Unfavorable balance of microflora in our GI tract can wreak havoc on our health.1 Digestive disturbances like constipation or loose stools, bloating, gas, and pain, as well as systemic consequences of intestinal permeability such as autoimmune activation and inflammation, can often be traced to imbalanced intestinal ecology. The disadvantages of using pharmaceutical agents are commonly known, regarding the potential for further damage to the delicate beneficial species that help make up a healthy microbiome. So, are there any alternative options to help clear the unfriendly residents? Many practitioners find that specific well-balanced botanical blends can correct intestinal ecology without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” the way that many other antimicrobial agents can.2
How Do Botanicals Work
There are many categories of antimicrobial herbs, some with high berberine alkaloid content like Gentian and Goldenseal, and some like Garlic that contains allicin and other compounds that have been extensively studied for potential effectiveness in resolving bacterial and fungal infections.3-5 Many essential oils exhibit antimicrobial activity, and several categories of antimicrobial herbal constituent compounds such as plant tannins, eugenols, and OPC’s can disrupt the development of biofilms through one of several mechanisms.6 Biofilm is the coating that bacteria and other pathogens develop to protect themselves from detection by our immune system and is a contributing factor to the recurrence of infection as well as the progression of many chronic illnesses.7,8
Biofilms are one of the main mechanisms by which pathogenic infections can become chronic or recur (think sinus infections, Candidiasis, UTI’s or children’s ear infections). When present, the secreted biofilm “shield” makes them up to one thousand times more resistant to antibiotic therapy. Pathogenic biofilms also trigger a much smaller host immune response than their planktonic counterparts. The advantage of broad-spectrum combinations of herbal ingredients is that they can break down and eliminate these biofilms through multifactorial biofilm-disrupting activity. They can inhibit Quorum Sensing, the communication which pathogens use to coordinate to build and maintain biofilm; they can prevent adherence of biofilm to the tissue; they can inhibit swarming motility of pathogens, and they can eradicate the pathogens themselves.9-11 A key factor is the ability to disrupt the Efflux Pump mechanism of pathogenic microbial self-preservation, which is one primary cause of drug resistance.12
According to research presented in the Int. Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2009:
Plants have developed defense mechanisms to a variety of pathogens. Some plant metabolites represent constitutive chemical barriers to microbial attack (phytoanticipins) and others are inducible antimicrobials (phytoalexins). They are extensively studied as promising plant and human disease-controlling agents. The antimicrobial plant compounds that have received more attention in plant defense are the phytoalexins. Phytoalexins are antimicrobial compounds which require de novo expression of the enzymes involved in their biosynthetic pathways after elicitation. Therefore, the production of phytoalexins requires transcriptional and/or translational activity in the plant once the pathogen has been detected. The induced response mechanism also involves the trafficking and secretion of antimicrobial compounds to the infection site.13
This passage outlines one important mechanism by which “borrowing” plants’ immune systems (by taking herbal supplements) activates and supports the human’s innate immune response. This is a critical point to understand when selecting herbal nutritional supplements to support healthy and balanced immune response.
In the follow-up tests, it is observed that the number and diversity of beneficial flora have increased over the course of the protocol, although no supplemental probiotics are given. It has also been noted that the pathogenic overgrowths are eliminated and that the sIgA marker for immune health has normalized in almost all patients.14 Although most herbal antimicrobial compounds cause damage to beneficial organisms as well as pathogens over time, it has been observed through this ongoing trial that when the Biocidin® combination is used long-term, it maintains a selectivity for pathogens that does not negatively impact the beneficial flora to an observable degree. We look forward to collating, analyzing and presenting the data from this ongoing research project as soon as possible. In a 2013 non-published university trial examining the effect of Biocidin® on biofilms, the Biocidin® combination showed effectiveness in dismantling and completely inhibiting the growth of all bacterial and fungal organisms and biofilms tested, including those generated by the common stubborn pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, and Candida albicans.15 Another yet unpublished university trial in 2016 found that the Biocidin® combination showed effectiveness in dismantling and completely halting all growth of Borrelia (Lyme) organisms in all of their pleomorphic forms including spirochetes, blebs, round bodies, and biofilms. The MIC® of Biocidin was found to be a 1:10 when used alone, and lower when used in conjunction with antibiotic drugs such as Ceftriaxone and Doxycycline.16 These results speak to the potential for antibiotic treatment synergy in cases of chronic infection due to the high degree of antimicrobial nutritional support that Biocidin® can be expected to confer when addressing Lyme borreliosis, and other common pathogens that generate or inhabit biofilm structures. We look forward to sharing this study when it is published, and we make the preliminary report data available to health care practitioners upon request.*
What You Should Know About Using Botanicals
There are several important things to know before using professional strength botanicals:
- These are much more potent than natural food or supplement store formulas, so more is not better. A gradual increase in dosage from a very small starting amount is advised, unless you are dealing with an acute issue. Your practitioner will tailor the increase in usage over time to your particular situation.
