Breaking bad: The slimy coating causing IBS, chronic fatigue & more
Whether it’s in your gut or on your teeth, bacteria survive and thrive in a structure that they create around themselves called biofilm. Biofilm is just what the name implies: a sticky film made by the living, microscopic critters themselves. Why do they make it? To ensure their survival.
But there’s more to biofilm than that. Biofilm can make it much harder to fight an infection. Especially when that infection is lodged somewhere in your gut.
Busting up the sticky goo that ensures microbial survival
In need of a deep cleaning? Take natural enzymes able to break down even the toughest biofilm and take the first step toward internal healing.
If you run your tongue along your teeth after a long day and feel a slimy coating, you’re noticing your oral biofilm.
Found everywhere in nature, biofilms form where bacteria stick to surfaces in moist environments. Bacteria do this by excreting a slimy, sticky substance. And, unsurprisingly, the kind of biofilm you get depends on the kind of bacteria making it.
The body has five major sites for biofilms: the gut, mouth, respiratory tract, skin, and genitourinary tract. These bacterial communities are now commonly referred to as the microbiome.
Biofilms can be helpful or hurtful:
In the mouth, the oral biofilm interacts with saliva and tissues, including teeth, gums, and your tongue. When it’s healthy, the biofilm helps protect these structures, as well as helping prevent them from drying out. Biofilm can be like the oil or lubricant in an engine, discouraging undesirable contaminants from sticking around and jamming up the works.
In a healthy gut populated by beneficial microflora:
- The biofilm created is usually thin and slippery.
- This healthy biofilm allows the passage of nutrients through the intestinal wall and helps keep inflammation in check.
- This anti-inflammatory function of healthy biofilm is a major benefit, given the daily assaults on the gut from outside chemicals, drugs, and processed foods, as well as pathogenic organisms.
Biofilms are basically proof that there’s strength in numbers. When microorganisms work together to create a strong community (a biofilm), they have a greater chance of survival and greater capacities for action than as individual microorganisms. That’s why almost all bacteria on earth are attached to other bacteria, and why biofilms can develop in a matter of hours.
When biofilms go bad.
Just as good bacteria use biofilm to protect themselves and their home (your tissues), bad bacteria can also use biofilm to protect against your immune system and medications intended to eradicate them.1 And an unhealthy oral or gut biofilm can create the perfect conditions for infection and disease.
In fact, an unhealthy gut biofilm can be the reason why some infections just won’t go away. Unhealthy gut biofilm will promote inflammation and protect bacteria, parasites, and yeast from even the strongest medications.
Bad biofilm can:
- House toxins like heavy metals.
- Prevent the full absorption of nutrients across the intestinal wall.
- Promote inflammation.
- Protect disease-causing microorganisms from antibiotics and antifungals (herbal and pharmaceutical-grade).
- Protect disease-causing microorganisms from the immune system.
Biofilm can provide strong protection for pathogenic yeasts, parasites, and bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), MarCoNS, and Candida albicans.
Biofilms and chronic health concerns.
A whole host of health problems, including many that have proven difficult for conventional medicine to eradicate, have been associated with bad biofilms.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, often thought to have an infectious root.2
- Heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux).3
- Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.4
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which includes symptoms like heartburn, bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, brain fog, arthritis, acne, and other skin conditions.6
- Systemic candida overgrowth.7
Where unhealthy biofilms persist, the body can also become more susceptible to other infections, known as co-infections, including pneumonia.
Unhealthy gut biofilm is a hideout for many pathogenic, or disease-causing, microorganisms. This means yeasts like candida and bacteria related to symptoms of dysbiosis, such as diarrhea, constipation, weight gain, and bloating.8,9 Parasites also seek refuge in unhealthy biofilms.
Major food pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli, can form biofilms. This is why these pathogens pose a serious risk to human health and why cleaning your hands, counters, and fresh produce is so important.10
When it comes to urgent gut health issues, we can all use some extra tools in our toolbox. Get help now.
How to battle bad biofilms in 3 intuitive steps
Just like dental plaque, unhealthy gut biofilms are tough to break apart and eliminate. Tough, but not impossible.
Until quite recently, most antibiotic, antifungal, and antiparasitic therapies have tried to get rid of pathogenic microorganisms by acting on the organisms themselves. Biofilms have made this nearly impossible by protecting the microorganisms from the effects of many treatments.
