Biofilm Myths and Remedies
In this article we will address various types of biofilm, their remedies, and some myths revolving around biofilm. This information was taken from Combating Biofilms by James Schaller, the #1 selling book on the topic. Schaller was kind enough to answer some questions that I had, so those answers have also been provided here. I’ve also listed my 2 favorite Schaller friendly products at the end of the article. Living with Lyme Disease: combatting biofilm myths and remedies are important to learn.
What is Biofilm?
“Biofilm” has become an ambiguous term that makes most of us think of bug slime. We are aware of some ways to get rid of it: avoid magnesium, sugar and fat; take enzymes and cyst-busting antimicrobials. We just don’t know where the research is to back these claims. Not all biofilms are created equal, yet we have very little guidance to help us distinguish one bacterial biofilm from another.
This is a subject I really wanted to explore so I started looking around Amazon for books on the subject. What I found were $139 texts outside of my price range, and then one affordable and highly useful paperback, Combating Biofilms by Dr. James Schaller–the highest and most rated text on the topic. So I read it, applied it and here are some useful pearls that helped me.
Why is Biofilm still a mystery?
Dr. Klinghardt, Dr. Mercola, and my own doctors mention the general importance of busting biofilm – period. In his book, Schaller explains that different bacteria create different types biofilm, and that they require different biofilm-busting agents. He compares biofilm-busting medications to keys, and makes the point that every lock needs a different key.
This kind of makes the Lyme gig a whole lot more complicated – as well as hopeful.
Is biofilm a real problem?
You may be a skeptic because your general practitioner hasn’t even heard of biofilm.
The reality is that many “experts” believe they have done their due diligence in school and either think they were taught everything there is to know or are simply too busy practicing what they’ve learned to study the latest medical advancements.
Schaller reads 40 hours a week, and while it may be hard to mimic this, I encourage you to research as much as you can, because your doctors may not. A simple search of “biofilm human sickness” shows this is a top cause of illness and the average state of almost all bacteria.
If you look in the right places (university journals, medical journals, etc.) you may be surprised to find how much information proves biofilms can become impenetrable even to the strongest antibacterial agents.
Not all biofilms are created equal
If I could take away anything from Schaller’s book it would be these 3 things. First, our attempts at killing bacteria are undermined when biofilm is present. Sometimes, antibiotics don’t work. You seek out your doctor in desperation. The doc then switches you from one antibiotic to another, thinking this is your only option. Swapping antibiotics with no plan C ignores the dilemma of the impenetrable biofilm that bacteria can generate. “That is like trying to use a pea shooter to break down a steel wall,” Schaller says. Even chlorine cannot kill algae after the algae has taken over a pool of water.
Second, some infections produce a lot more biofilm than others. FL1953, a.k.a. Protomyxzoa rheumatica, creates huge amounts of biofilm. Lyme in its acute stage is reversible, but mature Lyme biofilm are laughing. Sialostatin L, a chemical in the tick’s saliva, can suppress the immune system so that the infection can really get to work.
And third, biofilm can be found anywhere. Teeth, lungs, sinuses, eyes, ears…head and shoulders, knees and toes…even medical equipment can have biofilm on it.
But not all is lost
Experts like Schaller and Buhner seem to be in consensus that we can get rid of a lot of biofilm, but there is no proven way to completely eradicate it. Schaller provides specific biofilm treatments for specific infections and medical troubles such as sinus infections and cystic fibrosis.
With Lyme, however, he seems to focus on eugenol, which is found in various forms in high concentrations in clove oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, and bay leaf, with lower potency in celery and dill. Schaller seems to hint that this is a direct Lyme biofilm treatment. Why hint? Schaller is the son of super-sued baby doctors or OB/GYNs, and also works hard to defend LLMDs, so he is careful about direct pronouncements for legal reasons in our present IDSA litigious climate.
Personally, if I feel healthy, I don’t fixate on the bug slime leftover in my body. Rather, I keep up with practices to keep it at bay, some of which you will find below.
Lyme Disease: Combatting Biofilm Myths and Remedies
We can actually spread infection when we release biofilm with biofilm-busters. For this problem Schaller recommends that we increase biofilm-busters gradually, use more than one antimicrobial, and pulse or stop treatments briefly if we feel overwhelmed with die-off. With this last option, sometimes antimicrobials that stopped working start working again. Sometimes they work at even lower doses because Lyme’s biofilm has decomposed. Think of a home after a hurricane—the water or killing agent can now get into the deeper rooms.
That said, never take a dose of anything that will make you feel persistently sick.
Essential oils, herbs, and foods for different types of biofilm
Below are some of my notes from Combating Biofilms. My concern for biofilm goes beyond Lyme. Schaller lists about thirty common or deadly troubles caused by biofilm. As Lyme patients we are used to blind spots. For example, indoor mold is an issue in 30% of USA structures but how many physicians learn this from their primarily drug-company-based education?
I also think having Lyme means we are all the more likely to contract additional pathogens. After I read this book, I started making more of an effort to de-slime and disinfect my sore throat—some cancers even come from biofilm mouth infections. Think about your sore spots and look at these biofilms as possible culprits and consider these possible treatments:
- Eugenol, cinnamol, farnesol, xylitol, gingerol and lactoferrin for dental biofilm and other infections mentioned on PubMed.
- Achillea ligustica, a type of yarrow plant for Streptococcus pyogenes, Candida albicans and Bacillus cereus biofilm.
- Linalool oil for Candida, Lactobacillus casei, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus sobrinus, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Streptococcus mutans biofilm.
- Lysozyme and resprine found in Rauwolfia for Klebsiella pneumoniae biofilm.
- Silver, xlitol and lactoferrin for wounds. Silver is a global infection killer, but infections can become resistant to silver over time.
