For When You're Sick & Tired of Being Sick & Tired: Biofilms

Biofilms: They are in all of us.

They act to protect us, until of course, they take over and can hurt our health.

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A biofilm is a community of bacteria that attach to a surface by excreting a sticky, sugary substance that encompasses the bacteria in a matrix. Picture bacteria living in your gut or your nasal sinuses, excreting a sugary matrix that becomes a dome around them or a scaffolding surrounding them. They live off what you've eaten and naturally form their own excrements, living in synergy with your system. Then picture it excreting a film in the shape of a dome around it, like a scaffolding, to protect it from your body's immune system. 

Biofilms that we form daily are healthy, as long as they are formed by a diverse group of bacteria keeping each other in check, that are also neutralized daily and easily by our immune system. An example of a healthy biofilm is that film feeling we get on our teeth. Biofilms protect our teeth from getting cavities.

They can become negative and cause symptoms similar to a cold, flu or fever, when one particular pathogenic bacteria overgrows, taking up more real-estate and reducing the diversity of your bacteria and begins to create its biofilm that now, given the amount of ground it has taken, creates a large matrix that is less diverse and harder to neutralize by your immune system.

The most common places for biofilm grown is actually your respiratory system (lungs --> do you commonly get strep throat, bronchitis, or pneumonia?) and your digestive system, due to exposure to environmental bacteria from the air we breathe and what we put in our mouth. Ever get a cold with a cough and find the cough takes 3x the length of time to kick?

The longer and longer left untreated, the larger the scaffolding grows surrounding them, the harder to kill they become and the more susceptible it then makes you to the bacteria's presence and toxicity, that your immune system will still try to fight, wearing you down. 

Signs you are building a biofilm: You get everything your child brings home from daycare or everything your co-workers bring to the office.

You may be symptom free & 'healthy' for periods of time, but you get sick on a more frequent basis. Get a head cold or congestion 4-5x/year? Experience repeated chest colds or sore throats? These are all signs you have a mild-build up of a biofilm. 

People who come to my office and tell me they have "Never well since the last 2 or 5 or 10 years," always plagued with brain fog, colds, and just feeling blah, indicate we may need to investigate if you've developed a strong biofilm. A strong biofilm comes with increased resistance to your immune system and even anti-biotic/anti-viral/anti-fungal treatments. We label mild biofilms as being n 'Phase 1', and stronger biofilms as being in 'Phase 2', however, there is no easily accessible test to determine what phase your biofilm is in.

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A biofilm can be composed of a single species or a conglomerate of species, making weak or strong scaffolding (phase 1 or phase2 biofilms). A phase 1 biofilm essentially becomes active because it has some overgrown pathogenic bacteria sitting dormant underneath their biofilm/scaffolding, and then you introduce more of that same pathogenic bacteria either from what your kids bring home from day-care, or what your co-workers bring to the office, or you were less hygienic that week, and the newly introduced pathogenic bacteria will find its family and join them, further strengthening their scaffolding. 

Can you test for it? Not really. 

Best thing to do is to meet with your naturopathic doctor and go through a work-up to rule out other conditions and treat for biofilms. You'll notice improvement after 1 round of treatment. You'll likely need to be on treatment for 3-6 months. 

Treatment & Prevention of Biofilms in Phase 1 Stages: 

If your immune system is working, and you're eating healthy (aka eating spices like cinnamon, cardamon, oregano, thyme, rosemary, clove, black pepper, spicy peppers, juniper berries, pine-needles) chances are you don't have biofilm build up. These things are anti-microbial and anti-biofilm. Do you like bland food? Consider spicing it up to ward off bad bugs and prevent biofilm build up.  

Next make sure you keep your immune system healthy and take in pre-biotic foods that boost your healthy bacteria. Pre-biotic foods are different fibrous foods, that feed our good bacteria in the gut. Read more on pre-biotic foods and the gut-brain connection here. 

If you're feeling you have phase 1 biofilms, we would approach treatment by rotate supplements, liquid or capsulized form of these spice-extracts. Like Oil of Oregano, extracts of thyme, clove or black pepper. There is a particular order to the rotation 

Treatment & Killing Off Biofilms In the Phase 2: 

If you have phase 2 biofilms not many drugs are available to treat these organisms, however they are in development by pharmaceutical researchers, because they know this health problem is severe and difficult to treat. 

But there is hope. We can use a complex treatment schedule of supplements & diet to strengthen the immune system, address other affected areas of the body, and include on rotation the anti-microbials. This allows for the immune system to open-up the biofilm and get into the core to allow the anti-microbials to work.  Treatment can then regress back to the immune building and prevention steps in phase 1 and then continue to work backwards to just using food as medicine. 

 

Reference video to watch: