The Use of Proteolytic Enzymes With Binders for Mold and Mycotoxin Detoxification

by Dr. Susan Tanner, MD

We have discussed much about the many forms and roles of detoxification in the body after one has been injured by mold.  The resultant production of inflammatory cytokines can produce many symptoms which can include disruption to the circulatory system, neurological difficulties and impairments, digestive issues, psychological presentations—anxiety, OCD, depression, and orthopedic indicators. In this article, I want to take a step further down the path of treatment to discuss the formation of biofilms and the use of binders, and how and why binders may be helpful in the healing process.

Biofilm and Toxins

Several months ago we talked a little about biofilm, but as a refresher, biofilm is the interaction between secretions of bio-organisms and the membrane layers in the body including the intestinal lining, the walls of blood vessels, and the nasal and lung mucous membranes.  The interaction of these organisms with tissues and mucous membranes creates a “film” of sorts which protects the organism from destruction and allows it to continue to propagate and cause more inflammation. A similar situation of biofilm formation can evolve with the presence of toxins, which can be mycotoxins from molds and chemicals from solvent exposures.  We think of these toxins as mainly stimulating the cytokine storm, but due to both chemical and electrical charges that these compounds carry, the interaction with the membranes can be much like the biological entities, and a biofilm of sorts can form around them too.

Proteolytic Enzymes

For this reason, it has been helpful in some patients to include a proteolytic enzyme in their treatment plan.  These enzymes actually help to break up the biofilm “glue,” so that the offending substance can be reached and moved out of the body more easily.   This also allows better functionality of the affected organ in question, which may mean better circulation, better mentation and clearer thinking, less nasal and pulmonary congestion with mucous, and cleaner bowel function.   The good news is that these proteolytic enzymes rarely cause side effects.  They do not thin the blood, upset the GI tract, or cause severe allergic reactions.

Proteolytic enzymes come from several sources and are known by several different names and brands.  Serraflazyme, Lumbrokinase, Nattokinase, and Wobenzym are some of the more commonly used ones, all of which are available on  They are also comparatively less expensive than some other interventions.

How do you know if you would benefit from a proteolytic enzyme?  In my opinion it is worth just trying one if you have problems with your circulation, with musculoskeletal pain, thick mucus, or poor wound healing. There is really no downside other than not seeing any improvement in symptoms.

Binders and Biofilm

Along with proteolytic enzymes, another important part of clearing out biofilm is the use of binders.  Binders are products that, true to their name, bind up the byproducts of cell metabolism and help them transit through the bowel without being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.  Heretofore, we have discussed binders only in their ability to soak up ingested or inhaled toxins, but their role in biofilm treatment is not to be ignored.

Binders for Mold-Related Illness

A well-known researcher in mold-related illness who termed the condition “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome“ or CIRS is Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker.  The use of prescription binders is often the first step in his treatment protocol.  He recommends Cholestyramine, which was first released as a treatment for high cholesterol.  This product does work well for binding toxins and is used daily in Shoemaker’s protocol until mold patients “pass” a Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) Test, a marker for mycotoxin inflammatory response or injury.  I have used cholestyramine quite a bit in my practice, and still do with some patients.  As insurance does not always cover it, and the cost can be significant in some areas, I also have found a few alternatives that have worked well and can be used long term.  One is activated charcoal and, when mixed with bentonite clay, it seems to work quite well. Activated charcoal also comes in a capsule rather than a powder, so I have found better compliance with my patients in taking it.   The brand that I use is called GI Detox, and it is also available on  Another great binder is ZeoGold, made from Zeolite, a volcanic rock.  It also is in capsule form.

It is important when using binders that they be used away from food and supplements, as they really need to get into the GI tract unopposed, and also such that they do not bind up any nutrients, either  from food or supplements.  Ideally, binders should be taken twice a day, but at least two hours away from anything else.  Even once daily use in midafternoon seems to help and decrease reabsorption of toxins from die off, detox, and proteolytic biofilm breakdown. An analogy that I would make, just to give a little visual here, is that the proteolytic enzymes scrape off the rusty, clingy parts that clog up the works. Then, the binder comes in and vacuums up the mess.

Combining Enzymes and Binders for Mold Detox

A question you may have is “Do I need both a biofim buster (an enzyme) and a binder?”  The answer is that it depends. Everyone’s body and situation is different, thus the treatments are really quite individual—some patients prefer to only use a binder, and feel that their detox mechanisms and programs are working well enough without adding in yet another modality.  It is fine to try using just a binder, but if you have, as I mentioned above, significant symptoms that would suggest that blood flow and thus oxygenation of tissues is compromised, you have little to lose and much to gain by trying the combination of proteolytic enzyme and binder.

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