Biofilm is exactly what it sounds like – it’s basically a sticky film. I like to think of it as a bomb shelter for yeast, parasites and bacteria to hide under so they can survive even the strongest antibiotics and anti-fungals (natural or medications) that would potentially kill them off.
Biofilms begin with individual bacteria, and when conditions are favourable, they start forming communities by adhering to a surface. Watch this insight 2 minute video to understand how bacteria form a biofilm.
Where is biofilm found?
Some well-known examples of where biofilm can be found include; pond scum, kombucha SCOBYs, and dental plaque. Biofilm can also be found on slimy rocks, in bath tubs, soil, surgical instruments and the gut wall. Just like the mildew in your shower, biofilms grow. They form a stronger hold on their surface, making them more difficult to wipe out. This is an excellent characteristic for health-promoting biofilms, but it’s alarming when harmful microbes plant their flag in your body to start settling down because bacteria protected within a biofilm layer are 1000x more resistant to antibiotics.
Symptoms associated with unhealthy biofilm
- Nutrient and mineral malabsorption
- Antibiotic and anti-fungal resistant biofilms
- Increased inflammation
- Biofilm can foster toxins like heavy metals
- Biofilm can protect certain micro-organisms from the immune system
- Systemic candida overgrowth
- Heartburn or reflux
- Chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
- IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease
- Bloating, gas, brain fog, arthritis, stomach cramps, acne, rashes etc.
All of these symptoms can then lead to chronic degenerative disease.
Some researchers believe that some persistent or recurring infections may result from stubborn biofilms in the body that evade immune defences and as a result can lead to more co-infections. Biofilms can also keep wounds from healing, bladder infections reoccurring, tooth decay, gum disease, sinusitis, ear infections and even Lyme disease to linger.
Are there any beneficial biofilms?
Yes, there are some biofilms that are also good for us. They line the digestive tract, especially the lower intestines, and the skin. Healthy biofilms contain many different species of bacteria working together to benefit humans. Many trillions of organisms protect us from pathogens and toxins, help boost our immune defences, help us elimate toxins on a regular basis, steer us away from obesity, and may even make us think and feel better. An imbalance of bacteria in the gut – particularly from antibiotic usage, stress, or lack of fibre in the diet leaves us susceptible to disease.
How do we deal with the BAD biofilms?
Breaking through unhealthy biofilm requires specific tools and taking specific substances to help breakdown this unhealthy biofilm. Here are some real, whole foods that can aid in disrupting bad biofilm.
- Raw, organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been shown to kill unwanted bacteria while also cutting through mature biofilms in chronic infections
- Curcumin (a component in turmeric) is an effective anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, as well as anti-parasitic spice. On top of the anti-pathogen benefits, curcumin has also been found effective at disrupting biofilm
- Oregano contains a component called ‘carvacrol’ which has been shown to inhibit antibiotic resistant bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Additionally, it has been shown that this powerful compound also inhibits the release of harmful toxins released by these pathogens, including biofilms
- Xylitol – has been found to disrupt biofilms, however I recommend exercising some caution with Xylitol, read my blog ‘Xylitol – Is it Safe or Dangerous’
- Garlic has also been found to disrupt biofilm growth
- Homemade fermented foods; incorporate fermented foods as they can also help to break up the biofilms
- Cinnamon oil is great for disrupting candida biofilms
- Cranberry has a reputation for keeping bacteria from sticking to surfaces. The red pigments in cranberries have been shown to inhibit biofilm formation
- Specific enzyme supplements. However, I recommend you speak with your chosen health care practitioner regarding these types of supplements and always seek advice for your individual needs.
If you interested in reading more information about Biofilm, I would recommend you read this blog ‘Biofilm Basics’ by Kultured Wellness, and the ‘Beyond Good Nutrition’ FREE 4 part gut health video series
- Abraham KP., Sreenivas J, Venkateswarulu TC, et al. Investigation of the potential antibiofilm activities of plant extracts. International Int J Pharm Pharm Sci 2012;4:282-5