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March 1, 2017
By A. Weinberg, Featured Columnist
Biofilms are slimy gels that bacteria and other
microorganisms use to stick to almost any surface. The
gelatinous mass of microorganisms also become a shield
against anti-septics or any other natural cleansers your
body may produce, making them extremely difficult to kill.
While most people have never heard of or thought about
biofilms, there are plenty of reasons you should care.
Because what you don't know about biofilms can really
It turns out that 99% of all infectious organisms have one
thing in common --- their existence depends on the
creation of a biofilm. One example of a biofilm is the sticky,
gelatin-like gook that grows in your mouth overnight that
houses the germs that cause bad breath.
When you think of them that way, they sound a bit like
something from a horror movie or the X-Files that you
wouldn’t want to cross.
While this article is about attacking biofilms, there are
actually some good-guy biofilms that exist as well.
While 80% of biofilms are involved in bacterial infections,
and these are the kind we would like to target, there are
others that are actually beneficial.
Some good biofilms line the digestive tract and skin and
can give us health benefits, such as boosting our immune
However, the ones this article will be dealing with are the
gram-negative, insidious types. The gum disease, yeast
infection, strep throat you wish you never had.
The negative biofilms can also be kind of sneaky, lurking
on the surfaces in hospitals or hiding under what are
perceived to be more psychological and less biological
conditions such as depression.
We will be discussing some of the natural ingredients that
may fight against these evildoer biofilms. We will list them
separately, but keep in mind that there have also been
studies done about the synergistic effects of two or more
bacteria and/or biofilm fighting agents.
Read on and enjoy seeing some of your favorite
ingredients on the list of biofilm fighters.
1. Salvia (sage)
While not all sage is created equal, the herb has been
shown to be a powerful biofilm-attacker.
Salvia triloba extract was shown to have bactericidal
activity against methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus,
according to a 2010 report by A.G. Al-Albakri and
researchers at the University of Jordan. Other salvia
species had negligible antimicrobial activities.
I always used sage as one of those elements to put in
boiling water and inhale during a cold, and that intuition
turned out to be scientifically correct.
Next time you have a sore throat, try some Salvia triloba
You know how they tell you to chug cranberry juice for a
yeast infection? (Maybe that's something more specifically
the ladies would know.) Well, that might have some
scientific backing. Cranberry is pretty versatile for lots of
purposes. As well as yeast infections, the saturated red
berry has been shown to be useful for dental plaque, gum
disease, and gingivitis.
Cranberries can also inhibit the formations of biofilms in
the mouth and urinary tract. A 2007 report by C. Bodet,
infectious disease doctor at the Mobile Infirmary Center in
Alabama, confirms that cranberries are so powerful due to
their proanthocyanidins, which have anti-adhesion, anti-
inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-adhesion properties.
Garlic has a magic ingredient (“magic” is equivalent to
“active” in the scientific community) called ajoene, which
inhibits the expression of genes that control bacteria. This
active ingredient shields biofilms from white blood cells.
According to a 2012 study from T.H. Jakobsen at the
University of Copenhagen in Denmark, garlic also benefits
the cardiovascular and immune systems.
4. Baking Soda
Turns out baking soda is good for more than just...baking.
(And chocolate chips are pretty much just good for the
soul, not any bacteria in your body.) Potassium
bicarbonate is the preferred oral form of baking soda that
has an anti-biofilm effect.
In a 2008 study, C. Gawande from the University of
Mumbai in India confirms that potassium offsets the ill
effects of a low-sodium diet, as well. So, if you have to lay
off the salt for health reasons, you have another good
Chamomile has a quite elegant official name: C. nobile.
The plant is indeed noble as a fighter of bacteria. When
tested on pseudomonas aeruginosa (a gram negative
bacteria) on different types of infections, including
wounds, septicemia, and urinary tract infection, our
beloved C. nobile had positive effects.
According to a 2016 report by H. Kazemian from the Ilan
University of Medical Sciences in Iran, chamomile had
biofilm inhibitory properties on aforementioned bacteria.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis L.) is not only great as a
condiment and medicinally. The herb was proved to be
effective on biofilms.
Monomicrobial biofilms of Candida albicans,
Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis,
Streptococcus mutans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and
polymicrobial biofilms composed of C. albicans with each
bacterium were put on microplates for 48 hours, then
exposed for 5 min to R. officinalis L. extract (200 mg/mL).
The researchers testing this in 2017, including J.R. de
Oliveira from the University Estadual Paulista in Brasil,
found significant reduction in colony forming units per
millimeter observed in biofilms.
Rosemary and thyme: They are part of a great Simon and
Garfunkel song, they are great to put on dinner, and they
fight bacterial biofilms.
In the case of thyme, the herb has a superpower active
ingredients, carvacrol and thymol. In 2015, O. Ceylon and
researchers from Sıtkı Koçman University in Mugla,
Turkey, found that carvacrol specifically had a significant
effect on S. aureus biofilm. Thymol and carvacrol are both
functional for treatment of pseudomonas and
In 2016, Y.G. Kim and scientists from the Yeungnam
University in Korea screened 83 essential oils for biofilm
inhibition against pseudomonas aeruginosa. Cinnamon
bark and the main constituent cinnamaldehyde at 0.05%
markedly inhibited P. Aeruginosa biofilm formation. Who
knew cinnamon was so delicious and so potent at the same
9. Red wine
Wait, what? Actually, the active ingredient in red wine,
resveratrol, has been shown to be a good attack force for
the bacterial agents in teeth.
Yep, according to a 2011 report by D.J. O’Connor from the
University of Hong Kong, red wine’s active ingredient
resveratrol, inhibits periodontal pathogens in vitro.
Who would have thought that red wine or certain grape
juices would be good for your teeth?
Don’t mix this with your red wine. However, one of the
most common medicines, along with other kinds of
salicylates, have been shown to inhibit macromolecules
making up the biofilm structure, according to a 1990
report by P. Domenico from the University of Barcelona.
Plants in general are great at creating defense mechanisms
against oncoming attackers.
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|Use garlic on bread or other foods to help destroy
biofilms in your mouth.
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