Biofilms – Resistant Infections and Possible Treatments

biofilm disruptors resistant infections byron bay australia naturopathy parasite infections

Research on difficult to treat parasitic infections continues to point towards biofilms being the limiting factor. As with most thing relating to the host-parasite interaction it is a multifactorial issue. Still biofilms are worth considering, especially if you are struggling to eliminate an enteric infection.

Biofilms can be thought of as little cities of microbes. The foundation for these cities are laid by bacteria in the form of exopolysaccharides (EPS). It’s important to note that even though bacteria are mainly responsible for biofilm formation, many different organisms can find shelter there including protozoan parasites, viruses, other bacteria and even fungi.

There are many reasons that organisms seek out and join biofilm communities. They can communicate with one another, swap genetic material but most importantly the biofilm matrix is a form of shelter and could be contributing to antimicrobial resistance (1).

Frontline treatment of many enteric parasites is a combination of antibiotics. Sometimes two and even three different antibiotics are used together in conjunction with a proton pump inhibitor. Unfortunately the cure rates are still less than ideal with one paper estimating them to be at about 80%. A number of different reasons were proposed including patient compliance, medication side effects, antibiotic resistance and the presence biofilms (2).

Bacteria, Protozoa & Fungi Infections

The list of organisms that have been associated with biofilms is long, too long to list them all here. I have seen a number of these (but not all) flagged on stool tests run here in Byron Bay, NSW.

  • Campylobacter
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Shigella
  • Yersinia
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Giardia spp. (1).
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Klebsiella
  • Pseudomonas spp. (3).
  • Candida (4).

Biofilms Resist Treatment

“Growth as a biofilm almost always leads to a large increase in resistance to antimicrobial agents” (5).

This statement pretty much sums it up. Microbes seek out biofilms and as such they become harder to treat. The literature is pretty clear on this with many different papers exploring this issue.

Protection within the polymeric matrix that makes up the biofilm is the main issue. Antibiotics and herbal antimicrobials have a difficult time actually breaking into the substance. The other theory regarding poor success rates and biofilms proposes that the microbes within biofilms are experiencing nutrient limitation, a hibernation as it were (6).

Some bacteria, notably Helicobacter pylori, actually form biofilms in response to antimicrobial agents (7).

Biofilm Busters

Let’s get down to business.

We have established that biofilms do exist and that they are by their nature resistant to antimicrobial treatments, be it pharmaceutical or herbal. Thankfully there are a number of different supplements, herbs and even foods that can help to break down the biofilm matrix so that antimicrobial interventions can succeed.

The best advice that I have come across is to use a biofilm disruptor within the context of a herbal antimicrobial protocol. All biofilm disruptors should be taken on an empty stomach (30 minutes before food or 2 hours after) and should ideally be followed with herbal antimicrobials about 30 minutes after taken.

Digestive Enzymes

This is the number one biofilm buster that is recommended across the board to be used in conjunction with a herbal antimicrobial treatment. 

Another highly recommended biofilm buster that is made up of very similar enzymes as interphase plus. Unfortunately for some with allergies and food sensitivities it does contain soy

  • Immune support by Thermamedix bioset

A digestive enzyme blend with particular enzymes suited for biofilm treatment (particularly Nattokinase)

Supplements for Biofilms

  • N acetylcysteine (NAC)

Has been shown to have very promising biofilm eradication effects (38).

One small control trial used the frontline antibiotic treatment for Helicobacter pylori. One group received NAC leading up to the antibiotic course, the other didn’t.

65% of the NAC + antibiotic group eradicated H. pylori while only 20% of the antibiotic only group eradicated the bacteria (9). 

  • Monolaurin

Found in coconut oil and shows promising antimicrobial activity as well as being a potential biofilm treatment (10).

Herbal Medicine for Biofilm 

There are a whole range of other herbal medicines that have biofilm disrupting qualities. So much so that some herbalists don’t agree that a biofilm agent is necessary when treating infections. Currently I am withholding judgment. If you have been through a number of herbal antimicrobial protocols and still can’t seem to eliminate your infection then biofilms maybe to blame.

