In our lives people often choose to live in communities for support. In our bodies pathogens or germs are seldom found alone. In an acute infection, you may find them alone but in chronic infections they join with other pathogens like a community of germs. In this way, these pathogens are better able to combat our immune system – this is not a good thing for people to keep well.
These groups of Pathogens are what is known as Biofilms. Bjarnsholt describes the biofilms as - 'A coherent cluster of bacterial cells embedded in a matrix, which is more tolerant of most antimicrobials and host defences compared to planktonic bacterial cells'
In the last 15 years Biofilms literature and knowledge has increased dramatically in terms of publications and books.
It is important to know that Biofilms:
- are a natural and important part of our world
- are found virtually everywhere on earth, including in extreme environments
- are an integral part of the human body
- can be quite harmful to human health
- cause industry all sorts of problems and expenses
- have beneficial uses as well as harmful impacts
- can in the world be good or bad depending on where they are
Indications through study show that biofilms and successive growth and development is a complex but somewhat arbitrary process. When a biofilm of infection develops then internal chemical communications are set up. You can find with this, alterations in the genes of the pathogen can take place. This is all in the aim to make the germs safer and stronger. This is not good when in our bodies. Then periodically the germs can be released. It is weird process as it is to the benefit of the biofilm to keep the host alive but not well enough to fight off the biofilm either. They thrive in a host that is immunocompromised. Biofilms can be made spontaneously in our bodies but they can also be swallowed in contaminated foods. It is thought and mostly found that the same germs aggregate together hence many biofilms have many of the same type of infections in them. However other theories say they may not just be made up of bacteria they can be made up of virus’, fungi and archaea (bacteria like microorganisms)
Biofilms can be extremely diverse -from the ones that carry one type of germ to dental plaque for instance where over 300 different species of germs can be found in one biofilm. All biofilms can be different.
I think there will be a lot more research done on internal biofilms in the human body in years to come.
In the body, biofilms can be found in cases of dental plaque, chronic sinusitis, lyme, osteomyelitis, chronic prostatitis, implications of kidney stones, endocarditis, ear infections, contact lens infections, autoimmune, inflammatory disease and many many other conditions. They are extremely opportunistic with non human medical tubes, valves, implants etc.
In our body, there are trillions of microorganisms in a fine balance. If these microorganisms are in the right balance they can be perfectly ok.
Biofilms can become tolerant ( stop growing but are not killed) or resistant (continue growing) to antibiotics and worse for high dose antibiotics. One problem is some of the antibiotics can kill most of the biofilm but there can be what is called persisters. These are the surviving bacterial/viral parts that then can start it all over again. Therefore, a repeated dose or dosing on and off may be more effective. Many times antibiotics can just make it worse particularly if the biofilm is viral dominant.
This is where the herbal antimicrobials work not only on the infection but also on the biofilms matrix.
Tricking the biofilm and persisters helps stop the biofilm reforming.
Below are some of the Natural Remedies, that here at the clinic are used, to help combat unwanted biofilms within the body.
- Berberine (Phellodendron amurenses). Studies dating back to 1960’s have shown that berberine can inhibit certain bacteria and parasites. Berberine has been shown to inhibit the action of the multi drug resistance pump. The infections like Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aurenus. Then there are the fungal growth of Aspergellius, Penicillin, Candida and Crytococcus which have responded and sensitive to Berberine.
- Allicin – works on the biofilms of uropathogenic Eschericha coli, candida, staphylococcus epidermis.
- Thyme - Can disrupt biofilms and inhibit activity of Staphylococcus Pneumoniae, Klebsiella
Pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa and pathogenic E Coli.
- Myrrh -Is effective against common fungal and bacterial infections like C.albicans., Ecoli, Staphlococcus and P. Aeruginosa
- Cysteine - Amino acid cysteine can play a role in destroying biofilms. One study shows its effects on resistant Helicobactor pylori
- Proprolis Can be used for fungal biofilms and I have seen it work with ecoli too and other infections.
- Interase - I love this enzyme not only for food sensitivities but also because it can help disrupt the biofilm matrix holding potential gastrointestinal pathogens
- Grape seed Extract (Resveratrol) - Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) contains bioactive flavanoids (e.g., hesperitin, resveratrol, and naringenin). Many studies indicate that grapefruit seed extract ranks equal to pharmaceutical drugs designed to break down cysts and biofilms – and with far fewer side effects! The GSE bioactive flavonoids help dissolve the cyst and biofilm barriers. The GSE is a protective barrier inhibitor. The removal of barriers can enhance the effectiveness of antibacterial agents.
- Lactoferrin- This is exciting product and helps break down the barriers of the biofilm so the microbial can work. When used in iron supplements it stops the iron from enhancing the bioflm matrix.
- Serraptase – silk worm product – Here in Australia this is not available yet but in time this will also be a viable remedy for the use in biofilm issues.
- Protectyn - Protectyn I have added to the list as I hypothesis that this will be one of the most powerful aids in medicine in the future for the biofilms causing chronic infections. It is I believe only time before research is done to show this result.
Please talk to Maedy, Melanie, Meredith or Emma about Biofilms if you have any queries
ref: T. Bjarnsholt - The role of Bacterial Biofilms in Chronic Infections