Biofilms are a collective of microorganisms that attach to surfaces and produce a slimy film. You may be unfamiliar with the term biofilm, but you have certainly encountered biofilm on a regular basis.
There are many biofilm examples, such as the plaque that forms on your teeth and causes tooth decay. Another biofilm example is pond scum, or the slippery coating that forms on rocks in a stream or river. The slime that builds up over time and clogs your drains is also a type of biofilm.
Biofilms are also used as a protective defense for organisms like Candida. Candida biofilm, for example, can act as a shield that keeps harmful substances from reaching Candida. Biofilms pose a major challenge when trying to eliminate Candida and get rid of a Candida infection. In order, to cleanse Candida effectively, you need compounds that can break down the biofilm that protects it.
What Is Biofilm?
The biofilm definition in Oxford Dictionary states that a biofilm is: a thin, slimy film of bacteria that adheres to a surface.
The biofilm definition in Webster’s Dictionary states that a biofilm is: a thin usually resistant layer of microorganisms (such as bacteria) that form on and coat various surfaces.
Essentially, a biofilm is a slimy film made by microorganisms (usually bacteria). Biofilm forms when bacteria adhere to surfaces in moist environments by excreting a slimy, glue-like substance. Many different kinds of surfaces can act as sites for biofilm formation, including rocks, plastics, metals, medical implant materials, and even plant and body tissue. Wherever you find a combination of moisture, nutrients and a surface, you are likely to find biofilm.
Biofilms have established themselves in these moist environments for a very long time. According to Live Science, "fossil evidence of biofilms dates to about 3.25 billion years ago... For example, biofilms have been found in the 3.2 billion-year-old deep-sea hydrothermal rocks of the Pilbara Craton in Australia. Similar biofilms are found in hydrothermal environments such as hot springs and deep-sea vents."
Biofilm formation begins when individual microorganisms come into contact with an appropriate surface and start to adhere to that surface. In order to attach themselves to a surface, the microorganisms produce a gooey substance known as an “extracellular polymeric substance” (EPS). An EPS is a network of sugars, proteins and nucleic acids (such as DNA) that allows the microorganisms in a biofilm to stick together and adhere to a surface.
Following the initial step of attachment to a surface is a period of growth in which further layers of microorganisms and EPS build upon the first. Eventually, they create complex 3D structure that allows water to pass through it. The water passing through these biofilms allows for the exchange of nutrients and waste products—this is why biofilms grow so well in ponds, rivers, and streams.
There are numerous environmental conditions that determine whether a biofilm is made of only a few layers of cells or considerably more, as well as the extent to which a biofilm can grow.
One such factor that determines the growth of biofilms is the amount of stress that they are exposed to. For example, in an area with a powerful water flow such as a river with a strong current, the biofilm is usually quite thin. On the other hand, in an area with little to no current, like in a pond, the biofilm can become very thick.
The cells within a biofilm eventually leave their cluster and seek out a new surface to establish themselves on. Either a clump of cells will break away from the original biofilm, or individual cells can leave on their own in search of a more suitable community.
What Are the Advantages of Forming a Biofilm?
For microorganisms, there are many benefits to living in a biofilm. Communities tend to be stronger and more resilient to stress than individuals. In a community, nutrients can be shared, and there is greater protection from potential stressors like changes in pH or exposure to toxic chemicals.
The slimy glue covering of biofilms can also act as a protective barrier that can be a huge advantage to microorganisms. This protective barrier can prevent dehydration and the loss of water. It can also act as a shield that protects against the sun. Additionally, when harmful substances come into contact with EPS, they are diluted to concentrations that are no longer lethal by the time they reach other organisms inside the biofilm.
Overall, there are many more benefits for microorganisms living together as a biofilm than there are for microorganisms living individually.
Biofilms and Human Health
There are many environments that biofilms can be found in. As long as the conditions of moisture, nutrients, and a surface to stick to are met, a biofilm can form. It comes as no surprise then that biofilms can also form in the human body.