In the last few years, scientists have learned more about biofilms and their function in the body.11 This knowledge has leveled the playing field when it comes to breaking up bad biofilms.
We now know that certain enzymes can be used to help break apart the structure of unhealthy gut biofilm. These include beta glucanase, hemicellulase, protease, and xylanase. These become even more effective when combined with the antimicrobial mineral magnesium, as magnesium oxide.12,13 The enzymes must be high-potency and in the right proportions, like those found in EcoOxyZyme.
Some traditional herbal preparations may also naturally degrade tough biofilm. In fact, the reason why some traditionally used antiparasitic and antimicrobial herbs are so effective is because they naturally bust through and break down biofilm.
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Clove, or Syzygium aromaticum.
- False black pepper, or Embelia ribes.14
Apple cider vinegar is a popular all-purpose home remedy and household cleaning agent. It’s also an acetic acid solution and a biofilm-busting medicine cabinet favorite. Apple cider vinegar strips away important minerals from the biofilm matrix. It can be taken internally for this purpose. Start with two teaspoons mixed in 8 to 10 ounces of water.
Once you’ve restored your gut health, the next step is promoting the growth of a healthy biofilm and continuing to prevent unhealthy biofilm from taking over.
There are three ways to do this — and they’re suitable and suggested for anyone:
1. Eat a diet of whole and nutrient-dense foods.
Eating this way sounds like a lot of work for many of us because of our busy lifestyles. But as your body grows weaker and weaker, you become unproductive and unhappy. If you follow the Principle of Step by Step and take one simple step towards wellness, simply cut out all flour products.
Use stevia and Lakanto as alternatives to sugar and, very importantly, choose an oil change. Throw away all the unrefined oils in your kitchen, like unrefined canola, safflower, sunflower, soy, and peanut oil, and buy extra virgin olive, avocado, macadamia, and coconut oil instead. Now you’re off to a great start.
2. Eat a probiotic-rich diet teeming with beneficial microbes.
Fermented foods like cultured vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, and natto have been eaten for thousands of years by our ancestors. If you’re fine with dairy, foods like yogurt and milk kefir can be added to your diet. If not, kefir can also be made with coconut water, and coconut milk yogurts are available.
Along with your larger meals of the day, have 3 to 4 ounces of our Body Ecology Probiotic Power Shots, like CocoBiotic™ and InnergyBiotic™. And stay tuned for our soon-to-be-released BeetBiotic™. We expect this beautiful Power Shot — that looks like a red wine — to be our next superstar product. These probiotic beverages provide an amazing diversity of beneficial microbes. And diversity is the key to a richly populated inner ecosystem.
3. Use ozone in the fight against biofilms.
Ozone and peroxide are increasingly recognized for their ability to break up biofilms and help clear infections that are otherwise resistant to antimicrobial treatments.15 During World War I, doctors in the trenches even used ozone to disinfect wounds.16
Ozone (O3) is a naturally occurring compound made up of three oxygen atoms. It is an unstable and short-lived form of oxygen and is also the strongest known natural oxidant. Ozone is produced in nature by lightning, or ultraviolet irradiation, and can also be produced in the laboratory.
Ozone creates reactive oxygen species and lipid oxygenation products, which disrupt biofilms and kill pathogenic organisms. In some studies, ozonated water inactivated 90 percent of microbial pathogens in just a few seconds when applied to biofilms on stainless steel.17 Supersaturated, encapsulated synthetic peroxide is also being investigated as a single-dose treatment for malaria.18
Best of all, ozone doesn’t leave behind a chemical residue, unlike drug metabolites, as ozone is simply oxygen.
In addition to its antimicrobial effects on gut microbiota, ozone also activates the immune system and anti-inflammatory signaling, releases growth factors, and improves blood circulation. Some researchers have suggested a role for ozone therapy in neurodegenerative diseases increasingly linked to gut dysbiosis.19
Ozone is so good at killing pathogens that the human body figured out how to make it itself, along with other oxidants including hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, hypochlorite, and singlet oxygen. For stubborn biofilms, however, it’s best to support these natural defenses with an ozone supplement paired with proteolytic enzymes, such as EcoOxyZyme.
EcoOxyZyme helps remove biofilms enzymatically and provides an oxygenated environment in which beneficial gut bacteria can thrive.20 It’s like bringing in the SWAT team to spring-clean your gut!
