The more we study the gut microbiome here at Chuckling Goat, with the help of our amazing Microbiome Test, the more we learn about this largely unknown terrain.
One of the things that is emerging as a challenge out of this new knowledge is something called biofilm.
Biofilm is a collection of one or more types of living microorganisms, clumped together in an armour-like crust. Forming a biofilm is a real advantage for bacteria, because it gives them a place to hide and hang out. Think of a crust that forms at the bottom of a rubbish bin, pond scum, or dental plaque. Bleurgh! Resistant, nasty and hard to get rid of. 1
Biofilms have been found growing on minerals and metals. They have been found underwater, underground and above the ground. They can grow on plant tissues and animal tissues, and on implanted medical devices such as catheters and pacemakers.2 And the bad news is – they can form inside your gut.
Some gut pathogens, like escherichia/shigella and pseudomonas are particularly prone to forming biofilms.
As my Nutritional Therapists were doing their daily consultations with Microbiome Test clients, we started to notice a pattern.
Most of our clients get fantastic – and fairly rapid – results from our healthy gut protocol. (Read our Trustpilot reviews here.) But some people would take the kefir and prebiotic, and just not get the quick results you would expect. Their progress just seemed to be – stalled.
We began to notice that these clients almost always had a high load of bacteria escherichia/shigella and/or pseudomonas – the same baddies that have a nasty habit of forming biofilm.
It makes sense – if you think about it.
Escherichia and shigella are are actually two separate organisms, but very similar and closely related, so they are considered together. Escherichia is more commonly known as E coli, a food-borne pathogen that can be contracted from very small amounts of affected food, or passed from person to person.3 Shigella is also a “food poisoning” pathogen that exists in food or can be transmitted by contact.
Pseudomonas is another spoilage bacteria that can be consumed with food, and also has a nasty habit of forming biofilm.4
All of us are probably in contact with these pathogens all the time. It’s the job of our system to constantly purge these toxins out.
But it appears that if you had a bout of food poisoning – even if it was years in the past or relatively mild – those bacteria might have gotten into your system and stayed, hidden behind a resistant biofilm. Get a biofilm pathogen community established inside your gut, and it appears to be almost impossible to get out. You won’t see results from a gut health protocol – because the pathogens are hiding in there, slowing everything down.
As your system tries – and fails – to rid itself of this long-term invasion, your immune system can “rev” uselessly, wearing itself out the same way that too much stress can wear out your adrenals over time. As your immune system gets exhausted, you might start to experience autoimmune symptoms, which can include eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, diabetes, arthritis, UC, Crohns – a whole laundry list of previously unexplainable symptoms.
So, what’s to do?
Once again, nature has the answer!
For biofilm disruption, I recommend a combination of two tinctures:
1. Reishi mushroom tincture (Ganoderma lucidum) has been shown to have an ability to disrupt biofilm.5 This edible mushroom is considered an adaptogenic herb. This means they help your body deal with the negative effects of stress, such as increased inflammation, depleted energy levels, damaged blood vessels and various types of hormonal imbalances.6
Risks and side effects: If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid reishi mushrooms unless under medical supervision. There hasn’t been much research done on the safety and long-term effects for these populations. Additionally, if you have had any type of bleeding disorder; recently underwent surgery; take blood pressure medications, blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs or immunosuppressant medications; or have trouble with blood clotting, don’t take reishi mushrooms since they can increase blood pressure, impact blood clotting and increase the risk for bleeding.7
2. Gingko biloba tincture has also been been shown as active against biofilm, and specifically E coli biofilm.8 In numerous clinical studies, this plant extract taken from the Chinese ginkgo tree has been shown to be safe, effective and benefits the body in numerous ways because it exerts protective effects against mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress. It can help to decrease inflammation and free radical damage, two underlying causes of most common health conditions.9
Risks and side effects: It’s possible that this extract can interact with certain drugs, including anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents. It may potentially interfere with recovery from surgery or serious injuries too. Do not use this supplement if you take medications including blood thinners (Warfarin, aspirin), antidepressants such as SSRIs/MAOIs, and NSAIDS (including ibuprofen and Tylenol).10
If you think you might be fighting biofilm, I suggest that you take reishi mushroom tincture and gingko biloba tincture for 90 days. Natural processes, from natural remedies, are slow and gradual!
You can add 2-9 grams of each tincture to your morning gut health smoothie, using this recipe:
- 170 ml Chuckling Goat Kefir (or whatever daily dosage you are currently taking)
- 1 handful berries of your choice (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries all work well.)
- 1/2 banana
- 10 g Complete Prebiotic powder
- 1 TBSP fish collagen supplement (if you are over 30)
- 1 TBSP flaxseed oil
- 2-9 g Reishi tincture
- 2-9 g Gingko biloba tincture
If your results are stalled and you suspect you might be dealing with biofilm get in touch with one of our Nutritional Advisors for a chat.