Your Brain has a Microscopic Cleaning System, the Glymphatic System

By Cesar Collado

In the past, I have written about helping our bodies detoxify and about neurotoxicity caused by mold (How to Help Our Bodies To Heal From Exposure…). A recent reader asked to learn more about toxins when they get into the brain and how they are removed. It turns out that this is a very important topic with relatively new and exciting discoveries on the brain and how it detoxifies.

Brain Toxicity

Brain toxicity refers to impaired brain function due to the brain’s exposure to and absorption of toxins. Toxins are generally classified as solvents, chemicals, heavy metals (like mercury and lead, among others), and neurotoxins, such as the mycotoxins produced by mold. There are many everyday items that we are exposed to that contain toxins in one form or another: We inhale chemicals from common house cleaners, air fresheners, perfumes, paints, and gases; pesticides used on crops and fungal mycotoxins are ingested with our food; heavy metals are found in some foods and products that we come into contact with, that are particularly toxic to our brains.

The September 5th newsletter entitled “Unexplained Neurological Symptoms Can Be Caused by Mold” described the ultra-sensitive nature and the role of our olfactory nerve systems in delivering toxins directly into our sinuses, where they are microns away from cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) access to the brain.  Unfortunately, the brain absorbs and retains such toxins very effectively. Left unaddressed, toxins can build up and damage the brain, causing symptoms such as personality changes, memory loss, inability to focus, physical tics, fatigue, seizures and depression.


Neurotoxicity, poisoning of the brain and neurological system, is a well-documented effect from exposure to toxins; however, it is often missed by physicians because symptoms tend to overlap with many chronic illnesses of the brain and body.  Patients often are referred to psychiatrists and neurologists where they still may not receive a definitive diagnosis. Expensive imaging, like MRIs or CT scans may not reveal anything visible.  Without properly looking for toxins in the brain, patients are often prescribed medicines such as antidepressants or other psychotropic drugs in an attempt to address symptoms. Heavy use of alcohol or illegal drugs can also lead to brain toxicity. When brain toxicity goes undiagnosed and the source of the toxin goes undetermined, continued exposure to that toxin can lead to more serious brain and neurological damage.  

SPECT Scan providing images that reveal differences in diseased brains

The article “Taking Mold Off the Table” describes the wisdom of taking a proper medical history and detailed discussion that can provide evidence of exposure to mold and toxins.  A physician or Naturopathic Doctor can have a patient take steps to exit the toxic environment or remove the toxins from their environment as the first and most critical step in allowing the body’s systems to detox.   


Removing Toxins From Your Environment 

Beginning to detox your own environment is an easy proactive step that you can take to immediately improve your health. Inspect your home to remove toxic substances. Household chemicals should be replaced with all natural, safe alternatives.  If you discover mold, use test plates to identify molds in your home. Remove any moldy furnishings.  Last week’s article, “It Doesn’t Require a Hurricane. 13 Different Ways to Identify Common Household Water Leaks That Can Lead to Toxic Mold” provides guidance on these activities. 


Neurological symptoms include confusion, memory and concentration problems, impaired control of the limbs, bladder and bowels, sleep disorders, eye and vision problems, balance and hearing problems, and muscle weakness. Psychiatric symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and others. Physical symptoms that can be caused by neurotoxicity include upper and lower respiratory problems, chronic sinusitis, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, liver or kidney problems, fibromyalgia, and other pain disorders. 

 The Brain Cleanse Process  

The brain, like the rest of our bodies, has a remarkable ability to heal itself and dispose of toxins.  Circulating inside the spinal canal and throughout the brain is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).   

The Key element is the fluid (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) that circulates throughout the brain

The Glymphatic System  

In 2012, researchers from the University of Rochester identified this new maintenance system called the glymphatic system, which uses the cells’ mitochondria to remove cellular waste from the brain. It found that the clear cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain is what is responsible for draining toxins from the brain, similar to how the lymphatic system is what removes waste from other cells in our bodies to the kidney and liver. But, the brain has no lymph – CSF performs this activity instead.  

Sleep is Critical 

The Glymphatic system clears waste most effectively during slow wave sleep. Sleep plays a crucial role in our brain’s physiological maintenance.

The Key element is the fluid (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) that circulates throughout the brain

As we sleep , the brain is active clearing out toxins accumulated over the course of the day.  The lymphatic system was named for its role in draining toxins from our bodies.  The “GL” is a nod to the glymphatic systems on glial cells, the supportive cells in the brain that work largely to maintain homeostasis and protect neurons.  Scientific research has noted the dramatic decrease of clearance in compounds causing degeneration during prolonged wakefulness. 

Diet and Nutrition 

Eating a diet rich in nutrients conducive to brain detoxification is important. 