Breaking down biofilms is something to take seriously. Because many times, even the most well-intentioned medical interventions can actually make biofilms worse. Recent research shows that the common practice of taking antibiotics can be counterintuitive, ineffectively treating biofilms while also causing more to form.21
- 1. Bjarnsholt, T. (2013). The role of bacterial biofilms in chronic infections. APMIS Suppl, May, (136):1-51.
- 2. Benson KF, Jensen GS. Bacteria in blood from fibromyalgia patients include the Aquabacterium genus, producing metabolites with inflammatory properties in vitro. Results from a pilot study. International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. Volume 12 Issue 6 – 2019.
- 3. Blackett KL, Siddhi SS, Cleary S, et al. Oesophageal bacterial biofilm changes in gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s and oesophageal carcinoma: association or causality?. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013;37(11):1084-1092. doi:10.1111/apt.12317.
- 4. Macfarlane, J.F. Dillon. Microbial biofilms in the human gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2007 May; 102 (5): 1187 – 1196.
- 5. Toro-Londono MA, Bedoya-Urrego K, Garcia-Montoya GM, Galvan-Diaz AL, Alzate JF. Intestinal parasitic infection alters bacterial gut microbiota in children. PeerJ. 2019;7:e6200. Published 2019 Jan 7. doi:10.7717/peerj.6200.
- 6. Singh, Anju. (2018). Dysbiosis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and biofilms in autism and chronic illness. AIMS Molecular Science. 5. 160-165. 10.3934/molsci.2018.2.160.
- 7. Gulati M, Nobile CJ. Candida albicans biofilms: development, regulation, and molecular mechanisms. Microbes Infect. 2016;18(5):310-321. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2016.01.002.
- 8. Macfarlane, S., & Dillon, J.F. (2007). Microbial biofilms in the human gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Applied Microbiology, May; 102 (5): 1187 – 1196.
- 9. Turnbaugh, P.J., et al. (2006). An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, Dec; 444: 1027 – 1031.
- 10. Marino, M., et al. (2018). Inactivation of Foodborne Bacteria Biofilms by Aqueous and Gaseous Ozone. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 2024.
- 11. Catherine R. Armbruster, Matthew R. Parsek. New insight into the early stages of biofilm formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2018, 115 (17) 4317-4319; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1804084115.
- 12. Tan Y, Ma S, Leonhard M, Moser D, Schneider-Stickler B. β-1,3-glucanase disrupts biofilm formation and increases antifungal susceptibility of Candida albicans DAY185. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018;108:942-946. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2017.11.003.
- 13. Nguyen, N.T., Grelling, N., Wetteland, C.L. et al. Antimicrobial Activities and Mechanisms of Magnesium Oxide Nanoparticles (nMgO) against Pathogenic Bacteria, Yeasts, and Biofilms. Sci Rep 8, 16260 (2018).
- 14. Vishnu Agarwal, et al. Prevention of Candida albicans biofilm by plant oils. Mycopathologia. 165 (1): 13 – 19.
- 15. Bialoszewski, D., et al. (2011). Activity of ozonated water and ozone against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. Med Sci Monit, Nov; 17(11):BR339-344.
- 16. Elvis AM, Ekta JS. Ozone therapy: A clinical review. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011;2(1):66-70. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.82319.
- 17. Marino, M., et al. (2018). Inactivation of Foodborne Bacteria Biofilms by Aqueous and Gaseous Ozone. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 2024.
- 18. Lu, H.D., et al. (2018). Encapsulation of OZ439 into Nanoparticles for Supersaturated Drug Release in Oral Malaria Therapy. ACS infectious diseases, 4(6), 970–979.
- 19. Scassellati, C., et al. (2020). Ozone: a natural bioactive molecule with antioxidant property as potential new strategy in aging and in neurodegenerative disorders. Ageing research reviews, 63, 101138. Advance online publication.
- 20. Valeria Borszcz, Taisa P. Boscato, Juliana Flach, Karine Cence, Jamile Zeni, Rogério Luis Cansian, Geciane Toniazzo Backes, and Eunice Valduga. Industrial Biotechnology.Dec 2017.311-318. http://doi.org/10.1089/ind.2017.0021.
- 21. Olivares E, Badel-Berchoux S, Provot C, Prévost G, Bernardi T, Jehl F. Clinical Impact of Antibiotics for the Treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Infections. Front Microbiol. 2020;10:2894. Published 2020 Jan 9. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.02894.