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What is a Biofilm?

Dr Stephen Wangen
June 25, 2024

If you’ve heard of biofilms, then you are probably really curious about how they affect your health and what you need to know about them. And if you haven’t heard of biofilms before now, I’ll describe what they are and why they are so important.

We deal with biofilms in patients on a daily basis, and I think that they are a fascinating topic because they have such a huge impact on how you digest your food and the symptoms of IBS.

Biofilms refer to a way in which microorganisms organize themselves. And when I say microorganisms, I’m referring to both bacteria and yeast, which we often call Candida.

When we think about bacteria or yeast, we often think of them as individual cells that need to be gobbled up and killed off like in a game of Pac-Man.  And if you’ve ever studied bacteria or yeast in a lab, that’s also the impression that science gives us when we think of bacteria or yeast growing in a petri dish.

When you think of them this way, they are individual cells growing next to each other and we just kill them off one at a time. It’s a relatively simple concept.  We just drop in a little antibiotic bomb, whether it’s a natural antibiotic or a prescription antibiotic, and we knock them off. No problem.

But that only works when bacteria or yeast are in the very early stages of their growth. In those very early stages, the bacteria and yeast are very susceptible to being killed off, and they are much easier to treat.

However, that changes over time. Over the course of months and years, those bacteria or yeast begin to work together with other members of their kind. They form colonies and groups, and they grow layer upon layer and create exterior walls and use other mechanisms to protect themselves from outside enemies.

This isn’t always a bad thing. Your good bacteria are doing the same thing. They are building up biofilms in your digestive tract and creating colonies and layers of protection that may be beneficial for your entire life, and will help protect you from the bad guys.

However, on the flip side, the bad guys are trying to do the same thing. They are searching to territory to claim and trying to build biofilms of their own.

This can make it much more difficult to treat them than simply dropping in an antibiotic for a few days and making them all disappear.  

It can make it much more difficult for the antimicrobial agent that you are using to reach all of them, and it can take much longer than you might imagine for that antimicrobial agent to work its way through the biofilms to truly get the job done.

This can explain a variety of issues with treating bacteria or Candida that have formed biofilms.

For one, it's why a treatment that you've tried worked for a short time, or only worked temporarily or while you were taking it, but then your regressed once the treatment stopped.

It can also help to explain why your problem keeps coming back every few weeks or months.

I hope that this was helpful for understanding what a biofilm is and how it impacts your condition and your treatment.

If you need help dealing with what you suspect is a biofilm, call us at the IBS Treatment Center and schedule an appointment. We work with people all over the US and the world via telemedicine, and we would love to work with you too.

Related Content:

Why Candida is So Hard To Treat

The Causes of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Includes Candida

The Causes of Anal Itching, Including Candida, and How To Deal With Them

The Ultimate Candida Diet

Don’t Treat Candida With These


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