Biofilms: A Cause Chronic Illness

You may not be familiar with the term
"biofilm," but you have certainly
encountered biofilm on a regular basis.
The plaque that forms on your teeth and
causes tooth decay is one type of
bacterial biofilm. The "gunk" that clogs
your drains is also biofilm. If you have
ever walked in a stream or river, you
have probably slipped on biofilm-coated
rocks.
They’re found in natural environments
such as hot springs, rivers and streams,
lakes, and tide pools, to man-made and
industrial environments such as water
and drainage pipes, sanitation systems,
house-hold sinks, toilets, and showers,
and even in the water tanks of nuclear
power plants. Biofilms avidly colonize
many household surfaces, including
toilets, sinks, countertops, and cutting
boards in the kitchen and bath. Poor
disinfection practices and ineffective
cleaning products may increase the
incidence of illnesses associated with
pathogenic organisms in the household
environment.
Biofilms form when bacteria adhere to
surfaces in moist environments by
excreting a slimy, glue-like substance.
Sites for biofilm formation include all
kinds of surfaces: natural materials
above and below ground, metals,
plastics, medical implant materials—
even plant and body tissue. Wherever
you find a combination of moisture,
nutrients and a surface, you are likely to
find biofilm.
Biofilm communities can be formed by a
single bacterial species, but biofilms
almost always consist of rich mixtures of
many species of bacteria, as well as
fungi, algae, yeasts, protozoa, other
microorganisms, that cohabitate and
engage in "quorum sensing", an
evolutionarily old form of bacterial
communication. Biofilms are used to
both protect the bacteria from the hosts'
immune system, while also serving as a
nutritional reservoir in times of harsh
environmental conditions.
Biofilms, also referred to as “bacterial
slime”, are generally composed of
extracellular DNA, proteins,
polysaccharides, microbes, minerals
and heavy metals. Biofilms are said to
be anchored at certain places by
positively charged ions including:
calcium, magnesium, mercury, lead, etc.
Biofilms can be as thin as a few cell
layers or many inches thick, depending
on environmental conditions.
Ninety percent of the cells in a human
body are not human; the body is heavily
colonized by microbes that have found it
a great place to live. We have
communities of microbes living on all
mucous surfaces and in our digestive
tract, as well as on and in layers of our
skin.
For the most part we all get along; in
fact, we depend on some of our gut
microbes to help with digestion.
Sometimes, however, the microbial load
causes problems and infection. When
the normal balance of microbial
populations is upset or when our
immune system is overwhelmed, we
can have a real battle with microbial
opportunists.
In the 1990s, as the biofilm concept
was being introduced to the medical
community, doctors began to make the
connection between chronic, lowgrade
infections and the biofilms.
Internal cases of chronic infection
have shown that many troublesome
diseases have entrenched microbial
populations at their core. The NIH
estimates that 80% of all human
infections have biofilm involvement. !
The most common cause of children's
recurrent earache (Otitis Media) is an
example of a typical biofilm-based
infection. Other diseases in which
biofilms play a role include bacterial
endocarditis (infection of the inner
surface of the heart and its valves),
cystic fibrosis (a chronic disorder
resulting in increased
susceptibility to
serious lung
infection), and
Legionnaire's
disease (an acute
respiratory infection
resulting from the
aspiration of clumps
of Legionnella
biofilms detached
from air and water
heating/cooling and
distribution
systems). Chronic
sinusitis patients
undergoing surgery
also presented with
biofilms most of the
time. Yeast infections, lyme disease,
etc. also typically have biofilm
involvement.
Biofilms may also be responsible for a
wide variety of nosocomial (hospitalacquired)
infections. Sources of
biofilm-related infections can include
the surfaces of catheters, medical
implants, wound dressings, or other
types of medical devices, such as joint
prostheses, heart valves, intrauterine
devices and catheters. More recently
it has been noted that bacterial
biofilms may impair cutaneous wound
healing and reduce topical
antibacterial efficiency in healing or
treating infected skin wounds.
Research of recent years has revealed
that bacterial communities exhibit
properties, behaviors and survival
strategies that far exceed their
capabilities as individual bacteria.
Recent advances in laboratory
analysis have made it possible to
actually see biofilm colonies in the
bloodstream under microscopes. !
There are many natural substances
that can be utilized to help degrade
biofilms: proteolytic enzymes as well
as certain herbs and especially
essential oils can be very useful. This
has to be done with professional
supervision as breaking down biofilms
exposes the body to all the microbes
and toxins within the biofilm
community and can make the patient
worse in some cases.
New and novel
diagnostic and
treatment methods
in advanced applied
kinesiology (by
Lebowitz, Robinson,
and others) have
been developed to
help deal with these
communities and
results have been
encouraging. One
thing noticed is
these communities
live on fat and
certain nutrients
especially B vitamins
so it is possibly that vitamins at the
wrong time can feed the colony
instead of the patient.
In conclusion: many chronically ill
patients may have low grade infections
where biofilms play a role and applied
kinesiology methods aid diagnosis and
treatment.
Michael Lebowitz DC has taught
applied kinesiology since 1989, is
secretary of ICAKUSA, and has written
3 books and over 60 research papers.
Dr Lebowitz also develops nutritional
products for chronically ill patients. He
divides his time between Scottsdale
AZ and Honolulu Hawaii.

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