References and Resources

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780124158467
  2. The Potential Role of N-Acetylcysteine for the Treatment of Helicobacter pylori
  3. Review article: biolm formation by Helicobacter pylori as target for eradication of resistant infection
  4. Characterization of Mucosal Candida albicans Biofilms
    • Medical Implications of Biofilms
    • Bacterial biofilms: a common cause of persistent infections.
    • Helicobacter pylori Resists the Antimicrobial Activity of Calprotectin via Lipid A Modification and Associated Biofilm Formation
    • Biofilm Formation by Helicobacter pylori and Its Involvement for Antibiotic Resistance
    • Biofilm demolition and antibiotic treatment to eradicate resistant Helicobacter pylori: a clinical trial.
    • In vitro evaluation of antifungal activity of monolaurin against Candida albicans biofilms
    • Berberine Antifungal Activity in Fluconazole-Resistant Pathogenic Yeasts: Action Mechanism Evaluated by Flow Cytometry and Biofilm Growth Inhibition in Candida spp.
    • Survey of the Antibiofilm and Antimicrobial Effects of Zingiber officinale(in Vitro Study)
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    35 comments

      1. Do we take the biofilm destroyer at the same time as the herbal antimicrobials, or do we complete a biofilm formula first, then start the herbal product?

        1. ah yes, great question. Best to take the herbal antimicrobials about 30 min after the biofilm disruptors. I’ll update the article now.

    1. Interesting postTodd, you obviously have done much work on this subject and it actually makes sense. Can you advise what foods are biofilm destroyers please.

      1. Yup! Many spices have biofilm breaking properties. Cloves are a big one as is oregano leaf. Garlic, turmeric and even apple cider vinegar can work to disrupt biofilms too.

      2. Hi, I had ankle surgery (17/1) for broken ankle in 3 places. Had 2 plates and 12 screws put in. Still have a wound on one side not healing. Just had surgical debridement done last week. Which product might help healing? What about something with Oregano etc for biofilm?

    2. Hi Todd

      I’ve been trying to order online Interphase Plus by Klaire labs  Biofilm Defense by Kirkman Labs for delivery to Melbourne – with no success (both ship from USA or AUS).  Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for local alternatives ?

      Thanks

      S

        1. I have been dealing with reoccurring E. coli uti for over two years. I am starting a three day course of fosfomycin and want to add Kirkmans biolfilm buster. Should I take this after the fosfomycin or with the fosfomycin? Any other tips to rid this bacteria are appreciated.

    3. Hello Todd 🙂

      I am wondering if the Biofilm Defense from Kirkman can be used by everybody? I have a cardiac pacemaker and have already taken it for 2-3 days (have felt nausea so far). I am just wondering if it would have some sort of negative effect on my pacemaker / operation? I know it can have some blood thinning effect. My GI dr doesn’t know the product / what I mean with biofilm disruptor.

      Kindest regards and appreciation for your help,
      Roxana

    4. Hi, I had ankle surgery (17/1) for broken ankle in 3 places. Had 2 plates and 12 screws put in. Still have a wound on one side not healing. Just had surgical debridement done last week. Which product might help healing? What about something with Oregano etc for biofilm?

    5. Hi Todd,
      What is your preferred biofilm disruptor for Blastocystis? I was using NAC, but I came across some studies that reported “pathogenic potential” as well as “NAC alone inducing higher Blastocystis viability.”
      Thank you in advance. Much appreciated!

    6. Hi I’ve been takimg nac for my chronic yeast infections and I’ve been passing biofilms for the past 2 weeks, all my symptoms are gone except the discharge and even though it’s very little now I’m still afraid I have to be doing this forever because I read candida produces new biofilm every 5-6 hour.Is this true?

    7. Hello, these biofilm buster supplements sound promising, and they have good reviews. I had 5 back to back UTI’s since the first of July;and was finally treated with two injections of tobramyacin and an RX for Cipro that seemed to kick it out. I had been UTI free since Sept. 24th, but here I am again starting 10/16 with new symptoms and the very strong odor in my urine. Which do you recommend Ordering, the Kirkland Biofilm Dense, or Interphase Plus? Also what Herbal antimicrobials should I take with the biofilm buster? Your help is much appreciated!!