Research on biofilms shows that they have been found in a variety of health conditions. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, noted that biofilms accounted “for over 80 percent of microbial infections in the body.” Medical devices also provide suitable surfaces for biofilms to form, which make people with medical devices at greater risk of developing an infection.
Bacteria are known to adapt and grow resistant to antibiotics. This poses as a major challenge to treating infections. However, a biofilm can form an even greater challenge. Bacteria within a biofilm are more resistant to antibiotics and other major disinfectants that you may use to control them. This can increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics even further, and makes biofilms a potentially serious health risk.
Yeast species of biofilms such as those belonging to the genus Candida can also pose as an issue to human health. Candida species can grow on human body tissues, leading to infections like vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) and oral thrush (a yeast infection that develops in the mouth or throat).
Candida species are fungal pathogens that are known for their ability to cause superficial and systemic infections in humans. Candida pathogens survive and grow easily in the human body, as they feed on the simple sugars that we consume and have developed resistance to multiple drugs. One specific feature that allows Candida to thrive is their ability to form biofilms, which protects them from external factors such as our immune system defenses and antifungal drugs.
How to Get Rid of Biofilm in Candida Infections
To successfully get rid of Candida often requires a multi-step process that involves starving them of their primary food source in order to weaken their population through following an anti-candida diet, killing them with antifungal compounds, and recolonizing the gut with probiotics and prebiotics in order to restore balance in the gut microbiome, which keeps Candida under control and prevents infection from occurring.
However, one of the greatest challenges with getting rid of Candida is the biofilm that protects Candida can make certain antifungal compounds ineffective. In order to get rid of Candida infections, you have to know how to get rid of biofilm and use certain compounds that act as biofilm disrupters. A biofilm disrupter can break down the protective biofilm. Once the biofilm is gone, Candida are vulnerable and are able to be killed more effectively by antifungal compounds.
Carvacol, for example, is a compound found in the essential oils of many plants, including thyme and oregano. Carvacol is a powerful biofilm disrupter has been shown in numerous studies to be effective at breaking down Candida biofilm, regardless of the maturity of the biofilm. With biofilm disrupters like carvacol, one can break down Candida biofilm, making antifungal compounds like those found in the herbs in our Candida Cleanse Tonic more effective at killing Candida.†
As biofilms break down, they are processed by your body and excreted in your stool—sometimes they may even be visible. What does biofilm look like in stool? Typically, biofilms in stool aren’t very noticeable, but in some cases, they may have the appearance of a viscous, shiny film. Often, this is accompanied by an unpleasant smell.
Biofilms are a collective of microorganisms that attach to surfaces and produce a slimy film. Biofilms can form anywhere you find a combination of moisture, nutrients and a surface to adhere to.
Biofilm formation occurs when individual microorganisms, such as bacteria, come into contact with an appropriate surface and start to stick to that surface. As multiple microorganisms combine together a biofilm starts to form, and is then followed by a period of growth—the extent of which is determined by numerous environmental conditions.
Microorganisms benefit from forming biofilms in many ways. They are able to exchange nutrients between each other, are more protected from substances that may harm them, and are more resilient to stress.
Biofilms can also form as protective layers to certain organisms. Candida, for example, forms a protective biofilm that makes it more protected from antifungal compounds. This makes Candida infections difficult to treat. However, certain compounds can act as biofilm disruptors and break down biofilms, exposing Candida and making it more susceptible to damage from antifungal compounds.
As long as the conditions of moisture, nutrients, and a surface to stick to are met, a biofilm can form. Many different kinds of surfaces can act as sites for biofilm formation: natural materials above and below ground, plastics, metals, medical implant materials—even plant and body tissue. Essentially, biofilms are slimy films made by microorganisms that allow these microorganisms to form communities and survive more successfully than they would on their own.