Biofilms are little communities of organisms in your body that join forces to avoid elimination. The protective coating they form is officially called a polymer matrix, but essentially they form a “force field” like barrier that keeps drugs like antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and any other antimicrobial from being able to kill them off. They are a huge concern in the medical community right now, but many people and physicians don’t even know about them, much less know how to effectively treat them.
These little communities can be from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, protozoa or even extremophiles. I often refer to the collection of these organisms as “bugs”. Biofilms are capable of adapting to many environments and thus can be found in all parts of the body, including plaque on teeth, sinuses, tonsils, Eustachian tubes in the middle ear (chronic ear infections) and the intestines, which can lead to chronic digestive and allergic responses that are seen in difficult cases, including those with autism spectrum disorders.
These biofilms create an outer barrier that blocks outside intruders from coming in, but still allows the bugs to talk to each other. The even crazier part is that the barrier can actually allow one species to communicate to another species and they can collectively form an even stronger defense system. We term this group collaboration quorum sensing.
Through quorum sensing, it is even possible for a fungus that is resistant to antibiotics to pass its resistance on to bacteria that share the same biofilm. They do this through exchanging genetic information, kind of like something you may have seen in a sci-fi movie! And just like in the movies, these biofilm communities are up to 1000 times stronger and resistant to antibiotics than just a normal free group of bacteria. Biofilms are so common because they are able to hide from the body’s natural immune system and need external help to be eradicated.
Autobots Roll Out
After a single biofilm community has formed, they then begin to spread and plant new colonies elsewhere in the body. Biofilms attach to the body’s surfaces and then after they are mature, they begin to release clumps of bugs to the rest of the body. Biofilms can be responsible for many things from mild respiratory infections to flesh-eating diseases. Each of these new communities develops new characteristics and releases their own set of internal toxins into your body.
The immune system is responsible for attacking, controlling and eliminating biofilms. In really healthy individuals, this likely happens all day every day, but in susceptible individuals, biofilms can take hold and begin to wreak havoc to the whole body, specifically the immune system.
By launching an attack on the biofilms via immune cells (macrophages, natural killer cells, cytotoxic T cells and T lymphocytes) the body also creates a significant amount of inflammation. What then happens is the immune system shifts to what we call a TH2 dominant state with the TH1 cells in a lowered state. By shifting to TH2 dominance, the body is then unable to launch a full TH1 attack and eliminate the biofilm. It is most likely constantly battling the biofilm, but simply doesn’t have enough man or gun power to take over.
A TH2 dominant state is very common in many conditions. The TH2 dominant state is what we find in many people with traditional allergies. If you have an overactive TH2 dominant system, you will tend to have food allergies and sensitivities, airborne allergies, and an increase in histamine release. This may even be confused with histamine intolerance. Some things that may push someone towards TH2 dominance include genetic predisposition, toxic substances, heavy metals or residual effects from vaccination.
Biofilms and the Gut
One of the reasons you may have biofilms in the first place is due to early exposure to antibiotics. There are actually some good biofilms that can be destroyed by antibiotics. These good biofilms and just general healthy gut flora provide a natural type of defense to foreign invaders. Without the good biofilms as a defense mechanism, bad biofilms can proliferate and destroy the gut lining and increase permeability, a term commonly coined as “leaky gut”. With leaky gut, the intestinal barrier is compromised and allows substances to move into the blood stream. By allowing different substances into the blood stream, inflammation begins and things such as food allergies and sensitivities eventually alter the health of the immune system. The leaky gut will lead us to a TH2 dominant state as I mentioned above. Leaky gut also can slow down digestion, decrease toxin clearance and initiate proinflammatory chemicals.
Before you think you can separate digestion from the rest of the body, these proinflammatory chemicals often correlate with and can cause chronic low back pain. This is one of the most common reasons I find that low back pain is resistant to traditional methods. To read more on chronic low back pain, see my article here.
In cases of biofilms, traditional antibiotics are not sufficient, even at high doses. Even worse, by using antibiotics, these biofilm communities can develop even stronger resistance and virulence in certain resistant species.
The best way to take care of any condition or bug is going to be to allow the body to take care of it itself. This is where once again, holistic treatment shines! As many biofilms can begin in the gut, it is important to establish a healthy gut flora.
In clinical practice, this generally means using a natural antimicrobial. Supreme Nutrition has developed a few essential oils specifically designed to help destroy biofilms. Some antibiofilm supplements/enzymes are great at breaking the protective barrier, but then release the bugs inside of the fortress on the rest of the body. As you can imagine, this is not ideal in an already immune compromised individual. BFB-1 and BFB-2 from Supreme Nutrition were specifically designed to help kill the internal bugs at the same time as destroying the protective barrier.
The second step would be to add the appropriate probiotics that will help stabilize the healthy gut flora and prevent future development of biofilms. If you get these first two steps backwards, it is my opinion that your results will suffer. Probiotics alone are rarely enough to deal with difficult cases.
If it is found that you are in a TH2 dominant state, you will need to decrease the overactive TH2 to allow the TH1 system to do its work in destroying organisms. By decreasing the TH2 dominance, you should also see a decrease in environmental sensitivities and all allergies.
Also, many biofilms have a high affinity for heavy metals, meaning, they grab on to them and keep them in their community. If you destroy their community barrier, many times heavy metals are released into your system also. Symptoms from heavy metals include wide spread joint pain, neurological disorders, fatigue, brain fog and many more. If heavy metals aren’t properly accounted for, a patient may appear to get worse with treatment. My two most common supplements for heavy metal toxicity are alpha lipoic acid by Thorne Research and Bamboo Charcoal from AMG Naturals, which at least clinically I find to be much more effective than traditional activated charcoal.
A diet low in all processed sugars is most beneficial once biofilms have been discovered. Sugar, vinegar, simple carbs, wheat and corn can all serve as great food sources for biofilms, so it is advised that you stay away from these until biofilms can be eliminated.
Do You Have Biofilms?
If you don’t have a creepy crawly feeling after reading this, then you are lucky! Simply writing about biofilms scares me! Not everyone has biofilms and just because you have chronic condition or recurrent ear infections, doesn’t mean that you have them. That being said, it is important to check for them as they are now being implicated in almost all chronic diseases and we are discovering more about them every day. Biofilms are not impossible to treat, but it is important to treat them and it often takes more regular care to eliminate them.