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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Planktonic Logic versus Biolfim Logic and Their Wars


Some of my doctors have never even heard of Biofilms. Since the term was coined in 1989 and only 23 years have passed - and 23 years is less than the generational 33 1/3 years - that is to be expected. However, if you have ever suffered from a chronic condition, such as sinusitis or ear infection, and spent years trying various treatments which did not work, there is a new day dawning with the understanding of bacterial biofilms.

Previously, science understood bacteria to move "planktonically", that floating and drifting in large numbers in some fluid medium.

Of course, we approached anti-bacterial warfare with this paradigm of planktonic bacteria in mind, and we fired off anti-bacterial "bombs" which would kill the bugs with their shrapnel of drugs.
We find ourselves at a anti-bacterial dead-end, as the bacteria mutate to resist our medicines and cleaners, and actually now seem to prefer to actively populate those "clean" areas we set aside for medicine: the hospitals and clinics.

Biolfilms are a type of microbiome, and they are a structure that depends upon a sophisticated networking of communication and activity; biofilms easily resist frontal attack; the efforts to build the bacterial colony has at least the benefit of a fortress-like protection.
And these biofilms are not new, they are not something that came into being due to our use of anti-bacterial drugs; dental plaque is a biofilm, and it has been around for millions of years.

What is new is the scientific understanding that bacteria may live as complex communities, not as free-floating plankton in the sea.
Therefore, the method of attack must be formulated according to the new logic of the biolfilm; we have to cease to rely on brute force frontal attack, and do things smarter, such as using chemicals which themselves are not antibiotics nor antibacterials, but which can interfere with the processes a biofilm uses to establish itself.

For example, certain chemicals will interfere with Quorum Sensing, which is the process by which the bacteria communicate to determine whether there exist enough bacteria in a given area - a "quorum" - to begin the establishment of a biofilm.
Using such chemistry is a better approach than using some anti-bacterial "bomb"!

Start your own research on biofilms. Myself, I use xylitol crystals, tumeric juice, cranberry juice (not "cranberry cocktail"! This is the bitter straight cranberry juice), and royal jelly for various complaints. I use a very mild surfactant - a product which makes water "wetter"; i.e., breaks down the attraction water molecules have for each other, letting the water be more fluid and intrusive into small areas.

I came up with these items not by looking at an online site about herbal medicines, but by merely researching biofilms, then researching which chemicals are known to inhibit their growth, and then by finding out common and everyday sources of the chemicals mentioned.
Since then, I have looked at sites that tout products for biofilms, and they have the same products - and more! - at hand.

Now the further point we wish to make pertains to problems in the world and how we go about attacking them. Or, is our strategy based on Planktonic imagery or that of Biofilms?

Take Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) such as genetically engineered crops.
In an article on the defeat of Prop.37 in California:

A GMO crop, in theory, is not something to be afraid of," said Laura Vandenberg, a biologist at Tufts University and co-author of an editorial published last week in favor of labeling efforts. "The problem is how they are actually used in the real world. It's like talking about guns vs. gun control. Guns don't hurt people, people hurt people."
Most GMO crops in use in the U.S. have been engineered to resist herbicides, which allows growers to spray the chemicals without concern about harming their corn, rice or soy harvest. But as The Huffington Post previously reported, growing resistance among weeds is leading farmers to apply larger quantities of chemicals to achieve the same level of control.
In fact, contrary to biotech industry claims of a reduction in the use of pesticides and herbicides, a recent study estimated that GMO crops have resulted in an additional 404 million pounds of toxic pesticides doused on U.S. fields between 1996 -- when they were first introduced as farm crops -- and 2011. That's about a 7 percent increase.
"This means we're being exposed to a lot more of these chemicals," Vandenberg said. "Some of these chemicals we know very little about in terms of safety. But there are ones we know are endocrine disruptors."

In a nutshell, industry is using a brute force frontal attack. The results are by now quite predictable: the insects and pests evolve resistance, and the crops themselves are compromised with potentially injurious chemistry.

We have to be smarter in everything we do. We have to understand the complex of the network that is causing us trouble, and we have to resolve our differences with measures that change the landscape into a form we find adequate for ourselves... and possibly adequate for those entities which caused our troubles.

Consider The Cold War as a case study.
The brute force approach was seen to be futile. It had received the name of Mutually Assured Destruction and it acronym MAD, and this nomenclature clearly demonstrated our understanding of the situation.
In the end, things other than military force changed the complex network against which we struggled, and the landscape changed mightily; we found ourselves at peace, Russia did also, and the world was a better place... for awhile, that is.
For as long as it took for us to find a better opponent to oppose with brute force and invasion.

I believe we shall learn and are not condemned to creating stronger enemies; rather we shall create friends.

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