Biofilms and why are they important for IBS & SIBO

Biofilms are complex communities of microbes and they are the reason your SIBO and IBS keeps coming back.

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Microbes love moisture and warmth, which means our bodies are the perfect home. All the surfaces of our body – from our skin to inside the long tube of our intestines, have a coating of microbes – the ‘microbiome’. If there is moisture, warmth and food, microbial populations expand and they start to change – the microbes start to work together as a team and form a kind of microbe ‘city’ – a bit like coral communities on the sea bed.

The microbes secrete a protective gel [‘matrix’] and hide inside this stuff. This is a biofilm. If you’re wondering what one looks like then think of when you’ve forgotten to clean your teeth – dental plaque is a biofilm.

Image by ParoleMusica on Pixabay

Like an anenome protecting a clown fish from attack, biofilms protect the microbes from antibiotics and herbal antimicrobials. Antibiotics kill many of the bacteria in your gut, but any hiding in the biofilm will be protected. As soon as you stop taking the antibiotics, the microbes in the biofilm will emerge and repopulate your gut – and your symptoms return.

SIBO and biofilms

If you have SIBO, this causes even more of a problem than dysbiosis in the large intestine. The small intestine is lined with tiny projections (villi) that provide a large surface area for absorbtion of nutrients. The lining of the small intestine is not designed to cope with a large bacterial load, so it becomes inflamed, and this can lead to immune-related problems such as fatigue and feeling ‘off’ (technically known as ‘sickness behaviour’), rosacea (redness in the T-zone of the face), and other issues.

How do I get rid of biofilms?

There are various herbal antimicrobials, certain foods and certain supplements that break down biofilm. One of the best blends, recommeded by many specialists in gut health, is Interphase Plus. In the table below, I list several of the more common solutions suggested by experts.

Biofilm disruptorHow does it work?
Klaire Labs Interphase PlusComemrcial blend that iInhibits biofilm formation and biofilm disurptor [2]Check
Monolaurin (see also lauricidin, lauric acid, glycerol monolaurateAnti-bacterial, antifungal, biofilm disruptor [1] Derived from coconuut oilCheck
Colloidal silverBroad spectrum antimicrobial. Some evidence that it destroys biofilms [3]Check
N-acetyl cysteine Inhibiting biofilm formation and destroys developed biofilms (biofilm disruptor) [4]Check price
Wormwood [Artemesia]Inhibits biofilms [5]Check price
Oregano oilEradicates biofilms [6]Check price
Goldenseal Interferes with microbial communication (quorum sensing) within the biofilm. [7]Check price
Berberine (contained in barberry bark & oregano grape)Interferes with microbia communication (quorum sensing). [8]Check price
Protease enzymes [taken between meals]Breaks down biofilm structure.Check price

By tackling your biofilms, you have the greatest chance of achieving long-term digestive health that feels like a calm sea… 🙂

Image by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Reference list

1. Seleem, et al. In vitro evaluation of antifungal activity of monolaurin against Candida albicans biofilms. PeerJ  doi: 10.7717/peerj.2148 (2016)  

2. Dinicola, et al. N-acetylcysteine as powerful molecule to destroy bacterial biofilms. A systematic review. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 18, 2942-2948 (2014)

3. Goggin et al. Colloidal silver: a novel treatment for Staphylococcus aureus biofilms? Int Forum Allergy Rhinol.  doi: 10.1002/alr.21259. (2014)

4. Dinicola et al. N-acetylcysteine as powerful molecule to destroy bacterial biofilms. A systematic review. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 18, 2942-8 (2014)

5. Choi et al. Artemisia princeps Inhibits Biofilm Formation and Virulence-Factor Expression of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. PNAS doi: 10.1155/2015/239519 (2015)

6. Lu et al. Bactericidal Property of Oregano Oil Against Multidrug-Resistant Clinical Isolates. Front Microbiol. 2018; 9: 2329.

7. Cech et al. Quorum Quenching and Antimicrobial Activity of Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Planta Med. 2012 Sep; 78(14): 1556–1561.

8. Aswathanarayan & Vittal. Inhibition of biofilm formation and quorum sensing mediated phenotypes by berberine in Pseudomonas aeruginosaand Salmonella typhimurium. DOI:10.1039/C8RA06413J (2018)


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