An often overlooked piece in the treatment and prevention of chronic illness, the issue of “biofilm” has been gaining more attention among scientists, microbiologists and among professionals in various medical disciplines – including dentistry, naturopathic medicine and even conventional (allopathic) medicine.
Biofilms are complex communities of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeast, algae) living together. This co-created environment is increasingly becoming the preferred mode of growth of such microbes in a multitude of habitats. It is now understood that microorganisms do not exist as solitary cells but instead form complex colonies, which aid their adaptation to various environmental conditions. Think of it as community living and helping one another out as opposed to every person for him or herself. The Darwinian law of ‘survival of the fittest’ seems to take a backburner when it comes to biofilms.
Biofilms start off with a few microbes forming a thin layer of ‘slime’. In the right environment, this then develops into intricate communities of millions of microbes, becoming large enough to be visible to the naked eye.
Where can I find them?
Biofilms are found all over the environment – from the natural environment to industrial and clinical settings. They tend to be found on surfaces that are wet or are exposed to moisture. The slime you see in a pond is a form of biofilm. Biofilms can also be found building up on the inside of wastepipes. Now go look in the mirror and smile. That slimy, yellowish layer which you see on your teeth is a form of stubborn biofilm also known as plaque.
But there are many other places in the body where biofilm can exist…
Why should I know about biofilms?
Just as you are about to put this article away to go brush your teeth so as to get rid of that horrid biofilm and be done with it, you should ask yourself if you have or had any chronic recurrent infections that just won’t seem to go away even with multiple courses of antibiotics? The presence of pathogenic or disease-causing biofilms in your body can take the form of chronic ear infections, chronic sinusitis, tonsillitis, lung infections, chronic digestive problems, recurrent urinary tract infections and chronic fatigue. These result in ‘milder’ forms of disease but still debilitating at the same time. Think about it, if the biofilm were to destroy you, the host, it will lose its only mode of survival. Hence, the chronic nature of biofilm-induced infections.
Biofilms are also increasingly being detected in autoimmune diseases and Lyme disease. Biofilm is one of the reasons why treatment and eradication of Lyme disease is so difficult and complex. However, biofilms are not only limited to chronic infections. They do cause more severe diseases such as with Vibrio Cholera, the bacterial culprit known to us in Cholera outbreaks. This bacteria is known to form biofilms, aiding its growth and survival. Another disease, bacterial endocarditis, is a potentially fatal disease involving infection of the inner heart muscle tissue and is supported by biofilms. It also appears that biofilms are involved in the formation of kidney stones.
Who is susceptible?
It does appear that biofilms form with greater ease in immune compromised individuals – bringing to mind a famous French scientist of the 19th century, Antoine Bechamp. Antoine Bechamp opposed Louis Pasteur’s germ theory, stating that it is the germ which invades the host that causes disease. The germ must therefore be destroyed in order to eradicate disease. Pasteur’s germ theory is how we commonly view disease today or at least how mainstream western medicine does.
Bechamp instead postulated the theory of the terrain. Bechamp’s theory suggests that it is the internal terrain/environment of the individual which determines our susceptibility to disease. I am sure we are all too familiar with the co-worker who somehow seems to be able to fend off the flu bug when everyone else has fallen ill. Just what makes that co-worker less susceptible to falling ill?
What can I do if I have a chronic infection supported by biofilms?
So what if the terrain/internal environment of your body has been weakened by a less than ideal lifestyle, coupled with present day toxicities, and you have succumbed to persistent chronic infections caused by biofilms?
In mainstream medicine, it is acknowledged that biofilms are almost impossible to destroy with conventional use of antibiotics. An antibiotic regimen known as the Marshall Protocol involving the use of low, pulsed doses of antiobiotics vs high, constant doses has been created that appears effective in eradicating certain kinds of biofilms. There have been reports of relapse in some cases and much debate over its safety.
Taken from a more integrative medical perspective, biofilms are very complex and successful treatment requires a multi-faceted approach to treat the microbes, dissolve the biofilm, eliminate the debris and replace healthy, balanced flora to restore integrity to affected tissues. Treatment often involves the use of targeted and broad-spectrum based anti-microbials (herbs and/or antibiotics), specific enzymes, select vitamins and other natural agents. Correct timing and dosage is essential. Proper diet is paramount (for example, sugar supports biofilm and must be eliminated). Chronic heavy metal exposure should be addressed as well – especially if you have any mercury fillings.
Depending on the extent and severity of biofilm, individuals may experience a ‘die off’ reaction (also known as a “Herxheimer reaction”) once the treatment process has begun, causing them to feel worse. Herxheimer support is critical to keep the process going without compromising treatment. Some of the treatments we use to combat the Herxheimer reactions and support removal and elimination of biofilm include colon hydrotherapy, anti-inflammatory agents and select probiotics (“healthy” bacteria).
Although treating and resolving the issue of chronic biofilm can be quite complex, there are some very basic steps you can take to create a healthy terrain. Firstly, attend to your diet and lifestyle. Modern day toxicities come in many forms. Chronic stress, toxic thoughts and emotions are some of them and can be addressed through mindfulness-based practices (creating self awareness). Choose organic, whole foods and avoid processed foods and beverages. Try taking a more ‘raw food’ approach as this will preserve the integrity of natural enzymes found in food. Incorporate healthy ‘green drinks’ in your daily routine, either by juicing or blending. Healing does not happen overnight but with the proper multifaceted and holistic approach, you can liberate yourself from the nagging health issues compromising your quality of life and regain the vital you that you wish to be. If you are ready to start your journey to optimal health and healing, we are here to help!
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