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The Trouble with Biofilms

what are biofilms

This winter I developed a sinus and upper respiratory infection from hell.  I’m serious.  I could not get better!  One week turned into three and three turned into three months.  

At first, we thought it was a run of the mill virus but as time went by I realized there was something sinister.  In my house there appeared this black villainous spotty growth all over the kitchen we had only torn down twice to rebuild and it was still not water tight.   

Yep, you guessed it, black mold was invading my house (and still is for the moment though it is, thankfully drying and dying) and it was making me sick.    

So what did that tell me?  What was keeping my sinuses so gunky (it’s a medical term)  was colonies of biofilms.

What is a biofilm anyway?

A biofilm is a group of microorganisms.  It’s a colony, if you will, of cells that stick together and adhere to a surface, and when I say surface I mean they can live ANYWHERE in the body.  These microorganisms can be embedded with EPS or extracellular polymeric substances, aka slime.  (Think the green ghost in Ghostbusters).  This slime is, generally, comprised of extracellular DNA, polysaccharides (sugars), and proteins.  

Let me simplify it down further and say biofilms are, though not always bad, (humans have evolved from biofilms and they do serve some purpose ) really comfortable places viruses, fungi, and other bacteria create to be able to exist in the body for a long, long, LONG time.  

Imagine you are on holiday at the Four Seasons.  Remember those beds they create to make you feel you are in the womb?  That’s a biofilm.  Have you ever left a cucumber in the refrigerator too long and come to eat it only to discover it’s slimy?  That’s a biofilm.  You know that sticky gross stuff the dentist scrapes off your teeth during a cleaning?  Yep, also a biofilm.

Once again, there are beneficial biofilms such as many that exist in the respiratory tract, on the skin, and in the intestinal mucosa.  They exist in the vagina to prevent certain infections and overgrowths.  Biofilms can be extremely protective in the body, however, many factors, including antibiotic use can turn a beneficial biofilm into a pathogenic one.

Pathogenic ones can form as well without ever being beneficial.  

Every time you take an antibiotic you kill off bacteria; good, bad, and otherwise and a bacteria is “left behind” that forms a biofilm.

Why are biofilms problematic?

Biofilms don’t react positively to the immune system in the way the usual viruses, bacterias, and fungi would react.  An infection associated with biofilms can persist or even develop into a chronic infection.  Phagocytes are cells that ingest harmful bacteria, foreign particles and dead cells but biofilms are notoriously antiphagocytic which means that biofilms, essentially block the ability of the body to fight an infection by normal means.  Antibodies present when the immune system is stimulated is rendered ineffective by the polymeric matrix.  

The immune system uses PMNs (polymorphonucleocytes) and macrophages to promote chemotaxis and degranulation to further proliferate the lymphocytes needed and biofilms supress this activity.

Adding insult to injury the body’s defenses are unable to deal with biofilm matrixes and this means that trying to fight these infections can contribute to tissue damage, long term.  There is also a unique mechanism in which when the antibodies come into contact with the surface of the biofilm, bacterial enzymes catalyze and form a sticky polymer coating which creates even more protection for the biofilm.  What’s even scarier than this is that if the infection does seem to be reacting to treatment, because antibodies and serum proteins don’t actually penetrate the biofilm, which means that infections can recur (indeed because they never were really treated completely at all).

Going back to PMNs, they are not able to engulf bacteria within a polymer matrix or biofilm when it is attached to a solid surface (and much of them are attached to the body to a solid enough surface to make this problematic).  When this happens, PMNs, in a bid to complete their mission, release large amounts of proinflammatory enzymes and cytokines contributing to chronic inflammation and tissue destruction.  

Inevitably, this leads to bacteria embedded within the biofilm matrix become resistant to the body’s natural immunological responses (and even resistant to antibiotics and other treatments). With regards to resistance to antibiotics, this happens because penicillin based antibiotics work effectively on actively growing cells.  Floroquinonolones work effectively on rapidly developing and dividing cells.  Neither of these types of cells are found in biofilms.  Therefore antibiotic, and, indeed, antivirals and microbials will cease to work effectively.

Biofilms are a big deal because they encourage gene transfer from one biofilm to another so antibiotic, antiviral and antimicrobial resistant bacteria in one biofilm can transfer that resistance to not only other biofilms of other neighboring bacteria.  That means that what could be considered friendly bacteria could be turned into an unfriendly if not downright virulent pathogen.  

Examples of biofilms are gram positive (e.g. Bacillus spp, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus spp, and lactic acid bacteria, including Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactococcus lactis) and gram-negative species (e.g. Escherichia coli otherwise known as E. Coli, or Pseudomonas aeruginosa).  

Biofilms are responsible for the proliferation of Lyme Disease, Epstein-Barr, and other viruses that contribute to autoimmune disorders, cytomegaloviruses and even cancer.  

Why must biofilms be treated above everything else?

As you can see, biofilms are a BIG deal and MUST be treated in any gut healing protocol, Lyme or EBV protocol and even in almost every hormonal and thyroid protocol.  

Biofilms can help undiagnosed viruses, bacterial infections, microbial and parasitic infestations hide and nest in places like the liver, pancreas, gut and even gallbladder.  

If you have tried everything under the sun to treat your chronic illness, autoimmune disorder, or even lose weight, and nothing is working, biofilms could be to blame.

It might shock you that treating biofilms can clear your skin of acne, psoriasis, and eczema (and other skin conditions), chronic sinusitis, asthma, and many other niggling disorders.

I cleared the biofilms in my sinuses using a hypotonic solution with a little baby shampoo,  high UMF Manuka honey, and oregano leaf.  In the beginning, what came out of my sinuses was something out of “Alien”.  I could see the colonies of sticky “gunk” coming out and, in the end, this is what cleared a very long sinus infection.

What biofilms are keeping you sick?  Book your discovery call today and let’s discuss how we can best work together to put you on the road to health and vibrance.

 

 

 

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