- Farnesol, isopulegol, thymol, carvone, nerol, carvacrol, eugenol, a-thujone, and β-ionone (can be found in tea tree oil) for mature yeast biofilms. (Schaller found in his research that Diflucan was ineffective against the biofilm of Candida.)
- Unheated allicin from garlic for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm.
- Serrapeptase for listeria and L. monocytogenes biofilm.
- Nattokinase for clots; he loves that we know precisely 100 mg stops fibrin from clotting in precise units (100 mg equals 2000 FU – or clot-busting – units).
- Lactoferrin for E. coli, Klebsiella, and Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm.
- Lactoferrin and xylitol together for P. aeruginosa and Lyme biofilms.
- Houttuynia for MRSA biofilm.
- Xylitol for wounds with P. aeruginosa, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms..BUT when combined with glucose or fructose, biofilm formation is enhanced.
- Erythritol for P. gigivalis, S. gordonii biofilm.
- Honey high in methylglyoxal for sinus infections, Staphylococcus aureus, P. aeruginosa and Streptococcus pyogenes biofilm. (Schaller doesn’t recommend using unpasteurized honey on open wounds. He mentions select types of honey as having benefits for specific infections. He seems to offer it as a measured helpful tool—not perfect but a useful tool.)
- D-amino acids (reverse amino acids, particularly D-tyrosine) for the release of fibers that link biofilm cells together. Different combinations dissolve a wide range of biofilms making them 80-98% easier to kill.
- Ionic silver for increasing permeability of fungal biofilms, MRSA, E. coli, and many other biofilms.
- Olive products like this one for E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, and Staphylococcus aureus biofilm.
- Apple skin for Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria biofilm.
- Grape seed extract for Staphylococcus aureus biofilm.
A note on Vitamin D
The active form of vitamin D regulates cathelicidan, a gene that aids immunity in general, and more specifically takes action against biofilms. So sufficient vitamin D is vital if you would like your own immune system to be able to kill pathogens (and get off those damn antibiotics one day).
Vitamin D is complex and has hundreds of receptors. Low levels may be a sign of Lyme’s presence while increasing cancer risk and the risk of thin bones. Higher levels of vitamin D may calm inflammations.
Effective antibiotics for biofilm
Nitroxoline is a quinolone antibiotic. Quinolones can cause tendon damage, and I have seen this happen to a good friend and my own mom. But quinolones easily enter cells and can be used to treat intracellular pathogens such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Azithromycin undermines four strains of P. gingivalis and MRSA biofilms.
Ineffective antibiotics for biofilm
Following doxycycline, amoxicillin, tigecycline and metronidazole, 70%-85% of bacteria were detected in biofilm colonies. Erythromycin and penicillin can also increase some biofilms. According to Schaller’s quotes of Dr. Eva Sapi, Tindamax is superior to Flagyl in hindering Lyme biofilms in lab research.
Should you cut out magnesium and fat?
Some experts advise us to cut these out, because they provide bacteria with the building blocks to create biofilm. What I would say to this is, ugh, everything feeds biofilm! I don’t believe in killing yourself in order to kill the bugs.
Candida albicans and FL1953 both use lots of fat to form biofilm. Schaller does not oppose or promote the reduction of fat, but emphasizes that some fat in the diet is needed for many biological functions.
Schaller acknowledged that magnesium can increase biofilm, but does not agree with some experts that it should be eliminated from our diets. “I respect those who make this point,” he says, “but I feel further reductions in poor intracellular magnesium levels would increase auto-immunity, inflammation, allergies, cancer, heart attacks and strokes.”
The more magnesium we have, the lower our many inflammation chemicals drop. And our anti-inflammation chemicals can increase over time also. For example, C-reactive protein (a protein associated with inflammation) is a routine simple chemical we have in our bodies, and its presence can be dropped by very high doses of IV magnesium over months.
I would rather have adequate magnesium so that the 300 enzymatic reactions that are supposed to happen in my body will happen, so I don’t have the shakes, so I feel happy and sleep well, and so my neurons and immune system can function properly. Putting myself in a weakened state (avoiding magnesium to kill the bugs) seems risky. I’m thinking of the long haul…what happens when you decide to get off antibiotics and your cells are magnesium deprived and therefore weaker and more fragile. A host of studies have enforced that the more magnesium inside a cell, the healthier the cell and tissue.
Schaller also mentions that sucrose feeds biofilm. I am not low carb like many Lymies, so this sticks out to me. Like magnesium, carbs are essential to fuel our bodies. I limit cane sugar, but I eat honey by the spoonful and make sure I eat enough carbs to refuel my body after workouts. This, too, is a trade-off I’ve made for a little extra biofilm. He mentions erythritol is a natural biofilm killing sugar with exceptional taste. (Aspartame he reports kills fire ants and is “scary.”)
Edit: The type of magnesium said to feed infections in particular is magnesium stearate.
In summary, Schaller tries to filter the best research and advance the field, offering information to patients and healers alike. Who is going to read a 700 page small print text? He offers biofilm options of wide diversity. This book is just one more example of the ILADS, LLMD or functional medicine world leading in serious medicine. Schaller has 13 books on tick infections including the first major human ones on Babesia, Bartonella, treatment resistant Lyme and three co-authored textbooks on indoor mold illness.
Finally, here are my 2 favorite Schaller-friendly products.
Manuka honey is high in methygloxyl, an antimicrobial- and oxygen-producing agent good for killing infections and biofilms. That’s why it’s the most expensive honey in the world.
Oregaspray is a great product with a lot of essential oils Schaller recommends for biofilm and infections. You can put it in nasal spray, mouthwash or use it as an air cleaner.