Biofilm Treatment Protocol: Natural Biofilm Disruptors That Work
Biofilms are often overlooked when working on gut healing. But now we know they are a critical component of successful treatment for many of the root causes of IBS. So in this post, We’re going to provide an overview of our natural biofilm treatment protocol as well as explain why biofilm disruptors are such an important part of eradicating parasites, bacteria, SIBO, yeast and other pathogenic infections.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
> What is biofilm?
> Signs you have a biofilm infection.
> The impact of biofilm on testing for root causes of IBS.
> How biofilm makes treatment harder.
> Natural biofilm disruptors that can help.
> The natural biofilm treatment protocol we use with our clients.
What is Biofilm?
Bacteria, yeast, some species of parasites and other microorganisms tend to float freely as single cells in what is known as a planktonic form. When these individual microorganisms attach to a surface, such as the GI tract, they clump together into a matrix and create a colony. Larger colonies can contain different species, creating very complex structures.
This matrix forms a type of shield around the clump making the microorganisms hiding inside hard to detect in testing, and difficult to address.
Studies have shown that acute infections are often assumed to involve the planktonic form of parasites, bacteria and yeast - the free-floating single cells - which are generally treatable with antibiotics / antimicrobial products. But once these microorganisms have formed a biofilm, the infection often becomes chronic and extremely resistant to antibiotics or other antimicrobial agents, and indeed the body’s own defences - the immune system.
If you have a parasitic/bacterial (including SIBO)/yeast infection or overgrowth, particularly those with a history of treatment resistance, it is very likely you have an associated biofilm infection. This is because an estimated 80% of all GI infections are caused by biofilm-producing microbes.
Signs you have a chronic biofilm infection
While biofilm infections aren’t known for any specific symptoms, there are a few signs you might be suffering from a chronic biofilm infection. While these are in no-way conclusive of a biofilm infection, here are a few signs to consider:
> No/minimal pathogenic infections or overgrowths identified on comprehensive stool testing, despite chronic GI symptoms.
> New infections show up on retesting, even after a round of antimicrobials. This demonstrates that the biofilms have been sufficiently disrupted during the first round of treatment to show up on testing.
> Previous treatments without natural biofilm disruptors have been unsuccessful.
The impact of biofilm on testing for root causes of IBS
When microorganisms are protected by their biofilm shield, they become almost invisible to detection, particularly for less sensitive forms of pathology testing. Planktonic microbes that have been released from the colony during dispersion become visible under a microscope. But those hiding inside a biofilm generally evade detection.
So when we are looking to see what bugs may be lurking inside your gut, they are often hiding in plain sight! This means that at times, it may appear as though you don’t have the kind of bugs we were expecting to see, and that are actually causing your symptoms. There is also the possibility that while some microbes may be detected - the planktonic ones - the full variety hiding in biofilm may not be detected.
It is for this reason that we recommend using a natural biofilm disruptor for at least two weeks prior to testing for IBS root causes. Which can be frustrating when you want to work out what is hiding in your gut quickly, we know. By disrupting the biofilm, we are more likely to get the full and accurate picture of exactly what is going on in the GI tract, and what we need to treat.
How Biofilm Makes Treatment Harder
When we can’t see the microorganisms or know just how much is there, effective treatment becomes difficult. This is because the quantity and type of microorganisms are what determine the types of antimicrobials required to help you heal. So if we can’t see all the microbes, we don’t know what to address.
Furthermore, just as biofilm provides a protective shield against detection, it also provides a level of protection against treatment. Antibiotics and antimicrobials can easily kill planktonic bacteria, but reaching those inside of biofilm can be difficult, as the antibiotic/antimicrobial agents cannot commonly penetrate the biofilm.
And in addition to this it has been suggested that any antibiotic that makes its way inside the biofilm may actually foster rather than prevent biofilm formation. These are just some of the many factors that contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance that has been occurring in recent years.
Since it has been established that biofilm formation and tenacious parasites, bacteria and fungi such as candida albicans seem to go hand-in-hand, researchers believe that antibiotic/antimicrobial treatment in combination with biofilm disruptors may be the answer to persistent infections. This certainly aligns with our experience in clinical practice and is why a natural biofilm disruptor needs to be included as part of any comprehensive IBS treatment protocol.
So how do we break apart the biofilm to reveal the colony of microbes hiding inside, and then create an effective biofilm treatment protocol?
Natural biofilm disruptors
Recently, discoveries have been made that suggest that microorganisms can communicate with one another via cell signalling which causes the same types of cells to form colonies together. This mechanism is known as Quorum Sensing - like a secret code for bugs.
Quorum sensing allows the microorganism to work as a group, changing and adapting to their environment. Therefore, to rid the body of some types of biofilm requires interfering with quorum sensing and breaking down the biofilms.
Luckily there are many natural sources of quorum sensing inhibitors. Foods and food-based supplements such as turmeric (containing Curcumin), garlic (containing ajoene and allicin), apple cider vinegar, vanilla beans, oregano oil (containing carvacrol) pomegranate (containing ellagic acid), and cinnamon (to name but a few) have been scientifically proven to disrupt or prevent biofilm formation.
The natural biofilm treatment protocol we use with our clients
At the moment, our go-to natural biofilm disruptor is Biofilm Defense by Kirkman Labs. We typically prefer blends for treating biofilms and the unique matrix-dissolving enzymes in Biofilm Defense seem to do the job.
It’s best taken 30 minutes before food and away from antimicrobials and other supplements. The recommended quantity to take is 1 capsule, daily. As with all supplements, we recommend only using this kind of product under the guidance of a skilled functional practitioner.
An alternative biofilm busting option is Klaire Labs, Interfase Plus, however this supplement contains egg and can be problematic for those who are sensitive. There are more alternatives, however we find that these can be challenging to use for various reasons, such as bromelain and papain which, in our experience, don’t work well for people who have SIBO.
Biofilm infections are a poorly understood part of chronic GI infections. Not only do they make detecting infections challenging, they also make effective treatment using conventional methods almost impossible. But not anymore! We hope you found this blog helpful, and please make sure that any of your future protocols include a natural biofilm disruptor for the best chance of GI healing. And if you are looking for more support to overcome an IBS label or other digestive symptoms, please visit the 'work with us' page to learn more.
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