  • Make sure you eat a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA. 
  • Eat as much fresh fruit as possible.  Fruit holds large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which play important roles in fueling mental processes.  All fruits contain over 50% content of essential and non-essential amino acids. 
  • Eat organic foods (Avoid foods that may have exposure to pesticides or mycotoxins (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts) 
  • Drink plenty of pure water. Water is more abundant in brain tissue (the brain is 70% water) than any other substance.  Replacing other drinks with water should become habit.   
  • Avoid caffeine-based and stimulatory energy drinks. Caffeinated drinks on a continuous basis dehydrate the body.  Avoiding caffeine and stimulants is most important when you are trying to enhance the brain cleansing process. 
  • Quit eating toxic foods!  Processed foods, Vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup/sugars, soy, gluten or grains


Regular exercise is an effective detoxification method for the entire body. In addition, there are activities that influence the way CSF enters the brain’s glymphatic system.   

  • Low intensity exercise that burns fat helps eliminate toxins from the body. (Toxins are stored in fat). Detoxifying other organs is important as the body distributes toxins throughout the body, in addition to the brain.  Regular exercise also helps the digestive process and sleep patterns. 
  • Yoga and similar activities are particularly helpful with CSF movement. 
  • Standing instead of sitting while working during the day moves CSF.  
  • Breathing exercises and mindfulness activities increase blood flow, circulation and body awareness, which all enhance detoxification. 
  • Massage and or chiropractic care are excellent complements to proper and efficient lymphatic drainage. 

Consult a Physician or Integrative Medicine Specialist 

Our bodies are very complex systems and the brain is perhaps the most complex. A significant nutritional imbalance may be an important contributor any brain malfunction.  A physician can perform the proper diagnostic tests to identify specific nutritional needs.  Physicians can also prescribe binders to aid in the removal of toxins from the body.  

There are numerous, non-regulated supplements with claims that they enhance the brain’s function and detoxification, so it is important to follow a physician’s advice to avoid ineffective products and adverse reactions. 

Keep Your Sinuses Clear 

Inhalation is the primary route toxins have into your body with direct access to your brain and blood system.  You can read more about the sinus delivery of toxins in the article, “Unexplained Neurological Symptoms Can Be Caused by Mold”.  If you are suffering from neurological symptoms, daily rinsing of your sinuses with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in clearing toxic debris and mold (and mycotoxins) from your sinuses. Accumulation and/or growth in your sinuses can provide constant exposure to toxins mitigating other efforts to detox your brain.   CitriDrops Nasal Spray is a portable solution that can be carried with you to use when you are exposed to suspect environments throughout the day. Micro Balance Health Products Breathe Easy Kit has both these products accompanied with a Nasopure Nasal Wash System has everything you need to rinse your sinuses clear of debris, microorganisms, and toxins. Removing the specific toxins from your body by keeping your sinuses clear is likely the single most important step to feeling relief.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below.

Cesar Collado is a former pharmaceutical R&D executive, venture capitalist, and seasoned strategy consultant in biotechnology and technology industries in general. He currently works as an advisor to multiple technology start-ups and advises several companies that provide healthcare and other services for environmental illness.

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Original Article: September 2017

About the Author:

Cesar Collado is a former pharmaceutical R&D executive, venture capitalist, and seasoned strategy consultant in biotechnology and technology industries in general. He currently works as an advisor to multiple technology start-ups and advises several companies that provide healthcare and other services for environmental illness. Read More


  1. Se October 21, 2018 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    I have tried the
    Pulled vitamin a d out
    Zeolite can be to some have reaction
    What about clay and charcoal?

    • Cesar Collado October 23, 2018 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      Given that this comment is in response to the article on “Toxins in the Brain” , It is important to note that it is the lymphatic system in the brain that removes toxins via cerebral spinal fluid. This process only occurs while sleeping. Getting solid sleep will help recovery.

      It is also to important to follow a doctors instructions when using these binders for detoxification.

      About Clay and Charcoal:

      Charcoal: Activated charcoal absorbs poisons from the body, including heavy metals. It reduces intestinal gas and bloating, lowers cholesterol levels and even heals hangovers. The reason for its effectiveness is because of its negatively charged, porous surface. Most toxic chemicals and gases have a positive charge to them. Because charcoal has a negative charge, positively charged chemicals are attracted to it to create a perfect bond.Activated charcoal uses adsorption when detoxing the body. Although activated charcoal is famous for cleansing, it has many other qualities and uses. Below is a list of just some of the awesome benefits activated charcoal has to offer.
      How to Cleanse with Activated Charcoal To cleanse with activated charcoal, simply take it 2 days each week making sure the days are consecutive. Take a total of 20 to 35 grams each day divided into two or three doses. Take in the morning, at midday and before bed on an empty stomach. Try to avoid processed foods and over eating on those days. Stick to whole, organic foods.

      Bentonite Clay: Bentonite clay is actually made of volcanic ash which gives it a powerful vitamin and mineral content. It works slightly different from activated charcoal but just as well at removing toxins, if not better. When bentonite clay is hydrated, it acts like a porous sponge because it’s a swelling clay. Like activated charcoal, it also has a strong negative charge attracting positively charged toxins pulling them through the body.

      Other properties of bentonite clay include but are not limited to:

      Boosts Gut Health & Alleviates Digestive Issues Bentonite clay seeks the bad bacteria that causes problems in your gut which promotes the survival of the good bacteria that we need in the body. Because it works so well at neutralizing bacteria, bentonite clay will also alleviate digestive issues including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Alkalizes the Body Proper digestion requires enzymes that are made from alkalizing minerals. So when alkalizing foods do not enter the body, acidity remains high and digestion suffers. Bentonite clay contains alkalizing minerals, which brings the level of the body’s pH to a better balance between acidity and alkalinity.

      How to Cleanse with Bentonite Clay Before anything, it is super important make sure that the clay you purchase is FOOD GRADEbentonite clay meaning it is safe for internal consumption. Simply add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of clay to 1 cup of water and drink 2x a day for 2 weeks. It’s important when cleansing to not use any metal utensils or bowls to mix the clay as metal will decrease the effectiveness of the clay. * NOTE: There are two popular types of bentonite clay: calcium bentonite clay and sodium bentonite clay. Calcium bentonite clay will work better for internal uses (gut and colon cleansing) and sodium bentonite clay will work better for external uses (masks, ointments, baths.)

      The difference between activated charcoal and bentonite clay is that when bentonite clay absorbs toxins, it releases its minerals for the body to use. These minerals include silica, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, and potassium to name a few.Bentonite clay also helps to get oxygen into the cells because it has the ability to pull excess hydrogen from the cells, leaving room for oxygen to take its place. More oxygen in your cells = more energy and better immunity.

  2. LD September 25, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Hi, this is a great article. Quick question, how long does one need to take binders in order to fully detoxify and get well again? Thank you.

    • Cesar Collado September 27, 2018 at 4:12 am - Reply

      This is a question for your prescribing doctor. It takes numerous months to remove toxins from your body. Toxins are stored in fat and tissues and must be released over time while your body metabolizes the toxins and excretes. Detoxification is greatly enhanced by diet and nutrition, supplements, exercise, and other modalities prescribed by your doctor. Good luck!

  3. Name (required) July 3, 2018 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Hi we are having rugs taken out soon how long to wear masks with Pion air in the house?
    Thank you!

    • Cesar Collado July 6, 2018 at 2:06 am - Reply

      You should wear masks if you are taking them out your self. You air purifier will have a cubic foot per minute rate that it clears the air. Calculate you cubic feet in the room/rooms Floor width x length x hight of ceiling. Do it on a room by room basis with the Pionair in the room and give adequate time for it to move all the air in the room. I suggest leaving the house or wearing the mask for the duration.

      A better suggestion is to go to Home Depot and rent an Air Scrubber. It is like the Pioneer on steroids and will run the entire rooms air through a HEPA filter multiple times in a matter of 10 minutes or so. This is what I have done each time I have disturbed mold in large amounts. Carpets are the homes largest air filter and can keep multiple times its weight in mold, dust, and debris. Floors are the way to go!

      Thank you!

  4. Name (required) June 18, 2018 at 1:37 am - Reply

    What are better binders?

    • Cesar Collado June 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm - Reply


      If you are asking if there are better binders than Cholestyramine. I believe that there are binders designed, studies, and innovative applications and delivery than Cholestyramine, an off label use of a very old cholesterol medicine.

      Dr Dennis uses Zeolite. It is his detox binder of choice and is actively studies and improved upon.

  5. Kelly June 13, 2018 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Great information! Shouldn’t it also be mentioned that 25% of the population carries the HLA-DR gene which makes those carriers susceptible to mold poisoning? If one is HLA-DR carrier, one will never truly get well without the use of a binder such as CSM or another comparable product. It’s my understanding that a mold detoxification protocol, CSM, must be followed to remove the mold from one body in addition to the advice In the article. Important to know for those who just aren’t getting better even by following the advice in this article. Happened to me.

    • Cesar Collado June 16, 2018 at 5:57 am - Reply


      You make a good point. However, just a few clarifications. The HLA DR test does impact 25% of the population. This is just genetic disposition to mold sensitivity. Some will have no reactions while others will have a significant immune response and will not respond to just affecting histamine.

      Mold poisoning is toxic reaction from mycotoxins. This is much rarer and it doesn’t matter I’d the patient is predisposed.

      As for binders to remove toxins, CRM (chlorestyramine) is a cholesterol medication used off label ( no FDAapproval for this indication) as a binder. It is part of the shoemaker protocol but there are better binders. CRM is an old drug that binds with cholesterol to remove it. For toxins in the Brain, this will not help because it doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier. Regulat detox (diet, nutrition, supplements are required, but sleep is where the glymphatic system rids the brain of toxins slowly.

      I try to recommend what patients should do and to take that to the doctor. I cannot tell physicians how to practice medicine. Detoxification should be done under supervision of a doctor.
      CRM is nor required to rid toxins from the brain, there is some controversy on its usage and effectiveness.

      I hope this clarifies my position on this. Thank you for the comment.

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