If you suffer from chronic GI or nasal/respiratory problems, but have been unable to get a proper diagnosis; or if you have tried antibiotics and antimicrobials to treat your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), other chronic gut/respiratory problems with little success, it may be helpful to know what a biofilm is and why it may be at the root of your problems.
Its estimated that a staggering 23000 people die from antibiotic resistance infections every year, and the number is increasing. If your previous attempts at getting diagnosed or treating an existing GI condition haven’t been effective, it may be time to consider alternative treatment options to disrupt the biofilms living within you.
What Are Biofilms?
Biofilms are everywhere. They can essentially exist anywhere where aqueous conditions are present. There can be found is many environments, from underwater to the insides of our mouths (like the plaque on our teeth). They are all generally thought to be formed from microorganisms, like bacteria
When the ideal environmental conditions are present, free-floating microorganisms will attach to the surface of a substance and begin to “set up shop,” so to speak. The microbes start to build a protective matrix made up of sugars and proteins called extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). The EPS acts as a protective shell for the bacteria living in the colony, allowing the microbes to share nutrients, replicate, and exchange genomic information to evade destruction (ie antibiotic resistance).
There is a strategic advantage for microbes to form a biofilm colony. The colony is usually more resilient to stress and solo microorganisms. The protective matrix helps prevent antimicrobials and other substances from harming the inhabitants of the biofilm, while allowing certain microorganisms to go dormant, which makes antibiotics less effective in killing the bacteria. . Infectious microbes commonly known to produce biofilms may include Staphylococcus sp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus sp., Listeria monocytogens, Clostridium sp., N. gonorrhea, and Candida albicans.
Growth generally occurs through the layering of microorganisms and the EPS layer, and seeding dispersal. Clumps of cells or individual cells can leave the colony — a process called seeding dispersal — and reattach themselves to new areas of a surface. This can happen for any number of reasons, but usually results in there being more than one biofilm colony on any given surface.
Biofilm and Human Health
It is estimated that up to 80% of chronic illnesses are caused by an abundance of biofilm in the body. Chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, chronic sinusitis, and inflammatory bowel disease are all caused by different kinds of biofilms within the body.
Illnesses associated with biofilms can include:
Biofilms make treatment of chronic illness more difficult, because they are resistant to antibiotics and antimicrobial treatments. Additionally, if diagnostic testing is looking for a particular bacterial presence, it may not show up on a test until the bacteria has disperses from the film colony.
Indications that You Have a Biofilm Problem
Biofilms love the large intestine and upper respiratory pathways because the GI tract is generally moist - a condition that biofilms thrive in. Generally, there are not any specific symptoms that indicate the presence of biofilm, but there are some signs that your symptoms are biofilm-related.
Natural Biofilm Disruptors
Since testing for IBS, IBD, and other GI problems rely on the identification of specific microorganisms, biofilms can make diagnosing and treating your chronic gut symptoms particularly problematic. Biofilms provide a sort of protective shield against detection and prevent traditional treatments from breaking through the EPS barrier to get to the targeted organisms.
There are natural ways to disrupt the biofilm in your gut, which can alleviate your symptoms and make testing for particular bacteria easier for your health practitioner. Here are just a few of the natural biofilm disruptors that have been proven to aid in the breaking down of biofilms:
As always, before beginning any kind of treatment, it is important to work with your healthcare practitioner to determine the best course of action and to ensure biofilm agents pose you no harm.
To discuss your gut health, treatment options, and to find an approach that’s right for you, call Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND at 647-351-7282 to schedule a consultation today