- There may be a die-off or Herxheimer-type reaction, so you may need tools to “mop up” pro-inflammatory byproducts of biofilm breakdown. We use a specialized clay and charcoal blend called G.I. Detox + to accomplish this. You may also need to be on a therapeutic diet in order to return to a healthy balance. Many use a low FODMAP or similar fermentable-saccharide and trigger-food-eliminating diet for this reason.
- Working with a Functional Medicine, integrative, or naturopathic practitioner is often helpful in order to pinpoint the culprit through thorough initial lab testing and follow up. Your practitioner can also provide specific dietary recommendations and will be able to make sure you get the support you need.
- It may take 2-4 months or longer for lab values to normalize. For instance, although 70% of SIBO patients reported symptoms greatly improved or completely resolved after the Biocidin® protocol was used in our 8-week SIBO pilot study, lab values of hydrogen and methane in the breath test still showed a need to continue for longer than the 8-week trial period in order to complete the pathogen clearance and avoid symptom recurrence. Some may need to continue to monitor their diet and we recommend the use of the Bioclear Cleansing Program product bundle annually to ensure that the system stays in optimal balance.
- These botanical nutritional supplements are not meant to cure, treat, or prevent any disease. They are very commonly used as a nutritional support during treatment but are not meant to replace any medically accepted treatment plan. They are designed for use under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
The benefits of following a comprehensive cleansing supplement program like the one offered by Bio-Botanical Research are reported to be a better balance of energy/stress, better mental clarity, and reduced pain. The ultimate goal of such a protocol is getting the patient to a place in which they can enjoy vitality and health while living life to their fullest potential. The five formulas in our Comprehensive Cleansing Program are designed to work together to provide a well-balanced regime that is as broad-spectrum, easy to use, and as comfortable as possible.
Biocidin® or Biocidin® LSF – Broad spectrum antimicrobial herbal combination used to address both GI-local and global/systemic challenges. Ingredients: Bilberry extract, Noni, Milk Thistle, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Shiitake, White Willow Bark, Garlic, Grapeseed extract, Black Walnut, Raspberry, Fumitory, Gentian, Tea Tree oil, Galbanum oil, Lavender oil, Oregano oil.
Olivirex® – High Potency Olive Leaf extract with a synergistic combination of botanicals to assist detoxification and support the body’s defenses. Ingredients: 375 mg Olive Leaf extract (organic, minimum 18-24% oleuropein content), 125 mg combination of the following: Garlic, Goldenseal, Milk Thistle, St. John’s Wort, Uva Ursi, American Ginseng, Bladderwrack, Cordyceps, Dandelion, Noni, White Willow Bark.
GI Detox + – A powerful binding agent blend to mop up and remove toxins, which can help lessen die-off or Herxheimer-type reactions. Ingredients: Zeolite clay, activated charcoal, Aloe Vera, MMST Silica, apple pectin, Humic/Fulvic acid blend.
Proflora 4R™ – Restorative Probiotic Combination with Spore forming strain and botanicals to assist in repairing the intestinal lining. Ingredients: 3 Billion Spore Forming Cells (Bacillus subtilis, HU58™, Bacillus coagulans, Bacillus clausii), Quercetin (Patented form QU995 is 170 times more bioavailable than regular quercetin), Marshmallow Root, Aloe Vera 200:1 extract.
Biotonic™ – Adaptogenic and digestive tonifying combination of traditional Chinese herbs (organically grown and tested for purity) which supports nutrient absorption and HPA axis balance without common adaptogenic nightshade herbs. Ingredients: Astragalus, Sweet Wormwood, Eleuthero Ginseng, Chinese Knotweed, Ginger, Wild Yam, Atractylodes, Poria Mushroom, Codonopsis, Peony, Curcuma, Tangerine Peel, Licorice Root.