    8. After doing so much research on this little bugger, I do feel like biofilms are one of the most important factors to consider with antibiotics or the natural approach. How can you effectively get to the parasites if they have built a biofilm around with out breaking them down. Smart little buggers.

      1. Recurrent E. Coli for 1 year, recurrent pinworms. Breastfeeding mother.
        What i should use? I live in North- Europe, i can not order your products. I could use garlic. How much in one day?

    9. Dear Todd
      Thanks for the very well researched and the referencing that you are including in your articles.
      It is a very difficult thing to do to inform the public whilst growing your client list.

      May I please put in a request that you do a better job with your final referencing in your end of article bibliography.
      It is easy enough to cut and paste to include the authors and the other very important relevant information.
      Keep up the great work.
      Herbs are the future of biofilm treatment.
      I encourage you to study homeopathy as well and find out more about the many Bowel Nosodes that are available.
      There is nothing better for eradicating biofilms than the Vital Force doing the work of the eradication of the biofilm of interest that is a Natural Response and a removal of the Body’s Tendency to create the rich Soil for the Biofilm to bed down in the first place. Homeopathy looks to working with the Individual – their environment their Epigenetics and their Spiritual and Emotional Life as well.
      All the best
      Susi Messenger
      Adelaide
      South Australia
      Lay Homeopath Lay Herbalist

    10. Hi Todd
      You mentioned in one of your comments that the recommended dosage for Interfase Plus is 3 -4 tablets twice a day.

      In terms of duration. How long can we take that for? My functional doctor said to do it for 4 -5weeks.

      However I’m worried whether taking this product which contains EDTA for that long would badly effect the kidneys and organs as Ive read elsewhere.

      Thank you for your help

      1. I am looking for the answer to this very same question, Joyce. I’m hoping someone can answer.

        I have been taking Interphase Plus for about 4-5 weeks for recurrent UTI. I, too, would like to know approximately how long I can safely take it. The bottle says “not for long-term use.” I can’t find information that defines “long-term” use. I even called the Klaire Labs company and could not get an answer. Some say “it depends on what the person is taking it for and how long the person had it.”

        I understand for obvious reasons why folks are reluctant to give “advice” to individuals. I’m not looking for advice per se, just general guidance/parameters. Let’s say an individual has had recurrent UTIs for a couple decades. Antibiotics have been used to no avail; they’ve served to harm the gut microbiome. Antimicrobials haven’t worked ideally either. The individual in this hypothetical scenario researched biofilms and came across a wealth of info about how biofilms are most likely involved in chronic infection. The individual is trying to eradicate problem by taking biofilm disruptor (Interphase Plus) followed by antimicrobials followed by probiotics. How long would one think this person could take Interphase Plus before taking a break from it? Could person switch from Interphase Plus with EDTA to similar product without EDTA such as Kirkman Biofilm Defense after around a month so person isn’t getting the EDTA “long term” but is still getting biofilm disruptor enzymes (plus natural antimicrobials plus probiotics) to continue working on prevention? Would an alternative chelator safer than EDTA be able to be used occasionally, intermittently, or consistently more long term, as a companion to product such as Kirkman product to sweep away disrupted biofilm? Any thoughts as to this hypothetical scenario?

        Would appreciate anyone weighing in on this burning question. Thanks.

    11. Hi! Is it common to experience buring sensation 30- 50 min after taking Biofilm defence? The burning is in the small intestines.

    12. Would you recommend NAC or InterPhase Plus by Klaire Labs as a biofilm disruptor for methane dominant SIBO? Can I use multiple biofilm disruptors? Which antimicrobials should I follow with?

    13. Hi Todd,
      I’m using the Klaire Labs biofilm disruptor but on Amazon I saw the Dysbiocide and F-C Cidal (for a small fortune), but I see that’s not what you recommend. I’m praying what I have will work. Please advise.
      Thank you!
      Marie

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