natural ‘off’ switch for the free radicals. This helps break a chain reaction that can affect other molecules in the cell and other cells in the body. But it is important to recognize that the term ‘antioxidant’ reflects a chemical property rather than a specific nutritional property.”

We know that air pollution can cause oxidative stress, which occurs with the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidant defenses, as explained in the article “Oxidative Stress and Air Pollution.”

Antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals and disarm them, so increasing our intake of antioxidants is a good thing. However, antioxidants are best when sourced from foods high in antioxidants rather than synthetic sources such as non-food sourced vitamin supplements, as synthetic forms of antioxidants have been reported to be harmful to health, according to the published peer-reviewed report “Free radicals, antioxidants, and functional foods: Impact on human health” that was published in Pharmacognosy Reviews, a review journal focused on medicinal plant research.  

Given the choice to eat dirt to bind toxins or drink juice to neutralize toxins, which would you choose?  

Remember, bentonite clay can also deplete the body of vital nutrients required for healing, whereas noni juice is a superfood that can be used medicinally under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Information on dosage levels

Your doctor may have heard about noni juice but may not have ever prescribed it as a natural treatment option.  For this reason, we included in section II of our book, MOLD: The War Within, the dosage levels of noni juice our naturopath prescribed for treatment of mold- and mycotoxin-related illnesses as well as the dosage amounts prescribed for other supplements. Dosage levels can vary depending on factors such as age, size, and current medications. The dosage information is included for educational purposes only so people can share it with their treating physicians. Only a person’s personal physician should determine the appropriate dosage levels. The information in our book is not for people to self-treat. It is important to consult with a licensed medical professional who knows your full medical history and medications, as people can respond differently to food supplements based on these factors as well as others, such as genetics, exposure levels and duration, and other variables.

Pasteurized or raw noni juice

We primarily used raw noni juice rather than pasteurized noni juice during our mold recovery, but the decision on whether to use raw or pasteurized noni juice should be discussed with your doctor. Both raw and pasteurized noni juice is available from Healing Noni Co. LLC. This company ferments its juice much like the company from which we sourced our noni juice after Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, there is a multi-use coupon code in our book that Healing Noni has extended to our readers who desire to use their Noni products. Again, remember to consult with a doctor on appropriate dosage levels if using noni juice for medicinal purposes.

Imperative step to recovery

In order to give your body the best opportunity to fully recover from mold and mycotoxin exposures, it is vital to remove yourself from the source of exposure or reduce exposures to levels tolerable by the body, which can vary per individual. For information on testing methods of structural molds, the order of steps that must be taken to ensure a successful remediation, and other important tips, check section I in our book, MOLD: The War Within. It is best to become informed as much as possible before making decisions regarding mold assessment and remediation of your home because the choices you make will not only have a lasting impact on what is likely your largest investment—your home—but also on your health.  

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